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Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS:
“Moses – Basket of Baptism”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Through the Written Word,
And the spoken word,
May we know Your Living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Does anyone here have a life story about either being saved from drowning or saving someone else? Maybe a riptide at a Southern California beach, or falling off a dock or out of the boat on the lake or at the river? I took swimming lessons every summer from 1st grade thru 6th grade, and while I was too young to earn a Life Guard certificate, I took all the classes to get one – including the class on how to use your own Levi’s jeans (cuz that’s what we all wore in 1972) to make a temporary/emergency life preserver! (And I am super glad I have never had to try to make that work in a real-life-or-death situation!)
In our current Sermon Series we are looking at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and a few about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Today we read about a mom who saves her son’s life with a basket.
I invite you to turn with me today, and to listen to, Exodus 2:1-10 (P. 41). Hear the Word of God …. —-
1 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman (for those who have been here all Summer, we have hopped over several chapters, and a few hundred years…. After Jacob wrestled with the Angel in Genesis 32 – he and his wives [and his concubines] had birthed and raised 12 sons, and there had been a famine in the land of Israel, so the one son, Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers, had moved to Egypt, but had then become a leading ruler in Egypt and brought his whole family down to save them from starvation; by the time we get to Exodus, it has been like 400 years of Israelites living in Egypt, but no one in charge remembered why the Israelites were there, they had forgotten about Joseph saving Egyptian civilization 400 years earlier, and the Israelites had been so “productive” that the Pharaoh had put out a hit on all Israelite baby boys – kill them dead! That’s the scene of this story when an Israelite couple from the Tribe of Levi are expecting another baby), 2 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. 3 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. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 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. 6 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 (how did she know? In the Charlton Heston movie it was the “Hebrew blanket” he was wrapped in – but in reality, this baby boy was probably circumcised!).
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 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. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She (Pharaoh’s daughter) named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
The story of Moses – just in these introductory 10 verses we learn all kinds of things – stuff about Moses, and stuff about God. And these opening verses of Moses’ story starts one of the most fantastic legendary life stories of all time!
Let’s explore this together:
Someone … tell us what life in Egypt is like for the Israelites at the time of Moses’ birth. [Slavery for these previously loved and respected people – because the government officials, the Pharaoh is scared that these Hebrews might start a rebellion; so it’s a power play. Death for all the baby Hebrew boys. Parents that obviously love this newborn baby, into a family that already has several children.]
Do you remember when we saw God promise Eve that one of her offspring would step on the head of the offspring of the serpent – and how that promise was the first picture of the preincarnate Son of God, the Messiah who would come in another few thousand years?
Or when Abraham offered his only son, whom he loved, as a sacrifice? And how that happened at the same place where 1,800 years later God offered His only begotten Son, whom He loves, as a sacrifice? And how God saved Abraham’s son’s life by providing a ram who died as the substitute for Isaac, like how Jesus’ death provides substitutionary atonement for us?
In today’s reading, notice the similarities between Moses’ birth and that of Jesus: [Baby boys were supposed to be killed by authority of the “king”; and Moses goes to live in the household of the king of Egypt; where does Jesus and Mary and Joseph go to avoid the death penalty? – Egypt! Do you see how this resembles yet another picture of the preincarnate Son of God, the Messiah who will one day come to save God’s people?]
Now let’s take a minute and look at the means by which Moses was saved in this story. His mother made a basket and lined it with pitch and put her three-month old son in the Nile River. Way back in Genesis 6 we read about how Noah and his family, and two of every creature on earth, were saved from death in a giant floating basket; and now Moses, who will one day be the rescuer, the savior, of the entire Israelite people, is saved from death in a floating basket!
What other “Moses-and-water” stories can you think of? [Moses’ name means “drawn from the water” – the Pharaoh’s daughter named him that, not his parents. When Moses is a grown man confronting the Pharaoh to let God’s people go, one of the plagues turns the water into blood! During the Exodus as the Israelites escape from the Egyptian army, the first major-big thing that happens is the parting of the Red Sea! When the people are out in the wilderness, complaining that sometimes life is difficult, Moses gets water from a rock! And in today’s intro-to-Moses story, while he never even gets wet, he sits in a basket of baptism as he floats toward God’s call on his life.]
Jesus also has some amazing water-related stories. He gets baptized in the Jordan River. He turns water into wine. He walks on water. He uses water to heal a man who is lame. And the Apostle John tells us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the one who came by water and blood.
It certainly appears that God shows this picture of Jesus way back in Exodus, the beginning of the second book of the Old Testament, to remind His Chosen People that He is absolutely sovereign and totally loves them, that the Messiah is coming to save them from their own sinful nature.
And Moses’ identity is clarified as not-an-Egyptian and just as clearly as God’s-Chosen-leader-of-His people!
So, what is God doing with this story?
He is definitely setting the means of ultimate salvation in motion! We’ve seen this before – Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph – and now Moses takes a lead. God’s salvation plan is taking effect!
What does this story ask of us? How do we respond to this Moses-story? I see four acts of obedience, four things to check-off before we leave this worship time today.
- Go to the water – with the basket. You hear me? Moses’ mother went to the trouble of making the basket, and then she finished the job! She took the risk that it might not work – but she did it. And you can bet she went to the river to pray … while she placed her baby basket on the water. Do that! Take what you know God has given you, and do something with it! Be brave, even when you’re scared, and take the risk to obey.
- Go to the water – grab the basket! The daughter of the Pharaoh was doing nothing more than taking a bath in the Nile; she was just doing her thing. But then she saw an opportunity! She did not know that this was a God thing – but she did it. She grabbed the basket! Do that! As people who know that God is real, be aware of what He is doing! Look for God wherever you are, and watch for the opportunities He places in front of you.
- Did you catch what all God did in this Moses story? He saved Moses’ baby life by his mom going to the water with the basket. Then He sent Pharaoh’s daughter to the water who grabbed the basket. And then He got Moses’ own mother to be invited by Pharaoh’s daughter to nurse her own baby, raise him, keep him safe!
- Know and trust the God who calls you into His family. The Apostle John, in his first Epistle, chapter 5, challenges us to trust God fully: 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? [Who has the courage to face life’s tough challenges? Who doesn’t need to worry about death? Who? He answers:] Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
- Discover your Basket of Baptism – how is God calling you into His service, His ministry, His presence and power today?
Go to the water – with the basket! Go to the water – grab the basket! Believe that Jesus is the Son of God born of water and of blood! And believe that God really is real! Live like we believe what we say we believe!
Friends, God loves you, and He longs to give that love to you.
Thank You, YHWH God, for the waters of Baptism which claims us for eternal; for inviting us to believe in and trust fully in Your perfect gift of Holy Spirit forgiveness; for adopting us as Your very own children. You call us Your own, and we want to anchor our lives into that identity, always. Thank You for Jesus; in His name we pray, Amen.