Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman,
I. AN ACT OF FAITH ON THE PART OF MOSES' PARENTS. The faith of Moses' parents is signalised in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:23). Observe -
1. The occasion of its trial. The king's edict threatened the child's life. The ease of Moses was peculiar, yet not entirely so. No infancy or childhood but lays a certain strain upon the faith of parents. The bark of a child's existence is so frail, and it sets out amidst so many perils! And we are reminded that this strain is usually more felt by the mother than the father, her affection for her Offspring being in comparison deeper and more tender (cf. Isaiah 49:15). It is the mother of Moses who does all and dares all for the salvation of her babe.
2. Its nature. Both in Old and New Testaments it is connected with something remarkable in the babe's appearance (Acts 7:20; Hebrews 11:23). Essentially, however, it must have been the same faith as upholds believers in their trials still - simple, strong faith in God, that he would be their Help in trouble, and would protect and deliver the child whom with tears and prayers they cast upon his care. This was sufficient to nerve Jochebed for what she did.
3. Its working. Faith wrought with works, and by works was faith made Perfect (James 2:22).
(1) It nerved them to disobey the tyrant's edict, and hide the child for three months. Terrible as was this Period of suspense, they took their measures with prudence, calmness, and success. Religious faith is the secret of self-collectedness.
(2) It enabled them, when concealment was no longer practicable, to make the venture of the ark of bulrushes. The step was bold, and still bolder if, as seems probable, Jochebed put the ark where she did, knowing that the princess and her maidens used that spot as a bathing-place. Under God's secret guidance, she ventured all on the hope that the babe's beauty and helplessness would attract the lady's pity. She would put Pharaoh's daughter as a shield between her child and Pharaoh's mandate. Learn -
1. Faith is not inconsistent with the use of means.
2. Faith exhausts all means before abandoning effort.
3. Faith, when all means are exhausted, waits patiently on God.
4. Pious parents are warranted in faith to cast their children on God's care.
It was a sore trial to Jochebed to trust her child out of her own arms, especially with that terrible decree hanging over him. But faith enabled her to do it. She believed that God would keep him - would make him his charge - would provide for him, - and in that faith she put the ark among the rushes. Scarcely less faith are parents sometimes called upon to exercise in taking steps of importance for their children's future. Missionaries in India, e.g., parting with their children, sons leaving home, etc. Sorest trial of all, when parents on their deathbeds have to part with little ones, leaving them to care of strangers. Hard, very hard, to flesh and blood; but God lives, God cares, God will provide, - will watch the ark of the little one thus pushed out on the waters of the wide, wide world.
II. AN ACT OF PROVIDENCE ON THE PART OF MOSES' GOD. The faith of Moses' parents met with its reward. Almost "whiles" they were yet "praying" (Daniel 9:20), their prayers were answered, and deliverance was vouchsafed. In regard to which observe -
1. How various are the instrumentalities employed by Providence in working out its purposes. A king's edict, a mother's love, a babe's tears, a girl's shrewdness, the pity of a princess, Egyptian customs, etc.
2. How Providence co-operates with human freedom in bringing about desired results. The will of God was infallibly accomplished, yet no violence was done to the will of the agents. In the most natural way possible, Moses was rescued by Pharaoh's daughter, restored to his mother to nurse, adopted by the princess as her son, and afterwards educated by her in a way suitable to his position. Thus was secured for Moses -
(2) A liberal education.
(3) Experience of court-life in Egypt.
3. How easily the plans of the wicked can be turned against themselves. Pharaoh's plans were foiled by his own daughter. His edict was made the means of introducing to his own court the future deliverer of the race he meant to destroy. God takes the wicked in their own net (Psalm 9:15, 16).
4. How good, in God's providence, is frequently brought out of evil. The People might well count the issuing of this edict as the darkest hour of their night - the point of lowest ebb in their fortunes. Yet see what God brought out of it! The deliverance of a Moses - the first turning of the tide in the direction of help. What poor judges we are of what is really for or against us!
5. How greatly God often exceeds our expectations in the deliverances he sends. He does for us above what we ask or think. The utmost Moses' parents dared to pray for was doubtless that his life might be preserved. That he should be that very day restored to his mother, and nursed at her bosom; that he should become the son of Pharaoh's daughter; that he should grow to be great, wise, rich, and powerful - this was felicity they had not dared to dream of. But this is God's way. He exceeds our expectations. He gives to faith more than it looks for. So in Redemption, we are not only saved from perishing, but receive "everlasting life" (John 3:16) - honour, glory, reward. - J.O.
1. Providence is preparing good, while wickedness is working evil to the Church.
1. His concealment.
An ark of bulrushes.birth of Moses: —
I. AS OCCURRING OF NOBLE PARENTAGE.
1. They were of moderate social position.
2. They were of strong parental affection.
3. They were of good religious character.Happy the child that is linked to the providence of God by a mother's faith! Faith in God is the preserving influence of a threatened life — physically, morally, eternally.
II. AS HAPPENING IN PERILOUS TIMES.
1. When his nation was in a condition of servitude. That this servitude was severe, exacting, grievous, disastrous, murderous, is evident from the last chapter.
2. When a cruel edict was in force against the young.
III. AS INVOLVING MOMENTOUS ISSUES.
1. Issues relating to the lives of individuals. The birth of Moses made Miriam a watcher, gave her an introduction to a king's daughter, and has given immortality to her name. It brought Aaron into historical prominence.
2. Issues involving the freedom of an enslaved people.
3. Issues relating to the destiny of a proud nation.
IV. AS EXHIBITING THE INVENTIVENESS OF MATERNAL LOVE.
1. In that she devised a scheme for the safety of her child. The mother was more clever than the tyrant king and his accomplices. Tyranny is too calculating to be clever. Maternal love is quick and spontaneous in thought.
V. AS ELUDING THE EDICT OF A CRUEL KING. The mother of Moses was justified in eluding this edict, because it was unjust, murderous; it did violence to family affection, to the laws of citizenship, and to the joyful anticipation of men.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
2. His rescue.
3. His restoration.
2. Lines, tribes, and persons are appointed by God, by whom He will work good to His people.
3. In the desolations of the Church's seed, God will have His to marry and continue it.
4. Tribes cursed for their desert, may be made instrumental of good by grace.
5. Choice and taking in marriage should be under Providence, free, and rational (ver. 1).
6. The greatest instruments of the Church's good God ordereth to being in the common way of man.
7. God ordereth, in His wisdom, instruments of salvation to be born in times of distinction.
8. No policies or cruelties of man can hinder God from sending saviours to His Church (ver. 2).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Its birth.(1) In an evil time. The edict of Pharaoh, like the sword of Damocles, over its head. God takes care that men needed for His work in evil times shall be born in them — Wickliffe, Luther.(2) Of an oppressed people and humble origin. Great men often of lowly extraction.
2. Its appearance — "Goodly." Beautiful, not only to a mother's eyes, but really so. Its beauty appealed to the mother, as its tears to the princess.
3. The excitement caused by its birth. Babes usually welcomed. Here were fear and sorrow and perplexity. This Divine gift becomes a trial, through the wickedness of man. Sin turns blessings into Curses, and joy into sorrow.
II. THE ANXIOUS MOTHER — Jochebed.
1. Her first feelings. Touched by the rare loveliness of her child. Bravely resolves to evade the decree. She had another son — Aaron — now three years of age (Exodus 7:7); but could not spare one.
2. Her careful concealment. For three months she contrived to preserve her secret from the Egyptians. Anxiously thinking what she might presently do.
3. Her ingenious device. Concealment no longer possible. She will trust God rather than Pharaoh.
III. THE OBEDIENT DAUGHTER — Miriam.
1. Her obedience. The blessing of obedient children. Trusted by the mother. The elder should care for, and watch over, the younger.
2. Her surprise. The princess and her retinue appear. She attentively watches. The ark discovered, brought out, and opened. Her anxiety. She approaches.
3. Her thoughtfulness. She is quick-witted. Sees compassion in the princess's face. Shall she fetch a nurse? Of the Hebrew women?
4. Her great joy. Her brother saved. Her return home. Perhaps the mother was praying for the child. Jochebed's surprise and gratitude and joy. A great result grew out of her obedience (1 Peter 1:14; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20).
IV. THE COMPASSIONATE PRINCESS. Kindness in the house of Pharaoh! "Out of the strong sweetness." Children not always to be judged by their parents. Eli's sons were not godly (1 Samuel 2:12). Pharaoh's daughter not cruel, as her father. Moved by an infant's tears, she at once comprehends the history of the child, Resolves to adopt it. Providential use of compassion, maternal solicitude, filial obedience, infantile beauty and helplessness. "All things work together for good." Learn —
1. To prize a mother's love, and return it.
2. To imitate Miriam's obedience and sisterly affection.
3. Not to judge of children by their parents.
4. To admire the wisdom of Providence.
5. "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given" — Jesus.
(J. C. Gray.)I. THE POWER OF YOUNG LIFE TO ENDURE HARDSHIP. Codling of children is foolish, unhealthy.
II. THE USE THAT ONE MEMBER OF A FAMILY MAY BE TO ANOTHER. Services which seem trifling may prove far-reaching in effect. Miriam thus helped to bring about the freedom of her nation.
III. THE PATHETIC INFLUENCE OF A BABE'S TEARS. Touching tokens of sorrow, weakness, helplessness. Potent, inviting help. Many are moved by the sight of personal grief who look unmoved upon a national calamity.
IV. THE SENSITIVE CONSCIENCE OF A TYRANT'S DAUGHTER.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)I. Let us CONSIDER THE PERILS WHICH SURROUNDED THIS PURPOSEFUL LIFE, WHICH WAS RESCUED IN SUCH A REMARKABLE MANNER.
1. For one thing, it was the life of an infant child. Infancy alone is more than enough to extinguish such a diminutive glimmer of existence; just leave him where he is a little longer, and you will never hear of that child's going up into Mount Sinai. There is only the side of a slight basket between him and swift drowning; one rush of the waves through a crevice, and the march through the wilderness will never be made.
2. Observe also this was the life of a proscribed child.
3. And then observe that this was the life of an outcast child. He had no friends. His mother had already hidden him until concealment was dangerous.
II. Let us TRY TO FIND SOME SUGGESTIONS AS TO MODERN LIFE AND DUTY. There Moses lay, before he was called Moses, or had any right to be — an infant, proscribed, outcast child! You pity him; so do I pity him, with all my heart. Still, I will tell you frankly what I pity more by far, and I trust to better purpose. There are hundreds of sons and daughters of misery drifting out upon a stream of vice, which the Nile river, with all its murkiness and its monsters, cannot parallel for an exposure of peril — a river of depraved humanity, hurrying on before it everything stainless and promising into the darkness of destiny behind the cloud. It was a woman who ultimately brought up this babe from the bulrush ark. Women know how to save children better than men do. The spirit in which all this work must be done is that of faith. There is a sense of possibility in every child's constitution, and this is what gives a loftier value to it than that which is possessed by any other creature of the living God. A child owns in it what a diamond has not: a child can grow, and a diamond cannot. They say it takes a million of years, more or less, to make a big diamond; but the biggest of diamonds has a past only, and the smallest of children has a limitless future. Faith and works are what seemed once to disturb the balance of a man whose business it was to write an epistle in the New Testament. See what a vivid illustration this has in the story here before us. Jochebed had absolute faith; so had Amram; and so had Miriam for all we know. But it would have done no good to fall down and go to crying, nor to sit down and quote the promises, nor to be trampled down and give up the baby. Jochebed told Amram to get her some of the toughest rushes he could find, and he went and did it; then she awaked Moses, and wrapped him in the most comfortable way she could for an outing; then she took some pitch and bitumen, and told Miriam a patient story as to how she was to watch her brother. The word "ark" is found only in this instance, and in that not altogether unlike it in the case of Noah; only in these two places has the inspired Word of God employed it. There was the same principle at stake in both experiences — Noah believed God, and then made his "ark"; Amram and Jochebed believed God, and then made their "ark." And I can readily imagine that these pious parents got their first notion of the plan to save the baby out of the story of Noah; and so they used, whenever they spoke of it, to employ the same name. At any rate, it has a lesson for every one of us. Trust God, always trust God; then do all within your power to help on the purpose you prayerfully hope He is about to undertake for you. Make the best ark you can; place it in the river at the safest spot you can find; leave it there; then trust God. The main point is, venturesomeness is the highest element of belief in our Father in heaven.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)I. THE MOTHER'S LOVE OF THE CHILD. Divine. Providential.
II. THE MOTHER'S INGENUITY. Danger risked. Ample reward.
III. THE MOTHER'S HEROISM. A sacrifice of love.
(J. O. Davies.)1. The dignity of her faith — she could wait away from the scene of trial.
2. Her supreme hope in God — the issue was to be Divine.
3. Her happy confidence in her little daughter — children do their work better when they feel that they are trusted with it entirely.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)1. Loving.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
(H. Cowles, D. D.)Deuteronomy 18:15; John 5:46). To point out that likeness, and, at the same time, mark the contrasts, is the work upon which we enter. We shall study Moses in the light of Christ. Like two rivers, at one time we shall see the two lives to flow together in the same channel — the same quiet flowing, the same torturous course, the same cataracts in each; but anon they divide, and pursue each a separate bed, only to meet again far away beyond.
1. We take the two lives at their beginnings. The time of each is most significant. The age in each case was charged with expectancy, Both were periods of bondage, and bondage crying out for a deliverer. Both were born to be emancipators. But the one birth is not like the other. The source of the one river is at our feet; the source of the other is like Egypt's own mysterious Nile — far, far away in a land of mystery, and where mortals have never trodden.
2. The two deliverers are alike again in this — that they owe nothing of their greatness to their parents. Amram and Joseph, Jochebed and Mary, stand upon the ordinary level of mankind. God is not bound down to evolution. He can raise up a Moses from the slave huts of Egypt; He can send forth His Christ from the peasantry of Galilee.
3. They start together from obscurity and poverty and adversity.
4. Both children are born to great issues, and both must meet, therefore, that opposition with which goodness is ever assailed. It would seem that the birth of any soul having great moral capabilities arouses the opposition of the powers of darkness. Fable and legend have recognized this, and have made their heroes pass through extraordinary dangers whilst only children. Romulus and Remus, cast away to die, were nursed by a wolf, and thus lived to build the foundations of Rome and the Roman Empire. Cyrus, the founder of the MedePersian monarchy, was said to have been thrown out into the wilderness, and to have been adopted by a shepherd's wife, whose own babe was dead. Our own King Arthur, too, passed a similar peril. Doubtless these are no more than legends, confused echoes possibly from the story of Moses itself; but they serve to show us how mankind has ever recognized that lives destined to be great are met by hardship and opposition. Moses and Christ are one in this.
5. The likeness of the two births is not, however, completed until we notice the special providences of God, by which they are delivered from their enemies. What are the edicts of Pharaoh or the swords of Herod against the purposes of the Most High? Who are kings and princes, that they should withstand the Lord? What are all the combinations of evil, and all the plots of the devil, against His will, who ruleth over all?
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
(A. Nevin, D. D.)
(Cawdray.)His materials, and arranging His instruments. He causes everything to concur, not by miraculous influence, but by the simple and natural operation of second causes, to bring about the issue designed in His counsels from everlasting.
(G. Bush, D. D.)
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
His sisterI. HOW SHE TRUSTED IN GOD. In Hebrews 11. we read that by faith Moses was hid of his parents. It was chiefly the doing of his mother and Miriam. Amram probably had little hand in it, as he had to work night and day, making bricks without straw under the lash of ruffian slave-drivers. Now Miriam could not have so shared her mother's confidence, if she had not also shared her mother's faith. And her faith was great, for it outlived great trims. As she was a very quick-witted girl she must have had many a deep thought. The hands of Providence were strangely crossed. But her faith did not fail. Oh girl, great is thy faith, for thou trustest in Jehovah, though He seemeth to be slaying thee and thine. How she condemns many girls who are content to live without God!
II. HOW SHE LOVED HER FAMILY. She had real daughterly and sisterly feeling; she was true to her family, helping her mother all she could, entering into her plan and making it a success, risking her own life to save her brother's. It is not the cleverness nor the success, but the spirit of her act which you should think upon. What a help and a comfort she must have been to her sorely-tried mother! Faith in God made her thoughtful and feeling-hearted, and great sorrows drew out her sweetest, strongest sympathy with her poor parents. She loved her folk more than she feared Pharaoh. In that level land Pharaoh's pyramids and palaces were the only mountains; how very small she must have felt when she stood near them! And how awful and mighty Pharaoh must have seemed to her! Yet she was not afraid of the king's commandment. Hers was the true love which makes the weak strong, the timid brave, and the simple wise; which betters what is best in boy and girl, and works wonders for others' good. It made Miriam the saviour of Moses. It gave her great presence of mind, that is, the rare power of doing at once in a moment of danger the very thing that needs to be done. As a pointsman by a single timely jerk puts a whole train on the right line, so she by a single hint turned the sympathy of the princess into the right channel, and moulded it into action before it cooled down. No girl ever did greater service to her family and her kind. And she did it not by aiming at some great thing, but by forgetting self and doing her work at home in the right spirit. Cultivate the heavenly beauty of Miriam's conduct. What is true and good is beautiful with an everlasting beauty: disease cannot mar, death cannot destroy it. In girls nothing is uglier than the lack of love at home. It is bad enough in a boy, but it makes a girl simply hideous. For girls have been formed by God to soften and sweeten life, and we are shocked when they poison the fountains at home.
III. HOW MIRIAM REMAINED STEADFAST. We left Miriam with Pharaoh's daughter; and we meet her again, about eighty years afterwards, on the shore of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20). Miriam was more than one hundred and twenty years old when she died, yet with only one exception, so far as we know, she stood firm in God's service.
IV. HOW SHE FELL AT HAZEROTH. Oh Miriam, how art thou fallen from heaven, thou beautiful star of the morning! The time came when Miriam must give place to Zipporah, Moses' wife, "an Ethiopian woman" (Numbers 12.). Miriam would naturally feel that her share in the saving of Moses gave her special claims upon him. Her envy was stirred, and she spake against Moses. Two things made her sin worse. She pretended that zeal for religion was her motive, and so gained Aaron over to her side (ver. 2). And then Moses was the meekest of men; and her anger should have melted at his meekness. You may wonder that I have praised for steadfastness one who had such a sad fall. But a character is fixed not by an act or two, but by the habits of years. I remember standing for the first time on the bridge of a far-famed river. Just under me there was a backward eddy, and a stiff breeze was also rippling the surface backwards. I was quite deceived: I fancied that the stream flowed in the direction of the eddy and the ripples. When I walked along the bank I smiled at my mistake. I should do Miriam a great wrong did I judge her by that act; for it was the one backward eddy, the one backward rippling in the on-rushing current of a good life. Now, what exactly was Miriam's sin? Was it not selfishness bursting out into envy and jealousy? Her selfishness took a very common form; for it filled her with ill-will against a new-comer into the family by marriage — that Ethiopian woman! How natural! yet how ugly! If one could see the soul of an envious girl, as the blessed angels see it, it would shock us as much as Miriam's leprosy shocked all beholders. Let the love of God in Christ fill and flood your soul; and then it will absorb and change your self-love, as the ocean absorbed and changed the brook; and all your selfish grumblings will disappear in the peace of God that passeth all understanding.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(H. O. Mackey.)Go home," some one might have said to Miriam. "Why risk yourself out there alone on the banks of the Nile, breathing the miasma and in danger of being attacked of wild beast or ruffian; go home!" No; Miriam, the sister, most lovingly watched and bravely defended Moses, the brother. Is he worthy her care and courage? Oh, yes; the sixty centuries of the world's history have never had so much involved in the arrival of any ship at any port as in the landing of that papyrus boat caulked with bitumen. Its one passenger was to be a none-such in history. Lawyer, statesman, politician, legislator, organiser, conqueror, deliverer. Oh, was not Miriam, the sister of Moses, doing a good thing, an important thing, a glorious thing, when she watched the boat woven of river plants and made watertight with asphaltum, carrying its one passenger? Did she not put all the ages of time and of a coming eternity under obligation, when she defended her helpless brother from the perils aquatic, reptilian, and ravenous? What a garland for faithful sisterhood! For how many a lawgiver, hero, deliverer, and saint are the world and the Church indebted to a watchful, loving, faithful, godly sister? God knows how many of our Greek lexicons and how much of our schooling was paid for by money that would otherwise have gone for the replenishing of a sister's wardrobe. While the brother sailed off for a resounding sphere, the sister watched him from the banks of self-denial. Miriam was the oldest of the family, Moses and Aaron, her brothers, are younger. Oh, the power of the elder sister to help decide the brother's character for usefulness and for heaven! She can keep off from her brother more evils than Miriam could have driven back water-fowl or crocodile from the ark of bulrushes. The older sister decides the direction in which the cradle-boat shall sail. By gentleness, by good sense, by Christian principle she can turn it towards the palace, not of a wicked Pharaoh, but of a holy God; and a brighter princess than Thermutis shall lift him out of peril, even religion, whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Let sisters not begrudge the time and care bestowed on a brother. It is hard to believe that any boy that you know so well as your brother can ever turn out anything very useful. Well, he may not be a Moses. There is only one of that kind needed for six thousand years. But I tell you what your brother will be — either a blessing or a curse to society, and a candidate for happiness or wretchedness. Whatever you do for your brother will come back to you again. If you set him an ill-natured, censorious, unaccomodating example, it will recoil upon you from his own irritated and despoiled nature. If you, by patience with all his infirmities and by nobility of character, dwell with him in the few years of your companionship, you will have your counsels reflected back upon you some day by his splendour of behaviour in some crisis where he would have failed but for you.
(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)
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