A double deluge swept by our house a while ago, two huge tropical storms merging into one, raging all through the night. In the morning our drenched yard was full of brokenness; broken trees, broken plants, broken branches. A large palm branch had crashed fifteen feet down to the bushes below. When we pulled it from its tangled resting place the following morning, to our surprise we discovered a small nest tightly woven between the fronds, clinging tenaciously, un-dislodged by it’s fall. Its woven walls remained in tact, strong, protective. All at once fragile and all at once impregnable.
It reminded me of her, this one brave mother weaving a nest of her own. A nest to place her defenceless baby in, a nest that was her attempt to protect him from another raging storm: the storm of an Egyptian Pharaoh’s policy of infanticide.
‘Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”’ Exodus 1:22
A nest is a home, but what if your home is built in the shadow of a power bent on destroying those within it? What can the weak do in the face of all this worldly strength?
‘Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.’ Exodus 2:1-2
She had tried to keep him close, keep him quiet, keep him alive, but she knew that everyday she held onto him was another day risking his death. So she placed him in this nest, nesting his life within God’s hands.
“But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.” Exodus 2:3-4
In order to save him she had to be willing to lose him. Worldly ‘power’ said his death was inevitable, but her mother’s heart had other plans. God’s heart had other plans. She had woven for him this ark-nest strong enough to out-last a raging storm, out-wit tossing waves, out-run restless crocodiles. An ark-nest similar in material and description to the Ark that Noah built, holding life, holding hope; Holding God’s purposes for a brand new beginning.
And what kind of plan is that? The plan of a desperate woman? A crazy woman? Or the plan of a woman of faith? The plan of a woman who sees what worldly powers are blind to.
“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”
In placing Moses in an ark-nest on the Nile Moses’ mother was obeying Pharaohs order while side-stepping his intention. If challenged she could have answered truthfully that she had put her child in the Nile, while all the while knowing in her heart that she did so God’s way, in intelligent civil disobedience, honouring God and her own God-given mother’s heart over the orders of domineering Power.
And did her mother’s heart know? Know just the place to leave him, the place where hope would find him? Could her mothers heart have known, trusted, felt, that the same rhythmic song beating in her own loving heart would also be beating in the breast of Pharaohs daughter?
“Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him.’ Exodus 2:5-9
Three hearts loving, three hearts protecting, three hearts defying the orders of Power.
In letting go of her child and trusting him to God, Moses’ mother received him back, along with a wage for the care of him and a guarantee of protection for him. She reached recklessly for the impossible and received back a miracle. A miracle more extravagant and subversive than her heart could have imagined.
This one simple act of love delivering her child, also delivers the first unseen crack in the foundation of Pharaoh’s power over Israel.
In the wake of her faith-filled, desperate, recklessly loving actions, a super-power is out-witted and out-manoeuvred by the hearts of these three women: a mother, a princess and a sister… and the God of all the Universe.
God’s great plan of redemption has begun. And His great battle cry is the high pitched cry of a vulnerable infant, His bold stroke of strategic warfare, the flailing arms of a defenceless babe, placed right there within the walls of Power. Innocent. Vulnerable.
And Pharaoh never saw it coming.