Monday, April 03, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 1-4

A period of change, especially in leadership, is a perilous time for families, churches, institutions, corporations, and nations.  Inexperienced leadership coupled with a lack of appreciation for legacy and history invariably leads to decisions and course changes that are often detrimental.  Such is the case in the opening verses of Exodus 1 when we read, “Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation” (Exodus 1:6).  Joseph, a man gifted and blessed by God, rose to become second only to Pharaoh in Egypt (Genesis 41:40-43) and the tribes of Israel continued to prosper long after his death (Exodus 1:7).

When I read “there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8), I am reminded of the adage, “What have you done for me lately?”  The new Pharaoh did not know Joseph or his service to Egypt; however, he recognized the population growth of the Israelites in the midst of Egypt posed a threat to his nation (1:9-10).  Taking extreme measures to limit the growth and influence of the Hebrew population, Pharaoh began a series of steps to limit the population growth: 1) He tasked the children of Israel with heavy burdens and hardships (1:11-14); 2) He ordered the genocide of Hebrew sons (1:15-21); 3) Finally, he directed the drowning of every Hebrew male child (1:22).

Some might ask, “Why would God allow His people, His chosen people, to suffer such calamity?”   My answer: The sufferings and sorrows Israel faced as a people was part of God’s plan to move the Hebrews from the comfort and riches of Egypt to the land He had covenanted to give the descendants of Abraham.

Exodus 2 introduces us to Moses, the man God would providentially prepare to not only become one of the great leaders in human history, but also the deliverer of the Hebrews out of Egypt.  By the time of his birth, the children of Israel had become slaves in Egypt and Moses was not only born in a slave’s household, he was born under the threat of infanticide (1:15-22; 2:1-4).  Risking her life, Moses’ mother “hid him three months” (2:2), eventually making a small vessel of reeds on which she set her son adrift on the Nile River, entrusting his life to God’s providential care (2:3-4).  Being reminded God is sovereign, infant Moses found favor in the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter and she, having compassion on the Hebrew infant, employed Jochebed, the mother of Moses, as his nurse (2:5-10).

Moses spent the first 40 years of his life as an Egyptian prince and was favored with the finest education and training in the tactics of warfare in his day (Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21-22).  In spite of his Egyptian facade, the heart of Moses was knit with the suffering of the Hebrew children (2:11-15a; Acts 7:23-29a).  The day finally came when Moses was so moved and incensed by the abuse his Hebrew brethren suffered he took the life of an Egyptian (2:11-13).  Believing Pharaoh would soon know his crime (2:14-15), Moses fled into the wilderness and spent the next 40 years of his life as a shepherd (2:16-22; Hebrews 11:24-27).

In the providence of God, Moses, the prince of Egypt assumed the humiliation of a hireling shepherd to a Midianite shepherd named Reul (also named Jethro) whose daughter, Zipporah, he married and to whom two sons were born (Gershom – 2:22 and Eliezer – 18:4).

In her sorrows, the children of Israel began to cry out to God and “God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:23-24).  Exodus 3 reminds us, in spite of his solitude in the wilderness, God had not forgotten Moses.

Exodus 3:4-6 – “And when the LORD saw that he [Moses] turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5  And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6  Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith