"Jochebed Returns Moses"
TO CHEW ON: "Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens" - Exodus 2:11
Moses grew up as an adopted son and thus a prince in Pharaoh's household. How did he even know that the Hebrews were his brothers?
I think we can blame—or credit—Jochebed, Moses' mother. As his official hired nurse (Exodus 2:7-9) who may even have raised him in her home ("And the child grew; and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter...") she had a window of three to five years of undiluted influence. As my Bible's footnotes explain:
"A nurse was a hired woman who breast-fed an infant or helped to raise a child. She usually became a respected member of the household she served. Children were not weaned until they were three to five years of age, which allowed ample time for religious training about God and the Hebrews" - James Carroll Tollett, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 78.
That early training must have made an indelible impression on Moses, willing as he was, when grown, to defend his people to the point of murder (Exodus 2:12).
"Give me a child till he is seven and I will give you the man," is a saying attributed to Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuits. The effectiveness of early training is used by terrorist organizations when they recruit the young, and by anti-Christian societies when they pass laws against teaching children about God and the Bible.
In our society, where many mothers clamor to have their little ones off their hands ASAP so they can get back to work (and yes, often getting back to work is an economic necessity), we appear to have forgotten this, or are ignoring it, or think that someone other than parents should be giving this early training, or perhaps don't really believe very early training makes that kind of a lifelong imprint. But the Bible is not shy in stating its importance.
- Moses himself instructed it, telling parents and grandparents to tell their offspring about their encounters with God (Deuteronomy 4:9), and to teach them Godly principles in the midst of daily living Deuteronomy 6:7, 11:19, 31:13).
- Solomon promised lifelong results from early training (Proverbs 22:6).
- Jesus commissioned Peter to not only feed the sheep but also the lambs (John 22:15), putting some of the responsibility for early training onto the Christian community.
The apparent impact of Moses' mother's early influence is a lesson to me of the importance of our kids' and grandkids' beginnings. I can't go back and redo the things I didn't do well when I was a young mom. But I can do all in my power of babysitting, helping in the church nursery, buying gifts (like faith-building books and videos), to help my kids and the parents of young children in my church raise their little ones today.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to understand and acknowledge the importance of a child's early years. Show me where I can help the young moms in my life in this task. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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