May 21, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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What do you do when you feel like you’ve lost yourself? Where do you go? In part two of the Book of Exodus, we’ll dive into chapter 2 and learn what it means to rediscover our identity and purpose as we read stories about Moses, his birth mother, and his adopted mother.
Below, you’ll find some key discussion points to consider, questions to personally reflect on and/or discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, and some action points for the week.
Memory Verse of the Week: Exodus 2:10 (NIV)
“When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.’”
READ: Exodus 2:5–10 (NIV)
“Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said. Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’ ‘Yes, go,’ she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.’ So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.’”
Have you ever looked at a situation and thought, That worked out better than I could have imagined! Maybe you were called into your boss’ office and, while you thought you were going to be reprimanded, you were actually given a nice raise! Sometimes, things end up working out way better than the circumstance would seem to indicate—and that’s exactly what happened to everyone involved in today’s passage.
First, let’s start with Moses’ mother Jochebed. Here, we see her keeping her son hidden from the Egyptians who sought to drown him in the river. Her love, faith, and courage saved him from a cruel death and preserved him to accomplish amazing things. And not only that, but after Moses was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, she was given the opportunity to bond with her son as his wet nurse for anywhere between three and five years!
Now, let’s move to Moses’ adopted mother. It seems strange that Pharaoh’s daughter would decide to bathe publicly in the Nile, the same place where all the Hebrew babies were drowned. What’s the deal? Well, this is almost certainly related to Hapi, the god of the Nile who was also the god of fertility. Having no children, she would have bathed and prayed in this river for a child, and when she found such a “fine child” (Exodus 2:2 NIV), she not only “felt sorry for him” (Exodus 2:6 NIV), but also no doubt considered him an answer to her prayers.
Finally, we have Moses himself, the child who went from having a death sentence on his head before he was even born to being a prince of Egypt on the road to accomplishing a purpose beyond what either his birth mother or adopted mother could have ever dreamed of!
But above all of this, there’s one powerful key principle at play: All these circumstances that worked out better than anyone involved could have imagined were designed by God for His great purposes and plans. Jochebed’s decision to hide her son and then send him in the basket down the Nile was ordained by God. Pharaoh’s daughter being there at that moment was orchestrated by God. Moses’ salvation was part of God’s plan! And in the same way, God uses every moment, instance, circumstance, and situation—the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, and the triumphs and the tragedies—in our lives for our good and His glory!
Discussion Question 1: What does this passage teach you about God and His plans?
Discussion Question 2: How can you walk more closely in His will in your everyday life?
READ: Exodus 2:11–15 (NIV)
“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, ‘Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?’ The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘What I did must have become known.’ When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.”
“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” This idiom stems from a 2003 ad campaign. Nowadays, it signifies any scandalous activities that need to be kept hidden. However, as most of us know, nothing stays hidden forever. And in the world of Twitter and Tik Tok, what happens in Vegas stays online forever.
In verses 11–15, Moses, the adopted prince of Egypt, “went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor.” Many scholars believe that Pharaoh’s daughter never concealed Moses’ Hebrew heritage from him. She may even have allowed him to communicate with his people.
Now, here’s something you may not have realized. According to theologian Charles Ellicott, this wasn’t “a mere visit that is here spoken of, but a complete withdrawal from the palace, and renunciation of his position at the court.” This passage is telling us that Moses had left behind his royal position and instead “resolved to venture with them and for them” (Benson Commentary). This is confirmed in Hebrews 11:24–25 (NIV), which says, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
As Moses surveyed the trouble of his people, he saw an Egyptian taskmaster beating a fellow Hebrew, made sure no one was watching, killed the taskmaster, and then hid his body. But what happens in Vegas never stays in Vegas—or Goshen/Egypt. Word got around amongst the Hebrews who even called him out for it, and it eventually reached Pharaoh. So, what did Moses do? He fled to Midian, which was almost 800 miles away—about the distance of going from Miami, Florida to Raleigh, North Carolina!
Moses committed an exceedingly terrible sin here. He murdered a man. There’s no justification for this. As Benson points out, Moses “had neither legal office nor Divine call, justifying him in making himself an executioner.” And then, instead of owning up to it and facing the consequences for his actions, he just ran. Again, descriptive not prescriptive.
What does this show us? Well, it shows us the Bible doesn’t hide the sins and shortcomings of the people it highlights, and that’s a good thing. Why? Two reasons:
1) It shows us that God can and will still use us to accomplish His good purposes even though we’re sinful and imperfect.
2) Our transgressions do not disqualify us from God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will for our lives.
God knows everything about us—before laying the foundations of the earth, He knew every sin we’d commit and every selfish impulse we’d have. And yet, He still delights in delivering, redeeming, adopting, indwelling, and having a relationship with us—and using us to accomplish His great work! Nothing you do will disqualify you from all He has for you because of His love and faithfulness. Now in light of this, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1 NIV).
Discussion Question 3: Where have you seen redemption in your life? Share a time when you were in need of God’s redemption and found it. How did it happen?
Discussion Question 4: How can you use the Word to sort through your experiences in life (what others did/what you did) to rediscover your identity and purpose, and discover how God desires to use you to impact others?
Discussion Question 5: How can you help those who feel too broken and far gone for God’s grace and salvation?
Are you holding onto guilt from the past? Are you fearful that your mistakes and sins have ruined your ability to walk in God’s plan for your life? Please know that God isn’t done with you! He can still use you and work in and through your life, and He still has a plan for you! If you’re walking in unrepentant sin, ask the Lord (and anyone you may have wronged) for forgiveness. Then, walk in His forgiveness.
In our next study, we’ll unpack Exodus 2:16–3:15 as we explore the moment Moses met God in the burning bush!
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.