At the Harrisburg church of Christ, the young ladies honored their widows today with a fellowship meal, a lesson, and fellowship.
I was so thankful to be invited as their guest speaker. These occasions are near and dear to my heart. I have great love and respect for the widows in the Lord’s Kingdom and agree that they are deserving of honor.
Today was an opportunity for fellowship. To get to know ladies of like minds, ladies who share some of the same interests and likes. But most importantly, ladies who share a love of God.
The lesson was about the godly example of a woman named Jochebed. There are many lessons to be learned from Jochebed, from her behavior during great persecution to her bravery and faith in God.
Then we will look at three ways that we can be modern-day Jochebed’s.
The Situation in Egypt
First, I would like to remind us of what is happening in Jochebed’s world, so we can better understand what God’s people are up against.
Genesis ended with the Jews in good standing with Egypt. Things had gone well for the Hebrew people under the rule of the old Pharaoh.
The very next book of the Bible finds God’s people in a situation that is the complete opposite from before.
The first chapter of Exodus introduces us to the new Pharaoh over Egypt, a man described as someone “who knew not Joseph” (Ex. 1:8).
The Hebrews had developed into a great nation just as God had promised. Gen. 12:2; 15:12-14.
The new Pharaoh is concerned with this development. So he makes slaves of the quickly multiplying Hebrews as a way to lessen their strength.
Exodus 1:14 tells us he made their lives bitter with hard bondage.
But that wasn’t enough – he instructed the Hebrew midwives to kill all sons that were born (He didn’t want them growing up to be strong men who would be able to overthrow his army)
Luckily, The Hebrew midwives feared God, so they didn’t do as Pharaoh had instructed.
When that didn’t work, Pharaoh came up with another plan. He set forth a decree for his people to cast every Hebrew son born into the river.
Jochebed is Introduced in Exodus chapter 2.
We are told she was of the tribe of Levi.
Jochebed was the wife of Amram – and also his aunt (she was his father’s sister).
She had given birth to her first two children before Pharaoh set forth the decree concerning male babies (Aaron and Miriam).
The first few verses of Genesis chapter 2 tell us a great deal about Jochebed’s character.
Jochebed was a godly woman and mother during a time of severe persecution.
She gave birth to Moses when the boy babies were supposed to be killed after birth - by decree of the most powerful man around.
Her people had left their first love – they had pushed God away, but Jochebed’s actions tell me she stood firm.
Jochebed could have taken the easy route by going along with most people, but she chose not to.
Jochebed was brave – she stood against what the strongest man they knew had commanded – she wasn’t afraid to go against his wishes. And even if she was scared, she still pushed forward to do what was right.
She chose to put her life in jeopardy by hiding her newborn son for three months. She hid him for as long as she could without getting caught.
Jochebed trusted God to take care of her family. Her faith in God was so strong that she allowed her son to be placed in the water, to be found by an Egyptian princess.
Then, God allowed her to raise Moses as his nursemaid – teaching Moses about God right under Pharaoh’s nose – she would have been killed if she had been found out. But she still did it.
She is listed in the Hebrew Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11:23). “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.”
Jochebed’s actions led to Moses choosing God over the riches and treasures of Egypt. God tells us that Moses chose to suffer affliction rather than be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
When we turn over to the book of Exodus, the first thought that probably comes to most people’s minds is how God used Moses to deliver His people from Egypt. We think about how He used Aaron to help, and we may even think about their sister, Miriam. But do we think about how God used Jochebed to bring His will to fruition before Moses could even walk?
God used Jochebed then, and He will use His people today. It doesn’t matter if we are younger or if we are older. God will use us. But we have to let Him. Even when we are afraid. How can we do this?
3 ways we can be modern-day Jochebed’s
We can start by making it a priority to know what God would have us to do. We can seek out God’s will through studying His Word. There are many examples of this throughout the scripture, but I want to look at one specific example. Turn with me to Ezra chapter 7.
Ezra 7:10: For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Ezra prepared himself for the work of reforming God’s people in that he “set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah.” This fact is the center of Ezra’s Godly character. Ezra was a man of purpose. God was real to Ezra, and so were His warnings against disobedience.
Ezra was convicted of the reality of God and thereby was motivated to fulfill all His commandments. Having a fear of God, the scribe priests set his heart like a clock to seek God’s Law and keep it. Ezra took God’s laws and applied them to his life.
To do this today, we must understand and accept the value of scripture. Turn with me to 2 Timothy 3.
2 Timothy 3:16-17: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
We are not told that Jochebed studied the Law, but we can infer that she had been taught the Law. We can tell by her actions that she not only understood it but that she loved it and wanted to be obedient to it.
We, today, have much better circumstances. We have the very God-breathed Word right at our fingertips.
The first way we can be a modern-day Jochebed is by loving God’s word and taking the time to study it so we, too, will apply God’s laws to our lives.
Next, we can have faith that God will provide. We can lay our worries and cares at His Feet and trust that He will take care of us.
Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
When I think of faith, I can’t help but reflect on the actions of the poor widow in Mark 12. Turn with me to Mark chapter 12, starting in verses 41 through 44.
And Jesus sat over against the treasury and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
This widow had to have trusted that God would provide. The example of her faith has gone on down the ages.
How is our faith? Do we have faith enough to trust God? Do we lay our cares at His Feet? Do we by praying fervently?
Jochebed’s faith in God was so strong that she allowed her son to be placed in the water in a basket – she trusted God to take care of her baby boy.
Let us strive daily to place our faith in our Heavenly Father. To pray for God’s will to be done and, like Jochebed, trust that it will.
Thirdly, once we understand what God would have us to do and we place our faith in Him, we can do everything in our power to teach others to do the same. You don’t have to stand up and give a lesson to teach others. One way we can teach is by our example. We have an opportunity to be a godly example – not only to our children but also to everyone around us.
Matthew 5:16: ”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.”
We need women who are not afraid to stand up for God in this sinful world. And if we are afraid, we do our best to push through it and still stand for what’s right.
Let your light shine by showing love. Speak to others in passing. Give them a smile. Invite them to service. Let them know you care about their soul.
Titus 2:7-8: “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”
Understand that all things should be done to the glory of God and not self.
Once we put God first, it will be easier to set the example God requires.
Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
We can choose to stand up for what is right instead of becoming desensitized to sin. Don’t let yourself get so used to seeing sin that you start to believe it’s ok. That it’s just the way, things are these days.
Jochebed refused to give in to what others were doing – she chose to save her son alive by hiding him and doing what it took to keep him safe.
Like Jochebed, we can choose to be brave. Brave enough to stand alone if we have to. I would much rather be standing alone and going to Heaven than falling in with the crowd and losing my soul. Wouldn’t you?
I will leave you with three bible verses.
Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Psalm 31:24: "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD."
Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
I pray we do our best to become more determined to draw our strength from the Lord. Ready and willing to do what it takes to become our own version of a modern-day Jochebed.
In Christian Love,
P.S. The photo attached is of my mother, Rose Holt Castleberry. She was my very own modern-day Jochebed. She lived her life putting me first, even when I know she had to be scared. She always kept me safe and fed. I am so thankful I had her as my mama.
May 1, 1935 - October 21, 2003 on this earth but forever in my heart.