July 26/27, 2014
Main Text: Exodus 1:6-14
Everyone faces moments in life when they need some help. Sometimes we humbly accept a hand from someone else. At other times, we stubbornly insist on doing things ourselves. Like the man or woman driving late at night who is hopelessly lost, we refuse to stop and ask for directions. We would rather stay lost than admit we need help. We have the strangest ability to live in the worst of situations and pretend everything is under control. Life goes so much better when we admit that we need help. All of us face moments when we need a deliverer.
Our text shows us the situation that developed in the people of Israel. The Israelites were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Abraham had received word from God years before that
- his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, (Genesis 17:6)
- they would inhabit a great land (the Promised Land), and
- through them God would bless all other nations.
At the point of our text, only the first promise had been fulfilled. There were a lot of descendants! However, the other two promises seemed to be in jeopardy. To the human eye, it seemed as good as gone. The Israelites often found themselves in difficult situations, sometimes due to their own stubbornness.
Today we want to know God’s character more as we see Him as our deliverer. Not only does He have the power to save, but he also longs to deliver His children. He is waiting to act. Let’s discover how we can walk in the delivering power of God.
Clinging to God when things seem hopeless
Although the Israelites were being fruitful and multiplying, things take a turn for the worse (Exodus 1:8). A new king takes control of Egypt, where Joseph once ruled as a favored government employee. For years, the Israelites (Joseph’s family) rode the success of his favor. However, the new king did not care about history nor care about what Joseph had done for Egypt four hundred years earlier. He sees all the Israelites as a threat and begins to treat them mercilessly. This sets the scene for tension, conflict and even full-blown spiritual warfare. For the first half of Exodus, things seem to get worse and worse for the Israelites. As God’s people faced Pharaoh, they no doubt felt
- fearful, and
We all face Pharaohs in our lives that make us feel the same. When we cling to God in these hopeless times, we realize that God is sovereign over them. We don’t have to live in fear (Romans 8:15). We don’t have to run and hide. There is no oppression, no fear, no addiction, and no brokenness that is too much for God to conquer. The same God that watched over the Israelites watches over us today (Psalm 121:3-5).
Strength in weakness
We live in a world where the powerful rule. Yet God has a different vision for how life should work. God turns everything on its head. God exalts the humble. Exodus 1:15-22 is a classic example of God revealing His strength in our weakness. He uses midwives named Shiphrah and Puah to fulfill His plans. Although Pharaoh ordered all Hebrew boys to be executed at birth, these courageous women feared God more than man. Midwives are servants to the slaves. Scripture never gives us this Pharaoh’s name, but we have the names of these two hero women. By world’s standards they didn’t count, but they count to God.
The last will be first. The humble will be exalted. This is the way God works. (Matthew 20:16, Matthew 23:12) Faithfulness always counts with God! In the next few chapters of Exodus, the plan of God begins to unfold. Here is a summary:
- Moses is born, spared, and placed in protection. (Exodus 2:1-10)
- Moses kills an Egyptian who was mistreating an Israelite. (Exodus 2: 11-12)
- He flees to Midian and marries Zipporah. (Exodus 2:21)
- Pharaoh the king dies and the Israelites cry to God. (Exodus 2:23-24)
- After forty years, God speaks to Moses (Exodus 3:7-10)
- Moses gives five objections. (Exodus 3-4)
- Moses faces Pharaoh, things get worse, and no one is happy. (Exodus 5)
In all this, Moses and God’s people seem defeated. They are weak, tired, and discouraged.
The God who delivers
With God in the equation, there is always hope! What pleases God in moments of desperation is the admission that we cannot do it on our own. We need God’s heavenly power and mighty help. Like the Israelites, we need to cry out to the one who loves to bring deliverance to His children.
The battle begins. God initiates a series of plagues or mighty acts on Pharaoh and Egypt. The Nile turns to blood (Chapter 7), frogs, gnats, flies and locusts invade. Livestock dies, boils, hail, and darkness all come. Again and again Pharaoh repents and then hardens each time. Rather than repentance, Pharaoh tried to control his pain. The final plague is the most devastating. An angel of death comes and takes all of the firstborn in Egyptian households. This judgment from God was strong. The Israelites were instructed how to be spared from this angel of death. They were to sacrifice a lamb and put the blood on the doorposts of their home and the death would “pass over” them and they would be spared.
God keeps His word. All of the houses that are covered by the blood of the lamb are spared from the plague of death. This picture of the Passover, the deliverance from death, prefigures the salvation that will belong to all of God’s people who are covered with the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
We serve a God who delivers!
This week, as you reflect on the message, think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.
Read: Exodus 1:6-14
Take a moment to recall what you understand of the story of Joseph. Who was this man? What did he do? What role did he play in God’s Story during this time?
Why is it so vital for generations to remember and to pass down knowledge to the next generation? What was the result of knowledge failing to make it to subsequent generations in Egypt?
As a believer, what role do you actively play in pouring the Gospel into the next generation?
Put yourself in the shoes of an Israelite during this time. How would you respond to such harsh treatment? How would you act?
According to the message this weekend, where does the story go from this point? Talk about how God raises up Moses, confronts Pharaoh and ultimately frees Israel from bondage.
How does your story relate to the story of the people of Israel? What bondage were you freed from?
Take a moment to end your time together by discussing of the freedom that you’ve been given and the new life you have in Christ.