Sermon Summary (9/22/19) “Life of Moses: The Hidden Heroes” (Exodus 1:8 to 2:7)
You may be wondering why a sermon series on Moses. Last Sunday at the door, Forrest asked, “Do you hear about Moses?” Playing straight man I said, “No.” Forrest said, “He was a basket case.” So I wondered if the rest of you knew as much about Moses and Forrest. Thus the series.
When Spielberg formed his knew production studio, Dreamworks, the very first movie was “Prince of Egypt.” I thought, what an awesome way to teach a new generation about one of the most important characters in all of history. For us, even how we look at the stories of Jesus is filtered through the life of Moses. The Sermon on the Mount was the retelling of the Law. Even the birth narrative relates: “Out of Egypt, I have called my son.” Moses was with Jesus at the Transfiguration. The Last Supper was a Passover Seder, given by God through Moses. The story of the Exodus, of God’s presence with his people is our story too.
The backdrop of the story is that of Joseph, sold into slavery in Egypt by his brother, but through his integrity and God’s gifts and Providence, is elevated to Viceroy of Egypt and saves Egypt from famine through his wisdom. His father, Jacob, and his brothers and their families come to Egypt and there become plentiful over four or five centuries.
One myth, the Israelites did not build the Pyramids, which were completed a 1000 years before the Israelites entered Egypt, but they did build Temples in the Valley of the Kings and cities in the Nile delta region, and there were oppressed. 8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. (Ex 1:8-9) Thus the fear of the other began the oppression.
Fear of the other is part of the human condition. We see it at the beginning of the biblical narrative and through history to our times. We must ask ourselves what is about us that fears the other? What is it about our culture that fears the other? What can we do about it?
Enter the heroes. Note that the story does not tell us the name of the Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world. It does not tell us the name of the Princess, the daughter of the most powerful man in the world. We won’t even find out the names of Moses’ mother and sister until much later. But it does tell us the names of the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah. They must be important. They choose morality over safety. They saved the lives of the Hebrew males infants. In the face of death, they justified it (little white lie) to Pharaoh.
We need to realize that rules don’t cover most of what is needed for life. We need to develop character and wisdom, God based, to navigate the moral and ethical dilemmas we will face. Shiphrah and Puah are our first models of that, he hidden heroes of the story. So may it be with us.