Case Studies of Seeing the Invisible God!

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The Book of Exodus Bible Study - Chapter Two

Case Studies of Seeing the Invisible God!

by I Gordon

John 1:18 ' No one has ever seen God...'

2 Cor 4:18 'So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen...'

Heb 11:27 '   By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.'  

As the title suggests, this study is taken from Exodus chapter 2 (mostly), and centers on the lives of four prominent Israelites at the time of the exodus. I'm sure you've heard of them. Hugely influential people! Firstly there is good old Shiprah... that famous Israelite woman who... pardon? You've never heard of her? Ok, well what about her famous sidekick Puah? No? Well I guess you're bound to know about the faith of Jochebed??? Still drawing a blank? Where have you been? Well, what about the last case study - that of a person called Moses? Heard of him?

Seriously now, up until I started doing this study on Exodus, the names Shiprah, Puah and Jochebed meant about as much to me as they probably do to you now... and that's about zip! Nothing. But we are going to have a look at their lives, as they are people who through the difficulties commanded by Pharaoh, were forced to see the invisible!


Before you read on, please read Exodus chapter 1:15-2:25. Also note and think about the following scriptures, some of which have been printed at the top of this study. Isa 45:15, Rom 8:24-25, 2Cor 4:18, 5:7, Heb 11:1, 24-27. The main purpose of this study is to highlight our constant need to see and trust in the invisible! This applies from the day we are saved to the day we finish the race. So read the above scriptures and with the exodus passage, try to put yourself into their situation, noting how things would have looked naturally, and their faith in seeing the unseen.

The Case of the God-fearing Midwives!

Exodus 1:15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 'When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.'  The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live  .

One of the first things that should be stressed in discipleship of young Christians is the need for a healthy 'fear of God'. This is essential for living as Christians in a world that on the whole is ignorant or opposed to the true God. In like manner it was essential for the Israelites living in Egypt, and in the text above we have a classic scene that illustrates this very thing in action! The King of Egypt, who was worshipped by the Egyptians as a god, tells our two Israelite midwives to do the unthinkable - that is, to kill any newly born Jewish male babies. We read that Shiphrah and Puah 'feared God and did not do what the King of Egypt told them...' Now that sentence was easy for me to write; it will be easy for you to read; but in no way was it easy for our midwives to do! Put yourself in their shoes for a sec. What could they see in the natural? Well, they could see an angry Pharaoh who had complete control over the entire Egyptian empire and for one reason or another wasn't particularly fond of Jews. And no doubt they had seen what happens to people who deliberately choose to disobey this angry Pharaoh! Pharaoh himself had spoken to these women in person and any disobedience would normally mean certain death. No, the things that are seen were giving a very grim picture! Yet, despite how things looked outwardly, these two brave women looked not at the things that are seen, but to Him who is not seen and through a fear of God, choose instead to do what was right in God's eyes!

 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, 'Why have you done this?  Why have you let the boys live?' The midwives answered Pharaoh, 'Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.' So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.  And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own  .

Having disobeyed the King, our courageous duo are now summoned to Pharaoh's throne to explain their actions! How scared would they be? Again, the things that were seen were painting a very dark picture. All these two ladies had to go on was their faith in the unseen God. Would fearing God and putting His will first pay off in the end? You bet it would! We read that 'God was kind to the midwives... and because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.' God honours those that honour Him (1 Sam 2:30) and the scripture reveals that a fountain of life is available to those that fear Him.  [1] 

Jochebed saw the invisible!

Exodus 1:22-2:4 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: 'Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live. Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, 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. 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. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Things got worse! No doubt about it. God looked after the midwives but the whole episode got right up Pharaoh's nose! No longer was it only the midwives that were commanded to kill the newly born Israelite males, but now the order was given to all the Egyptians to drown the Hebrew boys in the Nile river. Things are not looking good! In the natural, going by what you can see, everything looks grim. Moses parents Amram and Jochebed, (Ex 6:20) should have been beside themselves. Evidently, they lived in close proximity to the Nile river so they would have seen what had happened to other babies. And yet we read in Hebrews 11:23 'By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict.' In other words, though everything around them looked terrible, Moses parents were able to keep their eyes on the invisible God, and their faith dispelled the fear that would have naturally occurred in such a situation! That's awesome!

The Workings of the Invisible God!

Exodus 2:3-10 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. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. 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 slave girl to get it. 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. Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, 'Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?' 'Yes, go,' she answered. And the girl went and got the baby's mother. 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. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, 'I drew him out of the water.'

So, having read the above verses (I know you wouldn't have skipped them!) let me ask you... Where is God mentioned in all of this? Nowhere, and yet, everywhere! But before we look at that, let's just look at what it would have been like for Moses' parents. You see they have hid Moses for as long as possible, but little Moses is developing a strong set of lungs and it is only a matter of time before they get caught out. The decision is made to place him in a basket and push it out onto the Nile  [2]  . Can you imagine how Jochebed, Moses' mother, would have felt? There was no sign of God. Not one peep! Yet in dying to her own ability to be able to care and protect Moses, in faith she would have pushed Moses out onto the Nile, while all the while saying in her heart 'God, I die to my own ability to protect Moses and place him in your hands. Please take the consequences!'

So where is God? Would He come through? Bet you have wondered that before. Though we do not see Him, and though we do not always hear Him, He is always working! Look at this case...was it simply coincidence that Pharaoh's daughter came down to the Nile on the very day that Moses was placed in the basket? Do you think it was just coincidence that Pharaoh's daughter came to the exact place on the Nile where Moses was? I don't! It was God. Pharaoh's daughter would have had no idea that she was being used in the plan of God, but used she was! It was God that allowed her heart to be filled with pity for Moses. It was God that arranged for Jochebed to be able to look after and nurse her own child. And it was definitely God that allowed her to be paid for doing it! Though not seen, and not heard, this whole passage smacks of the invisible God who works all things out for those that love Him.

Moses saw Him who is unseen as well!

Exodus 2:11-15 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, 'Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?' The man said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?' Then Moses was afraid and thought, 'What I did must have become known.' When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian.

What do you think it would have been like for Moses to grow up as Pharaoh's son? I think it goes without saying that he would have had all the power, pleasure, money, and wisdom that this world can offer. Very little... well, actually nothing is said in Exodus concerning Moses' upbringing under Pharaoh in Egypt, but in Stephens speech to the Sanhedrin, in Acts 7:22, we do get a glimpse of that upbringing when it says - 'Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.' Moses had everything he could have ever wanted. Everything that is, except God and the peace that comes with knowing you are in a right relationship with God. In Hebrews chapter 11:24-26 we read

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He  chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin  for a short time.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 

That's amazing. Think of what he gave up... associating himself with the Hebrews cost him any future aspirations of leading Egypt, as well as his comfort, pleasure, pride, and prestige. In fact in other selfish ambitions that he desired were now gone. It was a huge cost to pay, but he was willing to do so for he was 'looking ahead to his reward.' In other words, Moses could see the unseen. He saw eternity and the overwhelming importance of eternal rewards compared to temporal pleasures.  [3]  We are called to do the same. If we are left with any doubt as to why Moses did what he did, the book of Hebrews tells that

Heb 11:27 'By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.'

Now, that has been the case studies of Shiphrah, Puah, Jochebed and Moses. Great people of God due to the simple fact that they were able to see the invisible God in the midst of very trying circumstances. Our need, 3500 years later, is to do the same. God hasn't changed. The way he works hasn't changed, and the way he can deliver hasn't changed. Whatever you are currently faced with, the command of the New Testament, like that of the old, is to '  fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen...'  

[1] ↩ Just thinking of what proverbs says concerning the 'fear of the Lord'. Here is but a small selection of what is revealed in that book concerning the fear of the Lord.

Prov 1:7 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.'
Prov 14:26-27 'He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.
Prov 15:16 'Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.'
Prov 19:23 'The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.'
Prov 22:4 'Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.
Prov 23:17 'Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.'

[2] ↩ CHM, in his 'Notes on exodus' makes some interesting comments concerning the Nile, Pharaoh and God's frustration of Satan's plans. Satan desired for the Nile to be the place of death for the Hebrew boys, yet God turns it all around and uses that very river as the means by which Moses would be delivered! Likewise, Satan planed for Pharaoh to be his instrument in killing the Israelite children but God again intervenes and Moses is raised as Pharaoh's own grandson! God can turn all things around!

[3] ↩ This reminds me very much of a great quote that is well worth thinking about. Jim Elliot was a missionary in South America. He was killed for bringing them the gospel but the following quotation was later found in his journal - 'He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.' That is so true. The world does not understand this for they only have this temporal life. Moses understood this however and in giving up what he cannot keep (his pleasure and wealth in Egypt), he truly did gain what he cannot lose (his eternal rewards in heaven!)