Exodus chapter 2 records the events surrounding Moses’ birth and early life as written by the pen of Moses himself. The details omitted and the lack of embellishment show us a great deal of Moses’ humility. “He was a goodly child” is about all that he writes that might even be remotely construed as any sort of admission of his own exceptionalism; but this, it would seem, has more to do with explanation of why his parents would risk their own lives to preserve his. This is perhaps his own way of disclosing how it was that, out of the multitude of Israel, his own parents were extraordinary in this act of saving their child.
That God was involved in this process from beginning to end we cannot doubt. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Amram and Jochebed (as the parents will be identified in Exodus 6:20) were moved by faith to hide the child, not fearing Pharaoh’s edict (Heb. 11:23). It would seem to fit that placing Moses in the basket and then placing it in the Nile River was a Divinely inspired action, as well, rather than something born of their own ingenuity. The imagery here of one being saved from death in an “ark” while others around him were drowned to death in that same river (Ex. 1:22) is a reminder of another delivered by God from death through similar means (Gen. 7:1). The fact that Jochebed sends her daughter, Miriam, to see what becomes of the child (Ex. 2:4) would lead us to believe that she were following the directions of Another rather than blindly casting her beloved son’s fate to the mercies of a crocodile infested waterway. The Lord has shown us to do this, dear Miriam, but go and see what will become of your brother.
In a series of events that cannot be explained by any other means than God’s Providence, Moses is rescued by none other than Pharaoh’s daughter and sent back to his own mother to be nursed. Jochebed is even paid for the services of nursing her own child (v. 9). We do not know how long Moses lived with his own parents before being returned to the daughter of Pharaoh, but it must have been long enough for him to learn of his own heritage and the events surrounding his birth. It was on his own mother’s lap that he learned of the God of Israel and God’s purpose for his own life. He was to grow up to be the deliverer of God’s people from the bondage of the Egyptians.
For most of the first forty years of Moses’ life, he lived in the household of Pharaoh and was educated in all the knowledge and wisdom of Egypt (Acts 7:22). But he never forgot what his own mother had told him. He was called to be the deliverer of his people. The time came when he went down to visit the Hebrews, and when he did, he witnessed first-hand the terrible and violent oppression of their Egyptian taskmasters. He saw one of these taskmasters beating a Hebrew slave. Moses killed the taskmaster. I do not know if Moses’ plan was to single-handedly, covertly assassinate all of the taskmasters in Egypt, but it seems that Moses felt that the deed he committed was the method whereby he would deliver his people (Acts 7:25). This was how he interpreted that “by his hand” the people would be delivered. He believed that his Hebrew brothers would be grateful for his act of killing one of their oppressors, but they were not. Instead, they turned against him (Ex. 2:14)!
Moses was “mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22), and apparently strong and powerful. He was educated in the most sophisticated wisdom of the world. He was in the prime of his life and was the adopted grandson of the King of Egypt. What more could be expected of the “deliverer of the nation of Israel”? The only problem is that God used none of these things. Moses was ready at this time to do what he felt needed to be done to free his people, but God was not. Another forty years would transpire before God’s perfect timing would come to fruition. By the time Moses encountered God at the Burning Bush, he was an eighty year old sheep herder living in the land of Midian. But this was the man who God wanted to use. Not the Prince of Egypt, mighty in words and deeds; but the son-in-law of a desert-dwelling, Midianite priest who was “slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” This was a man who God could use.
So often we feel that it is our own strengths and abilities that are most useful to God, but those things usually just get in the way. God is still using people in such a way that they have no choice but to trust in Him. And that is exactly the people who He wants.
“…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6)