Moses’s Parents: Called to Disobey

Hi Friends, I’m back after a wonderful visit to my sister in Ottawa last week (I missed Monday’s blog post due to travel & poor planning!). Today, we’re back to our series highlighting calling in the Bible!

Moses's Parents disobey Pharaoh

Exodus 1:22-2:3

Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.

From this short passage, it might be hard to infer any kind of calling other than a mother desperately trying to protect her baby. But Hebrews 11 says:

“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.” 

Moses’ parent’s heard the call to hide their child in direct disobedience to Pharaoh’s rules. You have to wonder how they knew they had to do it. Instead of an audible voice from God or a dream, Hebrews simply says “they saw” he was no ordinary child. The ESV translates it as “beautiful child.” In Exodus it says his mother saw he was a fine child. Surely all parents think their babies are extraordinary, beautiful and fine, so there must have been something about this baby that really made Moses’s parents pay attention. They were willing to trust their instincts over their fear of punishment.

While I don’t want to read too much into a story that doesn’t contain too many details, I think the passage that precedes this one highlights how important it can be to see other people in your community follow their own callings. Before we read about Moses’s parents hiding him, there is a short passage describing how the midwives defied Pharoah’s commands to kill the male Hebrew babies that concludes with, “So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” Maybe their example helped Moses’s parents courageously disobey as well.

Very few of us will ever be called to be the kind of leader prophet that Moses ended up being (we’ll talk about his own journey into calling soon). But how many of us may be called to “not fear” in situations that require us to take a stand against accepted norms, public opinion, and decrees or laws handed down from authorities? Maybe it seems like an unlikely scenario in a free country, but anybody who has worked in corporate America can probably think of times when instructions clashed with integrity. Imagine if Moses’s parents had not hidden him. Their faithfulness meant that Moses years later led the Hebrew people out of Egypt.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt called to disobey the words of men? Have you found the courage to follow your own calling because of watching someone else follow theirs? Have you considered that your example of courage may be needed to spur on another person to also follow the calling they hear?