I hope you are excited to start your Advent calendar! Each day we will read a few verses from the Bible as we count down the days until Christmas Day.
We’re going to start with the story of Moses in the book of Exodus. Some parts of this story are a little scary, but it reminds us that God knows when we are afraid and will come to help us. This is also an important part of the story of Jesus, which we’ll read later.
As the prophet Isaiah said:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine… because you are precious in my sight and honored and I love you” (Isaiah 43:1b & 4a (NRSVue).
Ponder: Had you ever thought about the fact that God knows your name? How does that make you feel?
Joseph and his Descendants in Egypt
Read: Exodus 1:1-7 (NRSVue)
1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. (Joseph was already in Egypt.) 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. 7 But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
Ponder: How many people are in your family? Can you name all your cousins? Remember that God loves families of all shapes and sizes.
The Israelites are Oppressed (Part 1)
Read: Exodus 1:8-14 (NRSVue)
8 Now a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13 The Egyptians subjected the Israelites to hard servitude 14 and made their lives bitter with hard servitude in mortar and bricks and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.
Ponder: Why do you think the Pharaoh was so mean to the Joseph’s family? What does it feel like when someone is mean to you?
The Israelites are Oppressed (Part 2)
Read: Exodus 1:15-22 (NRSVue)
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18 So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this and allowed the boys to live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
Ponder: The Hebrew midwives were very brave. Why do you think they disobeyed Pharaoh’s order?
Birth and Youth of Moses (Part 1)
Read: Exodus 2:1-4 (NRSVue)
1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4 His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
Ponder: How do you think the mother and sister felt as they watched to see what would happen to the baby in the basket?
Birth and Youth of Moses (Part 2)
Read: Exodus 2:5-10 (NRSVue)
5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
Ponder: What do you think Moses’ sister, Miriam, thought and felt when she saw Pharaoh’s daughter open the basket?
Moses Flees to Midian (Part 1)
Read: Exodus 2:11-15
11 One day after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting, and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.
Ponder: Have you ever gotten into trouble for trying to help someone? How did that make you feel?