Hebrews 11:23

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. Hebrews 11:23

The author now moves to Moses. He will be mentioned directly or indirectly in more verses in Hebrews 11 than any other figure. And, as usual, the author begins with, “By faith Moses.” However, this first noted act of faith is not directly by Moses, but by his parents. This is noted in the words, “when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents.”

The parents of Moses were Amram and Jochebed. In the last verse of the first chapter of Exodus, it says –

“So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.’” Exodus 1:22

This is followed immediately by these verses from Exodus chapter 2 –

“And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him. Exodus 2:1-4

The account in Exodus ascribes the act of hiding Moses to the mother. And this would have been mostly her doing. The father would work and be concerned with the greater affairs of the household. The mother would be the one to accomplish the majority of the duty of hiding the newborn. But the father would not be unaware of the act, and he would bear moral responsibility for it. Therefore, both are mentioned here. And this is because “they saw he was a beautiful child.”

The Greek word is asteios, and it is only found here and in Acts 7:20 where it also speaks of the beauty of Moses. The word comes from astu, a city. And so this word literally means, “belonging to the city.” This is because a city is considered a place of polished manners and living. Thus, one could paraphrase this word as “he was a city dweller,” and the sense may be brought out.

Because of the elegant nature of the child, the parents were all the more emboldened, “and they were not afraid of the king’s command.” The two aspects, that of the beauty of the child, and their not caring about obeying an immoral command, combined into their determination to hide the child. It is ascribed to them as an act of faith.

Life application: Keeping the child would have resulted in death if they were caught, but by disobeying the edict for these three months they gave the baby a fighting chance – no matter how small – compared to that of a newborn. As Peter says in the book of Acts, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Even after placing the child in the basket, they had Moses’ sister watch out for him until he was found and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. This account should remind us that God is working out all things for His purposes. Even when we don’t understand the sorrows or troubles we are facing, He does. Nothing you are facing is beyond God’s knowledge or is outside of His plans and purposes. Have faith, just as Amram and Jochebed did, even in the face of great hardship.

Lord, give us the ability to trust that the sadness, loss, hardship, and uncertainty we face really do serve a higher and more glorious purpose. As hard as it is, help us to never grumble against Your perfect plan which is being worked out through us, Your children, through faith in Christ. Amen.

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