We know what it is like when people overstay their welcome, right? If you have ever invited friends or relatives into your home to spend a few days with you, you know. After a certain time, they need to leave. No matter how much you love them, living in cramped quarters with an uncertain leave time, will become annoying after awhile. You both know when it is time to leave!
What is the saying? “After three days, fish and guests stink”. People say this comes from an old Proverb—but I don’t think it comes from our Bibles—it probably came from someone’s experience. Benjamin Franklin has been given credit for saying it, too. But we all know it’s true. If you have never had overnight guests, you don’t know what we’re saying here. I’ll explain. The idea is that fish start smelling if they’re left to sit around for a while, and that visitors, who keep prolonging a visit, can get to be really annoying, fast. An example of “Fish and visitors stink after three days” is when visitors come to stay overnight, but end up spending two weeks!
It actually happened to Randy and I—we didn’t even know our guests that well! It was supposed to be just an overnight visit by people in a drama troupe who came to our church, but they stayed on for a couple of weeks! We were too good at being hosts!
But what if the hosts demand that the guests stay? What if the “guests” are doing such a great work helping them thrive in their hometown that they require the guests to stay?
Joseph and his brothers, the sons of Israel (Jacob), have grown in great numbers over succeeding generations becoming a strong nation of God’s people. At the same time the Egyptians have grown, not in numbers so much but with great power over God’s People. The Pharoah who was indebted to Joseph for saving his people (and God’s people) from dying in the great famine is gone. New power, new rules with a new, oppressive government have God’s people working for them as their slaves. No pay, only hard and harder work. God’s people work hard, long hours, expected to accomplish more than their bodies can deliver. These guests of this country are being abused by whips and mistreated in ways that are inhumane and cruel. It’s time to leave says God for He has heard and seen enough. God will provide a way out.
This is the book of Exodus in a nutshell. God will raise up a leader of leaders to take His People to the land He promised Abraham centuries before and God always keeps His promises. As we dive into Exodus, watch how God works, learn who He is and revel in His loving patience for His people even while hearing their complaints. We might see ourselves in God’s story as we get a good glimpse of God at work in His people as He prepares for their exit from Egypt.
Time to leave, get your shoes on!
Exodus 1, The Message
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 with 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.”
WHAT WE WILL LEARN—
- Whether it means freeing a nation from political bondage or delivering an individual from dependence or codependence, liberation is a popular theme these days. But many people who want to be free don’t really know what freedom is or how to use it if they have it. Fools use freedom as a toy to play with; wise people use freedom as a tool to build with. The nation of Israel is a case in point. God brought them out of Egypt that He might bring them into their inheritance, but they didn’t have the maturity to manage their freedom successfully.
- Sin is always costly, and Israel’s sin had not only led to the death of thousands of people, but it had robbed the nation of the presence of the Lord in the camp and on their pilgrim journey to the Promised Land.
- The theme of Exodus is deliverance, and you can’t have deliverance without a deliverer. That’s where Moses comes in: the great liberator, legislator, and mediator.
- Using the experiences of Israel, the Book of Exodus explains what true freedom is, what freedom costs, and how it must be used. Exodus teaches us that freedom is not license, and discipline is not bondage. God tells us how to enjoy mature freedom in His will, a quality that is desperately needed in our churches and our world today.
- Exodus tells us how God got His people out of Egypt, and it begins to tell us how God got Egypt out of His people.
- Transformation is God’s continual work in us. Our response will either be similar to the hardening of heart that we see in Pharaoh in Exodus, or it will be a willingness to be directed, corrected, instructed, and reconstructed by His Spirit at work in us.
- Whew, there will be many lessons that will transform our lifestyle—IF we let God do what God does best—His will in His timing for His glory with love in His heart for each one of us!
Yes, Lord, Yes…In Jesus Name, Amen!