Summary: God’s Heart for Lost People
READ: Exodus 3:7-10 [Have entire chapter read earlier].
It would serve us well, by way of introduction this morning, to just quickly recap Israel’s history from the end of Genesis (chapter 50), to this point in Exodus chapter 3.
You’ll remember, I’m sure, the story of how Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and was taken down (all in the purposes of God) to the land of Egypt. And, to cut a long story short, how he came to prominence in the land and how Pharoah made him prime minister. Then, through a miraculous sequence of events, you’ll recall that he was reunited with his family and they were all brought to Egypt to live with Joseph. And the book of Genesis closes with the whole people of Israel (around 70 people in all at this stage) comfortably settled in Egypt.
By the time we get to Exodus chapter 3, however, the picture is very different. A period of 430 years saw the children of Israel grow (like rabbits!) from a family of 70 to a swarm of over 600,000 men over the age of twenty, plus the tribe of Levi, plus all the women and children (some estimates up to around 3 MILLION people!).
And the Bible says that "...there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph". And this new pharaoh was intimidated by this people of Israel dwelling in his land, and set out to cut them back down to size. So he took action:
He enslaved the Israelites - forced them to cut straw and make bricks and labour on his public works program (the pyramids?).
BUT the more he afflicted the Israelites the more they grew. So he instructed all the Hebrew midwives that when they attended the birth of a boy in Israel they were to put him to death only girls were to live. But thank God for God-fearing women. It says these midwives feared the Lord and they would not comply with Pharaoh’s command.
So Pharaoh continued to turn up the heat more and more on Israel.
And this is the situation that Israel is in when we come to Exodus chapter 3.
From the few verses I read in particular, tonight, (7-10), I’d like us to see something of the heart of God toward His people in bondage. Firstly, note with me that:
1. God Hears The Cry Of His People.
[read v 7]
If you go back to Exodus 1:14 it says that "...they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, WAS WITH RIGOUR". Do you know what the Hebrew word there translated "rigour" means? It means they made them serve "TO THE BREAKING POINT"!
The Israelites worked from sun-up to sundown; MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN. Anything the Egyptians didn’t want to do was given to Israel, and it was backbreaking work under the scorching desert sun. There was no honouring of the Sabbath they laboured seven days a week without rest. And if one faltered under the strain of their load they would be beaten with horsewhip or if one (through total fatigue) overslept, they would dragged from their homes by force, beaten, and sent to work. ALL WAS DESIGNED TO BREAK THE ISRAELI SPIRIT ... and it worked!