Moses is one of the most prominent figures in the Old Testament. Abraham is referred to as the “Father of the Faithful” at least in part because he was the recipient of God’s unconditional covenant of grace to his people. Moses was the man chosen to bring redemption and deliverance to his people. God specifically chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of their captivity in Egypt to salvation in the Promised Land. Moses is also commonly referred to as the giver of the law. And finally, Moses is the principle writer of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) and the foundation of the Old Testament.
Unfortunately, this is going to take a little history to set up. Our main Text: Exodus 2:1-3.
We first encounter Moses in the opening chapters of the book of Exodus. In chapter 1, we learn that after Joseph rescued his family from the great famine and moved them to the land of Goshen (in Egypt); their descendants lived in peace for several generations. This worked well until there was a new Pharaoh who “did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). He subjugated and enslaved the Hebrew people and used them for the construction of his massive building projects. Because God had blessed the Hebrew people with rapid numeric growth, the Egyptians began to worry that the Jew would overrun them. This and several other factors lead the Pharaoh to order the death of all male children born to Hebrew women (Exodus 1:22).
In Exodus 2, we see Moses’ mother attempting to save her child by placing him in a basket and putting it into the Nile River. The basket was eventually found by Pharaoh’s daughter, and she adopted him as her own and raised him in the palace of the Pharaoh himself. As Moses grew into adulthood, he began to sympathize with the plight of his people, and upon witnessing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave, Moses intervenes and kills the Egyptian. Later, in another unrelated incident, Moses attempts to intervene in a dispute between two Hebrews, but one of the Hebrews chides Moses and sarcastically comments, “are you going to kill me as you did the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14). Realizing that his criminal act was made known, Moses flees to the land of Midian where he is once again cast into the role of hero, as he rescues the daughters of Jethro from some bandits. In gratitude, Jethro grants the hand of his daughter, Zipporah, to Moses.
The next major incident in Moses’ life is his encounter with God in the burning bush (Exodus 3) where God calls Moses to be the savior of his people. You know this stuff from Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments or the animated movie The Prince of Egypt. Well, this is where it came from.
Eventually, Moses and his brother Aaron go to Pharaoh in God’s name to demand that he let the people go to worship their God. Pharaoh stubbornly refuses and ten plagues follow which are representative of God’s judgment upon the people and the land; the final plague being the slaying of the first born. Prior to this last plague, God commands Moses to institute the Passover, which is a remembrance of God’s saving act in redeeming His people from bondage in Egypt.