Summary: It is so easy to find ways apart from God to deal with "threats" such as Pharoah did and thus bully and oppress people but our hope is faith in a God who seeks to bless the nations

God’s Mighty Deliverance: The exodus experience

Today I want to introduce a new sermon series in book of Exodus. Exodus 1 actually begins where Genesis left off with the story of Joseph. This is how Genesis ended with a very clear intentional leading into the book of Exodus...

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." 25 And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place."

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

So Joseph is now dead and in a coffin. It was not a bad or awkward to end Genesis. You might think dead in a coffin, way to end the story eh? It is actually a very hopeful note. Got to remember Genesis started so gloriously. God was in charge. In the beginning there was only one God, a refutation of the competing worldviews polytheism, pantheism and atheism. He fashioned people in His own image, male and female were equal, long before women’s lib became fashionable, and God put them in charge of the world and blessed them. It was super awesome, God said it was very good.

But only three chapters into the story, Adam and Eve decided they wanted run the universe without God. They disobeyed God’s direct word and plunged the world into moral decay and spiritual death. The rest of the story is how God picked up the pieces to restore the universe to its original specs. But the world spiralled into violence, hate, injustice, terror, in other words sin dominated. The world was cursed! But praise God, God’s will is for the world to come back to Day 7, the Sabbath day, where the world will find rest once again and be blessed. The book of Genesis tells the story that the world has no hope in righting itself, even when God cleansed the earth through a great flood, Noah’s descendants would plunge the world back into its violent ways. Men and women were rebellious, rotten to the core.

However, out of nowhere God implemented a new strategy to crush the serpent’s head which was prophesied in Gen 3:15. He turned His eye to Abraham. He would make his descendants into a unique nation, not only that but a great nation and bless them so that all peoples of the world, everyone would be blessed by God. This was the special covenant promise made by God for the world’s benefit and the glory of His name. Through the imperfect lives of the patriarchs of faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob God would engineer a rescue plan in a world that cannot save itself. A taste of that is seen in how God rescued all of Israel from the ravages of the great famine that lasted seven years through Joseph a descendant of Abraham, and it saved many lives. So it was a hopeful note, Joseph’ story did not end badly. It pointed to hope, that God did not abandon a world dominated by sin but indeed is working out His rescue plan, the saving of many lives.

The question now is this - how will God carry out His covenant to bless the world especially in a world filled with new threats and terrors living in a foreign land,Egypt? Twice Joseph said in v.24,25 that “God will surely come to your aid” says Joe. In other words, he is calling attention to the fact that God will continue to work on behalf of His people. By faith Joseph spoke of God’s mighty deliverance, preparing the way for the great exodus experience of the people of Israel. Why would God do that? It’d be because of the covenant, the promised oath he made to Abraham Isaac and Jacob (v.24).

Joe knew that the God who blessed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs of faith, in book of Genesis will keep His word. The lives of patriarchs demonstrate God will not abandon His chosen people even in the face of diverse threats as outlined in Genesis through the dangers and threats that the patriarchs faced. God’s promise, His covenant, will always be found true. Consequently Joseph trusted God’s covenant word without reservation that he ordered the sons of Israel to promise to take his bones to the Promise Land when the mighty deliverance comes (Gen 50:25).

The obvious thing we learn from Genesis is God has no interest in destroying or damning the world to hell. It is a distortion of God’s word to say that He wanted suffering and death or confine humanity to misery. Remember He wanted the people He made on the sixth day to enjoy the 7th day, a day that has no evening and no morning, a day that lasts forever with God for the glory of God. It is a complete lie to say that God wants us to have second best or worst. It was always His pleasure to give us His best, the world was perfect. That’s why the word blessed is use many times to describe God’s action towards men and women.

And so Genesis puts the record straight, that even though the world is filled with violence, hate, God will turn what is evil, what is meant for harm, into something good, the redemption of the world.

Thus, Exodus 1 begins where Genesis left off with the names of the God blessed people, descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob...

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 [a] in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

This is a reminder that God did persevered the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, placing Joseph to be second in command in Egypt, who was there already, at the right time so that famine would not cause Israel to vanish from the face of the earth. God was faithful, God was good, God came through when no one else could see it coming, except for Joseph. The story keeps rolling...

6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.

Here we have the fulfillment of God’s promise. The author of exodus brought up that phrase “exceedingly numerous” to point to the original blessing of God when he created the world. There is conscious tie in here to Gen.1:27-28

27 So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Also it is a reiteration of God’s promise to make Abraham into a great nation in Gen.12 and in Gen. 15 when God took Abraham to do some stargazing and said his descendants will as numerous as the stars in the sky. But in the midst of living in a world that’s dominated by another ruler, the new king of Egypt who did not know Joseph, the blessing of the God of Joseph, a new threat arose...

8 Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9 "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become much 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."

Note: most unspeakable evil did not merely come from nowhere. It began with a thought. It geban when fear became controlling reality. It began in the heart and mind. Maybe we have not considered this. This is where the Bible tells us be aware what the human heart and mind can do.

CS Lewis – The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of crime that Dickens love to paint... it is conceived and moved, seconded, carried and minuted... in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.”

The new king felt threatened in his clean and opulent palace and from there he set forth a new policy of oppression...

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 hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.

So we see here the results of a new policy are detailed, with its execution – lives of Israel became bitter.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it 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 boy that is born [b] you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live."

From Exodus1 – we get the picture that God’s story of blessing continues but now in a different life situation. Even in an oppressive regime, where injustice rears its ugly head, as slavery became legalized and forced labor became the norm, innocent boy babies are put to death to control the population, midwives are forced to kill, God still blessed the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Joseph even though they are now dead and gone. They became numerous. But how will the story of God who is good continue in face of these threats, how will He overturn what is meant for evil and make something good out of it. How will God stick up for His people?

As I conclude, I want to quote from the NT, the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8 (The Message)...

31-39So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.

We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

That sums it up – Always God’s will to bless... God is on our side, so how can we lose? Exodus says that loud and clear. God’s mighty deliverance will come. And so don’t mess with God’s beloved chosen people! He is that good and will pursue our greatest good for His glory. Nothing will get in God’s way even when we feel like sitting ducks, God will work it out.

Secondly, His will is “let my people go” –freedom. There is no getting away from that. God will free men and women locked in spiralling disaster after disaster.

Third, time to Check our hearts – especially when we feel threat, fear coming – may the God, who blessed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob calm it rather than search for ideas that will wreak huge human suffering like the king of Egypt. Do we embrace His will to bless and to free us, or will we come with our schemes for our own ways to bless and free our ourselves?