Only God's to Give—or Take

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Let the baby die.

It would have been safer. Who knows what the punishment might have been for anyone trying to hide a child from nosy neighbours bent on carrying out the Pharaoh’s edit to destroy all the Hebrew male newborns? (Exodus 1:22)

It would have been less stressful. I read this morning in an advice column about a mother who wondered what nice thing she could do for her neighbours to compensate them for the many sleepless nights they might have suffered listening to her crying child through the thin walls of their townhouse. Babies cry. Under normal circumstances that is stressful enough. But when the child’s life depends on silence, the stress levels rise exponentially.

It would have been more convenient. After all these two parents already had two children. Another mouth to feed under slavery conditions—especially under these dangerous conditions—would make any parents wonder about the wisdom of trying to keep this child.

But Jochebed and Amram, for so Moses’ parents were named (Exodus 6:20), were not willing to sacrifice any life for safety’s sake, or for a less stressful life, or because it was more convenient. We have no indication that they knew how important this child would be to the history of their people. They just knew that Moses was a gift from God to them and they would do what was necessary to save him—even at the cost of their own lives.

Even if they had to give him up for adoption.

And basically that was what they had to do. They entrusted their three-month-old son to a waterproof basket in the Nile River. This was an action that could only be prompted by a deep trust in the God who had given them the baby—why else would anyone do it? (2:3).

Posting an observer, in the form of big sister Miriam, was another act of faith: “His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him” (2:4). If they knew that Pharaoh’s daughter might find the basket—and the baby—they would have had no way of knowing if she would help the child, or deliver him to her father for execution.

They simply believed that God had a purpose for this child and that, even though his beginnings were precarious, his end would accomplish God’s greater purposes. So they waited and watched.

In the end the princess was compassionate and saved Moses (2:6). Jochebed was given the opportunity to build into Moses’ young life as his wet nurse (2:9) but would have been deprived of him once he was weaned (2:10). But she was willing to lose him to another woman if it meant saving him.

Even this brief look into the very early months of Moses’ life presents to us a pattern, a lesson. Life, even the youngest, the smallest, is valuable. Preserving it is worth any risk. It is not to be tossed away because its arrival is inconvenient, or stressful, or even dangerous.

It’s a life that God gave—and God never gives life without having a purpose for that life. It’s God’s to give and only God’s to take away.

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