Last week we started our journey through Exodus. We learned about how the family of Israel had moved to Egypt and had grown so large that they had become the People of Israel.
In turn, a new Pharoah came to power. He was very afraid of what might happen if these people grew too populous. He hatched a plan to oppressed them by making them into slaves, He also delivered a horrific edict for the Egyptian midwives to kill every newborn baby Hebrew boy.
But the midwives…
Do you remember their names?
(If you don’t, that’s kinda the point…)
Their names were Shiprah and Puah.
…refused to follow through on the Pharaoh’s murder orders and saved the baby boys.
God worked through these insignificant seeming ladies to accomplished his eternally significant plan.
What happened next? Look at the end of chapter one:
Because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. (v.21)
For the first time, the midwives needed midwives of their own.
I wonder if they took turns midwifing for each other.
Think of their joy!
A son that they didn’t have to return to his family after delivery.
A baby girl that they could keep in their arms.
God was their God and God gave them good gifts.
To be fair, the same thing happened to Pharoah.
Pharoah’s god gave him a gift.
Of course, Pharoah’s god was fear.
Fear can only gift…
Pharaoh, however, commanded all his people, “Every son who is born you shall throw into the Nile…” (v.22)
Pharoah couldn’t get the midwives to kill the baby boys.
So, he enlisted the help of others…
People who weren’t afraid to get their hands bloody.
I. A Bundle of Joy & Terror
Now a man from the house of Levi went and took a Levite woman as a wife. The woman became pregnant and bore a son. When she saw that he was a special child, she hid him for three months. (v.1-2)
Levi is the name of one of the Twelve sons of Israel. People from the house of Levi would have been descendants of that Levi and full-blooded members of the Hebrew nation.
And this fully Hebrew family was going to have a fully Hebrew baby boy.
Babies are blessings! The news that you are going to have one is usually met with excitement! Huge and high fives and kisses and baby showers.
But when this family was registering.
Besides choosing their favorite little outfit and the cutest little baby toy.
They also needed to put on their registry.
Because Hebrew baby boys had been ruled “illegal” by the king.
Can you imagine what that moment would have been like for his parents?
Joy! “I have a son!”
Terror! “I have a son.”
Joy! “Look at this beautiful life.”
Terror! “Hide him quickly before Pharoah puts him to death.”
They hid him.
They didn’t celebrate with family.
They didn’t celebrate with friends.
Maybe the mom even pretended to be sad and despondent.
As if she lost the child.
All while snuggling her little bundle behind closed doors.
Finally, she was no longer able to hide him. She decided to make an arts and craft project.
She got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. (v.3b)
Papyrus was a long and broad-leaved plant that grow by the Nile. It floated.
Tar and pitch filled the holes and gaps. (It connected the leaves together and prevented water leakage.)
The end result was a Basket. Most likely rectangular shape. In fact, the word used here for basket is the same word used in Genesis 6 for Noah’s “ark”.
Which sounds cute.
A nice toy for the child during tub time, right?
She put the child into it and placed it in the reeds along the bank of the Nile. (v.3)
She had determined there was no other choice.
If she kept the child in her own hands, she would be putting him at risk.
She would love her baby.
She could hold her baby.
She could snuggle her baby.
She could sing lullabies to her baby.
She could experience motherhood with the baby.
If she kept the child in her hands, she could experience motherhood.
She could also be sentencing her son to death.
Because if the Egyptians came, she could not protect him.
They would overpower her.
They would kill him.
She could not keep him in her own hands.
She needed to put him in God’s hands.
The mother took the basket to the river.
She placed her child into it.
She looked into his eyes one last time.
Then shut the cover.
She motioned to her older daughter to take her position.
Then, ran away in tears.
COMPASSION is more powerful than FEAR.
Because when Pharoah couldn’t get what he wanted, he turned to inciting terror.
But it didn’t work.
Compassion overpowered the fearful edict.
Compassion led the mother to keep her baby alive.
Compassion led the mother to build a tiny boat.
Compassion led the mother to place him in a river, turn around, and leave him under his teenage sister’s eyes.
Compassion is more powerful than fear.
We shouldn’t be surprised.
Compassion is godly.
And since God is strong.
Compassion is strong.
If you don’t want to be compassionate, but you’d rather work through fear…
God can work like that to.
Because the God who says, “Be compassionate…”
Also says, “Be afraid of the One who can destroy body and soul in hell.”
That’s really what hell is, isn’t it?
It’s a place for those who don’t like to operate with compassion.
Because there is no compassion there.
II. A New Mom
Back to the Nile.
You could hear the frogs croaking.
The crickets chirping.
If you listened closely enough, the cooing of a Hebrew baby boy.
Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the Nile, and her attendants were walking along the bank of the Nile. (v.5a)
This seems to be a normal occurrence in Egyptian culture. The Nile river was believed to be restorative. Many believed that bathing in its waters brought life and beauty and youth.
Maybe not this kind of youth.
Pharaoh’s daughter saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant girl to get it. (v.5b)
What do you think it is?
An abandoned picnic lunch?
Maybe it’s flowers from that one prince!?! (I knew he had a crush on you.)
She opened it and saw the child…a boy, and he was crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.”
Because Pharoah’s daughter knew her dad’s decree.
She knew it was unlawful to keep a Hebrew baby boy alive.
She knew it was law that any Egyptian citizen help in killing such a child.
She knew that law applied even to Egyptian princesses.
But she also knew this baby needed help.
She felt sorry for him.
She had compassion on him.
She picked him up into her arms.
Then the baby boy’s sister appeared from the side of the Nile. She said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go and call a wet nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” (v.7)
The princess agreed.
And the grade schooler went running.
Out of the Niles
Past the reeds.
Through her street.
Into the door to her own home.
“Mom! Mom! Mom, where are you?”
The girl’s mother walked out from the backroom.
Her eyes bloodshot and tear-stained.
“Mom! It worked. The princess found brother and she is in need of someone to care for him. I told her you could! You don’t have to cry anymore.
Together they ran out the door.
Through the street.
Past the reeds.
Into the Nile.
Together with the princess they arranged for the baby’s care.
Not only would the baby be safe, but his own mother would care for him.
And get paid for it!
And the mom took her baby into her arms.
Wait! The princess said, I need to name him.
Hmmm… What do I know about him.
He’s a Hebrew baby.
I drew him out of the water.
“Hey! Dear Hebrew friend. What is the Hebrew word for “Draw out of water?”
I’ll call him “Moses.”
Because I drew him out of the deadly water.
That’s what God called him too.
Because He had drawn Moses out of the deadly water.
GOD’S COMPASSION is more powerful than ALL fear.
God’s compassion conquered our greatest fear.
Namely be written out of eternal life.
Being judged harshly for our sins.
Being placed out of heaven.
Even if you haven’t been compassionate.
Even if you’ve been a cold hearted.
Even if you’re drowning in the revenge you’ve sought.
God had compassion on you.
God’s compassion brought him to earth.
God’s compassion sent him to the cross.
God’s compassion took you out of the murky depths of sin and brought you on the shores of eternal life.
He drew you out of eternal death.
He drew you into eternal life.
He drew you into his arms.
If you are afraid….
Of the virus.
Of your guilt.
Of your shame.
Of your finances.
Of your family dynamic.
Remember God’s compassion.
III. What Now?
What response is God looking for to his compassion?
1) Trust God’s Compassion
This is what the mother did.
She knew Pharoah’s hand was violent.
His threat was terrifying.
Her own compassion wouldn’t be enough.
Eventually – someone would find out that the child was alive.
Be motivated by the fear induced by Pharoah.
And do evil.
But when the mom placed that baby in a basket.
She wasn’t really placing that baby in a basket.
She placed him in God’s compassionate hands.
Is there something that’s beyond your control?
Something that that you can’t bear on your own?
Something that is scary?
Something that is out of your hands?
As we get out of COVID, there will be things outside your control.
What other people do…
What other people wear…
What other people think about what you do and wear…
Where the germs might be…
How quickly you can regrow your business…
Whether somebody hires you…
Whether you can rekindle that relationship…
Goodness, even whether you fall into the 90+% of vaccine effectiveness.
You can’t control it all.
And I wouldn’t trust people to be compassionate.
They are sinners.
But God is always compassionate.
He has been compassionate towards you.
He is compassionate towards you.
He will be compassionate towards you.
2) Show God’s Compassion
Because compassion isn’t meant to be just a God thing.
But a God’s people thing.
Look at what God says to his people:
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another.”
Colossians 3:12 says, “As God’s holy people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion.”
1 Peter 3:8-9, “All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing.”
What does that mean in 2021?
A time when people love to use fear to accomplish their goals?
It means that YOU, dear believer, don’t.
You, dear believer, show compassion.
It means wearing a mask, even though you’re vaccinated – just to ease other’s fears.
It means handing over a couple of dollars in your pocket to help the guy on the street.
It means staying calm, kind, and gentle even when your spouse, your kids, your parents aren’t.
It means listening to your friend from a different culture speak of the racism they’ve experienced –without assuming you know more about what they’ve experienced than they do.
Compassion means kindness.
Compassion means gentleness.
Compassion means caring.
Maybe this doesn’t seem hard to you.
Maybe you enjoy showing compassion to your baby.
Maybe you enjoy showing compassion to your kid.
Maybe you enjoy showing compassion to people in need.
But pay close attention to that what now.
It says, “Show GOD’S compassion.”
The other day I found Daniela on the porch.
She was squatting down.
Moving her hands in a gentle petting motion.
Soothingly saying, “Hola.”
The animal she was being so compassionate to?
My first thought is “Get away! It’s a bee. It’ll hurt you.”
Daniela’s thought? “I will show you compassion.”
I still moved her away from the bee.
Who’s more in line with God?
“Don’t show compassion, you might get hurt.”
“I’m showing compassion no matter what.”
God calls us to show compassion even if it may hurt.
Especially when it may hurt.
Even to the ones who are out to hurt us.
Because he showed compassion to us when it hurt.
That’s the compassion God wants you to have.
Not just for the people that have had compassion on you.
Not just for the people that you like.
Not just for the people that can get you back.
For people who can never pay you back.
For people that haven’t done anything likable.
For people that can might even hurt you.
In fact, Isn’t that what God did in today’s account?
On the one hand, this story is about God’s compassion to Moses.
But, on the other hand, it is about God’s compassion to Pharoah.
Think about it:
That baby becomes the mother of Moses.
That Moses becomes the leader of the people of Israel to safety.
That people of Israel become the bearers of the promised Savior.
That Savior was our Savior.
That Savior, get this, was Pharoah’s Savior.
God kept Moses safe from Pharaoh’s hand that…
God might keep Pharaoh safe from His hand.