Exodus 2 – God hears and remembers his people
The focus in Exodus 1 was very much on how numerous Israel had become in Egypt, despite oppression and harsh labour. In this chapter, the oppression is still there (v11), but the focus is on one Levite woman and her baby boy. We all know that every baby is beautiful, but there was genuinely something special about this little guy; he was ‘a fine child’ (v2), and his mother determined that, like the midwives in ch. 1, she would disobey Pharaoh’s decree, or at least bend it (1:22). Rather than throw her child into the River Nile, she placed him in a waterproof Moses basket amongst the reeds (2:3), watched by the boy’s older sister, Miriam.
God’s providence in this is remarkable. He so works things that Pharaoh’s daughter actually pays Moses’ own mother to look after him! Is anything too hard for the Lord, the God of all mankind (Jer. 32:27)? ‘Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action’ (Acts 7:21, 22).
In v11, the story jumps forwards to Moses as an adult (40 years old – see Stephen’s summary in Acts 7:23-29). He is not yet ready to lead Israel, but nevertheless demonstrates a concern for justice and compassion in defending a fellow Hebrew (v11,12), and then breaking up a fight and questioning the wrongdoer. There is real irony in the man’s words in v14, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ That’s exactly what Moses would become, in God’s timing (Ex. 18:13)!
In fear of Pharaoh, for having killed the Egyptian, Moses flees to the region of Midian, where he once more acts to rescue the oppressed and downtrodden (v17-19). He stays in Midian for a ‘long period’ (v23), gaining a wife and son, and learning what it’s like to be a ‘a foreigner in a foreign land’ (v21,22). Despite his family ties, he realised that he didn’t truly belong there. Peter uses similar language to emphasise that Christians live in this present world as ‘foreigners and exiles’ (1 Pet. 1:17; 2:11). Like Moses, our true home and destiny are elsewhere; ‘our citizenship is in heaven’ (Phil. 3:20).
The chapter finishes with a lovely reminder of God’s concern for his oppressed and downtrodden people (v23-25). Our Father God hears our groans and cries for help (Ps. 116:1); he remembers his gracious covenant promises (Ps. 105:8; Heb. 8:6). Whatever we are going through – he hears, he sees, he knows, and he remembers.