The Eyes of Faith Part One
I’m from Missouri,” was a popular saying years ago. Often those who said it weren’t from Missouri at all but were expressing skepticism about something. They were saying, “Show me, and I’ll believe.”
“Show me the money, and I’ll sell you the car.” “Show me your tears, and I’ll believe you’re sorry.” “Show me the proof, and I’ll believe there’s a God.”
Some people openly reject God out of anger or bitterness over circumstances in their lives. Others don’t quite reject Him, but they don’t quite trust Him either. “If God is good,” they ask, “why did He let my child die?” “If God is just, why am I being abused?” “If God exists, why did He allow six million Jewish people to die in the Holocaust?”
These are reasonable and intelligent questions. Yet Scripture states, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen [emphasis added]” (Heb. 11:1). True faith rests more on who God is than on what God does. By Genesis 15:6, God had done nothing for Abraham except give him a promise that had yet to be fulfilled. Yet the Bible says, Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he [God] counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).
Jochebed was probably like her great-great-grandfather, Abraham. She was able to see life through the eyes of faith.
Jochebed was born in Egypt where Joseph had settled his father, Jacob, and his eleven brothers and their families after famine struck Canaan. She was Joseph’s niece, born to his brother Levi (Nu. 26:59) many years after he had left Canaan. (Levi died at 137 [Ex. 6:16] and was in his 50s when he went to Egypt. Levi outlived Joseph by roughly ten years.)
Jochebed married Amram, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi (Gen. 46:11; Ex. 6:16, 18; Num. 3:17, 19; 1 Chr. 6:1–3). Thus Amram married his aunt (Ex. 6:20). Although this relationship seems bizarre today, the Law had not been given yet; and intermarriage within families not only was customary but was considered preferable (Gen. 24:1–4; 28:1–2). Jochebed later gave birth to Miriam, Aaron, and Moses.
By the time she was born, the Israelites’ situation had deteriorated immeasurably. They arrived in Egypt as the welcome guests of a benevolent pharaoh who was grateful to Joseph for protecting the country from the effect of famine; and they ended up the oppressed slaves of another, paranoid pharaoh who “knew not Joseph” (Ex. 1:8) and subjugated them out of fear. So afraid was he, in fact, that he ordered all Israelite males killed at birth. Under this cruel edict, Jochebed gave birth to her youngest son, Moses.
Unwilling to see him killed, she stepped out in faith and hid him for three months (Ex. 2:2). So great was her faith, in fact, that the book of Hebrews says neither she nor Amram even feared pharaoh (11:23).
But on what was her faith based? She had none of the benefits we enjoy today. It was not based on what she had read from God’s Word because His Word had yet to be written. In fact, the very son she hid would receive the Law at Mt. Sinai and become the first person to record God’s Word. Moses recorded the Pentateuch, also called the Torah and the Five Books of Moses.
Nor was Jochebed’s faith based on great miracles she had seen God perform, such as the ten plagues that eventually forced pharaoh to free her people. Nor had she seen the waters of the Red Sea stand in a heap so her people could escape the Egyptians. All these miracles took place eighty years later. She did not even know the name Jehovah because Moses revealed it (Ex. 6:3).
Jochebed’s knowledge of God was severely limited. Yet she resisted the pagan influences around her. And they were prodigious. The Egyptians worshiped everything but the true and living God. Because of their extreme dependence on the Nile River, they worshiped the Nile. They also worshiped (among other things) cattle, frogs, the sun, and pharaoh himself. Later, with the ten plagues, Jehovah demonstrated His power over Egypt’s false deities: He turned the Nile to blood; inundated the land with frogs; killed the cattle with giant hail; counteracted the sun by bringing three days of utter darkness; and killed the firstborn males, including pharaoh’s son (Ex. 7:19—12:30).
But Jochebed knew none of this. What did Jochebed know? She no doubt knew that, many years ago, El Shaddai had made a promise to Abraham:
I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee. …And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a sojourner, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God (Gen. 17:6–8).
Jochebed had none of the faithbuilding, biblical revelation we have today. Yet she was not “from Missouri.” Not seeing, she still believed. Despite the evils of her circumstance and the bitterness of her bondage, she trusted in the faithfulness of the God of Israel. And so trusting, she took an ark of bulrushes, waterproofed it with slime and pitch, placed her infant son inside, and laid it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile (Ex. 2:3). And then she saw a bona fide miracle.