Exodus 1

Exodus 1: The Story of Deliverance

In I Corinthians 10 Paul wrote ‘ these things happened to Israel as examples and were written down as warnings for us.’ In the book of Exodus we will see the things that happened to Israel that are an example and a warning to us.

Exodus is a story of redemption, Moses the deliverer, the miraculous escape of the nation Israel from Egypt, the plagues, the Passover Lamb, the Ten Commandments and the Tabernacle.  The establishment of the Tabernacle, the materials used in this Tent of Meeting are given much detail in the Bible. When you consider that God described the creation of the heavens and the earth in a mere 10 words, you understand God is saying the Tabernacle is very important by the detailed description and instructions in its establishment. The Tabernacle, as we will see is a picture of salvation, of sacrifice, of shed blood. It is the story of redemption and deliverance. But most of all it is a picture of the most astounding theological fact in all of Christianity.  God Himself would come with His Son in the person of the Holy Spirit to reside, take up abode in the heart of the individual believer. It would be God’s dwelling place.  “ And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..” God wants  to live in the midst of His people.  Our heart is His tabernacle.

The story of Exodus and the story of the Bible is –Redemption.  God’s program for redemption contains three essential elements. First, redemption is by a divinely sent deliverer-redeemer. Secondly, redemption is by blood. And thirdly, redemption is by power. The book of Exodus and the story of  Passover and the last plague could not give us any clearer Old Testament picture of redemption.

We will come to know God better through this study also. This was something Moses came to want more than anything, just as many others have through the ages. We must understand what we think about God shapes our relationship with Him. Misconceptions about God can certainly create barriers in our relationship with Him. If you see Him as a harsh judge or genie who is supposed to provide you with everything you desire, you are not seeing Him as He really is.   So as we go through this study, I want us to answer these questions for ourselves: What do I think about God? What does He think about me? After all this is the basis for our relationships with others, why would it not be the same basis for our relationship with God?

Let us begin with a Spiritual Vision Examination. This will help us determine how well you see God. For the science of vision is the study of how light is transformed into our perception of the world around us. Since our Lord Jesus not only created light, but is referred to as the light of the world, let us see how we manage the light we have received. If the light is not properly controlled, then we do not see the world as it really is.  The most common problems are refractive errors which can be corrected with ophthalmic lenses, prescription lenses.  So let us see if our vision of God is distorted. Let us look through some lenses that are biblical revelations about God to check our ‘spiritual vision ‘and see if we need ‘ spiritual glasses.’

First Vision Test: “ To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?, says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these ? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” ( Isaiah 40)  In the first part of our spiritual vision examination, God uses a familiar eye chart. He has lift our eyes and look to the heavens.  Do you see them? They are as plain as the big E on the eye chart. It reveals this simple, but astounding fact:  God , the Creator of the universe, is not like us, there is no one to whom He can be compared.

Second Vision Test:  “ For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became as fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals.”( Romans 1) This person is so nearsighted they have reduced God to a manageable size. He is a god of their own making, which is not God at all.

The last part of our vision examination includes a three part exam in the three ways God reveals Himself: (1) God reveals Himself through nature. Clear evidence of His existence is seen in the created order. Psalm 19 declares:” the heavens  declare His glory. The skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech. Night after night they display knowledge.” If you cannot see this- you need spiritual glasses. (2) God reveals Himself through His Word. Did you know from birth to age 12, we get 80% of our knowledge through our vision system? Therefore we must be able to see to read. We learn to read and we read to learn. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and we must learn to see with the eyes of our heart, with the eyes of faith. God is a communicator who has revealed Himself through creation and through His Word, the Bible written in our own language.  (3) The third and best way is through His Son,the Lord Jesus. He was seen, heard and touched. And the Lord Jesus told Phillip and us- if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. Have you seen the Lord Jesus? Have you seen Him with the eyes of your heart?  “ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see, for by it ( faith) the elders received a good report.” Hebrews 11.

“Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus!”

So let us learn the lessons Paul  says we must learn from the nation of Israel and how God interacted with the children of Israel and their chosen leader, Moses. And we will see the story of our lives mirrored in the lives of these people. A people who could go forth one day with great confidence in their God, only to become fearful at the first sign of trouble, real or imagined.

Were you ever afraid of the dark when you were a child? Or afraid of the ‘boogeyman’? We all had some fears when we were children, and some we never outgrew. In fact those fears which grew out of our childhood imaginations simply grew up for many of us to become adult fears- that all seem to grow out of what I call the ‘ what-if syndrome’. What if I lose my job? My health? A loved one? Finances? Home?  A child gets in trouble? Grandchildren?    You get the idea- we all have some fears that creep into our lives at some time or other. How do you deal with those fears as a Christian?  For it seems our faith and confidence in an Almighty God leaks out of the bucket of our lives and is replaced by these’ what-if’ fears.  All of a sudden we are slaves to our fears.

The solution, the antidote for the poison of fear is faith in a Faithful, Loving, Almighty God. He is able to deliver us, His children.  In the story of Exodus there are many themes, but one we see over and over is a fearful people who have their Almighty God deliver them from one fearful situation after another. They will escape through the Red Sea parted by God to find themselves fearful in a matter of days – seemingly having forgotten what God has done and is able to do. These people truly seem to take one step forward in faith and two steps back in fear. Their bucket of faith seems to leak like a sieve.

Our lives may not face the dramatic tests the Israelites faced in Egypt, but we soon realize as Christians our lives are marked by tests. In each test, which are allowed by our Heavenly Father, the question is will I trust God?  Are you a slave to your fears?  Then remember, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus came to set us free. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand Firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ( Galatians 5)  In the story of the Exodus, we see the redemption of the world in type. We also see more types of Christ in this book than any other book in the Old Testament. In fact Jesus said, “ Moses wrote of Him.”

The story of Exodus is actually a continuation of the story of Genesis. In Genesis 15 the Lord tells Abraham: “ Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.” We know of course how the tribes of Israel ended up in Egypt from the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. The book of Exodus picks up the story 430 years later.

After the death of Joseph and his brothers we read: “ Now Joseph and his brothers all the generation died, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous and the land was filled with them.” The seventy souls that had come out of Canaan with Jacob and his sons to join Joseph had in the 430 years since grown into a nation of approximately 2,000,000 + people. God had placed them in Egypt in order for them to grow into a nation.  We read in Genesis 46, they settled in the land of Goshen and were separated from intermarrying with the Egyptians because we are told the Egyptians detested shepherds.

In verse 8, comes a turning point in the nation of Israel: “ Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph came to power in Egypt. Look , he said to his people, the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. 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. So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses  as store cities for the Pharoah. But the more they were oppressed the more they multiplied. They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of hard labor.  They were slaves in a country not their own.

Here is a picture for us:  Egypt is a picture of the World, the culture and society in which we live. (An idolatrous world, a materialistic, immoral world.)   The slave masters are a picture of sin and sins which held us captive before a redeemer delivered us from bondage. The Pharaoh was a picture and type of satan. Moses is a picture of a redeemer, deliverer. We will see other types as we study this amazing story.

Why was God allowing this suffering? God was weaning their hearts from Egypt. He was making the life which they used to love into something they came to loathe. Has God ever done that in your life?  Has He allowed some sin you loved, come to be something you loathed? He did this in my life regarding alcohol.  It was so much fun and exciting as a teenager and in college to indulge in drinking and partying.  But over a period of time, it became something I hated and hated myself for doing. It made my life bitter and I had become a slave, unable to free myself. Like the Israelites in Egypt, I needed a Deliverer.

You see for a period of time, Joseph served as second ruler in Egypt, his family was greatly respected. After Joseph’s death, his memory was honored in the way the Egyptians treated the Hebrews. This was God allowing the nation of Israel to grow and increase and become a nation of over two million people. All of this was part of God’s plan.

Guess what else was a part of God’s plan?  Affliction, adversity, and hardship. God had told Abraham his descendants would go to a strange country. They would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years.

This new pharaoh was not happy with the rapid growth of the Jewish population. He feared they would join with their enemies and fight against them. So this pharaoh began a program of turning them into slave labor. ( Sound familiar? Think WWII and the Holocaust of Hitler that led to the death of six million Jews.)

So step 1 in this new pharoah’s anti-Jewish program was to enslave the Jewish people and afflict them with hard labor. All of sudden the people began to remember this place was not their home. God had a Promised Land for them. They began to cry out to God. Sometimes God applies pressure to squeeze out of us what is infecting our lives.

Step 2 in this pharaoh’s program to rid himself of the growing population of Jews was to order the Jewish midwives  to kill all newborn Jewish sons.  In allowing only the daughters to survive, the daughters would eventually be married to Egyptian slaves and absorbed into the Egyptian race. A whole race of people would have been erased from the face of the earth.  In the battle taking place in the heavenlies, we see the enemy of God, Satan attempting to thwart God’s plan for a deliverer who would crush the head of the serpent.  But God would not allow such a thing to happen, as we read the midwives feared God more than they feared the earthly king of Egypt. They saved the male babies.  Sometimes God puts everything is a perspective, where we see everything in black and white- right and wrong, no shades of grey colored by compromise and a conforming society and culture. When we do, we know we must obey God and not man.

When the Wise Men brought news of the birth of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus to King Herod, he sought to keep this from happening also by having all male boys under age two in Bethlehem killed.  But once again God made a way for the baby Jesus to escape, just as God did for Moses.

When questioned why the male babies were not being put to death and allowed to live, the midwives told the pharaoh, the Hebrew women delivered their babies before they got there.

When this tactic failed to work the king came up with another plan to kill the male babies.

The pharaoh then ordered to all his people: “ Every boy that is born is to be thrown into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

Like Hitler, the Pharaoh became obsessed with destroying the Jewish people. In fact, many historians believe if Hitler had not wasted so much time, resources and manpower exterminating the Jews, the war could have turned out different. God will not allow His People to be extinguished from this earth- not in the time of Moses, or Hitler or many of those who have attacked them through the centuries. The fact that Israel became a nation once again in 1948 after not existing as a nation for almost 2000 years is a testimony to the power of God and how His Will cannot be thwarted.  To realize the magnitude of this re-emergence as a nation would be similar to returning America back over to the possession of the Indian tribes

Before we begin the story of Moses, think about what has happened to the people of Israel in this period of time.  Quite often in life, it is only with the passing of time and looking in the proverbial rear mirror we see and put into perspective what God has been doing.

When Jacob and his sons and their children joined Joseph in Egypt some 400+ years before, they were 70 souls in all. Joseph, the long-lost favorite son, was second in command of Egypt and the hero who had led the people through a devastating famine. In the story of Joseph, we see heartache, bitterness, and sometimes the unfairness of life. Joseph is sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife and ends up in an Egyptian prison, where he may have been incarcerated for up to 10 years.  His rise to the second in command was miraculous. But God had been preparing him for that role for years. In fact, Joseph had to look in the rear view mirror of his life and see God’s hand when he told his brothers- ‘ you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, for the saving of many lives.’

So in the beginning, the 70 souls that represented the fledgling nation of Israel lived in favor with the rulers of Egypt. Then God allowed them to fall into disfavor with the rulers of Egypt and their lives became bitter.

Peter said as Christians we should not consider it strange to fall into fiery trials. We have Joseph as one example of how to deal with trials. And on the other hand we have the nation of Israel in the story of Exodus and how they react and respond to trials.  When we hold up the mirror of God’s Word, I wonder which image you see ? Are you responding like Joseph or the children of Israel?  God’s eye test really allows us to see ourselves as we really are, doesn’t it?

In Chapter 2, we meet Moses. Moses is one of the heroes of not only the Jewish people but of Christians everywhere.  He is the most remarkable type of Christ in the Old Testament. Moses is seen as a deliverer-savior, a prophet, a lawgiver and mediator.

Moses was a Levite, both by his father and mother, Amran and Jochebed. He had an older sister and brother, Miriam and Aaron. Jochebed becomes pregnant at the time the Pharaoh has decreed all male babies are to be thrown into the Nile River.  This means, Egyptians and Egyptian soldiers would have been on the lookout for any male babies. When Moses is born, we are told his mother saw he was a ‘ goodly child and she hid him for three months.’

Realizing she could no longer hide the child, Jochebed puts him in a papyrus basket, coated with tar and pitch to prevent it from leaking and places it in the reeds along the Nile River. We know the story well as Moses the baby is placed into the river. His sister Miriam follows to see what happens.  God sends the miniature ark safely into the hands of no one less than the Pharoah’s daughter.  And thus begins one of the great stories of the Bible- the story of the Exodus of God’s people out of the bitter slavery in Egypt to begin a journey to the Promised Land.

Do you recall how God delivered you out of your Egypt? Out of your slavery in which you were held by the cruel taskmaster of sin?

Are you living today in the Promised Land or are you wandering in the desert of carnality?

Paul writes in Colossians: “ So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him…”   How did you receive Him?  By grace through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.  We are saved by grace through faith in Him and we are to live the same way- by grace through faith in

We get out of our Egypt by grace through faith in Him and we will enter into the Promised Land the same way- by grace through faith in Him.

Life is a by grace through faith in Him operation from the beginning to the end.