Israel Enslaved in Egypt, Exodus 1

But the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.” –Genesis 1:7

You may read Exodus 1 here: Bible Gateway.

Connecting the Past to the Present (vs. 1-7)

The Old Testament books of Genesis and Exodus are meant to be understood in relationship to one other. Genesis sets the stage for Exodus by reminding the Israelite nation not only of her roots, but also the grounds for blessing that would come soon. The first six verses summarize Israel’s history as a clan, detailed in Genesis 12-50.

In Genesis 15:12-14, God told Abraham: “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”

Verse 7 spans this 400 year gap from Joseph’s death to the Exodus. God’s covenant promise to Abraham of blessing his descendants and greatly multiplying them is also evidenced during this time (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:5; 17:2, 6; 22:17). Direct descendants from Jacob’s family now number nearly two million people!

Pharaoh’s Plan of Affliction (vs. 8-14)

The new Pharaoh—under the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty—fears the booming Hebrew population will threaten his kingdom. True to God’s word, the Pharaoh implements controlling measures in hopes to set them back.

So he places slave masters over the Hebrews. They work them ruthlessly to build cities with bricks and mortar, and use them for grueling field work. But instead of destroying their spirits, the Hebrews forge into a mighty nation (Gen. 46:3).

Pharaoh ups his game plan to a disgusting level.

Killing the Jewish Boys at Birth (vs. 15-22)

Some scholars suggest that women who were barren were often used as midwives. Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill all the Jewish male babies at birth.

But their fear of God is stronger than their fear of Pharaoh. They show great courage and refuse to do his dirty work of killing innocent children.

God rewards these ladies by blessing them with families of their own. The fact that their names are mentioned, unlike Pharaoh’s, also presents them as honorable examples of ones who follow God.

Pharaoh stoops even lower when he orders all the Egyptians to throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile.

Reflect

As it probably seemed to the Hebrews during a9fb9994d0a234774636ba0bed7aae98their 400 year stretch in Egypt, God appears silent at times. But He is constantly at work through history, our present, and the awesome future planned for those who unashamedly walk with Him.

During the furnace of trials, God was preparing His people for the following purposes: being a witness to the true and living God; writing the Holy Scriptures, and bringing the Messiah into the world.

Although Pharaoh sought to destroy the Hebrews spirit, they multiplied and grew stronger instead. Pharaoh’s reason for his cruel treatment was because of the threat of their large population. However, Scripture tells us about the underlying conflict of spiritual warfare: “Enmity between God’s people and Satan’s children,” (Genesis 3:15).

Persecution isn’t a fun topic. You won’t hear about it in prosperity gospel circles. But God uses persecution to refine, strengthen, and grow His church. America hasn’t experienced persecution, not like in middle-eastern countries. But while tolerance is exalted in our society, we’re seeing an increase of intolerant attitudes toward Christianity.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise when persecution knocks on our doors.

Now is the time to decide: Will I follow God when forces of evil pressure me to disobey or disown Him? Or will I give in to what is easy and popular? We can’t be overcomers without obstacles to overcome. We know who wins in the end. Let’s ask God for His eternal perspective, pray for strength to be faithful, and encourage one another as we see the day of Christ’s return drawing closer (Heb. 10:25).

Parallels Between Joseph and Jesus

The New Testament is in the Old concealed; the Old Testament is in the New revealed.” -Augustine

The Old Testament points to Jesus Christ through foreshadows of situations and actions of several people. Joseph is one of those people. I imagine that Joseph and Jesus’ conversations go way beyond small talk. After all, they shared many similar heartfelt experiences.

Here are some of the parallels between Joseph and Jesus:

  • Both men were greatly loved by their fathers (Genesis 37:3; Matthew 3:17).
  • As shepherds, they both took care of their father’s sheep (Genesis 37:2; John 10:11, 27).
  • Both Joseph and Jesus were sent to their brothers by their father (Genesis 37:13, 14; Hebrews 2:11).
  • Both men were ridiculed and rejected by their brothers (Genesis 37:4, 19-20; John 1:11; 7:5).
  • Both were sold for the price of a slave (Genesis 37:28; Matthew 26:15).
  • Both were taken to Egypt (Genesis 37:25; Matthew 2:14, 15).
  • Both were falsely accused and condemned (Genesis 39:13-20; Matthew 26:57-68; 27:11-25). Both were placed with two other prisoners; one was saved and the other lost (Genesis 40:2, 3; Luke 23:32).
  • Both were bound in chains (Genesis 39:20; Matthew 27:2).
  • Both men were 30 years old at the beginning of public recognition (Genesis 41:46; Luke 3:23) and were exemplary servants (Genesis 39:1-6; Philippians 2:7).
  • Both were tempted. While both Joseph and Jesus didn’t give into the temptation (Genesis 39:7-12; Matthew 4:1); Jesus also never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).
  • Both were stripped of their robes (Genesis 37:23; Matthew 27:27-28). Joseph was thrown into a pit (37:24) and later cast into a dungeon (Genesis 39:20). Jesus was condemned to death before descending to hell (John 19:23; 1 Peter 3:18-20).
  • Both forgave those who wronged them (Genesis 45:1-15; Luke 23:34).
  • While men plotted evil against them (Genesis 37:20; John 11:53), God used it for good (Genesis 50:20; 1 Corinthians 2:7-9).
  • Both saved not only their people, but also many others (Genesis 45:7; 50:20; Matthew 1:21; Luke 24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11).
  • Because Joseph’s actions helped the nations of the world survive the famine (Genesis 41:57), God partially fulfilled his promise to Abraham to bless all nations (Genesis 12:1-3). God completely fulfilled his promise to Abraham when Christ died for everyone’s sin and commanded to “make disciples of all nations. . . .” (Matthew 28:19).

Reflect

Like Christ, Joseph endured rejection and persecution. Yet—like Christ—he forgave. Joseph and Jesus not only became a blessing to those around them, but were also a blessing to those who hurt them. How can we apply this principle to our lives?

Lose and Win

Heavy load coming through.

heavy load

Proceed with caution.

Jesus didn’t mince words when He spoke about the cost of discipleship.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross cannot be my disciple.”  – Luke 14:25-35

Jesus wasn’t encouraging family conflict, disobedience to parents, or neglecting family responsibilities. But He often gave commands in light of His listeners’ real motives. Love of family is one of God’s laws, but even this can become an excuse not to serve God or do His work. Jesus challenged the crowds to evaluate their enthusiasm for Him and encouraged the superficial either to go deeper or turn back.

In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus compares the factors that go into building a tower to the cost of discipleship.

construction-eiffel-tower-4

If a builder doesn’t calculate the cost correctly, his building may be left half completed.

 construction-eiffel-tower-121

 Likewise, if we don’t count the cost of following Christ we may be tempted to turn back when trials and persecution come.

To take up our cross and follow Jesus means being willing to publicly identify with Him. Commitment may separate us from loved ones and friends because of conflicting values, goals, and purposes. As Christians, we will most likely experience opposition and face suffering–possibly even death–for Jesus’ sake.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”  – Luke 9:24-25

Christ calls us to a higher mission than settling into the comforts of this life. Earthly status, riches, and comforts can not repay for loss of eternal life. Following Christ is hard work and costly now, but compared to eternity, our time here is like a blink of an eye. In the long run, following Christ is well worth any sacrifice.