Moses: The Power and Peace of Providence: Exodus 2:1-10
The story of Moses and the Exodus is one filled with some of the greatest miracles recorded in the Bible, but it doesn’t begin that way. Instead, it begins in the same way most of life begins, God’s people faithfully believing, working and hoping not for a miracle from God but still looking for help from God. What they and we are hoping for and praying for is God’s help through His Providence.
The providence of God is a doctrine that modern Christians simply don’t appreciate or fully understand, and we desperately need to because it is through the providence that we find the peace of God and can appropriate the power of God.
Providence And An Inconvenient Infant - Exodus 2:1-4
And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could no 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. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
God’s Providence Shown in Moses
To the world Moses was just an insignificant, inconvenient child of a slave. To the Egyptians, all the children of the Hebrew people were a political problem that they dealt with severely by throwing the male babies into the Nile River. There they would drown or to be eaten by the crocodiles that waited there.
To the family of Moses, his birth was a crisis. How do they protect their child? To save the child meant disobeying the law of the land, it meant becoming an outlaw family and risking all their lives.
But to God Moses was to be an answer to 100s of years of prayer and His agent of providence. Here was the infant who would by God’s will and plan become the leader who would deliver Israel from Egypt.
It is no exaggeration to say that Moses was the most important person in God’s plans since Abraham. To the world he was a inconvenient problem, but God would make him one of history’s greatest hero. It is a story that is filled with miracles but it begins with providence.
Let me give you some definitions.
The word providence comes from two Latin words, pro means before and video which means to see. Providence literally means “to see before” This means that God sees all things, events and possibilities before they happen and makes his plans and provisions accordingly.
(Here is your bonus for coming to church today. You now know you are speaking Latin every time you say “video.” See what you might have missed if you hadn’t come today, you’d be speaking Latin in total ignorance.)
I like this quote according to on Biblical scholar, Walter Brueggemann. He said, “Providence is "the hidden, patient, sovereign enactment of God’s overriding purpose beyond the will and choice of human agents."
Here is a Theological Definition from Henry Thiessen’s “Lectures in Systematic Theology
The Doctrine of Providence is, “The Christian view that affirms that God has not merely created the universe, together with all its properties and powers, and that he is preserving all that he has created, but that as a holy, benevolent, wise and omnipotent being, he also exercises sovereign control over it. This sovereign control is called providence.”
Providence literally means foresight, but theologically and practically it is used to denote God's preserving and governing all things by means of second causes. Not direct miracles from God but all events directed by God.
We see providence in the story of Moses, but God’s providence doesn’t apply just to Bible heroes, it also is in effect in your life everyday.
God’s Providence Seen in Us
You see to the world we, like Moses are also insignificant. To the world we just don’t count for much. The world sees all of us, all of humankind as less than specks of random evolutionary chance. We exist by nothing more than the random toss of the evolutionary dice or the spin of a chemical, biological roulette wheel. All of mankind, all of the universe was just really, really lucky.
And because we are so insignificant to the scope of the universe and chance, then what happens to us is also insignificant. You really don’t matter and your problems, dreams, life, hope and even existence? Well they don’t matter any more than the a pet cat or dog, maybe if you a member of Peta, even less that a dog.
This is why in the world if a child is a going to be problem, do just what Pharaoh did, kill it. The only difference is that Pharaoh couldn’t kill them in the womb and so he drowned them by the thousands only moments after taking their first breaths. What did it matter they were only insignificant slaves?
What does it matter today? They are only meaningless blobs of human DNA? If a child is a problem, or you can’t afford a child, or if the child will be autistic or have Downs Syndrome then get rid of it. Aren’t we so much more civilized because we don’t throw babies to crocodiles anymore? It doesn’t matter because they are only here by chance anyway. They aren’t special, they aren’t important, they are just a product of random chance.
That is what the world says, but God’s word says something much different.
Jeremiah 1:5 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.
We can see this in the life of an unborn child, but understand, to God, nothing in all of His creation is by chance. We are all a part of the providence of an all knowing, all powerful, all loving God! None of us are here by random chance but by the sovereign plan of God.
Neither are the events in our lives haphazard or by chance, God is aware of what is happening in our lives and if we but trust Him, God can use us and those events as His agents of providence.
Roman 8:28-31 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
This is the clearest verse on providence in the Bible. God foreknew those who would accept Christ as their savior, those were then predestined to be conformed to the image of the savior. When we heard the Gospel we were called and when we answered that call, as God had foreseen, we were then justified and though we are not yet in heaven we are in that same foreknowledge of God already glorified.
Paul then gives the “Challenge of Faith” “If God be for us, who can be against us!” God has already taken all things into account and nothing, nothing can happen that He has not planned for.
He works out that plan through providence.
Oswald Chambers was a Baptist Pastor who died at 35 ministering to the soldier of WW1 but God’s providence saw his work continuing on to this day. His wife was a stenographer and took notes of all of his sermons, lectures and talks. After he was died she moved back to England and ran a boarding house to try and provide a living for her family. Many nights she would sit by a typewriter, pore over her notes and to restore the words of her husband. God used these events and brought into existence one of the most widely distributed devotional books ever written, “My Upmost for His Highest.”
This is what Chambers said about providence in the life of God’s people.
“The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you can’t understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God brings you to places, among people, and into certain conditions to accomplish a definite purpose through the intercession of the Spirit in you. All your circumstances are in the hand of God … Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use the everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne, and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them. In this way God is going to touch the whole world with His saints.”
Oswald Chambers could never have known when he died so young, leaving a wife and child behind that God would use him and his wife to “touch the whole world with his words.” He couldn’t understand how but he never doubted the providence of his benevolent, gracious God.
Let me draw another example of providence from the life of Moses.
Providence And A Pitying Princess - Exodus 2:5-6
And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
God’s Providence Seen in Moses’ Saviour
What the world sees in the story of Moses.
A rich young woman comes to the river to bath. She is the daughter of a King, a king who has ordered the death of the very child that now hides in a basket floating in the river. To the world this is the worst thing that could have happened. Just when it seems that it can’t get any worse the princess spies the ark, has it brought to her and then the daughter of the man who is attempting genocide on the Hebrews recognizes the child. “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
Everything has gone wrong. All the risk by the midwives, the prayers and sacrifice of the parents and the watchcare of his sister was for nothing. The baby Moses has just been delivered into the very teeth of the beast. Moses is lost even before he was given that name.
This is what the world sees in this situation, but that is not what God foresees. Amazingly, incredibly but most of all providentially, when God needed a savior for the savior of His people, he sent an Egyptian princess, the daughter of the Pharoah who ordered the death of the very child, she is now looking at. God knew that the safest place to protect the babe was in the palace of Pharaoh, as a prince of Egypt.
Was it just chance? Was it just a very fortunate accident? No, it was God. It was His sovereignty put into practice at that time and place in Moses’ life, that is the power and peace of providence.
God’s Providence Seen in Our Saviour
Now, let me tell you how Go’s providence also saved us.
Many centuries later another savior was born, from the very people that Moses saved from Egypt. This savior was also born to oppressed Israelite parents. To the world they were unimportant, poor people, living in an obscure land, during an unremarkable time of human history.
This savior is not educated by the great minds of his day. He does not grow up in a palace. He is not trained to be a great soldier, scholar, or sovereign. Instead, he is trained by his earthly father to work with his hands, to be a maker of furniture or farm implements. The greatest thing the world would expect from Him would be a well-made table or chair.
But “in the fullness of time” this carpenter’s son the world sees, would truly be seen as the Son of God and savior of all mankind. He was not insignificant in the eyes of God.
He is the greatest example in all of eternity of God’s providence for us. This child was name Jesus and He is God in the flesh, God the Son. The Creator entered into his own creation and come forth not to be a simple carpenter but to be the Savior King.
In God’s providence this child was brought from the stable in Bethlehem to the Sermon On The Mount, from a carpenter’s shop to Calvary’s hill, and finally from a rocky grave to resurrection glory!
1 Timothy 1:9-10 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!
God’s providence saw Jesus born as a child to Mary and Joseph, in a stable over 2000 years ago and providence still brings His salvation today.
Almighty God is On the Line probably an urban myth but a good illustration. On one Saturday night, the pastor of Almighty God Tabernacle was working late, and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn't answer the phone. The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn't answer but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes. When he tried again, she answered right away. He said, “I tried calling earlier but you didn’t answer.” She said, “I sure didn’t hear anything.”
The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he'd used that Saturday night. The man on the other end wanted to know why he'd called on Saturday night. The pastor was dumbfounded and couldn't figure out what the guy was talking about. Then the caller said, "It rang and rang, but I didn't answer."
The pastor remembered the apparently misdirected call and apologized for disturbing the gentleman, explaining that he'd intended to call his wife. The man called said, "Well, let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, 'God if you're there, and you don't want me to do this, give me a sign now.' At that point my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, 'Almighty God'. It kept ringing and ringing but I was too afraid to answer!"
Transition: The providential Gospel.
Now that might be a good story but the reality of God’s providence bringing salvation to your own life is more improbable that a misplaced phone call at just the right time.
Think about this for a moment. Your eternal salvation depends on a child born more than 2000 years ago. Somehow the story of that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection must remain intact and unaltered and somehow reach you thousands of year later and thousands of miles from where it occurred. And you live in a world that didn’t even exist to the people of that time. In spite of attempts to destroy it, deny it and change it by kings, governments and false religions of the world, somehow the Gospel found you. Now, think of the all the ways and all the paths that brought that story to you personally. Every ancestor, pastor and missionary, and church that was a link in a chain that begins way back at the creation of the world, extends through the Old Testament, though 400 years of silence between the testaments, through the birth of Jesus, the birth of the church, the persecution, torture and death of millions believers who protected and passed on the Gospel. Now realize that just one person missing from that link or one change of one location or one event could spell the difference between Hell and Heaven. Yet amazingly, miraculously, providentially…. it came all the way to you and to me. We heard and we believed.
Was it was random chance, was some kind of coincidence? No, it was God!
Providence And A Gracious Guide - Exodus 2: 7-10
Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
God’s Providence Seen In Moses’ Mother
Miriam goes to the princess and tells her she knows a nurse for the child. Don’t you think the princess knew that the nurse must be the mother of the baby she is now holding. Sure she did, Yet in the providence of God she allows Miriam to bring Moses’ mother. She tells the mother to take the child, and nurse him. Not only does Moses get his start in life from his own mother and among his own people, but the princess pays her to care, love and teach her own son!
During that time Moses learned who he was and who his people really were. God saw to it that he received the training and the character that would make him the future leader of the greatest march to freedom every recorded.
All because God provided his own mother as a guide and that action of providence shaped the rest of Moses life. That world says it was just a coincidence, just a lucky chance. But it was not luck, it was not chance, or coincidence. It was providence. It was God!
Paul speaks of this in Hebrews 11:23-27 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. 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; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
Moses made that choice because of the guidance and teaching of his mother, she was God’s providential guide.
God’s Providence Seen In Our Guides
God is still providentially guiding us today and then making us his agents of providence in other people’s lives.
His Spirit - John 16:13-14 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
His Word - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
His Gifts in Us - Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Even the Events and Circumstance of Life God providentially uses to guide us and prepare us for service. 1 Samuel 2:7-8 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.
Stephan Saint Find His Faith Through God’s Providence
Background: Stephan Saint was only a child when his father piloted a small bush plane into the jungles of Ecuador along with four friends. They went to make contact with a tribe of Indians called the Auca. The missionary friends never returned and were found murdered by the very people they went to share the gospel with. Their story was recorded by the wife of one of the men, Elizebeth Elliot who wrote about her husband Jim. But this story is about the Stephen who over the years struggled with a God who would allow his father to be murdered. He had almost lost his faith when he went on a trip and met a young man in Africa tens of thousands of miles away from the jungles of Ecuador.
His name was Nouh Ag Infa Yatara; that much I understood. Nouh signaled he knew someone who could translate for us. He led me to a compound on the edge of town where an American missionary lived. I was glad to meet the missionary, but from the moment I'd seen Nouh I'd had the feeling that we shared something in common.
"How did you come to have faith?" I asked him. The missionary translated as Nouh answered. "This compound has always had a beautiful garden. One day when I was a small boy, a friend and I decided to steal some carrots. It was a dangerous task: We'd been told that Toubabs [white men] eat children. Despite our agility and considerable experience, I was caught by the former missionary here. Mr. Marshall didn't eat me; instead he gave me the carrots and some cards that had God's promises from the Bible written on them. He said if I learned them, he'd give me an ink pen!"
"You learned them?" I asked. "Oh, yes! Only government men and the headmaster of the school had a Bic pen! But when I showed off my pen at school, the teacher knew I must have spoken with a Toubab, which is strictly forbidden. He severely beat me." When Nouh's parents found out he had portions of such a despised book defiling their house, they threw him out and forbade anyone to take him in; nor was he allowed in school. But something had happened, Nouh had come to believe that what the Bible said was true.
After sitting a moment, I asked Nouh the question that only hours earlier I'd wanted to ask my father: "Why is your faith so important to you that you're willing to give up everything, perhaps even your life?"
"I know God loves me and I'll live with Him forever. I know it! Now I have peace where I used to be full of fear and uncertainty. Who wouldn't want to give up everything for this peace and security?"
"It couldn't have been easy for you as a teenager to take a stand that made you despised by the whole community," I said. "Where did your courage come from?"
"Mr. Marshall couldn't take me in without putting my life in jeopardy. So he gave me some books about other Christians who'd suffered for their faith. My favorite was about five young men who willingly risked their lives to take God's good news to stone age Indians in the jungles of South America." His eyes widened. "I've lived all my life in the desert. How frightening the jungle must be! The book said these men let themselves be speared to death, even though they had guns and could have killed their attackers!"
The missionary translator said, "I remember the story. As a matter of fact, one of those men had your last name."
"Yes," I said quietly, "the pilot was my father."
"Your father?" Nouh cried. "The story is true?”
Yes," I said, "it's true." The missionary and Nouh and I talked through the afternoon, then they accompanied me back to the airfield that night. As Nouh and I hugged each other, it seemed incredible that God loved us so much that He'd arranged for us to meet "at the ends of the earth."
Nouh and I had gifts for each other that no one else could give. I gave him the assurance that the story which had given him courage was true. He, in turn, gave me the assurance that God had used Dad's death for good. Dad, by dying, had helped give Nouh a faith worth dying for. And Nouh, in return, had helped give Dad's faith back to me. (Submitted by Stephen Saint)
Conclusion: What about you?
Do you trust in the providence of God? Providence is not a stale theological definition. It is not just a label we use for the unexplained good things that might happen in our life. Providence is the path that I take in life, trusting that it leads me to God’s peace and power.
This is what David was believing when he wrote in Psalms 139:3-5 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
Do you trust that God has a plan? Do you believe He will provide? Do you understand He has a purpose? God even had a reason for you to be here today, why you have heard this sermon or been in this service. Perhaps it was to hear the Gospel and be saved. Perhaps you need encouragement or hope. Perhaps its time for a recommitment or even your life given in His service. Whatever it might be, it was not chance that led you here today, it was God’s providence. Don’t you want the peace and the power that comes by experiencing His providence? Then why not start right now by trusting Him.