A Deliverer is Born

Chapter 15

In order to supply themselves with food during the famine, the Egyptians had sold all their cattle and lands to the king. When their money and property ran out, they had sold themselves to perpetual servitude. This was not, however, required of the family of Joseph. While other nations were suffering, under Joseph's wise management, Egypt was greatly enriched. As a token of his appreciation, Pharaoh not only offered to Jacob and his sons the best part of the land of Egypt as a dwelling place, but exempted them from all taxation. In addition, he granted to Joseph the privilege of supplying them liberally with food during the period of famine.

But as the years passed, the great man to whom Egypt owed so much, and the generation blessed by his labors, passed to the grave. "Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." This king was of another dynasty, a people from the East who had conquered Egypt. It was not that he was ignorant of Joseph's services to the Egyptian nation, but he wished to make no recognition of them. He said to his people, "Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land."

Under Joseph's fostering care, and the favor of the king who was then ruling, the Israelites had spread rapidly over the land. Their increasing numbers now excited the fears of the new king and his people. Many of the Israelites, however, were excellent and skillful workmen whom the king needed for the erection of his magnificent palaces and temples. Policy, therefore, forbade their banishment from the country. Accordingly, he ranked them with the Egyptians who had sold themselves with their possessions to the kingdom. Soon taskmasters were set over them, and their slavery became complete. "Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour."

Failing to accomplish their purpose of decreasing the Israelite population by forced labor, the king and his counselors resorted to more cruel measures. Orders were issued to the midwives who serviced the Israelite women to destroy the male children at their birth. Satan knew that a deliverer was soon to be raised up among them. By leading the king to destroy their children, he hoped to defeat the divine purpose. Though Egyptians, these women feared God and dared not follow the king's cruel order. The Lord approved their course and prospered them. The king, angry at the failure of his design, made the command more urgent and extensive. The whole nation was called upon to hunt out and slaughter his helpless victims. "And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive."

While this decree was in full force, a son was born to Amram and Jochebed, a godly couple of the tribe of Levi. These parents, believing that the time of Israel's release was drawing near and that God would raise up a deliverer for His people, determined that their little one should not be sacrificed. Faith in God strengthened their hearts, "and they were not afraid of the king's commandment." Hebrews 11:23

Jochebed successfully hid her child for three months. Then, finding that she could no longer keep him safely, she prepared a little ark of rushes. Making it watertight by means of slime and pitch, she lay the babe inside and placed it among the rushes that grew at the river's edge. Because she knew that her presence would endanger her child's life, as well as her own, she left, leaving his sister Miriam nearby to watch. Though giving the appearance of indifference, Miriam anxiously watched to see what would become of her little brother.

Pharaoh's daughter, making her way to the river to bathe, observed the small basket floating among the rushes at the edge of the river. It aroused her curiosity, and she ordered it brought to her. Upon opening the basket, the princess looked upon the beautiful child within and read the story at a glance. The tears of the babe awakened her compassion, and her sympathies went out to the unknown mother who had resorted to this means to save the life of her precious little one. She determined that he should be saved; she would adopt him as her own.

Miriam, seeing the tender regard the princess had for him, ventured nearer. At last she said, "Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?" Permission was given.

The sister hurriedly took her mother the happy news, and without delay returned with her to the presence of Pharaoh's daughter. Addressing Moses' mother, the princess said, "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages."

Jochebed kept Moses as long as she could; but when he was about twelve years old, he was taken to the royal palace to become the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Yet even here, the lessons learned at his mother's side could not be forgotten. They were a shield from the corruption that flourished amid the splendor of the court.

At the court of Pharaoh, Moses received the highest civil and military training. "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds." Acts 7:22. Satan had been defeated in his purpose. The very decree condemning the Hebrew children to death had been overruled by God for the training and education of the future leader of His people.

Moses often visited his brethren in their servitude and encouraged them with the assurance that God would work for their deliverance. As he saw the injustice and oppression to which his people were subjected, he was filled with resentment and burned to avenge their wrongs. One day, seeing an Egyptian beating an Israelite, he killed the Egyptian. Except for the Israelite, there had been no witness to the deed. Moses immediately buried the body in the sand. The following day he saw two Hebrews fighting with each other. When he reproved the one at fault, the offender at once retaliated, denying his right to interfere, and basely accused him of crime: "Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian?"

The whole matter, greatly exaggerated, soon reached the ears of Pharaoh. It was at once determined by the monarch that Moses should die. Becoming aware of his danger, Moses made his escape and fled toward Arabia where he found a home with Jethro. Jethro was a priest and prince of Midian, and also a worshiper of God. After a time, Moses married one of the daughters of Jethro; and here, in the service of his father-in-law, as keeper of his flocks, he remained forty years.

In the solitude of the wilderness, Moses was alone with God. As he looked at the silent mountains rising grandly above the desert floor, he beheld the majesty of the Most High and in contrast realized how powerless and insignificant were the gods of Egypt. In the stem simplicity of his wilderness life, the effects that the ease and luxury of court life had had on him disappeared. Moses became patient, reverent, and humble, yet strong in faith in the mighty God of Jacob.

As the years rolled by and he wandered with his flocks in solitary places, his thoughts turned to the oppressed condition of his people. He recounted the dealings of God with his fathers and the promises that were the heritage of the chosen nation. Here, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the book of Genesis.

"And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." The time for Israel's deliverance had come. But God's purpose was to be worked out in a manner that would pour contempt on human pride. The deliverer was to go forth as a humble shepherd, with only a rod in his hand; but God would make that rod the symbol of His power.

Leading his flocks one day near Horeb, Moses saw a bush completely enveloped in flames, yet seeming not to be consumed. He drew near to view the wonderful sight, when a voice from out of the midst of the fire called him by name. With trembling lips he answered, "Here am I." He was warned not to approach irreverently: "Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. . . . I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God."

As Moses bowed in solemn awe before God, the words continued: "I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey . . . . Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt."

Amazed and terrified at the command, Moses drew back, saying, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" The reply was, "Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain."

Moses thought of the difficulties to be encountered, of the blindness, ignorance, and unbelief of his people, many of whom were almost ignorant of any knowledge of God. "Behold," he said, "when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?" The answer was—"I AM THAT I AM." "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."

Moses continued to be fearful. "But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee." The Lord replied, "What is that in thine hand?" Moses replied, "A rod." Then the Lord told him, "Cast it on the ground." As Moses followed the Lord's command, his rod became a deadly snake and he fled from it. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand."

The Lord then gave him another sign. He said to him, "Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow." The Lord then told him, "Put thine hand into thy bosom again." Moses followed the Lord's instruction and when he again withdrew his hand, it was restored.

Still fearful, Moses pleaded, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs."

Moses was forewarned that Pharaoh would resist the appeal to let Israel go. Yet the courage of God's servant must not fail, for the Lord would make this the occasion to demonstrate His power before both the Egyptians and Israel. "And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go."

This chapter is based on Exodus 1–4