There are two basket cases in the Bible. A person might be thinking of King Nebuchadnezzar who ate grass like an animal for a time (Daniel 4:33-34) or of the demon possessed in the New Testament but this article looks at two literal cases where baskets were used to save lives.
Consider Moses. Pharaoh commanded the people to cast all newborn Hebrew baby boys into the Nile river to die. One mother fell in love with her beautiful baby boy and kept him hidden to protect him from the Egyptians. Soon she realized she had to do something else as he grew. She made a waterproof basket for her son to float in on the river. His sister watched to see what happened to him. In the end Pharaoh’s daughter discovered him and adopted him. A basket saved Moses’ life. (see Exodus 1:22-2:4)
A basket also saved the Apostle Paul. He was proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues. Many people were amazed because Paul was known as a persecutor of Christians. He had taken many Christians before the chief priest for prosecution. Now Paul was a Christian preaching to the Jews. He confounded them by His proofs that Jesus is the Christ. After some time had passed, the Jews formed a plot to get rid of Paul for good. The Jews were watching for Paul at the gates should he ever leave town. Paul learned of this plot to kill him. Paul and his friends foiled the plot by lowering him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall so he could escape. A basket therefore saved Paul’s life also. (see Acts 9:19-25, 2 Corinthians 11:32-33)
One would think their basket experiences would have been the only things they had in common with each other. Surprisingly, there are a number of other similarities between Moses and Paul.
Looking at their education one learns they were both very well educated. Moses received the training of a prince as he was Pharaoh’s daughter’s son. Acts 7:22 says, “Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.” This would have included Egyptian wisdom and rhetoric. Egypt had excelled in “the arts of painting, sculpturing, and architecture” and literary achievements.
Paul received the best education available. He was educated under the well know Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) Gamaliel “was one of the prominent TANNAIM or teachers whose rulings are mentioned in the MISHNAH. Known as Rabban Gamaliel the Elder …” One can see from Paul’s writings that he was trained in both Greek and Jewish philosophy, scripture and rhetoric. He also understood the Greek religions and sects.
Moses had a miraculous and dramatic calling by the Angel of the Lord in the form of a burning bush where the fire did not consume it. This caught his attention and he drew near to investigate this strange phenomenon. Then the Lord called to him from the bush telling him to go to pharaoh and bring the Hebrews out of Egypt. The Lord also gave Moses signs to perform before Pharaoh showing God was with him. This lead up to the ten plagues on Egypt and ultimately the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt. (see Exodus 3:2-6)
Paul also had a miraculous and dramatic calling. Paul, also known as Saul, was traveling to Damascus with papers from the high priest that allowed him to arrest Christians and take them to Jerusalem for prosecution. A light suddenly flashed around him and blinded him. He heard Christ saying to him, “Why are you persecuting Me?” The men with him heard a voice though they saw no one speaking. Blind for three days, Paul did not eat or drink anything. The Lord sent Ananias to Paul to restore his sight saying, “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Then Paul started proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God to the synagogues. (see Acts 9:1–21)
Both men had grown up as one of the people who would later oppose them. Moses as an Egyptian and Paul as a Jew. Paul’s broad training also gave him insight in the perspective of the Gentiles. Therefore, they were privy to the perspective of the others.
Both Moses and Paul had to flee for their lives. Moses fled Egypt after his killing of an Egyptian became known to Pharaoh. Paul fled Damascus after his friends had lowered him in the basket.
God used both men greatly. Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt and to the promise land. He gave them the law and the ark of the covenant. The law laid out all the rules and provisions for their lives and worship of God. Moses was the most prolific writer of the Bible. He wrote twenty-six percent of the Old Testament. Paul taught in the synagogues and planted churches across Asia Minor. He guided the churches with several visits and letters to address problems and teach doctrine. All his writings make up twenty-four percent of the New Testament.
Two basket cases by the providence of God produced great men He could use mightily. One to establish the Law and the other to spread the good news of the work Christ accomplished on the cross for humankind. Remember Moses and Paul when life closes in and feels like your stuck in a basket. It is today’s difficulties that prepare us for tomorrow’s greatness.
10 For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. Psalm 66:10