We have completed Genesis, the beginning of creation of all of life and how God worked in and through his imperfect humans. We ended the book of Genesis with the death of Joseph. He is buried in Egypt, but remember that he requested that his bones be carried with the family back to the Promised Land when the family made the move to go back.
Now we come to the second book in the Pentateuch series, (first 5 books of the Bible called The Law). We will read how God’s people multiply, as God promised they would to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But they are residing and growing the clans in the land of Egypt. This Hebrew multiplication scares the succession of powerful Egyptian leadership. They feel they must take control of the situation by making “these people”, God people, their slaves, beating them into submission when necessary.
God people are crying out to Him get His people out of the mess they are in.
Are we in a mess today?
We are struggling with a sickness that is forcing us to no longer have control over our own lives. Did we really ever have control in the first place?
“The human race is in trouble”, writes Eugene Peterson in his gifted and insightful, “The Message“, a paraphrase of God’s Word. We will continue to read from this paraphrase while referencing back and forth from more pure translations.
Peterson gives a wonderful introduction to the Exodus.
“We’ve been in trouble for a long time. Enormous energies have been and continue to be expended by many, many mean and women to get us out of the trouble we are in–to clean up the world’s mess. The skill, the perseverance, the intelligence, the devotion of the people who put their shoulders to the wheel to pull us out of the muck–parents and teachers, healers and counselors, rulers and politicians, writers, and pastors–are impressive.”
“At the center and core of this work is God. The most comprehensive term for what God is doing to get us out of the mess we are in is SALVATION. Salvation is God doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Salvation is the biggest word in the vocabulary of the people of God. The Exodus is a powerful and dramatic and true story of God working salvation. The story has generated an extraordinary progeny through the centuries as it has reproduced itself in song and poem, drama and novel, politics and social justice, repentance and conversion, worship and holy living. It continues to capture the imagination of men and women, especially men and women in trouble.”
“It is significant the God does not present us with salvation in the form of an abstract truth, or a precise definition or a catchy slogan, but as STORY. Exodus draws us into a story with plot and characters, which is to say, with design and personal relationships. Story is an invitation to participate, first through our imagination and the, if we will, by faith–with our total lives in response to God. This exodus story continues to be a major means that God uses to draw men and women in trouble out of the mess of history into the kingdom of salvation.”
“About half the book is a gripping narrative of an obscure and severely brutalized people who are saved from slavery into a life of freedom. The other half is a meticulous, some think tedious, basic instruction and training in living the saved, free life. The story of salvation is not complete without both halves.”
With that profound introduction, let us begin!
1-5 These are the names of the Israelites who went to Egypt with Jacob, each bringing his family members:
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,
Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,
Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
Seventy persons in all generated by Jacob’s seed. Joseph was already in Egypt.
6-7 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers—that whole generation. But the children of Israel kept on reproducing. They were very prolific—a population explosion in their own right—and the land was filled with them.
“A New King . . . Who Didn’t Know Joseph”
8-10 A new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. He spoke to his people in alarm, “There are way too many of these Israelites for us to handle. We’ve got to do something: Let’s devise a plan to contain them, lest if there’s a war they should join our enemies, or just walk off and leave us.”
11-14 So they organized them into work-gangs and put them to hard labor under gang-foremen. They built the storage cities Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh. But the harder the Egyptians worked them the more children the Israelites had—children everywhere! The Egyptians got so they couldn’t stand the Israelites and treated them worse than ever, crushing them with slave labor. They made them miserable with hard labor—making bricks and mortar and back-breaking work in the fields. They piled on the work, crushing them under the cruel workload.
15-16 The king of Egypt had a talk with the two Hebrew midwives; one was named Shiphrah and the other Puah. He said, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the sex of the baby. If it’s a boy, kill him; if it’s a girl, let her live.”
17-18 But the midwives had far too much respect for God and didn’t do what the king of Egypt ordered; they let the boy babies live. The king of Egypt called in the midwives. “Why didn’t you obey my orders? You’ve let those babies live!”
19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women; they’re vigorous. Before the midwife can get there, they’ve already had the baby.”
20-21 God was pleased with the midwives. The people continued to increase in number—a very strong people. And because the midwives honored God, God gave them families of their own.
22 So Pharaoh issued a general order to all his people: “Every boy that is born, drown him in the Nile. But let the girls live.”
THINK ABOUT IT…GOING DEEPER
*What God blessed, Egypt cursed. Why?
*What do we fear today?
*Does the measure of our fear relate to the strength of our faith in God?
*Is there anyone so powerful in our lives they enslave us to their way of thinking? Is it easy to conform versus confront?
*Who do we try to enslave to our way of thinking?
*Who should be at the core of our thinking and subsequent behaving?
I am reminded of Romans 12:1-2….
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you asking for wisdom for our troubled times. We know you know the way out. We know you will bring us out. In the meantime, help us to focus on you first and always.
In Jesus Name, Amen