Faithful Mothers, “and God Knew”

Text: Exodus 2:1-15

“God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” —Exodus 2:25

My wife prays over our children every opportunity she gets. If one is leaving for school, work, recreation, time with friends, or any occasion, she always tells them, “Come get your blessing.” She then proceeds to lay hands on them and releases them as an instrument of God’s blessing in every context. Theodore Roosevelt got it right when he said, “Praying mothers are America’s greatest assets.” Charles Wesley would likely agree, who once said, “I learned more about God from my mother than from all the theologians in England.”

In the second chapter of Exodus we see the faith of a desperate mother in action. Imagine the trust Moses’ mother had in the intervention of God as she laid her tiny baby boy in a papyrus basket and gave him a push down the Nile River. Consider the vulnerability. In the depths of those waters were animal predators. On the banks of those waters were vile men intent on killing every Hebrew male infant. Where would little Moses end up? The odds were not in his favor. There was nothing remotely optimistic about this situation, just a woman at her wits end, with one thing left—faith in her God.

We might be sending our children off into a volatile world, but when faith is in the mix, the focus is never about the odds that are stacked against them or us; it’s always about the character and the goodness of our God. In an amazing turn of events, the little child is rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, and as divine intervention would have it, Moses is given back to his mother to nurse. Not only did she get her son back, she was paid significant wages to nurse her own son!

This turn of events was also connected to the faith of Moses’ sister. Consider the courage and boldness it took on her part, as a slave in Egypt, to presume to speak to Pharaoh’s daughter after she had Moses pulled from the river. It was a huge risk, yet her bold move ends up bringing about a favorable outcome that surely she and her mother could not have imagined possible. What a great example of hope—a desperate and vulnerable people fleshing out faith in desperate times.

We know the rest of the story. God raised up Moses to be a hero and deliverer for those Hebrew slaves in Egypt, ultimately confronting the antagonist in this saga, and setting those captives free. It’s a beautiful story of redemption. But the last nine words in Exodus 2 sum up the real Hero in this drama:

“God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:25)

Two things we should never forget from this story: First, God heard the cry of those oppressed Israelites and He remembered his covenant with them. Secondly, God saw them… “and God knew.” This sounds similar to our modern expression: “I feel you.” The Hebrew word for “knew” means “to be acquainted with,” “to make oneself known,” or “to reveal oneself.”

God knows our pain. But He doesn’t just see it; our pain becomes His pain. Hebrews 4:15 assures us that Jesus isn’t on the outside looking in on our pain, but in every respect is touched by it. He is intimately acquainted with it. Yet He also longs to make Himself “known” in our pain. He wants to reveal Himself in redemptive ways through our suffering. And He always brings the revelation of beauty for ashes when we trust Him with our pain (Isaiah 61:3). Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.  

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for knowing us more intimately than we could ever imagine. You are acquainted with our pain. You feel the hurt in our lives… the worry… the anger… the regret… the guilt. You also long to give us beauty for those ashes. Holy Spirit, teach us to yield our pain to the plans of God, to relinquish our doubts, and to trust that the hand of our all-sufficient Creator is writing a better story. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for personal reflection, small group discussion, or dinner table conversations:

  1. What would it be like to live with the fear of someone wanting to kill you? Where would you go if you had to flee for your life?
  2. How long did the Levite woman hide her newborn son? Why? (Exodus 2:2) Who came to bathe in the Nile, and what was her reaction to finding a baby? (vv.5-6) What critical part did the baby’s sister play in this situation? (vv.7-8) What was the baby named, and who adopted him? (vv.9-10)
  3. What was God’s response to the cries of the Israelites? (vv.24-25)
  4. How does God work in people’s hearts despite unjust and wicked laws? How does it make you feel to know that God hears your cries for help?
  5. Knowing that God hears you, how can you face your fears rather than run from them today?

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