July 29, 2021
1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.
6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
Exodus starts with some extremes. We see that all Israel is together in Egypt and spared from the famine. They are becoming a great people, having many descendants. Then we see that they are turned into slaves and mistreated. The Egyptians begin to despise the Hebrews. But we see that they still are growing and multiplying. So the Egyptians are treating them even more harshly. Yet the Hebrews are still growing in numbers. The king says to kill the baby boys, but the midwives gave a deceptive response and they grow in numbers. The king now says throw the boys into the Nile. And tomorrow we will see the results of that command.
We keep seeing the good and the bad come. It feels like things were terrible, then it gets a bit better. Then it feels like it goes backwards and then we see things improve. There is an intermittent up and down going in life where we live out the title of Chuck Swindoll’s old book, “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back”.
What we see in the world as a whole over the past two years is just what we have lived out in life all along. We make improvements in our own lives, yet we fall back a bit. We start some progress as a church, then it stops for a time. There is this back and forth nature to how life works. Yet in all things we are not left alone. God walks with us bringing us forward and he continues to hold on to us when we fall back for a time. Through all these ups and downs that we see for Israel while they are in Egypt, the one constant thing is that God is with them, walking with them and blessing them; even in the midst of the suffering at the hands of others.
We may see things today as difficult. But we have our God who walks with us today. We are about to see how God will work in the life of Israel to bring them out of Egypt and their journey as God’s people into a new and better future. God promises us that we are his people, loved by him. He will do no less for us. As we see the progress into a new future for Israel throughout Exodus (with the failings that come along as well) we see also that God is leading us into a new place in our future as well. Let’s walk in his leading together to the future he has prepared for us.
Song – Faithful (Chris Tomlin)
Mighty and tender God, voice of the voiceless, power of the powerless: we praise you for your vision of a community of wholeness, a realm of peace, in which all hunger and thirst are nourished, in which the stranger is welcomed, the hurting are healed, and the captive is set free. Guide us by your truth and love until we, and all your people, make manifest your reign of justice and compassion. We pray in the name of your anointed one, our servant-king, to whom with you and the Spirit, one Holy God, be honor, glory, and blessing, this day and forever. Amen.