The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Katherine Davis Chapman Tillman puts it so clear in her Hymn of Praise written in 1902. Her hymn is found in a work called Conversations with God, Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans. She writes,
“Oh God, when day were dark indeed,
When we were fast in Slavery’s chain,
Thou then our parents’ prayers did heed,
And helped us freedom to obtain.”
Today’s Old Testament reading seems to echo that prayer in the beginning of the narrative that eclipses the late Bronze Age in the Book of Exodus.
Joseph is dead and has been for quite some time, and there is a new pharaoh who doesn’t know Joseph nor seems to care about Joseph’s legacy in Egypt, also known as the Land of Goshen. This new pharaoh is does not deal with the Asiatics or Israelites with favor but with fear. His fear comes out in the 1st chapter of Exodus in verse 9 and 10, when he says,
“Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”
Pharaoh, the Morning Star of Egypt and the one who holds the rod and staff of the sun god Amen-Ra, is threatened by a demogprahic who are his subjects!
As a matter of fact he is so threatened, that he institutes three oppressive legislations over the Israelites. 1. He subjects them to harsh forced labor. Thinking the Hebrews would be too tired and feeble to reproduce, it did not work because verse 12 states,
“But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.”
Secondly. He orders the Hebrew midwives to kill all males at birth that are born to Hebrew women, and three, when the midwives aren’t down with his twisted plan He orders all of Egypt to kill every boy that is born to the Hebrews by throwing them into the Nile.
This is serious. This is beyond hating on someone or a group, this is state sanctioned annihaltion. What are God’s people to do? Or when things look like this, its best to ask, what is God going to do since he is in covenant with us as Abraham’s offspring?
“…a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4 His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.” (Exodus 2:1-4)
Pharoah’s daughter finds the baby and give him an Egyptian name meaning to be born out of or to draw out of, which is also in Hebrew, Mosheh; to be drawn out of water. Not only that Moses’s sister who has been watching, shrewdly asks her if she needs a nursemaid, pharaoh’s daughter says yes, and so she go gets Moses’ mother, who will be paid for her services to her own son.
Thriving under oppression. If were bluntly honest, all of us can attest to moments when it looks like everything is stacked up against us. Rather it is the very people who are supposed to shepherd us, turn on us in envy and wickedness, all to preserve their own weak flesh. Or rather it’s one bad report on top of another, and there seems to be only defeat at the end of the situation. Or like Moses’s mom, you may feel so oppressed that you feel like you have to give up your entire heart and soul- and for her, that was her baby boy. The Almighty and Everlasting God has an eternal covenant with you as His people, purchased by the Blood of the Lamb who was slain. That very thing, or situation, or your last bit of strength that you’ve given up or exerted, God is going to use it as the catalyst for your deliverance.
Moses was just a baby thrown into a basket in the Nile, because if a loving mother’s desperation. But Moses will be the stuttering prophet that will talk with God face to face, and be used to deliver God’s people out of bondage. When you face things that look like their about to choke you out, remember God’s word to the Israelites in the wilderness in Exodus 20,
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
God is a living and active God who moves on the behalf of his people. If He can deliver the Israelites, He can and will deliver you; because He’s worthy to be trusted.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Nicole Foster is a Doctor of Ministry student at Trinity School For Ministry and the minister of “From Eden to The Amen“, a virtual congregation.