Introduction: This is the day we’ve set aside to honor our mothers because the Bible tells us to do so in Exodus 20:12 – Honor your Father and Mother. And why not? As we all know, moms are engaged in a vital and challenging endeavor in raising children God’s way, a task which I’ve discovered lately doesn’t end when becoming adults. I think that most of us would agree that it is the greatest privilege and most important job any woman could aspire to. Author and preacher Tony Campolo said that when his wife, Peggy, was at home fulltime with their children and someone would ask, “And what is it that you do, my dear?” she would respond, “I am socializing two Homo sapiens into the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition in order that they might be instruments for the transformation of the social order into the kind of eschatological utopia that God willed from the beginning of creation.” Then Peggy would ask the other person, “And what do you do?”Salary.com has tried to put a value on the job of motherhood and determined that she should be paid an annual salary of $134,121.00 for her efforts. Mothers, we don’t have that kind of money to give you, but on behalf of the men and children here today, I want to say thank you for helping make Christ-centered homes and raise responsible, God-fearing and God-honoring children. If you have ever wondered about the historical context for Mother’s Day, the holiday was born out of one woman’s desire to honor her mother’s life of sacrifice and grace. Born in 1864 in Grafton, West Virginia, Anna Jarvis witnessed the aftermath of the Civil War through a child’s eyes. Her mother, Anna Maria Reeves-Jarvis, had spent the war organizing women to nurse wounded soldiers from both the North and South and generally attempting to hold her border-state community together. After the war, Anna Maria started “Mothers’ Friendship Days” to reconcile families that had been divided by the conflict. Throughout her life, Anna Maria modeled the ideals of Victorian motherhood. She gave up her dreams of college in order to tend to an older husband and four children. She bore the loss of seven other children with grace and courage. She taught Sunday school in the local Methodist church for 20 years and stayed active in benevolent work. Anna Maria’s death in 1905 devastated the daughter named for her. Two years later, the young woman got the idea to found a holiday remembering her mother, and all mothers, whom she felt could never be thanked enough. Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908 in Grafton(where Anna grew up) and Philadelphia(where she lived as an adult). Later, in a resolution passed May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. This morning I thought we could take some time to look at a good example of motherhood from the Bible and see what we can learn from her.
Background: A summary of Exodus 1:8-22– If you’ve read the book of Exodus, you probably remember that after Joseph died and a new Pharaoh took over Egypt, the Israelites lost their favored status. Instead, they were enslaved out of fear for their sheer numbers. The new ruler ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill every newborn male child as a way of slowing or even reversing their population growth. When this strategy failed, he then commanded his people to throw every baby boy into the Nile. This is where we pick up the story of the mother of Moses, a woman named Jochebed. As a godly woman, she models for mothers of all eras what is required of them. Let me read the text to you: Exodus 2:1-10 — Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman (Jochebed). 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.3 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. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So, the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So, the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”Now here are three observations from this text about godly mothers and three applications to help you raise your children to follow Christ.
I. A godly mother sees her children as gifts from God (Exodus 2:1-2 –Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman (Jochebed). 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.). Since this story is primarily about Moses, we really aren’t able to learn that much about Jochebed except that she was from the tribe of Levi and married another Levite named Amram (See Exodus 6:20—It turns out she was not only his wife but his aunt). We can assume, however, that as one of the chosen people of God she understood the value of children, something clearly taught in every Jewish household and expressed later in Psalm 127:3– Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. She did not take that responsibility lightly, but in spite of the great risk to herself(disobedience to Pharaoh would probably have cost her life), did what she could for her son, hiding him for three months in order to preserve his life. The text provides some insight into how she felt about baby Moses. It tells us that she saw that he was a “fine” child (the KJV translates the word as “goodly” while the NAS refers to it as “beautiful”). While we know that every mother considers her baby beautiful, it is doubtful that this is the way the word is applied here. If the only reason that Jochebed spared her son was because he was attractive, then we’d have to assume that if Moses been of average appearance (or worse) she would have done away with him and there is nothing to suggest this outcome based on the character of Jochebed. A better understanding is found when we consider how the same word(towb) is used in the creation story where God pronounces everything “good.” There it is used to mean “good” in every sense of the word(i.e. joyful, pleasant, becoming and precious). And this is how Jochebed felt about her son. The birth of her son was good in every possible way. Application: Godly mothers recognize that their children are gifts from the Lord passed down to them, even when the little cherubs are not on their best behavior. Illustration: I think of the small boy who sat with his mother in church listening to a sermon. At key intervals, the pastor would ask, “What is a Christian?” Each time he would pound his fist on the pulpit for emphasis. At one point the boy whispered a question to his mother, “Do you know what a Christian is?” She assured him she did and then said, “Now hush up and listen.” As the pastor was wrapping up his sermon, once again he yelled, “What is a Christian?” and this time pounded especially hard on the pulpit. At that, the boy jumped up, looked at his mother and said for all to hear, “Would you please tell him before he breaks the thing!” Even when they’re not on their best behavior, a godly mother sees her children as “fine/good” gifts from God.
II. A godly mother trusts her children to the care of God(Exodus 2:3-4 — 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. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.). While doing whatever they can for their children, godly mothers must constantly trust God with their care and protection. Jochebed, when she could no longer hide Moses, did the only thing she could think of. She placed him in a basket (ironically, the word is “ark” in the Hebrew—Moses safe passage through the Nile looks back to Noah’s safe passage aboard the Ark) coated with tar and pitch and floated him down the Nile. Certainly, she was aware that the daughter of Pharaoh was bathing only a short distance away, but Jochebed had no idea of the reception Moses would receive from her. This is where she had to trust God with the outcome. Jesus inferred the same thing when He spoke these words about how much God values us: Matthew 10:29-31 — Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. The Bible says that when Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the basket, she opened it to find Moses, and immediately felt sorry for him (i.e. took pity upon Moses). And with that, she decided to spare the baby’s life. Once the decision was made, the mother instinct in Pharaoh’s daughter took over and she knew she needed to provide for the child’s needs. Miriam, Moses older sister, had been watching the entire scene unfold and seized the opportunity to return the child to her mother. “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked. “Yes, go” was the reply. In God’s providence, Jochebed was able to do without fear what she needed to for her son because God had taken care to provide for him. In fact, she was paid for her services by Pharaoh’s daughter, bringing even greater blessing. Application:Nahum 1:7says, “The LORD is good, a refuge (a rock or fortress)in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him…” Godly mothers know and remember this as they raise their children.
III. A godly mother releases her children to the will of God(Exodus 2:10 — When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”). Moses came into this world with a divine appointment, his future as the deliverer of Israel set in stone from his birth. In Proverbs 16:9we’re told that while man seemingly makes his own choices, God is ultimately guiding and directing each one. Clearly, that is what is happening here. God is orchestrating more than the care of a child, but the deliverance of His people. Moses, after having been weaned by his mother until about 3-4 years old, was then given to Pharaoh’s daughter to be raised by her. Because we have the benefit of hindsight, we see the providence of God in this act. Moses would be raised in the Pharaoh’s palace with the best education and training (See Acts 7:20-22). The skills he acquired and God refined through long years of shepherding sheep were absolutely vital to God’s plan for delivering His people from slavery to the land He promised their forefathers. Every detail of Moses’ life went according to God’s sovereign plan … just as it does for our children as well … though we might not always understand why. Still, the godly mother is willing to release her children to the Lord knowing that He loves them more than they do … as amazing as that may seem.
Applications: Now let me conclude with three very simple applications for moms when it comes to the care and raising of their children.
· Thank God for your children. Gratitude helps us keep perspective. Our children are gifts from God and are specifically designed with His purpose in mind. Rather than ask the Lord to change something about their personality that annoys you now, thank Him for their uniquenesses and expect that He will use these traits for His glory.
· Trust God with your children. If you’re like me, you fight a never-ending battle with worry when it comes to your kids. The only way I’ve ever been able to overcome that is by constantly presenting each one to the Lord to be used for His glory (Isaiah 43:6-7 –Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made”).
· Talk to God about your children. The Bible doesn’t mention that Jochebed prayed for Moses, but it is inconceivable that she was able to release him to the daughter of Pharaoh without having wrestled with that decision in prayer. May I encourage you, moms, to do the same? Here’s some recommendations of how to pray for your sons and daughters: (1)pray that they will learn what is good and right – this will bring peace to their lives;(2)pray that they will live life to the full(See John 10:10– the word “full” means superabundant in quantity or superior in quality); (3)pray that they will love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and their neighbors as themselves; (4)pray that God will lead them away from temptation and deliver them from the evil one; (5)pray that they will be full of faith and the Holy Spirit. I’m sure you can think of other things to pray as well but this is a good list to get you started.
Conclusion: Moses, once doomed by Pharaoh’s decree, became the very instrument of his destruction and certainly, Jochebed played no small part in that. She did everything she could for her son and then prayerfully entrusted him to the sovereign will of God. E. V. (Ed) Hill, who pastored Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, tells the story of how “Mama’s” love and prayers changed his life. During the height of the Depression, his real mother, who had five children of her own, didn’t have enough food to go around, so she sent four-year-old Ed (E.V.) to live with a friend in a small country town called Sweet Home. As he was growing up in Sweet Home, his new “Mama” (that’s what he called her) displayed remarkable faith which led her to have big plans for the young man. Against nearly insurmountable obstacles, Mama helped E. V. graduate from high school (the only student to graduate that year from the country school) and even insisted that he go to college. She took him to the bus station, handed him the ticket and five dollars and said, “Now, go off to Prairie View College, and Mama is going to be praying for you.”Hill claims that he didn’t know much about prayer, but he knew Mama did. When he arrived at the college with a dollar and ninety cents in his pocket, they told him he needed eighty dollars in cash in order to register. Here’s how Hill describes what happened next: I got in line …, and the devil said to get out of line …, but I heard my Mama saying in my ear, “I’ll be praying for you.” I stood in line on Mama’s prayer. Soon there was [another new student ahead of me], and I began to get nervous, but I stayed in line …. Just about the time [the other student] got all of her stuff and turned away, a fellow named Dr. Drew touched me on the shoulder, and he said, “Are you Ed Hill?” I said, “Yes.” “Are you Ed Hill from Sweet Home?” “Yes.” “Have you paid yet?” “Not quite.” “We’ve been looking for you all this morning,” [he said]. I said, “Well, what do [you] want with me?” “We have a four-year scholarship that will pay your room and board, your tuition, and give you thirty dollars a month to spend.” And I heard Mama say, “I will be praying for you!”What a great thought for any mama to put in the mind of her child. “I will be praying for you!”