SATURDAY 08.27.16 – Moses went back to the land of Egypt

Daily Scripture: Exodus 4:18-23

18 Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Please let me go back to my family in Egypt and see whether or not they are still living.”

Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

19 The Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt because everyone there who wanted to kill you has died.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his children, put them on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. Moses also carried the shepherd’s rod from God in his hand.

21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, make sure that you appear before Pharaoh and do all the amazing acts that I’ve given you the power to do. But I’ll make him stubborn so that he won’t let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my oldest son. 23 I said to you, “Let my son go so he could worship me.” But you refused to let him go. As a result, now I’m going to kill your oldest son.’”

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

It’s interesting that Moses did not tell his father-in-law, “I’m taking your grandchildren and daughter to Egypt to challenge Pharaoh’s power.” Remember the videos in last week’s sermon of Egypt’s pyramids and huge temples? (If you missed them, click here for the pyramids, and here for the temples.) In this extraordinary story, an 80-year-old shepherd set out with just his family, one donkey, and a shepherd’s rod to oppose and overcome that great empire. But the shepherd’s rod was “from God.” God went with him—and that single fact radically shifted the odds that seemed so stacked against Moses’ mission.

  • In Exodus 3:19, God told Moses, “I know that Egypt’s king won’t let you go unless he’s forced to do it.” In today’s reading, we find a phrase that troubles many people, when God says, “I’ll make him stubborn.” We’ll examine this more closely next week. But realize that Pharaoh was NOT willing to release the Israelites before Moses ever appeared before him. What God did through Moses made Pharaoh’s stubbornness dramatically visible, but God did not have to make the Egyptian ruler stubborn. Pharaoh had already made those choices. How about you? If you stubbornly resist something you believe God is calling you to do, is your stubbornness your responsibility, or God’s? How can you open your heart to become more willing to follow God’s leading?

Prayer

O God, I try to imagine how exposed Moses must have felt taking his family (and almost nothing else) with him to Egypt. But somehow he was eternally safe, because you were with him. Heighten my awareness that you are with me, too, today and every day. Amen.

Family Activity

Gather your family in a comfortable setting outside of your home such as the mall or a restaurant. Invite your family to be loud and talkative while trying to listen to the sounds around them. Then invite them to be quiet and still while listening to the sounds around. Talk about and listen to what each person heard each time. Discuss under what circumstances it was easier to listen to the surrounding sounds. Connect this with how we listen to God. How do we best hear God? Is it when we are rushing around, full of activity and constantly talking? Or is it when we pause to be still, read our Bibles, pray and worship? As a family, build some time into your schedules to listening more intentionally to God and one another. Ask God to help you be better listeners.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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FRIDAY 08.26.16 – More excuses, same divine calling

Daily Scripture: Exodus 4:10-17

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “My Lord, I’ve never been able to speak well, not yesterday, not the day before, and certainly not now since you’ve been talking to your servant. I have a slow mouth and a thick tongue.”

11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives people the ability to speak? Who’s responsible for making them unable to speak or hard of hearing, sighted or blind? Isn’t it I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I’ll help you speak, and I’ll teach you what you should say.”

13 But Moses said, “Please, my Lord, just send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord got angry at Moses and said, “What about your brother Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak very well. He’s on his way out to meet you now, and he’s looking forward to seeing you. 15 Speak to him and tell him what he’s supposed to say. I’ll help both of you speak, and I’ll teach both of you what to do. 16 Aaron will speak for you to the people. He’ll be a spokesperson for you, and you will be like God for him. 17 Take this shepherd’s rod with you too so that you can do the signs.”

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

Moses remembered well Pharaoh’s power and arrogance, and kept making excuses. In verse 13, he expressed a sort of “last resort” desperation: “Please, my Lord, just send someone else.” But God didn’t stop calling. When God said Moses’ brother Aaron was already on his way to meet Moses and help him, the chain of excuses finally came to an end.

  • Review in this week’s readings (Exodus 3:11 – 4:13) all of the reasons Moses offered for not doing what God was calling him to do. With how many, if any, of them do you resonate? The thing Moses didn’t do was walk away from the conversation. Are you willing to keep listening, and pushing back if you must, until God is able to use you in your home, workplace, neighborhood or somewhere else that you sense God calling you to?
  • Most strengths come with some kind of trade-off, some area in which we are not as strong. Those who study and write about strengths note that seldom does anyone have all the abilities needed for important tasks. In what parts of life could you benefit from having an “Aaron”—one or more people whose gifts lie in areas where you are not as strong? How can you work with God to find those people?

Prayer

O God, Moses was a great man, yet throughout his story he had other people who helped and supported him. Help me to find the people I need to help me make of my life and service to you all that it can be. Amen.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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THURSDAY 08.25.16 – Moses’ excuses, the Lord’s power

Daily Scripture: Exodus 4:1-9

4:1 Then Moses replied, “But what if they don’t believe me or pay attention to me? They might say to me, ‘The Lord didn’t appear to you!’”

2 The Lord said to him, “What’s that in your hand?”

Moses replied, “A shepherd’s rod.”

3 The Lord said, “Throw it down on the ground.” So Moses threw it on the ground, and it turned into a snake. Moses jumped back from it. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out and grab the snake by the tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a rod in his hand. 5 “Do this so that they will believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God has in fact appeared to you.”

6 Again, the Lord said to Moses, “Put your hand inside your coat.” So Moses put his hand inside his coat. When he took his hand out, his hand had a skin disease flaky like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your coat.” So Moses put his hand back inside his coat. When he took it back out again, the skin of his hand had returned to normal. 8 “If they won’t believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second sign. 9 If they won’t believe even these two signs or pay attention to you, then take some water from the Nile River and pour it out on dry ground. The water that you take from the Nile will turn into blood on the dry ground.”

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

Even having God reveal a unique divine name didn’t completely “sell” Moses on God’s call. Next, he raised the issue that the Israelite people weren’t there with him at the burning bush. They’d have to take his word for what had happened, and Moses feared, “They might say, ‘The Lord didn’t appear to you!’” No problem—God gave him signs to show cynics the divine power at work.

  • As Moses struggled with God’s call, God didn’t give Moses 10,000 soldiers, or even a spear-proof chariot. Instead, God asked, “What’s that in your hand?” He used what Moses already had. (On Saturday, we’ll read that when Moses left for Egypt, he took that staff with him.) What’s in your hand? What abilities, experiences or connections do you have that God can use, if you make them available?
  • Notice that God didn’t start with visible, hard-to-explain signs. Sometimes we think, “If God would just dazzle me with some sign of power, then I could believe.” But Scripture often told stories that show people who saw signs, yet still refused to believe (including Pharaoh, as we’ll see—and notably in Jesus’ life). What, now or earlier in your life, caused you to hold back from believing? How did you make the inner shift to becoming willing to believe?

Prayer

Dear God, I sometimes wish for some amazing sign of power, yet I shrug off a beautiful sunset or a stirringly joyful bird’s song as just business as usual. Open my heart to the signs of your power and love all around me. Amen.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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WEDNESDAY 08.24.16 – “I Am Who I Am”—the one Lord’s name

Daily Scripture: Exodus 3:13-20

13 But Moses said to God, “If I now come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they are going to ask me, ‘What’s this God’s name?’ What am I supposed to say to them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. So say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” 15 God continued, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how all generations will remember me.

16 “Go and get Israel’s elders together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me. The Lord said, “I’ve been paying close attention to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 I’ve decided to take you away from the harassment in Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land full of milk and honey.”’ 18 They will accept what you say to them. Then you and Israel’s elders will go to Egypt’s king and say to him, ‘The Lord, the Hebrews’ God, has met with us. So now let us go on a three-day journey into the desert so that we can offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.’ 19 However, I know that Egypt’s king won’t let you go unless he’s forced to do it. 20 So I’ll use my strength and hit Egypt with dramatic displays of my power. After that, he’ll let you go.

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

Like most ancient peoples, the Egyptians believed in many “gods,” including the Pharaoh. Moses initial question—“What’s this God’s name?”—had a “Which one of the many are you?” ring to it. But God’s reply (“I Am Who I Am”—Hebrew YHWH) identified the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the source and ground of all life, as the only God, the sole reason that (as philosophers might say) there is “something instead of nothing.”

  • Most modern English translations (e.g. the Common English Bible, New International Version and New Revised Standard Version) print the Hebrew YHWH as Lord, using the capital letters to signal the divine name’s uniqueness. The other common term, Elohim, was more generic, and is usually translated “God.” Learn how your preferred English Bible handles this—it will deepen and enrich your understanding of many Old Testament stories.
  • For people who’d been slaves for many years, it was important to remember their heritage—“the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.” It’s your heritage, too. The apostle Paul wrote that “if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants” (Galatians 3:29). Re-read this dramatic passage, focusing on what it tells you about the Lord you serve, the Lord who redeemed and guides you.

Prayer

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in some ways those names seem so long ago, and almost too big to fit a regular person. But they were regular people, too—the “bigness” and enduring quality was in you. Thank you for including me in your eternal purpose. Amen.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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TUESDAY 08.23.16 – “I’m sending you to Pharaoh—I will be with you”

Daily Scripture: Exodus 3:7-12

7 Then the Lord said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain. 8 I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey, a place where the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites all live. 9 Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. 10 So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 God said, “I’ll be with you. And this will show you that I’m the one who sent you. After you bring the people out of Egypt, you will come back here and worship God on this mountain.”

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

At first Moses just seemed curious. “How can that bush be in flames, yet not burn up?” Then he took off his sandals and hid his face from God’s glorious presence. But God’s call— “I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people… out of Egypt” truly shocked Moses. His first reply was, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh?” Moses had grown up in Pharaoh’s court—he knew the king’s arrogance and claims to being a god. But God promised Moses, “I will be with you.”

  • Moses didn’t feel strong enough, or important enough, to carry out God’s astonishing call. Go as one man, with no army at all, and demand that Pharaoh let most of his slave labor force go just because God told him to? How did God respond in verse 12? What limits do you see on your ability to live for God? How (if at all) does it change your view of those limits if you believe God will be with you?
  • Moses, raised in a palace, had spent years following a flock of sheep or goats around in the desert. Do you suppose he ever thought, during those long years, “I guess this is all God has for me”? In what ways was his realization that, on his own, he wasn’t anywhere near strong or important enough to carry out the divine commission a key part of what made him an instrument God could use?

Prayer

Lord God, there was only one Moses. But there are many missions, large and small, needed to help your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Show me my mission(s), and guide and strengthen me for them. Amen.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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MONDAY 08.22.16 – “A flame of fire in the middle of a bush”

Daily Scripture: Exodus 2:23-25, 3:1-6

23 A long time passed, and the Egyptian king died. The Israelites were still groaning because of their hard work. They cried out, and their cry to be rescued from the hard work rose up to God. 24 God heard their cry of grief, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 God looked at the Israelites, and God understood.

3:1 Moses was taking care of the flock for his father-in-law Jethro [also called “Reuel”], Midian’s priest. He led his flock out to the edge of the desert, and he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. 2 The Lord’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up. 3 Then Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up.

4 When the Lord saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

Moses said, “I’m here.”

5 Then the Lord said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” 6 He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

When he became an adult, Moses showed his compassion for his fellow Hebrews (albeit in an unwise, impulsive way) by killing an Egyptian slave master. He fled to Midian, and found a home when his compassion for the weak led him to defend Reuel’s daughters from bullies at a well (Exodus 2:11-22). He stayed “a long time,” with a steady, safe (if fairly boring) job tending his father-in-law’s sheep. One fateful day God called to Moses in a burning bush that didn’t burn up.

  • “God looked at the Israelites, and God understood” (Exodus 2:25). Yet God felt Israel’s suffering as soon as Pharaoh began afflicting them. God didn’t just wake up after 80 or 100 years of cruelty and think, “Hey—why’s he hurting my people?” Much later, Peter wrote about the mystery of God’s timing: “With the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise” (2 Peter 3:8-9). Can you trust that God is aware of whatever worries you’re facing? How can you learn to trust God even when help seems to take a long time to arrive?
  • “Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” What are some important ways in today’s world that you can show reverence and respect for the God of the universe as you come into God’s presence in worship, in prayer or in other ways? Do you think showing reverence and respect dulls the edge of the message of God’s love for you, or do the two realities fit together well?

Prayer

Lord God, sometimes when I’m in a hurry, you do not seem to be. Teach me to trust in your eternal love, even when it is hard for me to understand your eternal patience. Amen.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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SUNDAY 08.21.16 – Prayer Tip

Daily Scripture

Exodus 3:1-10 (selected verses): Moses was taking care of the flock for his father-in-law Jethro, Midian’s priest. He led his flock out to the edge of the desert, and he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. The LORD’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up…When the LORD saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” Moses said, “I’m here.”… Then the LORD said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain. I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey… So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

Prayer Tip

My husband brought a song to my attention. It is titled “Difference Maker” by the Christian band NEEDTOBREATHE. Here’s the song if you want to give it a listen:

The title and the tune may sound catchy, but the lyrics make the song a sort of lament. The song says God gives us free will, so we can “find a fortune, let him ruin it with his own two hands…” The song’s irony is that having made a mess of life and talents, the singer then sings this ignorant and boastful tune: “Oh, I am a difference maker. Oh, I am the only one who speaks to him. Oh, I am the friendliest of friends of God.”

As we look at Moses’ calling this week, the song made me think about the idea of “calling” in our lives. I find myself asking: How often have we convinced ourselves that God was leading us when idolatry, perfectionism, pride or ambition were really in the driver’s seat? How can we see when we go astray? We want to make a difference in the world, but true change isn’t something we can just will. Instead, it seems to depend on a trust and willingness to follow God’s unpredictable promptings in our lives.

At a recent meeting with my congregational care ministry team, a friend told of a time recently when he had a simple sense he should call another person he knew was in need. As we told the story, we were all nodding our heads. He had clearly listened to God’s voice prompting him to show love. These God moments can seem so extraordinary—yet most of them, like this one, happen in ordinary parts of life. After he shared his story, my friend concluded with words to this effect: “I wonder if we will laugh when we are united with Christ and figure out that faithfulness rests on something as simple as being ourselves and trusting the Holy Spirit in our guts.”

We have an uncanny ability to make a mess of life while trying to figure out how to be the best at something—even being a Christian. This week, in prayer, I challenge you to confess any ways you have been looking to make meaning apart from God’s purpose for you. Ask for a renewed sense of the Spirit to rain down on your “gut,” and for a willingness to simply listen.

 – Rev. Katherine Ebling-Frazier, Pastor of Prayer


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SATURDAY 08.20.16 – Moses: Anger in Egypt, a refuge in Midian

Daily Scripture: Exodus 2:11-22

11 One day after Moses had become an adult, he went out among his people and he saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 He looked around to make sure no one else was there. Then he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

13 When Moses went out the next day, he saw two Hebrew men fighting with each other. Moses said to the one who had started the fight, “Why are you abusing your fellow Hebrew?”

14 He replied, “Who made you a boss or judge over us? Are you planning to kill me like you killed the Egyptian?”

Then Moses was afraid when he realized: They obviously know what I did. 15 When Pharaoh heard about it, he tried to kill Moses.

But Moses ran away from Pharaoh and settled down in the land of Midian. One day Moses was sitting by a well. 16 Now there was a Midianite priest who had seven daughters. The daughters came to draw water and fill the troughs so that their father’s flock could drink. 17 But some shepherds came along and rudely chased them away. Moses got up, rescued the women, and gave their flock water to drink.

18 When they went back home to their father Reuel, he asked, “How were you able to come back home so soon today?”

19 They replied, “An Egyptian man rescued us from a bunch of shepherds. Afterward, he even helped us draw water to let the flock drink.”

20 Reuel said to his daughters, “So where is he? Why did you leave this man? Invite him to eat a meal with us.”

21 Moses agreed to come and live with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses as his wife. 22 She gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, “because,” he said, “I’ve been an immigrant living in a foreign land.”

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

Exodus did not specify the age at which Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses—it just said it happened after he “had grown up.” In this reading, he “had become an adult,” strong enough to kill a cruel Egyptian slave driver. His compassion for another Hebrew was admirable. His action, on the other hand, drew negative reactions from other Hebrews as well as from the Egyptians. He fled to Midian, which lay outside Egyptian territory, east of what we today call the Gulf of Aqaba. He showed his compassion again in protecting the women shepherds, and as a result found a home and a family.

  • What do you believe motivated Moses to kill the Egyptian? What did the story of Moses’ care for Reuel’s daughters reveal about Moses? What positive sides of his character did both stories highlight? What made his choices in the story about Reuel’s daughters wiser and more productive than his killing of the Egyptian slave master? When have you seen an unjust act or situation that made you angry? What, if anything, did you do about it? What can this part of Moses’ story teach you about how to deal with those situations?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, as the song by Hillsong asks, “Break my heart for what breaks yours.” Grow in me a keen sensitivity to evil and injustice, and an equally keen sense of what I can do about it that will actually help. Amen.

Family Activity

Research the women in Bible, particularly those connected with the story of Moses found in the book of Exodus. With younger children, use a Bible storybook and discover how many stories of women are told. With older kids, use a concordance or the Internet to explore the stories of women. You may also want to discover how many names of women are mentioned whose stories are not told. Read a few of the stories and describe the qualities of the women mentioned. Discuss what their stories teach us about God. Think of the women in your life today and compare Biblical women with them. Write a note to a woman who displays God-like qualities. Thank her for sharing her faith. As a family, commit to praying for the special women in your life.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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FRIDAY 08.19.16 – Desperate mother, compassionate princess

Daily Scripture: Exodus 2:1-10

2:1 Now a man from Levi’s household married a Levite woman. 2 The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that the baby was healthy and beautiful, so she hid him for three months. 3 When she couldn’t hide him any longer, she took a reed basket and sealed it up with black tar. She put the child in the basket and set the basket among the reeds at the riverbank. 4 The baby’s older sister stood watch nearby to see what would happen to him.

5 Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, while her women servants walked along beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds, and she sent one of her servants to bring it to her. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child. The boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.”

7 Then the baby’s sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Would you like me to go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”

8 Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, “Yes, do that.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I’ll pay you for your work.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10 After the child had grown up, she brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I pulled him out of the water.”

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

Against the backdrop of oppression and hatred, Exodus recorded a close-up of one Hebrew woman’s response. She had a “healthy and beautiful” baby boy. But babies are hard to keep secret. In desperation, she placed him in a basket, and placed it in an area of reeds where (it seems) she knew one of Pharaoh’s daughters often bathed. The princess recognized the child as a Hebrew, but felt compassion and ignored her father’s vicious orders. God cared for Moses and his birth mother—Pharaoh’s daughter even paid his own mother to nurse him!

  • Focus first on Moses’ mother and sister. Even when trapped in dreadful circumstances not of their own making, how did they show initiative and ingenuity instead of throwing up their hands in despair? When they placed their precious baby among the reeds, do you believe they had any guarantee that the baby would be safe? Imagine the range of emotions Moses’ mother must have felt when she received the job offer from the Egyptian princess!
  • If you were “casting” this story, do you think you would have chosen Pharaoh’s daughter as the most likely person to save Moses from the river? What qualities of character did she show when she spotted the strange basket floating among the reeds? Are you aware of other times in history when good character qualities thwarted tyrants who ordered people to set aside curiosity or compassion?

Prayer

Lord God, when life gets hard (as, sooner or later, it always does), help me to have the determination to keep trying that Moses’ mother showed. And keep my heart always open and compassionate, like Pharaoh’s daughter. Amen.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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THURSDAY 08.18.16 – Brave midwives: more powerful than an obsessively fearful king

Daily Scripture: Exodus 1:15-22

15 The king of Egypt spoke to two Hebrew midwives named Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women give birth and you see the baby being born, if it’s a boy, kill him. But if it’s a girl, you can let her live.” 17 Now the two midwives respected God so they didn’t obey the Egyptian king’s order. Instead, they let the baby boys live.

18 So the king of Egypt called the two midwives and said to them, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the baby boys live?”

19 The two midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because Hebrew women aren’t like Egyptian women. They’re much stronger and give birth before any midwives can get to them.” 20 So God treated the midwives well, and the people kept on multiplying and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives respected God, God gave them households of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave an order to all his people: “Throw every baby boy born to the Hebrews into the Nile River, but you can let all the girls live.”

Read other translations at Biblegateway.com or youversion.com.

Reflection Questions

We read New Testament stories in which poor rabbis like the apostle Paul or Jesus himself faced powerful Roman rulers—and we realize the durable power was with the person who seemed weaker. Exodus did the same thing. Pharaoh was a title—Exodus didn’t even name the fear-crazed, genocidal man who held it. But Shiphrah and Puah, two powerless midwives, “respected God.” In the end, their courage defeated the most powerful man in their world.

  • Our world still tends to think in terms of “power.” Too often “might makes right,” it seems. Think of news stories you’ve heard in which some elected leader or celebrity, challenged for doing something wrong, responded with “Do you know who I am?” Can you imagine Pharaoh asking Shiphrah and Puah that question? How can you, however powerful or lowly your status, avoid dealing with others from a “Do you know who I am?” stance?
  • Honesty is a virtue the Bible praised (e.g. Proverbs 12:19). Yet, faced with this extreme situation, the midwives Shiphrah and Puah told Pharaoh what we might describe as a “white lie,” or at least an evasive answer. (They did not say, “Your order is wrong, and we refuse to obey it.”) Are there times when one value (in this case, saving innocent lives) takes precedence over another value (telling the absolute truth)? If so, how can you avoid using that reasoning to excuse destructive behavior?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, give me the moral courage to do what’s right. Keep me from abusing any great or small power I have in was that hurt others. And give me discernment to sense the highest value in challenging situations. Amen.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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