GODLY MOTHERS IN THE HOLY BIBLE
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.” (Isa. 49:15)
Here God is comparing His love, mercy and compassion to the mother’s love for her children. This shows mothers have the same attributes of God when it comes to relationship with their children. The woman described in Proverbs 31 is the model for all Christian mothers to follow. She has a way of living that brings fulfillment and contentment. She exhibits a lifestyle of work and love based on godly wisdom.
“She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.”
There are many examples of godly mothers in the Holy Bible. We shall study three of them.
Jochebed, Real Mother of Moses
The name Jochebed means "Yahweh is glorious"
Jochebed was a woman who loved her children.
She was the wife of Amram and the daughter of Levi. She had three children, two sons and a daughter. They were Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. (Numbers 26:59)
Jochebed must have been a godly mother who dedicated all her children to the Lord and His service. And perhaps because of this all three of them would grow up to become leaders in Israel.
Aaron, the oldest, became the first priest (Exodus 28:1). Both his parents were descended from the tribe of Levi and it was from this line that the priesthood would come.
Miriam, her second child and only daughter, became a prophetess (Exodus 15:20).
Moses became the deliverer of the Israelites at the hands of Pharaoh in Egypt. God had a special assignment for Moses so He made arrangements for his salvation. Under God's divine guidance Jochebed played a part in her son's salvation.
Jochebed placed her faith and trust in God.
“And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. (Ex. 2:1-2)
The Bible says here, and in the book of Hebrews, that Moses' mother knew, when he was born, that he was a beautiful child and a proper child (Hebrews 11:23). Now every mother believes that her child is wonderful. But this is not what the Bible is talking about. Jochebed knew that Moses was special to God, not just to her. Jochebed took great pains to keep Moses hidden from Pharaoh after his birth. When he was three months old she built a small ark and lovingly placed her child in the little floating "vessel" and sent him on his way.
Now what made her think that sending Moses down the river would keep him out of harm's way? Look back at Exodus 1:22, "And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive." The children that were murdered by Herod when Jesus was born were killed with the knife and sword. Pharaoh's orders were to drown these children.
The very river that was the final resting place of all the male Hebrew children born at that time would become the means by which Moses was carried to safety and kept alive.
Jochebed gave her child to the Lord for his service.
“But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him. Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children." (Ex. 2:3-6)
Jochebed knew Moses was in God's hands and that He would guide the ark she put him in. The Bible doesn't say if she sent Miriam to follow the ark or Miriam went on her own. I don't think Jochebed was worried about what would happen to Moses. She didn't know what lay in his future but she did know that God was going to take care of her son.
Jochebed was an unselfish woman.
“Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?" And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go." So the maiden went and called the child's mother. Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed him. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, F4 saying, "Because I drew him out of the water." (Ex. 2:8-10)
She gave up her son to be raised by, not only another woman but a heathen woman. This could not have been easy for her even though she had two other children. It's never hard for a mother to part with her child, especially a baby, no matter what the circumstances. But I believe God blessed her for her unselfishness.
She was allowed to nurse the child and to keep him until he was weaned. In Biblical times a child was weaned at around the age of two or three and in some cases maybe as old as five. (Many Scripture references say the "child" was weaned, not the "baby.") In whatever time she had with him, since she would have been his first teacher, she instilled in him his heritage as a Hebrew. She not only gave him physical food, her own milk, but she taught him about God and gave him spiritual food to grow on. This is something he would never forget. When he was ready she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter to raise as her own son.
Jochebed was Moses' real mother.
“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in F54 Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:24-27)
Jochebed prepared her son to live with someone else and for God's service. Yet Moses never forgot who his real mother was or the training she gave him. Moses would find out later how important the values were that his mother instilled in him at that early age. His love for his people or for his God never left him. And his love for his mother lasted a lifetime.
Jochebed was not only a great woman but she was also an example of what a godly mother should be.
– Mother of Samuel
’For this child I prayed’ (1 Sam. 1. 27)
Mary is a Role Model for Mothers who are Women of God.
“Then the angel said unto her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest.” (Luke 1:30-32)
Being a mother is something very special. It is an awesome responsibility. Any child is a gift from God and the rearing of children is one of the most important things a parent has to do. We thank God for what our mothers do and have done to rear us in a fashion that honors God.
The love and caring of a mother starts before we are even born. With Mary it started with a humble obedience to the will of God. When she learned of her role in bringing Jesus into the world, she replied to the angel, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord; Let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38). As frightened as she must have been from seeing an angel, she answered God's call to duty. She cared for her yet unborn child when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Even while she was pregnant, she helped her cousin in the last few months before Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist (Luke 1:39-56). Mary followed the customs of worship when she brought Jesus to be circumcised according to the law (Luke 2:21). She made worship a priority in her life even while Jesus was an infant.
Mary protected the baby Jesus from harm by fleeing to Egypt when an angel warned Joseph that King Herod would try to destroy him (Matthew 2:12-14). She took Jesus to the feast of Passover where he stayed in the temple when he was twelve years old (Luke 2:41-50). It was important for her to take her child to the temple, just as a godly mother today would bring her children to church. She attended the wedding in Cana and encouraged her son to perform his first miracle. Mothers encourage us to be our best. She was always concerned for his safety. One time when he had so many people following him they couldn't even enter the house it was so full, and she wanted to be sure he was alright (Mark 3:21,31-35). Mothers will naturally be concerned for our safety.
Mary followed Jesus to the cross and watched in horror as they crucified the Lord of Life. She loved her son and must have cried as he entrusted her care to John from the cross (John 19:25-27). She visited the tomb on the morning of resurrection and her grief turned to joy when she saw the empty grave! A mother is devoted and sticks by her children through good times and bad times. What a wonderful example we have of motherhood when we consider the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Be sure to thank God for your mother today and tell her how much you love her.
A Sermon based on this Article was preached by Paul Wong
to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on May 11, 2002
For comments please write first to: firstname.lastname@example.org
May God bless you.
Updated on 02/12/04
Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational.