top of page

The Groundwork for the Exodus “Out of the Water” - Moses' Rescue

The Exodus Motif and Discipleship 4

Exodus 1 – 3


While Pharaoh is building cities, an Israelite woman is building a tiny, unimpressive little ark for a child to be thrown into the water. Yet this ark, like Noah’s, will become the vehicle through which God rescues the righteous from watery destruction, foils the plans of the wicked, and creates a new nation in the midst of the old.

-        Roberts & Wilson, Echoes of the Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption Through Scripture, 2018,      p. 36


Do you think Moses’ mother had any idea what the future of her child that she was just trying to rescue would be? In a hopeless situation of the ordered destruction of all Hebrew boy babies, a Levite family plots how to hide their “…beautiful child…” (Ex. 2:2). This phrase has baffled theologians, with some connecting it to the Hebrew term God used of His creation as “…good…” implying that this was a special child. Most people don’t think that their baby is not special! It may be that his parents knew this child was special in the plan of God. We can’t say for sure.

Moses is venerated in both Judaism and historical Christianity as the “Law-giver.” He is considered a great prophet and leader, having written the Torah (what we in the west refer to as the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible) and having led the people of Israel out of Egypt and through the 40 years of wandering.

The despair and apparent hopelessness of chapter 1 are “interrupted” by the report that a child is born to a Levite household. Just what relevance this child’s birth has to the oppression of his countrymen is not indicated at this point. All we are told is that he is born, hidden, abandoned, found by Pharaoh’s daughter, and adopted, as it were, as her own son. This Levite has become an Egyptian; for what purpose remains to be seen…Suffice it to say now that Moses will later play the ultimate priestly role by being the one through whom God’s law is given to the people. [1]


Moses’ life can be broken down into three periods of 40 years:

  • His birth and rescue from the waters of the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex. 2:1 – 10): Moses’ mother made a small ark in which to hide her son from Pharaoh who had decreed that all Hebrew boys born were to be put to death. His sister, Miriam, was to watch him from a distance to see what would happen to him. I have always thought it amazing that Moses began to cry as soon as Pharaoh’s daughter opened the little “ark.” What a way to tug at a young woman’s heart strings! God worked in such a way that Moses’ mother was his nurse as he was adopted into the household of the powerful Pharaoh.  His name, Mosheh = “he draws out,” even hints of the true Exodus that he would lead. These 40 years of God’s preparation for his future, which he knew nothing about, is the first “Exodus” of Moses’ life. This first Exodus was from oppression to royalty.

  • His flight from Egypt (Ex. 2:11 – 4:17): Moses, knowing that his real people were the slaves of Egypt, defends one by slaying an abusive Egyptian. When he discovers that word is out, he runs for the hills of Midian on the Arabian Peninsula where descendants of Abraham and his second wife, Keturah, were settled. Here he would spend the second 40 years of his life away from all he knew and enjoyed in the house of Pharaoh. It is here that God speaks to him and calls him to lead his people out of Egypt. This second Exodus was from human royalty to divine servanthood.

  • He leads the people out of Egypt to the Jordan River (Ex. 4:18 – Deut. 34): At 80 years of age, Moses is called by God to stand before Pharaoh and reveal Who the true God is to the nations who would also hear of this rescue (Ex. 15:14). On “…the back of the desert… Horeb, the mountain of God” (Ex. 3:1) God made the call promising, “…you shall serve God on this mountain.” Yes, Horeb is none other than Mt. Sinai, where God would give the Law. Moses had presented several arguments to God that he was not capable of the calling and God answered each one in a miraculous and/or practical way. Moses would then lead his people on this true Exodus that is used as a motif throughout Scripture. This third Exodus was God promoting Moses from divine servant to prophet.


What a life! What an impact for God and eternity! What was the key to Moses’ life? I believe it is found in Numbers 12:3, "Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth."

Jesus would state, "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Mt. 23:11 & 12, cf. Psalm 138:6; Proverbs 3:34; Proverbs 29:23; Luke 1:52; James 4:6 & 1 Peter 5:5).

Moses' life was one of exile and exodus; sometimes caused by his actions and sometimes by the actions of others. Yet, through it all, God was slowly and quietly molding him into an exodus shaped person - a person more like the God he served (sanctification).

Am I allowing God to shape me?

Are you?

[1] Enns, P. (2000). Exodus (pp. 57–58). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

31 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page