The book of Exodus in Hebrew begins with "And these are the names." "And" here is important because it connects the ending of the book of Genesis with it. It connects God's story of redemption. God had promised Abraham that he would make him a great Nation and bless all nations through Him (Genesis 13:15; 15:5-6; 17:5-8; 22:17-18) but he also told him that his people would be slaves for four hundred years. (Genesis 15:13). Now the story continues in Exodus.
Chapters 1-18 record the redemption of the people of God, Israel, from the Egyptian slavery (1875-1445 B.C.) Chapters 19-40 take approximately ten months and they cover the instructions God gave his people whom he delivered.
In this post I'd like to share from Exodus 1. We see here the need of redemption (which is a word I prefer rather than "rescue." Redemption has the idea of someone paying for another to "redeem" or buy back) for the people of God.
We see three important things concerning the need of redemption.
First, we see how God's people were multiplying (Exodus 1:6-7 ). They had grown from 70 people to about three million. This was no accident. God was blessing His people. They could not be in Egypt any longer. God had a plan for them, but it didn't come easy for them but they had to trust Him.
Second, we see that people of God were oppressed and had become enslaved (Exodus 1:8-14). The new Pharaoh (18th Dynasty, Thutmose I) sees the Hebrews as a threat. Since they have grown so much, he feared them taking over Egypt. He decided to take action and began treating them as slaves. But it didn't seem to work. The more he oppressed them, the more God blessed them. How ironic. God blessed His people in the midst of suffering. As much as they hated it, suffering and oppression was part of God's plan. He was listening to them. He had a plan to deliver them with great power. The same happens in our lives. Suffering is part of being a Christian. Suffering is to be expected. But God isn't absent, He is present in our suffering. He blesses us in our suffering.
Third, we see that God's people were threatened with extinction (Exodus 1:15-22). Pharaoh not only enslaved God's people but he wanted to eliminate them. He decided to stop them from procreating by killing all the boys. If there were no boys, then the Hebrew women would have to intermarry with the Egyptian men who were of lowest social-economic level and thus Pharaoh would control them. He told the head midwives to help him accomplish this. But these women who were witnesses of the birth of the children had more sense than Pharaoh and realized that God was with the Hebrew women. They were strong and had no problems giving birth. So they decided not to follow through Pharaoh's order (partly because the Hebrew women gave birth before they ever got to them). Here is a case where obeying God is first above any man in power. As a result of these midwives' actions, they were blessed by God. God blessed these women who were Hebrew for their obedience to Him. Of course, Pharaoh then gave order to have all boys under 3 years old eliminated and commanded that all Hebrews throw their babies into the Nile River. But as we know, this didn't work either. God is sovereign. He will save a baby out of the water (the meaning of "Moses") and will use Pharaoh's own daughter to raise him. How ironic again! God uses even those who opposed his plan. This baby will become the leader of the people of God.
The people of God will always be threatened. The Gospel is unstoppable and yet persecution is evident in those places where is thriving (another site here). God is sovereign and will establish his church and not even the gates of Hell will stand in His way. Don't fear when you are threatened or intimated because of who you are as a believer. They can't defeat you because God is with you. He hears your prayers and sees your suffering, literally. Even if they kill most of us, we know they can only kill the body! We need to fear Him who can "destroy" our souls in Hell (see Matthew 10:28). He is our great shepherd and will lead us through the valley of Death into his everlasting presence (Psalm 23).
In just this chapter alone we find the three principles I mentioned in the related post. These serve as an encouragement to us.