(Ex. 2:1-9) Should believers make irrational decisions like sailing babies down rivers?

CLAIM: Sunday schools typically teach that Moses’ mother was “letting go and letting God.” She put a baby in a basket and sailed it down the river, trusting that God would rescue the baby. For instance, in Charlton Heston’s movie The Ten Commandments, Moses’ mother says, “Follow it, Miriam. Watch it from the reeds. See where the Lord will lead him.” Does this mean that believers should make irrational actions like these, as well?

RESPONSE: There are a number of problems with this perspective:

First, Moses’ mother acted out of desperation. If you were on the top floor of a building, it would make no sense to jump off the roof, hoping that you’d land in a pool of water below (unless you were strung out on drugs and thought you could fly!). However, if the building was on fire, it would make sense to take a leap of faith like this. In the same way, Moses’ mother was quickly running out of options. If she waited, her son would certainly be killed.

Second, she didn’t sail the baby down the water. Instead, the text tells us that she “set it among the reeds” (2:3) where the baby would be found. This is risky, but it isn’t as risky as letting your baby float down the river Nile. She placed it in a stable spot where someone would find it.

Third, she also waited around to see what would happen to the baby. She didn’t leave the baby alone in a thicket of reeds. Instead, she sent Moses’ sister to watch and see what would happen to it. God honored their plan. In fact, Moses’ mother ended up getting paid to raise her own kid (2:9)!

APPLICATION: If you’re looking for God to provide a job, you shouldn’t “trust him” by sitting on your couch, watching TV. You should trust him by going out and searching. Sitting back isn’t trusting God; it’s testing him.