Summary: Why did God allow Israel to even be in slavery? And why did He allow it for so long? The answers to these questions tell us much about the chains God would free us from in our lives.
(Props – 10 foot length of ¼ inch chain; a cross on stage that can handle the weight of the chain)
OPEN: I once read the story of a marketplace in northern India where people brought their wares to trade and sell. One old farmer brought in a whole covey of quail that he caught. He hoped to get the attention of passersby by tying strings to ring that fit loosely over a stick in the ground, and then attaching the ends of the strings he tied around a leg of each bird. He had taught the quail to walk in a circle.
But nobody cared. Nobody wanted them.
Then along came a devout Hindu holy man of the region. He believed in the Hindu idea of respect for all life, so his heart went out to these birds walking in monotonous circles.
He told the farmer "I want to buy them all.”
When he’d paid for them, he said, "Now, I want you to set them all free."
The farmer looked at him strangely and said "What's that sir?"
"You heard me. Cut the strings from their legs and turn them loose. Set them all free."
The old farmer shrugged, bent down and snipped the strings off the quail.
You’d have thought they’d have flown away… but they didn't. They simply continued marching around and around in a circle.
A little frustrated, the Hindu man shooed them off, but they only landed some distance away and resumed their predictable march.
Freed from their bonds – they just kept going round and round in circles as if still tied.
(Charles Swindoll in his book: “The Finishing Touch”).
When we hear that word, we think of the 2nd book of the Bible by that name.
But we rarely think about what the word itself really means.
Exodus means – “to leave”.
The Book of Exodus is the story of Israel LEAVING their slavery in Egypt.
But they didn't just leave.
God brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and rescued them from their slavery.
Throughout the Old Testament, that’s a repeated phrase.
In Leviticus God declared: “I am the LORD your God, who BROUGHT YOU OUT of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” Leviticus 26:13
The night before God led them out of Egypt He commanded them to celebrate the first Passover… and Moses said to them:
"Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD BROUGHT YOU OUT of it with a mighty hand...” Exodus 13:3
When God gave Israel His law to Israel, the first of the 10 commandments said:
"I am the LORD your God, who BROUGHT YOU OUT of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
When God commanded Israel to be honest people He declared: “Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who BROUGHT YOU OUT of Egypt.” Leviticus 19:36
About 40 years later, Joshua called the people to make a decision to follow God.
He made his famous statement: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”
But in part of his speech that day, he declared:
“It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our parents UP OUT OF EGYPT, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes....” Joshua 24:17
Over and over again, God reminded His people that they were once slaves.
But HE bought them and brought them out of their slavery.
Now, as I was preparing this sermon, a question came to my mind
Why would God do it that way?
Why allow His people to become slaves to begin with?
And why allow them to be slaves for so long?
Why didn't God rescue His people immediately?
Now we know HOW they became slaves:
In Exodus 1:8-14 we’re told that “… a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.
Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become far 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 Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.”