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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

February 1, 2017

Exodus 1:1-22

  1. Verses 1-7. The book of exodus takes place mostly in the northern part of Africa. Because the territorial lines have changed over the years, we are not sure how much of our story takes place in Egypt, Ethiopia, or Sudan. These areas at the time were not defined as they are now. The borders that we see are actually the borders that European nations imposed on the Continent as the continent of Africa was being colonialized. Nevertheless, the story takes place in Northern Africa. In the first few verses of our chapter, the writer takes us through the fact that it is about 400 years later and the Hebrews who were small in number when they came to Goshen are now very great in number. This is an important fact that God had allowed them to grow in Egypt under relative safety for a season. Egypt was not their permanent home, but it has been a temporary one for centuries. The nation has gotten large enough to settle in the promise land and prosper. Prior to this, the nation would not have been large enough to handle the land and survive attacks from other nations. This is an important issue for us to understand. Often God will keep you in a place to grow unhindered to get you ready for another place that is your destiny. You might think that that place was to be permanent, but it was just to get you ready. Don’t confuse the preparing place with the promise place. The promise place is your destiny, the preparing place is just to get you ready for the promise place. The preparing place might be nice, but it will never compare to the place that God has prepared you for by way of a promise. The long period between the last part of Genesis and the first part of Exodus, teaches us that God allowed the people to grow and prosper. We have no recordings of this time. Apparently the people just prospered, but the old generation died out. Most of the people only knew prosperity and good times. It would appear that the word about going back to Canaan had been forgotten. Sometimes prosperity can hinder our focus when we forget to keep the important things in the forefront. One of the things we will notice as we read this book is that Moses and Aaron were the only ones who were talking about leaving Egypt. We never hear it as a long time desire of the people. The people were living so well, the thought of leaving never entered their mind.

  2. Verses 8-10. We are told that a new king came into power. This new king did not know about Joseph and how he saved Egypt. All this new king saw was a people who were a threat to him. Notice, that the Hebrew people are not really a threat only a perceived threat. The threat was because the king feared their numbers. The new king wanted to enslave them so they could never have any real power and get their labor for free. The new king starts a fear campaign to deal with the Hebrews. The new king convinces the Egyptians that the Hebrews should be feared and not trusted. This fearmongering is still in use today. We see it all the time, when groups use negative stereotypes to justify the harsh treatment of whole groups of people. Fear is a commodity that is priceless when you want to control people. If you can get the people to be afraid, you can get them to go along with almost anything. Notice how the king says we must deal shrewdly with them. Basically, the king says we need a system to keep them in control. A system that keeps them in bondage and powerless. Even today, we must recognize that oppressors are shrewd people who are very intentional with regard to keeping the masses in bondage. This can be seen in the flow of drugs and weapons, predatory lending practices, housing discrimination, and discrimination in general. When you can keep a people at the basic survival level, it is difficult for them to overcome traps that keep them in bondage.

  3. Verse 11. The first part of Pharaoh’s plan was to disenfranchise and oppress. It was to put the Hebrew people in labor camps where they worked all day building the kings storehouses. They did not build the pyramids as oftentimes suggested by Hollywood. One trick of the oppressor is to work people where they can’t make a wage to get out of their situation. If we can keep people working all the time, and not going anywhere we can control them. Powerful people always want the masses to live at the survival level. At this level you might complain, but you don’t have much power. Notice that the slaves built the storehouses. How ironic that they would work for free to build storehouses for the kings abundance. They could see wealth but could not enjoy it. They were building the places that the king kept his extras. How demoralizing is that. To see wealth, but not see a way to obtain some for yourself.

  4. Verses 12-14. Over time, instead of this harsh treatment diminishing the Hebrew population, the population increased. It seemed like the more they were oppressed the more they multiplied. They grew so numerous that the Egyptians grew to hate the very sight of the Hebrews and they worked them ruthlessly. The Egyptians made the lives of the Hebrews bitter by working them mercilessly day and night, but the more they oppressed them the more they grew. Hard work and meaningless work did not do the trick. The New king needed an additional plan to slow the growth. The numbers were getting too great to control.

  5. Verses 15-16. Since meaningless work didn’t do the trick, Pharaoh comes up with a plan of genocide. His plan was to have the midwives kill all the boys at birth and keep the girls alive. What a sinister plan to ask Hebrew women to kill Hebrew babies. But if he can get Hebrews to kill their own, he doesn’t have to get his hands dirty. This is a shrewd plan to get them to kill their own. Even today the plan is for all the males of the oppressed groups to die off. If they can’t kill the older men in meaningless work, let’s kill the boys before they grow up. The king overestimated the shrewdness of his plan. And that is what oppressors do. They just assume they are so smart that no one can figure out a way around their plan.

  6. Verses 17-19. The king’s plan had some holes it. The king underestimated the midwives. The midwives feared God more than they did Pharaoh. The king could just assumed that the women would go along with his plan. These midwives had faith and hope that the king underestimated. The oppressor underestimated the hope of these oppressed people. Hope and faith are the only things bigger than fear. People with hope are dangerous. These midwives had hope that God would deliver. Pharaoh underestimated the faith of these women. When Pharaoh noticed that the boys were still being delivered and not killed he asked what happened, and the midwives said they were getting to the women to late and the babies were being born before they got there.

  7. Verses 20-21. Not only did Pharaoh over estimate his plan, and underestimate the midwives faith, Pharaoh didn’t even take into account that God was on the side of the oppressed. Pharaoh never even considered that he was fighting something bigger than himself. The text says, God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. God blessed the midwives and the people. This is the weakness of injustice. God is on the side of the oppressed.

  8. Verse 22. Pharaoh is now getting desperate. He decides to just tell the people to throw the boy babies into the Nile River. This is a foolproof plan. The Nile River has mosquitos, hippos that kill more people than anything else, man-eating crocodiles, and grade five rapids. Throwing the babies into the Nile was his foolproof plan. No child could survive that. No child is supposed to be able to navigate the dangers of the ghetto, poor housing, every day violence, lead poisoning, poor schools, drugs, guns, pimps, prostitutes, self-hatred, and police brutality. Nope this is today’s foolproof plan. And it is seen all over the world. But the plan is not foolproof. The plan can’t account for a move of God and the hope of the oppressed.

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