“A Desperate Measure for a Desperate Time”

"A Desperate Measure for a Desperate Time"

A Desperate Measure for a Desperate Time                     Exodus 2:1-10 

One most fascinating stories of the Bible for me as a child was the one where the mother of Moses puts him in the basket and sets him afloat on the Nile River.  It was fascinating because while it seemed both cute and comforting to see the picture of the baby wrapped up in a cozy blanket on a little raft and saved by the Pharaoh’s daughter it was also a little scary to think about a baby set adrift by its mother, not knowing what would happen to it.

Sometimes I think we look at the end of the story of baby Moses being saved and we forget the horrifying circumstances that led to him being set adrift.  A baby put on a raft to float helpless upon a river is not cute.  It is tragic.  It could be seen as abuse or abandonment by the parents until you know why they did it—until you realize it was a desperate measure for a desperate time.

Baby Moses is set adrift because otherwise he would have been killed by a king who is fearful and is using violence to exert his control. Moses was born into a Hebrew family.  The Hebrews were immigrants who were turned into slaves by the Pharaoh of Egypt.  Even though they were slaves, Pharaoh became nervous because the Hebrews were increasing in population.  So he ordered the first-born sons of all the Hebrews to be killed.  That is why the mother of Moses put him out onto the river by himself. She was hoping some Egyptian might find him and show mercy. She is hoping to give him a chance at survival.

Today there are many immigrants in a situation not unlike that of Moses and his mother.  Families from Central America are running from violent situations where the lives of their children are being threatened, and fleeing seems to be their last chance at survival.  These families are often getting characterized as “criminals”, but many of them are not trying to cross the border illegally.  Many of them are asylum seekers turning themselves in, hoping to be shown some mercy and have their cases heard.

What if we changed the language we used to describe many of those turning themselves in at our borders from “criminals” to “refugees”?  Would that help change our perspective to better see the truth of the situation for many of these families—that they are taking desperate measures for a desperate time?  Would that help change our attitudes from one of fear to one of compassion?

-Pastor Erik Goehner