1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 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 older, 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.”
I recently read a book in which a left-leaning scholar noted that Martin Luther viewed the Old Testament as essentially Christian “because it contains the Christ-centered divine covenant between God and Israel, promising salvation from sin, evil, and death.” This scholar rejected Luther’s view and went so far as to say that “Luther’s view of the Old Testament is unacceptable in any responsible biblical scholarship.” In other words, this author is suggesting that no true biblical scholar would see the prefiguring of the New Testament in the Old Testament. The comment made me chuckle, for, in point of fact, there are numerous scholars who see types and figures of the New Testament in the Old, who see Christ foreshadowed in the events of creation and in the life of Israel. Indeed, as a Christian, it is extremely difficult not to see Jesus all over the pages of the Old Testament.
One of the areas in which this is clear is in the birth of Moses. It is undeniable that Moses is a type of Christ, that the events surrounding his birth and life point to the coming of a greater Moses, a Messiah, who free God’s people from sin, death, and hell. The fourth century Christian poet, Prudentius, put it like this:
Thus Moses in a former age
Escaped proud Pharaoh’s foolish law,
And as the savior of his race
Prefigured Christ who was to come.
I would agree with Prudentius that Moses “prefigured Christ who was to come.” This evening, let us consider the birth of Moses. In doing so, let us consider the many ways that Moses’ birth points forward to the birth of Jesus, so many years later.
I. Moses and Jesus both had unlikely births.
Let us begin by considering the unlikely births of Moses and Jesus. Of course, the birth of Moses does not match the uniquely miraculous nature of the birth of Jesus. How could it? Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, a miracle that was as staggering as it was unlikely. The shocking nature of the birth of Jesus is summed up definitively in Mary’s response in Luke 1:34 to Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear a son: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
While Moses’ birth does not rise to that miraculous degree, it, too, was unlikely and, in fact, it was also possibly miraculous. His birth was unlikely in that Moses was born among a persecuted people and, specifically, under a decree from on high forbidding his survival, and, in deed, the survival of any Jewish baby boy. While we saw last week that the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s demonic decree, it is nonetheless moving that the savior of Israel should be born in such an environment.
I said that Moses’ birth was possibly even miraculous. Let me explain. Later in Exodus, we will learn that Moses’ father was named Amram and his mother was named Jochebed. Exodus 6 tells us that Amram married his own aunt. Victor Hamilton points out something very interesting about this:
That Amram marries his aunt raises the possibility that Moses’s mother is a good bit older than his father…Taking the expression “daughter of Levi” in Exod. 2:1 and Num. 26:59 literally, rather than reading it as a metonym for a distant relative, Brichto…computes that Jochebed is forty years older than her husband and that she is 176 in the year she gives birth to Moses!…So then, there are two miracles in this story: the miraculous preservation of the baby from the king’s edict, and a mother who, pushing the second-century mark, conceives and gives birth.
While this cannot be proven, it is an intriguing suggestion. Regardless, the birth of Moses, like the birth of Jesus, was surrounded by the miraculous, preserving, providential hand of Almighty God.
II. Moses and Jesus were both born among a politically oppressed people.
Of course, Moses and Jesus were also born into similar situations. The Israelites among whom Moses was born were an oppressed people living on foreign soil. The Israelites among whom Jesus was born were an oppressed people living on their own soil. Moses was born under the yoke of Egyptian tyranny. Jesus was born under the yoke of Roman tyranny. Moses was born under the scepter of Pharaoh. Jesus was born under the scepter of Caesar. Moses’ Israelites dreamed of leaving Egypt. Jesus’ Israelites dreamed of Rome leaving them.
While the divine titles of verses 6b and 7 apply only and ever to Jesus, Isaiah 9’s description of the political oppression into which Jesus would be born applies to both Jesus and Moses.
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Both Moses and Jesus were born in humble circumstance, and both were born under foreign tyranny.
III. Moses and Jesus were both born under the threat of a murderous king.
While both were born among an oppressed people, it is telling that both Moses and Jesus were born under intentional decrees that baby boys be killed. We find Pharaoh’s decree in Exodus 1.
15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.”
We find Herod’s in Matthew 2.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
Thus, Pharaoh and Herod share the dubious distinction of being tools of Satan whereby the devil used infanticide to try to blot out Israel’s deliverers. These two are blood brothers of the most hellish sort, and to this day we do not even name our dogs Pharaoh or Herod.
IV. Moses and Jesus were both taken into the house of Egypt for protection.
Another similarity in these two births is that both Moses and Jesus both found protection in Egypt from the murderous intentions of oppressive rulers.
In our text tonight, we read of the events leading to Moses’ adoption into the house of Pharaoh.
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 older, 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.”
It is a poignant irony that Moses finds protection from the house of Pharaoh within the house of Pharaoh! I am almost tempted to say that Moses and Jesus share yet another connection in that they were both adopted: Moses by Pharaoh’s daughter, Jesus by Joseph. Regardless, by adopting this Hebrew boy, Pharaoh’s daughter essentially brings him in too close to Pharaoh for Pharaoh to kill him. Moses was saved under Pharaoh’s very nose, as it were. It is an intriguing occurrence within a fascinating story: Moses finds protection from Egypt within the very walls of Egypt.
Jesus does as well. An angel of the Lord cautions and instructs Joseph and Mary in Matthew 2 concerning the need for them to flee so as to escape Herod’s reign of terror.
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
The holy family flees into the arms of Egypt where God protects them from Herod’s wicked intentions. Like Moses, young Jesus survives for a spell in Pharaoh’s house.
V. Moses and Jesus both had mothers who had to be willing to give them up.
There is yet another similarity in the fact that both Moses and Jesus had mothers who had to be willing to give them up. Moses was weaned by his mother, but verse 10 surely holds within it a great deal of maternal grief.
10 When the child grew older, 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.”
Poor Jochebed had to hand her baby over to another woman and watch this other woman name her child and take him into her house. It must have been terribly difficult, yet Jochebed had to be willing to give Moses up for the greater purposes of God and Israel’s deliverance.
Jochebed’s grief was surpassed perhaps only by Mary’s. After the birth of Jesus, when Joseph and Mary were in Jerusalem, Simeon took the child into his arms and praised God. Yet Simeon also made a chilling prophecy over Mary in Luke 2.
34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
“Mary, a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” And so it did. For whereas Jochebed had to hand her son over to Pharaoh’s daughter that he might be raised in a palace among the riches of Pharaoh’s house, Mary had to hand her son over to the cross and watch Him die there in agony.
These two noble mothers shared the burden of letting their boys go, but only Mary, among the two of them, shared the burden of seeing her Son lay down His life in ways that pierced her soul through like a sword.
VI. Moses and Jesus were both born to deliver an oppressed people from bondage.
Moses and Jesus were both saviors, born to deliver an oppressed people from bondage. They were both saviors, but only Jesus is The Savior. Moses could deliver Israel from Egypt by the strong hand of God, but He could not deliver their hearts and souls from sin. Moses could take them to the edge of the Promised Land, but he could not take them to paradise.
Even so, both Moses and Jesus had deliverance as their vocations. Jesus’ Nazareth synagogue reading in Luke 4 is applicable, in spirit, to both deliverers:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Both Jesus and Moses could say, “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives…to set at liberty those who are oppressed” though only Jesus could say, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21b). Both Moses and Jesus came to lead a people out of bondage, but the bondage from which Jesus leads us is greater than mere slavery and the Promised Land into which He takes us is greater than Israel.
VII. Moses and Jesus were both born with unique relationships to God.
Finally, both Moses and Jesus had unique relationships with God. Consider Moses. We have seen that his mother’s name was Jochebed. The “jo” in Jochebed is a part of God’s name. Whereas all names in the book of Genesis that share a part of God’s name contain the letters “el” (for the divine name, Elohim), “jo” is a shortened form of “Yahweh.” “Her name means ‘Yo/Yah/Yahweh is glorious.” Her very name shares an abbreviated form of the great high name of the Lord God, Yahweh.
It is significant, because the hand of Yahweh God was uniquely on her son, Moses. He was born with a divine vocation and the favor of the Lord. He was not a perfect man. Moses was a sinner. But he remains the great hero of Israel’s history, the flawed but fascinating deliverer who was a mighty weapon in the hand of God.
In a general sense, Moses is like Jesus regarding his unique relationship to God…but only in a general sense, for here the comparison collapses. While they both had unique relationships with God, only Jesus was uniquely God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
Moses was born of the priestly lineage of the Levites (1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman). As such, he could perform priestly duties as an intercessor between Israel and God. He could do this, and he did. But there is quite a difference between saying, “I can beseech God on your behalf,” and saying, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b).
It is one thing to lead the people through parted waters. It is another thing to be parted yourself as the way to salvation. It is one thing to lead the people of God away from a king bent on destruction. It is quite another thing to be an eternal King of glory and salvation! It is one thing to receive the Law from God on a mountain. It is another thing to be the God who speaks the Law over the mountain. It is one thing to bring a people to the edge of the Promised Land. It is quite another to be able to take whosoever will may come through the gates of Heaven itself.
Yes, these two, Moses and Jesus, both had a unique relationship with God, but Moses’ pales in comparison with Jesus’. Moses could say, “I know the one true God!” But only Jesus could say, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
 Eric W. Gritsch, Martin Luther’s Anti-Semitism. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012), Kindle Loc. 1534-1537. Gritsch’s main point is to reject Luther’s anti-semitism. In this, he is absolutely correct and his book is very helpful. But one may hold to Luther’s view of the Old Testament and reject his anti-semitism. I certainly do.
 Joseph T. Lienhard, ed., Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Old Testament, vol.III. Thomas C. Oden, ed. (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), p.6
 Victor P. Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), Kindle Loc. 1248-1258.
 Hamilton, Kindle Loc. 1258.