Introduction: Why would God synchronize the birth of Moses to occur at the exact time of the promised deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt (Genesis 15:13)? The answer involves God’s sovereignty, whereby He decrees “whatsoever comes to pass,” as well as His detailed providence, which day-by-day governs all actions of men and angels. But ultimately, it was Divine mercy which moved Him to save this people – not anything in them – stiff-necked, insignificant in number, and ungrateful to God, as they were (Deuteronomy 7:7-8 & 9:6). Therefore, the only Divine attribute which can explain the Exodus is the grace which moves God to stoop down and save lost and rebellious sinners. May this grace shine with fresh luster upon us as we resume Bible notes for 2011 on the book of Exodus.

Monday: read Exodus 1:15-2:6 and Hebrews 11:23. How then did God’s saving grace manifest itself in the birth of Moses, the great deliverer? Besides God’s orchestrating all that came to pass in the lives of his parents, we see God’s grace in the special favor He placed on the baby himself. Moses parents (Heb. 11:23) saw that he was “no ordinary child” and, by that insight of faith, were given courage to preserve his life. Not that they would have abandoned their child to death if Moses had been born in the manner of the rest of Hebrew children! But by placing some indication of His special favor on this child, God encouraged them to venture on a highly risky plan for their little Moses’ adoption into the royal house of Pharaoh. In this extraordinary way, God conveyed something of His saving intentions to Moses’ parents, so that their hope in what their son would be impelled them to depend on God in nothing less than a miraculous way. And can we not see Pharaoh’s daughter also moved by the presence of God with the child, adopting Moses into her family in Exodus 2:6ff, even though she knew it was one of the Hebrews’ babies whom her father had sentenced to death in Ex. 1:22? Surely God is moving the hearts of these men and women “like water” in order to preserve this specially-marked child for the longed-for redemption out of Egypt!

Meditate and Pray: Thank God that He has always provided His people with clear indications of His saving purposes in each generation. Thank Him also that He is able to make His presence known among His people – even by means of a little baby. What is it that Psalm 8 says in our Trinity Hymn books?

Lord, our Lord, Thy glorious Name
All Thy wondrous works proclaim;
In the heav’ns with radiant signs
Evermore Thy glory shines.
Infant lips Thou dost ordain
Wrath and vengeance to restrain;
Weakest means fulfill Thy will,
Mighty enemies to still.

Tuesday: read Exodus 1:15-22. Pharaoh’s daughter, along with the boy’s parents, in their regard for the special significance of Moses’ birth, were not the only ones moved to see God’s hand especially at work in their day. The same God-fearing awe fell upon the Hebrew midwives in Ex. 1:17 so that they courageously spared the lives of the male babies born to God’s people – though to do so was in direct defiance of Pharaoh’s order in Ex. 1:22 and would have put them and their families at great risk of Egyptian punishment. Thus God again shows His power to restrain the human heart from sin, and to “put a rein on the spirits” of these women in order to help them resist any Egyptian temptation to regard the Hebrew people as expendable. Instead, these women testify even to Pharaoh about the unusual vigor in child-birth which God was giving these Hebrew mothers – see Exodus 1:19! Isn’t this testimony in agreement with Acts 7:17, where we are reminded that it was the approach of God’s promised deliverance from Egypt which caused the great multiplication of covenant children among Moses’ race? Ah, dear midwives, whose names, Shiprah and Puah, are recorded for us in holy writ! You indeed were blessed with the eyes to see God’s work in the birth of these children! And your courageous faith was indeed rewarded by God, in the blessing of your own families in Ex. 1:21!

Meditate and Pray: Thank God that He will always be at work, in the long run, to build up the families of His people. Mothers and fathers, your labor, tears and prayers, even from years ago, will not be forgotten by the Lord. Even though the mightiest Kings of this world, like Pharaoh, stand with raised sword to destroy your covenant home, God can “build up” families, even as He built up the families of the Hebrews, in spite of the threats against them. Use hymn # 719 to pray for the families of your church:

O give us homes built firm upon the Savior, Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide;
Where ev’ry child is taught His love and favor And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified: How sweet to know that tho his footsteps waver, His faithful Lord is walking by his side!

O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!  We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;
Their bonds of love no enemy can sever, if Thou art always Lord and Master there:
Be Thou the center of our least endeavor— Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share.

Wednesday: read Exodus 2:1-10. At the time of the birth of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt, God opened the eyes of a multitude of people (from Hebrew midwives to Moses’ parents to Pharaoh’s daughter) in order for each to play their part in the Exodus. But nowhere is God’s direct intervention more evident than in the special, Divinely-marked baby Moses, whose very physical appearance made it clear, according to Hebrews 11:23, that this was no “ordinary” child. Such special “marking” is more common in the Old Testament than we may recognize. For example, God raised up both Samson (Judges 13:1ff.) and Samuel (1 Sam.1), setting them apart in a special way, as “Nazirites” (the word, “Nazar” meaning “to be consecrated” to God, as, for example, the priest of Leviticus 21:12). They were from birth anointed with the Spirit of God and dedicated to His service, and even wore a visible picture in their long hair that they were specially chosen by God to deliver His people from their enemies (compare Numbers 6:5). John the Baptist is another such specially chosen baby. Thus all through history God shames the wise and the proud by using even babes to prepare the way for His salvation!

Meditate and Pray: If the adults of Moses’ day could see the special favor of God in the birth of that child, how much more ought we to treasure the birth of Jesus Christ, cherishing Him in our hearts as no “ordinary man,” but as the “Desire of the nations”! Ask God to rekindle the first love of our hearts towards our extraordinarily born Savior with some more verses from Henry Twells’ beautiful hymn quoted in last Friday’s Bible notes:

At even, ere the sun was set,
The sick, O Lord, around Thee lay;
O, in what diverse pains they met!
O, with what joy they went away!

Once more ’tis eventide, and we,
Oppressed with various ills, draw near;
What if Thy form we cannot see?
We know and feel that Thou art here.

O Savior Christ, our woes dispel;
For some are sick, and some are sad;
A
nd some have never loved Thee well,
And some have lost the love they had;

And some have found the world is vain,
And yet from the world they break not free;
And some have friends who give them pain,
Yet have not sought a friend in Thee.

Thursday: read Hebrews 11:23; Luke 1:80; 2:40 and 2:52. Both John the Baptist and our Lord are described in their births and early childhood years as under the special influence of the Holy Spirit, whose blessing and presence explain phrases such as John’s being “strong in spirit” (Luke 1:80) and Jesus’ being “filled with wisdom and the grace of God” (Luke 2:40). Through such supernatural influence, we appreciate anew the Holy Spirit’s ability to equip each past generation of the church with the leaders needed to ensure the survival of His people. Just as God hand-picked Moses and John the Baptist to be special instruments of His work, so, on a far more glorious scale, we have been given a special Savior, Jesus, who was no ordinary child, and who “grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52)! This was God’s signal that He would meet all the needs of His church from that day forward. By virtue of His special, sinless birth, Jesus meets the constant needs of His people.

Meditate and Pray: Magnify the work of this Holy Spirit, who not only prepared our Salvation and our Savior in the Incarnation, but continues to nurture and comfort Christ’s church as testified to in hymn # 338:

Holy Ghost, dispel our sadness,
Pierce the clouds of sinful night;
Come, O source of sweetest gladness,
Breathe your life, and spread your light.
Loving Spirit, God of peace,
Great distributor of grace,
Rest upon this congregation;
Hear, O hear our supplication.
Come, thou best of all donations
God can give, or we implore;
Having your sweet consolations
We need wish for nothing more.
Come with unction and with pow’r,
On our souls our graces show’r;
Author of the new creation,
Make our hearts your habitation.

Friday: read Hebrews 11:23; Mark 9:2-7 and John 1:19-27. This week we have celebrated the extraordinary births of some great leaders, from Moses to John the Baptist – all chosen from birth to lead God’s people. But let us be clear: not even the greatest hero of the Bible would fail to confess that all glory belongs to only One born among men. The testimony from Moses to John the Baptist is the same: “I am not worthy to untie the sandals of the One who comes after me” (John 1:27). Don’t you think Moses was entirely taken up with the glory of Jesus as he stood with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration? Don’t you remember the words of John the Baptist to those who would have mistakenly magnified His work as the forerunner to Jesus, when he spoke of our Savior in these words, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)? No matter what special endowments or gifts of spiritual power resided on other heroes of the Bible, they all pointed to Christ alone as the One on whom “the Spirit was given without limit” (John 3:34, John Owen’s translation).

Meditate and Pray: Ask God the Father to send His Holy Spirit on our church family in 2011, so that all that is planned, said, acted upon or accomplished might be done in the church only for the glory of Jesus Christ. Dedicate your year of church-life, and your own future plans, to the Lord with these words from hymn # 449:

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Yes, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation!
In Thy dear Name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.