Truth Taught- God’s people will be persecuted by God’s enemies
In the first Chapter of Exodus, we immediately see that the Israelites have greatly increased in number. They have gone from 70 to over 2 million people in the course of around 400 years or so.
This great number we see as God forming the nation as He had promised the Patriarchs.
Genesis 12:1–3 (ESV)
12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
We see their great numbers as God fulfilling His promise but the Egyptians and especially Pharoah saw this as a threat to their sovereignty.
To combat their fruitfulness, Pharoah tries two tactics: first, he makes them slaves and second, he tries to have all the male babies killed.
1. The Promise of Increase (1:1-7)
1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
Because we’ve studied Genesis the Exodus prologue makes sense to us. We are familiar with the sons of Israel and we know that Israel and Jacob are the same person.
Joseph was already in Egypt- we also know the details of Joseph being taken to Egypt. We know about his brothers selling him into slavery and all he went through. We were privileged to inside information that while his brothers were doing a very evil act, God was also working to bring Jacob’s family to Egypt. This is how God would keep the covenant line alive through the famine.
We know about God’s covenant promise to make Jacob’s family into a great nation. So, God is causing His people to multiply greatly in the Land.
7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
The numerical increase of the Israelites is a sign of divine blessing. They are fulfilling God’s original command to Adam and Eve, be fruitful and multiply.
Genesis 1:28 (ESV)
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
2. The Problem of Increase (1:8-10)
8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”
This new Pharoah was not around when Joseph served Egypt and didn’t care. All he knew was that these Israelites are everywhere and their great number is a threat to him.
This is the fulfillment of God’s promise but to God’s enemies this is a great problem…
They have their own nation and they don’t want the Hebrews to take over.
Scholars think that this new Pharoah was Ahmose I (1550-1525) over Egypt. The dates line up as does his ousting of foreigners who had taken power of the delta region. Many think that his view of foreigners being a threat may have caused him to move forward to seek to eliminate the threat of the Israelites.
3. Pharoah’s First Idea to Stop Their Increase (1:11-14)
11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.
God’s desire is for the Israelites to continue to increase in number and Pharoah is against this. We should note here that the Egyptian kings were viewed as gods. He is an anti-God figure who seeks not God’s glory but his own glory.
Pharoah oppresses the Israelites by enslaving them and forcing them to build cities.
Pharoah worked them ruthlessly as slaves. Later in Exodus at Mount Sinai God invites them to become His slaves and worship only Him.
Exodus 23:25 (ESV)
25 You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you.
Pharoah seeks to build cities for his glory. This is similar to the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11…
Genesis 11:1–4 (ESV)
11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
God’s will was that people be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Man’s desire is to build a city for man’s own glory not to obey God.
This is seen in Egypt with Pharoah.
One day God will build a city for His own glory, the New Jerusalem.
We are not saying that cities are necessarily evil but these early ones were clearly godless and bent on man’s glory.
The language of Exodus here should remind us of the Tower of Babel.
12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.
Here we are to see that the anti-God Pharoah and all his plans to stop the growth of God’s people were wasted attempts. God is in charge and when He is working nothing can stop Him.
4. Pharoah’s Second Idea to Stop Their Increase (1:15-16)
15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.”
Here, Pharoah sought to slow down the birthrate by eliminating the male children and also to lessen the threat should war break out by eliminating those who would fight for Israel.
We should note here that the Hebrew midwives’ names are given while Pharoah’s name is never read in the pages of Exodus. The one who claimed to be god goes anonymous and the two women who served as midwives names are written in the Bible.
5. The Fear of Pharoah or the Fear of God? (1:17-21)
17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.
We see immediately that these women feared God and disobeyed the king. This was dangerous to disobey the king?
Here we must consider what we would do? When or if we are ever given a directive by a governing official that runs contrary to the Word of God what will you do?
These two women stood up against Egypt because they feared God.
What would you do? The Nazis began exterminating the Jews and other people viewed less desirable. Hitler didn’t do it by himself. People did it for him claiming to just be doing their job. I was just doing my job.
Police begin installing fences around Churches who continued to meet during the so-called pandemic and when asked, they said it’s our job.
Will you obey God or the government? Do you fear God or the government?
We have the obligation to disobey when a king, president, governor, you name it seeks to go against what God’s Word tells us.
Why was killing the Hebrew baby boys wrong?
18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”
God dealt well with them and here it tells us He gave them families of their own.
6. Pharoah’s Third Idea to Stop Their Increase (1:22)
22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
Pharoah is getting desperate and has ramped up the intensity. Now, he declared that his own people, the Egyptians are required to throw all the Hebrew baby boys into the Nile should they see any.
The reality is that the Egyptians were all too ready to carry out Pharoah’s orders. This is nothing less than genocide.
I’m afraid that today among so called Christians there are very few who would take a stand against evil and sin perpetrated by those who are in authority.
7. What Would You Do?
Here’s how it works usually…
There is a promise of security and prosperity by those in authority and the masses sign on the dotted line. This dulls the thinking and moral convictions of people who claim to be Christians.
Peace, Prosperity, Security, Safety and Health seem to be the most important things to our modern society. Here’s the sad reality, these things seem to be the most important things to many who call themselves Christians.
Faithfulness to God, Honoring God, Fearing God, Obeying God, Standing up for God’s Word, Freedom in Christ and other things like these are more important than the previous list.
The authority tells you that you must kill all the Hebrew baby boys or go to prison what would you do?
Do you fear God over man? Do you fear God of fear the Government?
Are you ready to stand for what’s right even if you place yourself at risk?
Are you prepared to engage in acts of civil disobedience to uphold God’s Law? God loved it when those two women disobeyed Pharoah.
If we take a stand for God’s Word and in doing so actively disobey/break the law to do so God will love it.
Exodus by T Desmond Alexander