Disciple Hour: Three Snapshots of Moses’ Life – Exodus 2

Truth Taught- God was at work in making Moses into the man He would use to save His people


Chapter 1 focused on Pharoah’s concern because the Hebrews were multiplying greatly in the land and he wanted to put a stop to it by killing all the baby boys who were born.

So concerned was he that he even commanded all the Egyptians to cast all the baby boys into the Nile River.  This will be an issue in Moses’ birth, after all he is a Hebrew baby boy.

In Chapter 2 of Exodus, we are introduced to Moses.  We are shown three specific episodes of his life that will help us see what God was doing in Moses to better prepare him for his coming mission to lead his people out of Egypt. 

1.  Moses’ Birth and Rescue (2:1-10)

2 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

We learn that Moses was from the Tribe of Levi.  This fact is important because it shows us that Moses was an Israelite from the descendants of Jacob.  It also matters because Moses would serve God in the Tabernacle as is the case of the Tribe of Levi the priests.  

Moses’ parents kept him hidden…

Hebrews 11:23 (ESV)

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

To be specific, the faith commended in Hebrews 11:23 is not the faith of Moses but rather the faith of his parents. We read in verse 23 how by faith they hid their infant son because they saw that their child was beautiful and because they were not afraid of the king’s decree.

These two slaves could have feared the king’s edict and handed over their son. But they feared God rather than men because true, persevering faith obeys God and not the decrees of wicked men. They hid Moses despite the fact that their disobedience could have been discovered (and punished) at any time.

Moses’ parents hid him because they saw that their child was “beautiful.” The full meaning of this word in this context is a bit unclear. However, we can confidently agree with Calvin that “there was some mark, as it were, of future excellency imprinted on the child, which gave promise of something extraordinary.” Perhaps Amram and Jochebed saw that this child might be the one whom God would use to bring His promises to pass.

The basket Moses is placed into is called by the same Hebrew word that was translated as Ark in Genesis 6ff.  She placed him into a small Ark to carry him to safety.  It’s somewhat odd that based on Pharoah’s edict of throwing all Hebrew baby boys into the Nile River that Moses’ mother would place him into the Nile. 
The river that meant death to all the others did not affect Moses because he was in an Ark of safety.  The great world-wide flood that drowned everyone else did not hurt Noah and his family because they were safely in the Ark.  These are also a shadow and type of Christ.  The judgement that will condemn sinners will not affect us because we are in Christ, He is the Ark of safety for all His people.

We see God’s wonderful providence when the daughter of Pharoah, the king who made that terrible decree is the one who takes pity on the baby boy.  In another godly twist, Moses’ mother is hired to care for him.

For all mothers out there, who feel like they should get paid, here’s one who does…

2.  Moses’ Concern for His Fellow Israelites (2:11-15)

11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

Moses begins to see that he is a Hebrew not an Egyptian.  He also begins to see that his people are being greatly mistreated by Pharoah (his grandfather through adoption).    

he went out to his people and looked on their burdens.

he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.

The original language shows us that the Egyptian was striking the Hebrew and Moses struck him down or dead.  This may have been unintentional but he still killed him.  Moses killed an Egyptian.

What we must realize is that one day God would lead His people out of Egypt.  There will be vindication but God will do it.  It will be accomplished through God’s power not man’s power. 
Never is killing someone else intended as an example we are to follow.  Only in war is killing justified.

Then the very next day Moses sees two Hebrews struggling together, literally striking one another.  One says do you mean to strike me down…kill me like you killed the Egyptian?

Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.

Pharoah does not care that Moses is his adopted grandson.  It seems here that God is showing us that Moses is a Hebrew after all.  No more will he live in the palace but he will suffer as does God’s people.  Moses is a Hebrew.

He flees to Midian and sits down by a well.  There’s something about a well in the OT…

Wells were also places of betrothal scenes. As the young women likely went out together to collect water, young men of the village realized that this event gave them a perfect opportunity to socialize with the women away from the watchful eyes of the girls’ fathers and male relatives. The Hebrew Bible recounts several women meeting their future spouses at wells. The narratives follow a similar literary pattern: A man travels to a foreign land, where he meets a young woman who draws water for him. After meeting with the girl’s family a marriage is arranged.  Abraham’s servant stopped at a well and met Rebekah there (Gen 24:10-27). Jacob met Rachel at a well where she came to water her father Laban’s flock of sheep (Gen 29:1-11). Moses, too, met his future wife, Zipporah, at a well when she came with her sisters to water their father’s flock (Exod 2:15-22).

3.  Moses Living as a Fugitive (2:16-22)

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

The third scene from Moses’ life is when he lived as a foreigner among the Midianites. 

Who were the Midianites?

Abraham had more sons than just Isaac (by Sarah) and Ishmael (by Hagar). He also had six sons by Keturah, his wife after the death of Sarah: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (Genesis 25:2). The Midianites were the descendants of Midian and therefore children of Abraham.

In verse 17 again we see Moses as the defender of His people.  Moses drove the shepherds away that were treating the Midianite girls wrongly. 

Moses comes to the rescue.  Moses is portrayed as the defender of those being wronged.

4.  God Remembers His Covenant (2:23-24)

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

Here, reference is made to the covenant God had made with Abraham.  I pray we are seeing just how often the covenant is referenced and what a strong presence it is in the narrative.  God is doing what He does because of His promise.

We know God did not forget His promise and their cry for rescue reminded Him.  What we are to see here is that God hears and cares about His people.


1.  Moses identified with God’s people…

One thing we should note is that Moses was literally royalty in Pharoah’s house.  He grew up as an adopted son.  He was drawn to rather associate with and identify as a Hebrew rather than an Egyptian. 

Hebrews 11:24–26 (ESV)

24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

In many ways, we as Christians face similar choices.  There are times when we must choose faithfulness to Christ rather than the fleeting pleasures of sin.  We are called to be a unique and special people.  We are to forsake many things this world offers us in order to be loyal to Jesus. 
This may apply to family relationships, who our friends are, what profession we have, how we go about acquiring wealth. 

Matthew 19:21–22 (ESV)

21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

If we are to resist the sinful temptations of this world, we must be grounded in the Scriptures.  We must seek the aid of God…we need courage, faith, and conviction to stand up in opposition to the temptations this world offers. 

2.  Moses stood up for those in need…

As Christians we must stand up for those who are being sinned against.  This is especially true when those being wronged cannot defend themselves.  We see from the Bible that God desires us to stand for widows and orphans.  Those who cannot stand for themselves.  We could also add the elderly and the unborn as well. 

3.  Moses was content to live as an exile…

He was very aware that living among the Midianites was living as a foreigner in a foreign land.  He even name his son, he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

As Christians we are called to live as foreigners.  This is not our home. 

Hebrews 11:8–10 (ESV)

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Our true home is yet to come.  We are to be in the world but not of the world…

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