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Motherhood and the Sovereignty of God

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Motherhood and the Sovereignty of God (Genesis 22–29; Exodus 2)

So much of motherhood is waiting. Mothers wait for that life which grows under their heart to be born. They wait for that little one to go to sleep. Rarely do they wait for the baby to wake up. In the most significant things that happen to a baby all a mother can do is to wait. She must wait for the child to talk, to walk, and to display that distinctive character which will mark the child as an individual.

That is to say, a great deal of motherhood is dependent on the sovereignty, providence, and timing of God. While a mother may be ceaselessly active on her child's behalf, the ultimate issues absolutely and really rest in the sovereignty of God. The Bible illustrates to us how mothers may relate to that sovereignty.

Mothers May Forget the Faithfulness of God—Rebekah

Rebekah appears on the Old Testament scene as a woman of charming, even disarming, character. Her treatment of Eliezer, Abraham's servant sent to find a wife for Isaac, revealed her as gracious and unselfish. She is a woman of assertive decision who leaves her Mesopotamian family to marry a man she has never met in a foreign culture. She is a woman of purity—this is the first great monogamous marriage of the Genesis accounts. She is a woman of prayer. She is specifically cited as the first woman to call on God (Gen. 25:22). Everything about Rebekah appears to be ideal.

The character of Rebekah suffered from one flaw. At a critical juncture, both for her family and for God's plan, she forgot the dependence of motherhood on the sovereignty of God. This lapse began with an obvious favoritism for one of her children over the other. While Isaac preferred Esau, she loved Jacob more. Such prejudiced motherhood inevitably leads to family tragedy. This favoritism led to manipulation of family life and deception on behalf of Jacob. Rebekah wanted the right thing, but she wanted it the wrong way. God desired Jacob to be His man of choice, but God in His sovereignty could have shaped the destiny of Jacob without the manipulation and deceit of Rebekah.

Because Rebekah could not trust the sovereignty of God, the remainder of her life was heartache. She saw strife between her children, she lost the confidence of her husband, and she even lost Jacob forever. When he returned twenty years later she was dead.

Mothers May Rely on the Faithfulness of God—Jochebed

We are told virtually nothing of this truly great "mother of Israel." Maternally and paternally she was from priestly ancestry herself. A slave woman in Egypt, she mothered three remarkable children: Aaron, the great priest; Miriam, a spiritual leader; and Moses, the incomparable. Jochebed's singular contribution was her utter trust in the sovereignty of God.

She was a woman of perception concerning her child. She saw that he was a goodly child (Ex. 2:2). The Hebrew word suggests that there was something remarkable about Moses from the very first. Jochebed had the spiritual vision to note the remarkable. Jochebed knew in God's providence when to hold her child and when to let him go. For three months she held him and hid him. But the time came when she had to release him for God's purposes. She suppressed her own possessive maternal love and released her son to God's plan. Here she was utterly unlike Rebekah. She perpetrated no deception. She did combine absolute faith faith with prudent provision. With motherly activity, she carefully constructed the little basket-boat. (She did not just throw Moses into the Nile and say, "God, take care of him!") But then with distinctive trust in God, she released the baby into the river worshiped by the Egyptians as a god. God could use that unlikely vehicle for His purposes.

Because she released her baby to the sovereignty of God, she also got him back in a most remarkable way. For the first seven years of his life, he was exclusively hers, even though adopted by Pharaoh's daughter. Rebekah forgot God's sovereignty and lost everything. Jochebed remembered it and won all.

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