Be at Home
Wrtten by Rev. Zheng translated 15 May 2020
Miriam: To want to know, and to Want to do
Exodus 2:1-9 is the record of Moses’ birth. Notice that there is no mention of any names in this passage. It is apparent that the Divine Inspirer of the Scriptures wants the readers to see the Providential Hand behind this beautiful event – from protecting the newborn Moses from being discovered, to moving Pharaoh’s daughter to adopt an abandoned Hebrew baby and to believe an unfamiliar Hebrew girl – thereby turning mourning into laughter. God is the main character of this episode.
1Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.
This event took place against a backdrop of cruel and inhumane political oppression. It was 350 years after Jacob and his family moved to Egypt to live under Joseph’s provision. With God’s blessing, their population grew exponentially. Jealousy begets evil. The Egyptians quickly forgot Joseph’s contribution and issued a genocide decree to kill every newborn Hebrew boy (Ex 1:22).
Moses’ parents did not give up fighting for his survival. Instead of throwing him into the Nile, they put him in a secured basket, placed it among the reeds by the river bank and hoped that some non-Hebrew person will save him. They knew the hope was slim, yet they counted not on luck but on the mercy of the LORD their God, whom they believed has the power to turn the fate of the child around (Heb 11:23).
4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
The sister, Miriam, though was in her early teens (v.8), was concerned about the family crisis and was willing to share the burden of her parents. She watched him from a distance in order to conceal the identity of her brother. She watched vigilantly – the word “stood” alludes to the posture of being ready to act. She might have had to watch for a long time. The yearning to know what would happen to her baby brother was her motivation.
5 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. 6 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.
In these two verses we see a series of Providential coincidences – the Egyptian princess came at this time to this place and saw the hidden basket; the baby boy cried as she looked at him; and she was filled with so much compassion for the baby that she was determined to go against Pharaoh’s decree and adopt the child into her royal household!
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
Josephus the Jewish historian recorded this scene in the Jewish Antiquities, he said that the princess called a few women to wet-nurse the baby but the baby ‘turned away from it’. Whatever it was, the fact was the girl could see from far that the princess wanted to nurse the baby. With quick wits and courage, she came out from her hiding place and approached the princess with a clever proposal: Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 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.
It was unusual that the princess accepted a Hebrew girl’s proposal without suspicion. Yet it was so. Moses lived and his mother could now suckle him in her bosom and was even paid for doing so! God has shown us that not only is His providence perfect and beautiful for these parents who put their trust in Him, He also used the care and concern of the girl to bring peace and joy that surpasses all understanding in a crisis. In God’s providence, this girl who wanted to know what happened in her household became a blessing to her family.
During this Circuit Breaker, every household is going through changes. For example, the trash in the house increases, the house has to be cleaned more often, toilet paper runs out much faster, a surge in electricity and water bill…etc. Every person and every household are adapting to changes to their personal life, family life and work-life. Do you know how your family is coping? How is the family’s financial situation? Do you want to know how you can help?
Jesus: be at home
A home is a gift of God, given to be a cradle of love in which we grow. To know what happens at home and to do things for your family is the basic duty of every Christian towards this divine gift. In Jesus’ words: we ought to be at home.
“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49b)
The Lord has two homes: one belonged to the earthly father, Joseph the carpenter; the other belong to the heavenly Father, the Creator of the universe. “My Father’s house” In this verse refers to the Jerusalem Temple. The Temple is the dwelling place of God’s holy name, before the new covenant was established, it is the representation of God’s house on earth. After the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost, the body of saints is the temple of God and the church became the manifestation of God’s house on earth.
The Lord was only twelve years old when he said these words. He was not saying that He was going to stay in the Jerusalem temple. Rather, he was revealing the great truth of his incarnation: he is the son of man as well as the Son of God. He knew he had to be in the Father’s house as well as in the earthly father’s house. So he returned to Nazareth with his parents and continued to fulfil his duties towards his earthly home (Luke 2:51). He learned carpentry from his father and worked as a carpenter until he grew up into the full measure of a man and dedicated his life fully to God (Mark 6:3).
Preparing Your Family for World Eternal
As children of God we are members of God’s household. Like our Lord we too have two homes, one is temporal because it belongs to this passing world and one is everlasting as it belongs to God – the church. We are assured that this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. Nonetheless we are not to despise our temporal home, for God has a good purpose for it.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” – Acts 16:31
This is not a promise. It is a sending – go and lead your family to Christ. Our home is meant to be the first place that God sends us in to proclaim Christ and to be a testimony for Him!
For most of us, it is not easy to share our faith with our family. First of all, a prophet has no honour in his own hometown, as our Lord had not (John 4:44). Secondly, we often lack self-discipline in practicing the teaching of Jesus at home and cause our preaching to be tarnished by our behaviour. For this reason, our home is also meant to be our first monastery – a training centre for doers of the Word, so that the home of the saints will be filled with the righteousness and the love of God.
You are not to do this alone. Seek the Holy Spirit who is the Divine Co-worker for the Gospel workers. Get the church to intercede for your household, that your home may come under the banner of Christ and secure a place in world eternal.
Just like the Lord Jesus, our hearts have to be at home. Not just in our own home but in the house of God. We ought to want to know what happens in the church and to the church, and want to do something for her. In the same way we ought to want to know what happens at home and to our home, and want to do something for our home.
Moses’ parents believed in God and God sheltered their home under His providential wings. Dear brothers and sisters, you are God’s child, you can trust in God’s foreknowledge and care for your home too.
Miriam did not know that her baby brother was the man God has chosen to deliver her people from the slavery of the Egyptians eighty years later. Neither did she know that what she did for her family that day played a part in the story of the great exodus, and was also a piece of the jigsaw puzzle in the God’s mighty plan for saving the world. What she did has been written in the book of God on earth as well as the book of God in heaven.
Dear brothers and sisters, who knows but that what you have done for your household will be used by God in His plan for your family and be written in the book of God in heaven? This book will be opened before the great white throne and everyone will be judged according to what is written. O Christians, you have been born again by the Holy Spirit through whom you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. You are the gift that God has given to your family. Let’s leave your selfishness, pride and self-centredness outside your house and, be like the teenage girl Miriam – be a blessing to your home!