‘About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the banks of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.’ (Exodus 2:1-4 NLT)
In chapter one we have just read how the Israelites are now being oppressed by the Egyptians. Being forced to make bricks without straw, and then being forced to commit filicide (the deliberate murder of their sons). Which the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, avoided doing and because of that were rewarded by God.
This is what is happening when the story of Moses begins. I love the NLT for these few verses, because it says that Moses was a ‘special baby’, and all baby’s are special even before they are conceived!
We see this is Jeremiah’s call:
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ (Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV)
King David speaks in a similar way in Psalm 139:
‘For it was you who formed me in the inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.’ (Psalm 139:13-15 NRSV)
Moses was a ‘special baby’, but all babies are special to God and special to their parents. On Twitter I regularly retweet posts for Saying Goodbye, as I think the work they are doing both to enable all affected by the loss of a baby in the womb or in very early life to be supported and to say goodbye to their babies by services in the great cathedrals of this land, and to help remove the taboo that has surrounded infant death for far too long is fantastic.
Like Jeremiah I was called even before I was born, as I was one of twins and my twin was stillborn having only developed to 3 months. I have never known my twin, but there is a hole in a way, I feel there is someone I should know, that I have never had a chance to know! I have no easy answers, but I know this, even when I have no answers I can trust God regardless. Even in the womb babies can recognise their parents voices, so I am certain that they can recognise and respond to their Heavenly Father.
So Moses was a ‘special baby’. His birth and the few months that followed, when his mother risked him being discovered and killed, was the beginning of a long journey until God got him to a place where he could be used in a mighty way.
Like Moses, all our lives are journeys, and all our journeys have a beginning. Most probably not as fraught with danger as Moses’ beginning was, but whatever that beginning was, we can say for certain that God was there. But what about babies who had a very short journey in this life? Well, God was there too, and we can trust him with them now as his ‘hand is not too short to save’ (Isaiah 59:1 NRSV)!
Heavenly Father, thank you that you hold all our lives in your hands, that you were there at our beginning. Help us to show compassion to all who have experienced infant loss, and thank you that you hold those little ones in your loving arms. In Jesus’ name, Amen.