Exodus 1:8 – 2:10
For Sunday, August 24, 2014
Proper 16 (11th Sunday after Pentecost)
God has a habit of snatching victory from the jaws of unlikelihood. This week it’s Moses, who was born only because some Egyptian midwives defied Pharaoh. Moses would otherwise have been killed at birth along with all the other Jewish males who were under Pharaoh’s death decree.
The midwives themselves make for an interesting aside. Because they are God fearers, they refuse to obey the decree. Pharaoh finds out about it and confronts them. They respond with a very creative fabrication: “Well, all-wise Pharaoh, you are right to be concerned about these Jews. The Jewish women are so vigorous that they give birth before we can get to them!” The text then says, “God dealt well with the midwives.” In my ten years living in Russia I saw this jujitsu-like tactic employed often. Redirection is more effective than direct resistance when one finds oneself in a minority position. This kind of thinking maybe be more useful to the American church in days ahead.
Back then to unlikely Moses. After hiding him for three months, his mother applies some additional creativity. She builds a little basket and puts him in the reeds of the Nile. Note that she didn’t just abandon him. “She watched.” What happened was exactly what she hoped. Someone came and found little Moses, and that someone just happened to be a member of the royal family, Pharaoh’s own daughter. Moses very name becomes the mnemonic for the story: he was “drawn out” of dire circumstances.
This snatching of victory from the jaws of unlikelihood is something God does regularly. He did it through Joseph, who is sold into slavery by his brothers. He did it through Jesus, who was crucified by an unjust regime for crimes he didn’t commit. He did it for us, who being so dead in our sin, had no chance of new life until God came in and drew us out of condemnation.
The next time we wonder, “Can God really use poor insignificant me?” remember just who is acting on center stage. If our Father can save a nation through a kid snatched from the reeds of a river, then surely he can, will, and even now is using us for the glory of his redemptive purpose.
Points to ponder:
- What has you most discouraged at the moment?
- How does reflecting on God’s ability to draw victory from unlikelihood reframe your circumstances?
- How does God’s character and history give us hope in the midst of unlikelihood?