And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.
Exodus 1:21 (KJV)
Cast into the river – Israel has an amazing history with “the river”. This is the scene that sets in motion the redemptive power of YHWH. And it is here where Moses’ life begins, when so many other Hebrew boys die.
While yeor is of Egyptian origin and primarily concerns the Nile, we’re going to focus on the use of the river in general. The river has great consequences for YHWH’s people, and Exodus chapter 1 is no different. Pharaoh commands that all infant male children of Hebrew decent are to be killed by casting them into the river. The Israelites had multiplied greatly and were innumerable, so the death count must of been extravagant. If God was concerned about the blood of Abel calling out to Him from the earth, then surely this demanded His attention.
But YHWH is a God of just measure. He punishes Pharaoh equally by drowning him and his army in the sea. The edict carried out by Pharaoh was the same punishment that God placed upon him. And Pharaoh died along with the bondage and suffering of God’s people. In both instances the river was a demarcation of a new time for Israel.
And so we see this time and time again throughout Scripture. Before the Israelites entered the promised land, they had to pass through another river. The Jordan was flooded, the people were ending a 40 year walk of suffering, and their promised land was just visible on the other side. By their faith in YHWH, they took the first step and entered the tumultuous river only to find that their Redeemer was ready to save them. And again, suffering was eliminated and a new era had begun.
The combination of the letters yod (a hand, work, deed), aleph (an ox, strength, leader), resh (a man, a head, highest) can be expressed as “the work (hand) of strength (God) with man”. It is no doubt clearly portrayed in the examples above, but there is another important one to mention.
Before Yeshua’s ministry, his cousin John was lead to bring people to repentance by baptizing them in what? A river. The people of YHWH were once again being brought through a river, freed from the bondage of sin to be redeemed. It was a new beginning for all who turned their lives to Yeshua. To partake in the pure river of the water of life that flows from the throne of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:1), we must have faith to take that step closer in repentance and put away that old man to begin anew with Yeshua our Messiah.
Where is the river in your life? Are you standing at the edge, still chained in suffering as you gaze upon the promised land on the other side? Are you traveling through it, feeling the hand of God wash you clean? Or are you already standing on the other side, refreshed anew in the light of Yeshua encouraging the others who have yet to cross?