Monday, May 26, 2014

Bible Study: Jochebed

Last week I started sharing a Bible Study titled: "Strong Women of the Bible".  You can find the introduction here.

Exodus 1:8-22;2:1-10 Numbers 26:59  Hebrews 11:23
Jochebed is the mother of Moses.  She lived during a very terrible time in the history of the Hebrews.  Jochebed and her family lived as slaves for the Pharaoh of Egypt.  The Hebrew slaves in those days were used to make bricks, by hand, and to build beautiful cities for the king of Egypt.
"And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:  And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage..." Exodus 1:13-14
We, in our modern day, do not know anything about the life of a slave, except for those things that we read.  Slaves were totally at the mercy of their masters.  They had no say over their own lives or families, and could be beaten or killed without question.  The independent culture of today cannot comprehend the reality of this kind of life.  This is where we find Jochebed.  As if the life of a slave wasn't terrible enough, Pharaoh made another decree.  All male babies born to the Hebrews would be killed.
"And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river..." Exodus 1:22
 Can you imagine?  To give birth to a boy and have him stolen from you and killed, and you could do absolutely nothing about it!  How terrible it would be to be so helpless, and not be able to protect your child.  It would seem in the face of these insurmountable circumstances, it would be easy just to give up.  Whatever happens will happen.  There is nothing that can be done about it.
So, what about Jochebed?  Here she is, a woman, a slave, living at the mercy of Pharaoh and his taskmasters, but a woman that trusted Jehovah, and made a decision to not be helpless, not to give up hope but to protect her child by risking her own life, and by putting him in the hands of an Almighty God.
"And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months" Exodus 2:2
Here is where she risks her life.  She hid her newborn for 3 months.  What do you think would have happened if one of the Egyptian taskmasters had discovered this baby?  Certainly the baby would have been killed, and Jochebed and her husband probably would have been killed too.  By the way, why would you want to save your child, if he was destined for a life of cruel bondage as a slave?  Jochebed could not see the future.  She did not know that her baby would one day lead the whole nation of Israel out of that bondage, but she understood that God had a purpose for his life.  God, who gave her a boy, when it would have been so much easier to have had a girl.  But, this is where her trust in God came in.
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Jeremiah 1:5
In the country where we serve, people want sons.  Many will come forward in a meeting to ask us to pray that their unborn child, is a boy.  Even those who profess to be Christians are tempted to end the life of their unborn child, when they fear they will have another girl. In industrialized nations many will opt for an abortion when they are told their child may be diseased, or suffer during their days on this earth.   I am always saddened and sickened to hear these stories.  God, who is the Giver of life, has a purpose in the life of every boy and girl that he sends into our families.  To end the life of our child because they may not be the son we think we need, or they may suffer in this life, shows our lack of trust in the sovereignty of God.  Jochebed got a son, when a daughter would have been better (humanly speaking). She got a son that would live a life of suffering and bondage.  But she must have realized that her child was " heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward". Psalms 127:3  So it is with every child that the Lord sends to us.
The day came when Jochebed realized that her baby could no longer be hidden.  But this mother was not ready to give up, she was just getting started!  "And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink." Exodus 2:3  What was she doing here?  She was using her God-given intelligence to move forward.  One phrase that I use often with my kids is: "You have a brain, so use it!"  When a crisis comes or a decision has to be made we can't let fear paralyze us into inaction.  Doing nothing would have cost the life of her child.  Also, interestingly enough, it is not Jochebed's husband that is following through with this plan.  We are not told where he is or what he is doing during this time, but he is not mentioned.  I will tell you that many times on the mission field when I have been faced with trouble, a crisis, or a time that a decision needed to be made, my husband has been in a remote village with no cellphone reception.  Please understand I am in no way down playing the role of a husband and father.  My point it that we cannot always wait for someone else to make the decision or take the action.  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally..." James 1:5
At this point, Jochebed is placing her child in the hands of God and trusting Him for the outcome.
 "And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him." Exodus 2:4
Some have suggested that Jochebed knew that the daughter of Pharaoh would come down to bathe at this time every day.  I don't know that I agree with that statement, but we have no way of knowing.  But, why would she think the daughter of Pharaoh would save her child?  She could have very well thrown him into the river herself!  Miriam was there watching, to see what would become of him.  Jochebed had no way of influencing the outcome.  Her child was totally in the hands of God.  We can see here the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6.  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths."  Jochebed trusted in the Lord to direct her path, from the first day of her child's life, when she hid him, until this day when she let him go.
What is the end of the story?  The daughter of Pharaoh found the baby, and had compassion on him.  His sister said she would find a nurse for the baby, of course it was his own mother.  Who, but God, could have brought about such an outcome?  Jochebed received her baby back into her care, and was paid to raise him!  Exodus 2:6-9  During those precious years that she had her son, Jochebed nurtured him in the things of God, so that later, the man Moses became the leader of the nation of Israel.  The one who led them out of slavery.  In the book of Hebrews it is said of him:  "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of  Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season".  Hebrews 11:24-25  Moses, not the son of Pharaoh's daughter, the son of Jochebed, a strong woman.

What are some principles we can take from the life of this strong woman?
1. She did not give up hope.
2.  She risked her life for the life of her child.
3.  She understood that God has a purpose for every life.
4.  She used her God-given wisdom to act, when necessary
5.  She placed her child into the hands of God.
6.  She nurtured her child in the things of God, so that he, one day, made the decision to reject the world, and follow the leading of God in his life. 

1 comment:

  1. I've always marvelled at how much training Jochebed put into Moses in the short time she had him. She took that precious time and taught him all about God knowing she would have to give him up to Pharoah's daughter. Talk about a strong woman!! Thanks for the insight and sharing this study!!