What Eyes Cannot See| Dr. Chip Bennett
What Eyes Cannot See
Exodus Week 3
So, I love nature. You may not know this about me, but I love animals. I don't necessarily love animals in my house all the time, although we do have a couple of dogs. They’re Cockapoos. They're more on the “poo” side, but that’s a whole other story at another time. But I find myself, oftentimes — and YouTube sort of knows what you like. I spend a little time on YouTube because I like to watch professors, and I like to watch academic things on YouTube. But every once in a while, there'll be a video that comes up that’s like a safari video.
So, this is crazy. If you've seen this one, you’ll know what I'm talking about. There's this video where this warthog is just sort of — I mean, he looks like he's just the happiest warthog in the world. He's almost prancing. Do you know those horses that prance? He’s just prancing. He's obviously on the African plain, it’s sort of flat, and he's just having a good old time. I don't know if you're familiar with a thing called Wet Dog Syndrome. It's when they get wet, they like to roll around and do all kinds of crazy things. This warthog, he is just having him the time of his life. I mean, it's really funny to watch. But the camera — whoever took this picture or this video had a really good camera. It’s a good video. The warthog is oblivious to the fact while he's just doing his thing, there are actually six lions laying around that he doesn't see. He doesn’t realize that. And of course, once it pulled back and I saw, I'm like, “Oh, this is going to not be a good video. This is going to be the Golden Corral buffet here, tonight.”
But for whatever reason, the lions, whether they just ate, or I don't know what, just didn't do anything. They just sort of watched, a couple of them twitched their tails, but nobody got up. They just sort of laid on the ground. And this warthog is just having him — he's kicking his feet, he's rolling around, and then he just prances off. He has no idea that he was just that close to being dinner.
I started thinking about that in life. I started thinking about those books or those pictures you'll see where there's an animal in the picture, but you sometimes can't see it. Maybe there'll be some leaves on the ground, and maybe there'll be like a snake or something, and can't see. It's sort like this picture here. There's actually a cat in this picture. If you look long enough, you'll probably see it. I don't know if it's a cougar or a cheetah or whatever it is, but it's some sort of cat. It's in there, but sometimes you don't see it. I started thinking about this warthog, and about him being oblivious, and how, sometimes, there are things here that we're oblivious to, and how knowing that something's there, without knowing it's there, can be so powerful.
I started thinking about my parents. I talk to my dad every day on the phone, and there's going to be a day, as my dad gets closer — he's going to be 80 soon. There’s going to be a day where he's not around, just like my mom. She passed away several years back. There are times that I want to pick up that phone and call my mom, but I can’t. I know, one day, I'm going to pick up the phone and my dad is not going to be there. And you probably can relate. There are probably people in your life that you know are there, and they're actually here still, and just the fact that they’re there makes a difference. There’s just something about it. And if they weren't there in the picture, it would be different for you. It would be different for me. And I can experience that in my own life.
But I started thinking about that warthog, and how he was just sort of oblivious to what's going on, and I started thinking, “I wonder how many of us just go through life like that warthog, just doing whatever we're doing, not paying attention, and are not aware that God is always there.”
He's always with us. He's in that picture whether you see Him or not. And I started thinking about how profound that would be for us if we really knew that God was there all the time, if we paid attention to it, and if we were tuned into it. Because I think, if you're like me — and I assume that you're probably someone like me — sometimes I'm just going through life and I'm not really thinking so much about God being there.
I'm just sort getting stuff done. This week, as I was preparing this message, I tried to take a little bit more of an inventory of God being around. It's been a little tough because Mindy's in Europe, and I have all six kids. So, finding God this weekend was a little challenging for me. I think I called out His name, but I wasn't trying — but what I'm saying is that I want to explore that with you this weekend, and I think it might really be a real moment for many of us.
But before we get going on that, I want to remind you that we're in a series called “Exodus,” and we started this just a few weeks ago. So, if you're brand-new, you can just jump right in. You'll feel like you're right at home because I'll tell you sort of what we're doing. We're going back and reading the story of the Exodus. We're not going to be able to read every line of the story, but we're sort of working our way through methodically. And the reason that I'm doing that is because the Old Testament sort of presupposes that we know the Exodus story. It doesn't even think that you wouldn't know the Exodus story. The prophets talk about it all the time to the people that they talk to. And even into the New Testament, there's this understanding that we all sort of know the story. And one of the things that they say — the Old Testament prophets do, the New Testament writers do, and it's something they go back to regularly — concerning us, as the people of God, is that we tend to forget what God delivered us from and what God delivered us for. The Old Testament prophets will go, “Don't you remember when you were in Egypt? Don't you remember how they treated you? Why are you treating people the same way? Why are you doing the same thing? Don’t you know that God delivers you to be a kingdom of priests to the world? Don’t you know He delivered you to be a light to the nations? Have you forgotten that?”
And so, going back and reading the Exodus helps us to understand what God really delivered us from and what He delivered us for. And the reason that's important to know this, and for this to be a little biting when we go, “Oh, maybe I forgot a little bit about what I should be doing,” is because when we read scripture — scripture was written to believers. It wasn't written to non-believers. When we're reading scripture, what scripture's really doing by reminding us of what God has done is it's speaking to you and me on the inside. Are we really living as the people of God?
And we tend to read the scripture looking as if everybody else is the people of God, when in reality, when we read scripture, we should be asking the question, “Am I really living as the people of God?”
It doesn't mean that you should be doubting whether or not you are a believer, but am I really living up? Am I really doing what God has called me to do? Which is taking the Lord's name in vain when we don't live up to what we said. Taking God's name as a follower of God, and then not living up to that, that's taking His name in vain. We don't want to do that. The biblical writers are like, “No, no, no. God wants to use you in ways that you could not even imagine.”
So, that's what we're doing in this series. And so, we worked through Exodus 1 last weekend. If you weren't here, it's fine, but if you remember — and if you were here and you don't remember, that's fine too. I'll bring you back up to speed. We left off at the very end of Exodus 1 where Pharaoh had actually deputized his own people to take the male Hebrew children and throw them into the Nile as they were born. Or if they found them a little bit later, throw them in the Nile and drown them. Not a great situation. And scripture, when it was originally written, didn't have chapter and verse distinctions. So, we're going to roll right into Exodus 1. Exodus 2 starts this new thing in the middle of all of this chaos, calamity, death, sorrow and suffering.
We come to Exodus 2:1, and we're told, “Now…”
So, this sort of just brings your attention to something else.
It says, “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.”
Now, you would think Moses would have told you his parents’ names, but he didn't. He will later. We'll find out who they are. But this is not as important, right now. What's important here is that a man and a woman have come together, and they both are from the house of Levi. Now, if you're not familiar with the Bible, that's not the jeans Levi. I know that some may read that and think that. It’s not. This is a tribe in Israel. What's interesting here is Moses, when he gives the children of Israel the law, the only people that can do what Moses does have to be from the tribe of Levi. So, when we read this, we're realizing that Moses is already pre-qualified, before the law is ever given, to be the person that God has called him to be because God is at work. He’s there. Whether we see Him or not, He is at work. And Moses is coming from a family that's from the tribe of Levi, so when he finally gives the law — and the intermediaries, the priests, and the people that do what Moses do have to be from the tribe of Levi — he is already pre-qualified. Like, God knows what He’s doing.
We're told, “The woman conceived and bore a son,”
Now, he could have said, “This is me,” but the point here is that there's something going on here. God is up to something.
“…and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.”
Now, we’ve got to work a little bit here because most of us — and there's nothing wrong with not having any study of original languages or not knowing Hebrew or any of that stuff. It’s totally cool. I don't want to make you feel like if you don't know those things, you can't read the Bible because that's just simply not the case. But sometimes it helps sort of decode a couple of things. This word “fine” is the same word that that's used in the Genesis account. It’s the word “tov.” When you go to Israel with me, you'll hear they'll say “boker-tov,” which means “good morning.” Okay? The word is “good.” So, this word “fine” is really this word “good.”
She saw that he was good. That takes us back to the creation story because, see, God is at work. He is creating again. He is going to be creating a people, a nation, to represent Him. So, there's a lot going on here in just these words. I know when we read the Bible, sometimes, we're like, “Ah, that's great. Next verse. Next verse.”
But I'm telling you, every single word is intentional. There are no surplus words in scripture. She saw that he was a fine child. I think there's more here. I think she probably sensed that there was something special about this child. She obviously thought he was beautiful. I think that the New Testament translates this as “beautiful.” I've never met anybody, no matter whether their baby is pretty or not, that doesn't think their baby's beautiful.
Right? So, my pediatrician, he either walks in and says, “That is a beautiful child,” or he has another phrase. He says, “What a baby.”
So anyway, Moses, obviously, was not a “what a baby.” Okay? He was fine. But there's this sense here that there's something God is doing. And then we're told that she hid him three months. Why did she do that? Well, because she was under the sentence of death. This is so important here. This child, as a boy, was under the sentence of death. This is so important because God always brings life out of death. He's always at work. I mean, this child, by the decree of Pharaoh, should be drowned in the Nile, but what does she do? Well, she’s not going to do that. She decides, “I'm going to hide this child. I'm not letting Pharaoh get this child. I'm not letting the people coming through the little places that we live, coming through the villages of the Hebrews — I'm not letting the police or whoever comes through — they're not going to get my child.”
And so, she hides him for three months. Of course, if you’ve had children, you know that in the early stages their lungs are not as developed, and they maybe can't do as much.
So, we're told that after this three-month period, “When she could hide him no longer,”
In other words, it became problematic. The sweeps that would come through, maybe the areas where the Hebrew people would live, they became more numerous, and it was going to be really tough to hide this child anymore. So, what does she do?
“…she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch.”
What she did is she took some reads, some other stuff, and she put some tar on it so that it would float. But once again, this is so important. This word “basket” is hugely important because the word that's used here for “basket” is used in one other place in Moses' writings. It's used for Noah's Ark. This basket is an Ark. So, Moses' mom, Jochebed — we'll see her name later — has decided, “I'm going to put my son in the very waters of death, just like Noah.”
Everybody died in those waters, but he was spared, and his family.
“I'm going put him in an ark, and I’m going to take that ark and put it in those waters.”
This is some faith here. This is somebody who understands her lineage. She understands her God. She's doing everything she can do. She's at the end of her rope. She's done everything she can do to protect her kid. But at this point, she doesn't have any more choices, so she builds an ark, and we're told that she put the child in it. Now, this ark that she would've constructed, probably, would've had a top to it because, as we're going to see, they opened it up. It had a top. It probably had holes in the top. It probably even had a net underneath those holes to maybe keep the insects from coming in. But was it also there to make it quiet because she's got a plan. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds. I don't know.
When I grew up, I just thought she took the thing and just sent it down the water. That's what I thought. No, no, no. There's more going on here. She puts it in the reeds. She's not trying to get it to go down the Nile River. She's trying to hide him. She’s putting him in the reeds because no Egyptian is going to be looking for children in the Nile. The kids that are in the Nile are dead. Nobody's coming along and looking for kids in the Nile. They come in through the villages where they live. So, she's thought, “I’ve got this plan. We can put him in this art, put him in here, put him in the reeds, where he'll be sort of surrounded by the reeds, and any noise that he makes, it'll sort of be covered up with the waters going, and the stuff going on. Nobody’s going to come down here.”
So, she places it by the riverbank, right there, so that it can be watched over, and it can be looked at because she doesn't want her son to die. She can come out at night and feed him. She's got him in this ark to protect him. Hopefully, he'll grow up. Then, if he can get a little older, maybe people will not realize that he's a child. They won't think anything about it. She stations. We’re told here that his sister — this is Miriam — stood at a distance. She stood there to see what would happen. That’s what this really this is saying. It wasn't like they just sent him down the river and said, “Oh, let’s see what happens.”
She put him in the reeds to watch over him. And Miriam, who would've been old enough to have paid attention, but not old enough to be working at this time, it wouldn't have been strange for her to be by the riverbank. She could pull away if she saw Egyptians or whatever else, but she's there to sort of watch over.
A great Old Testament scholar writes this. I think this is a great way to look at what's going on here. It says, “Nothing in the text suggests that this was an especially brilliant or especially desperate method of attempting to hide a baby, only that Moses' mother was doing her best to protect him.”
That's what she was trying to do.
“This involved concealment, and perhaps the best place to hide something outdoors in Egypt, and not actually have to bury it, but still be able to watch it and care for it, were the reeds along the Nile. Here Jochebed, Moses’ mother, would be able to retrieve her baby to nurse him and give him love when no Egyptian police or soldiers were around.”
Douglas Stuart is a great Old Testament scholar. He teaches at Gordon-Conwell. I think he's right here. I think this is what's going on. They're trying to do the best they can to honor God, and to not have this baby drown in the Nile. She's trusting God by putting him in this ark and putting him in those waters. Trusting God. And then here's what happened.
This is sort of like, “Oh, what's going on?”
“Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river.”
This wouldn't have been abnormal. It wouldn't have been abnormal at all. She just comes to this place sort of near where this baby is. She comes to bathe, which is a common occurrence, and she comes with her entourage. It's the women who walk beside the river.
We’re told, “She saw…”
She just happened to see. Maybe she heard the cries, the muffled cries, in the reeds, but she just happened to see the basket among the reeds. It's not floating down the river. It’s in the reeds.
“…and sent her servant woman, and she took it.”
She said, “Go get that basket.”
“When she opened it [it had a lid], she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying.”
Maybe that's what alerted her to see it. Maybe she heard. But there's so much power here. This child that cries get his deliverance from his cry, and the people of Israel will cry, as well, and God will hear them. I want you to hear me, here, as your pastor. Whenever you're desperate and you cry out to God, He hears. He hears. Okay?
The baby's crying, and she took pity. This is Pharaoh's daughter. She knows what you do with Hebrew babies. You drown them. Why does she take pity? This is one of the Hebrew’s children. Why? You could say, “Well, she's a woman, and she has pity.”
That could be the case. It's possible. Could have been that maybe — we don’t know. Maybe she was infertile. My suspicion — and again, this is a suspicion. My suspicion is, knowing her religion, and knowing the way she thought of the Nile, she probably interpreted what was going on as that the Nile had given her a child.
God is so sovereign that He’s using other people's religion to get stuff done for His plans. So, she has pity. Well, remember, somebody was watching. Miriam was watching. Now, Miriam could have been like an American Christian and said, “Get your hands off that child.”
She could have said, “You unholy reprobates. Do you know who our God is?”
No, no. No, she doesn’t. The sister walks up. She was there, watching what was going on. She says, “Hey, shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse to child?”
Maybe we would learn better evangelism for people that are not the people of God by doing service to them and helping them rather than preaching at them. Do you see what I'm saying? Do you see here? She’s being an intentional neighbor, right here. Now, she does have a motive here, there's no question. But she comes out and says, “Hey, should I go get somebody to take care of the baby?”
I mean, the baby’s got to have — they didn't have Enfamil and formula back then. I mean, Egypt is a pretty cool place, but this baby needed to be fed. She would've realized that. And so, the Pharaoh's daughter said, “Go. Go get somebody.”
It just so happens that she brings back Moses' mom.
“Hey, mom. Pharaoh's daughter's got the baby. She needs a wet nurse. Come.”
So, she brings the child's mother, and Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Here's what I want you to do. I want you to take the child.”
Okay. This is somewhere between a three-year taking of the child and a nine-year taking of the child. It's somewhere in that vicinity. It's not just a week. It is a long period of time. She says, “I want you to take the child, I want you to nurse him, and I'm going to pay you to do it.”
So, the woman took the child and nursed him. How long? Two or three years, maybe even up to nine when they would start to educate the kids in Pharaoh's court. We don't know for sure.
But were told, “When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son.”
Now, I want you to think about this. Moses, by being raised by his mom for that period of time, was taught who he was as a Hebrew. God knows what He’s doing. I mean, God just knows what He’s doing. And then this mother, who had to give her son up by putting him in a basket, not knowing what was going to happen, now has to give her son to Pharaoh's daughter. That's a challenge. It's always a challenge to give up your kids, but can I tell you something, as your pastor? Will you hear me on this one? Hear me on this. God loves our kids more than we love our kids. That's why we dedicate our kids, here at Grace. We say, “God, they're Your kids. Take them and use them. Whatever you need to do.”
There's such a beautiful story here. But she gave Moses to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. Now he is Pharaoh's daughter's son, and she named him Moses because she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
Let's unwind this now, and sort of see what we can learn from this, as the people of God. What is this story telling us? What are we to get from this? How are we supposed to take this story? This is a really cool story. There's a lot going on here.
Well, first of all, the people of God — and this is what we should realize, as the people of God. God is always at work, many times before we actually see or experience it. And this is something I want you to hear me on this weekend. I want you to hear me really well. Those watching online, too. Listen to me. God is at work. He’s doing stuff that you and I don't even know. We're like the warthog. We're just running around, having a good ol’ time, and not noticing what's going on. But God never sleeps, and He never slumbers. And there's a word we need to learn, as Christians. It's a term that we teach in theology. It’s called providence. That God is providentially over His creation. And we don't know exactly how all that works. It wasn't like Pharaoh's daughter was a puppet and got taken down there by God. It wasn't like that. The choices of people were going on, but somehow, some way, God was superintending over all of this to get done what He wanted to get done.
See, this is so important for us to understand. God is at work behind the scenes. I don't know what you're going through, right now. I don't know where you're at in your life, where you're at with your fears, your anxieties, maybe depression, maybe your marriage, maybe your finances, maybe your health, maybe your spirituality. I don't know. But I know, as a pastor, that everybody has stuff. Everybody has things. Everybody has those things that keep us up at night. And what I want to encourage you with is that you may not see Him in the picture, but He’s there all the time. And why this is so important is because when we read these stories, if we are reading it in faith, it should speak to us, loudly, that setbacks in life are often setups. See, you may think that you're going through something, right now, that you can't understand. And do you know what? You can't. There have been plenty in my life.
I mean, I'll give you an example. When we were in Israel, several years back, it was on a February and, all of a sudden, people started talking about this thing called COVID. We were laughing about it on the bus. I was talking about that I'm from Kentucky, and I just lick all the doorknobs in Israel. Until we realized, “Hold on. This is more serious.”
I don't know if you know this or not, but we had just started to build this building. Well, when I realized we were scrambling to get out of Israel to get home, and it wasn't long after we got home that everything shut down, I can tell you, as your pastor, I had many nights that I went to bed, going, “I can't believe this. Here I told everybody we're going to build a church in Lakewood Ranch. I promised them we’d build a church in Lakewood Ranch. There's no way we're going to build a church in Lakewood Ranch because we're not even meeting. Nobody's going to give. Nobody's going to do anything. There's no way.”
I'm like, “I can't believe, God, that You brought me all the way here to just do the biggest pump fake ever. I mean, I can't believe it.”
And I'm like, “Well, thank God we have Bee Ridge. At least we can meet there. But now they're going to say, ‘We knew that you took the Bee Ridge Church, and you were never going to build in Lakewood Ranch.’”
I'm like, “God, they're going to think I'm this bad guy, and I’m not.”
But see, that setback changed my life in the interim because what I learned was, “You know what? If it's God's will, it’s God’s bill.”
Period. It wasn't my talents and my abilities that were getting it done. It was God. Where God guides, He provides. I realized, “Wow,” — and this is why I want you to see it in the text.
“Now a man…”
Is that just happenstance? Is that just because? No.
“Now a man from the house of Levi went and took his wife….”
“Now the daughter of Pharaoh [just showed up at that place]…”
And she just happened to see? No, no. God's at work. Do you understand? Listen to this. This is so profound. It is through the very decree of Pharaoh that God will deliver His people. See, what looks like a total setback is a setup. And maybe you're at a place, right now — I doubt very seriously that you're at a place in your life that's as bad as every male child being thrown in the Nile. Maybe you are.
I like John Maxwell. He's got this thing that he always says. He goes, “Well, here's the truth. From the day of your birth until you ride in the hearse, things are never so bad that they couldn't get worse.”
And it's the truth. Sometimes I have to tell myself that. But I want you to hear me here. The very decree of death is what God brings deliverance in life through. That's what He does. That's who He is. That's why on the other side of suffering, there's always glory. We need to understand. We cannot allow our circumstances to determine our faith. We have to believe that God is in the picture whether we see Him or not. I can tell you He is there, He never sleeps, and He never slumbers.
Second thing. This is important that we hear this. The people of God draw reassurance and hope from HIStory. And notice here, with history, I upper-cased H-I-S because history is His. He is the God of history. History is not just done in isolation. God is the God of history. Period. End of story. That's why Paul can write to the Roman church — I want you to let this sink in.
He says, “For whatever was written in former days…”
Do you know what that would've been? The Old Testament to them.
“For whatever was written in [the Old Testament] was written for our instruction,”
In other words, we should be reading the Old Testament, and gleaning from it things that encourage us.
He says, “…that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Do you know what's the most needed thing in the Church, today, in America? Hope. We're like Chicken Little. The sky's falling. Everything's terrible. Everything's bad. Let me tell you something about God. As bad as it can get, there might be a Moses that's being raised up to do something incredible. I'm telling you, God is always at work. And when we read these stories, what do they do? They give us hope. How do they give us hope?
I'll show you how they give us hope. This is just one example. So, we know here that Jochebed has a son, but the son's under the sentence of death. He’s going to die. And what does she do? She does everything she can within her power to hide this kid. Everything she can do. She exercises every bit of faith she can. She builds an ark, reminding herself of Noah and God's deliverance. In her faith, what happens? And why are these stories important? Well, because what happens is that when Pharaoh's daughter finds the child, and Miriam comes down, and says, “Hey, should I get you a nurse?”
She says, “Here's what I want you to do. I want you to take away this child, I want you to nurse him, and I'll give you your wages.”
I want you to see what happens here. She gets her son back. She gets royal protection. No Egyptian can kill this kid because Pharaoh's daughter says that kid's going to live. And she gets paid to do it. Why is that important? Because what we need to see, as believers, is that deliverance is always in our future, whether in this world or the world to come. If you are one of God's children, He’s never going to let you down. He's working all things together for your good. That should give us hope. No matter what we see, no matter what's going on in the world, you’ve got to know something. There's a God that's in your picture, whether you see Him or not, and He is on your side. Period.
And I think we sometimes miss it. We just miss it. We read like this story in the book of Ruth, and we see that Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. We're like, “Yeah, that's the way it works. You get married.”
And then we read that he went into her, and the Lord gave conception. She bore a son. We’re like, “That's the way it works, Chip. People get married, they have relations, and they have a kid.”
Yeah, but look at what scripture says because it never allows us to not see God in the picture. The Lord gave her conception. See, we often just look at life, and we're like the war hog. We're just running around, doing our thing, and not paying attention. But let me tell you something. I want you to hear me very clearly. That lion, that cougar, whatever that cat is in that picture that's hard to see, in your life, wherever you are right now, I want you to hear me, and hear me well. God is in that picture, whether you see Him or not, and He is working on your behalf. He's moving heaven, He’s moving earth, He’s moving Pharaoh's daughter, and He's moving everything to make sure that where you get, as His child, is where He needs you to be.
And can I tell you something? That's why Paul can say, “I am confident of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus.”
Draw hope and strength from that. Don't be the warthog and miss everything that's going on. Pay attention. Next weekend, we're going to really pay attention. We're going to see God working in ways that we never really saw Him work. Let me tell you something. He's active in your life. Whatever you're going through right now, we're going to sing a song. I want you to sing it in faith. I want you to pray it in faith because it reminds us that God is here. He's never left. He never went somewhere else. He's here. And whether you're going through difficulty right now, problems right now, pain right now, I hear you. It's never fun. But if you are a child of God, on the other side of suffering, there is always glory because God is always at work, on our behalf, behind the scenes.