WEEK 1 Exodus 1:8-2:10 (TNIV)
8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far 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.”
11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, 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 harsh labour in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labour the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.
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 Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
1. God’s blessing of the Israelites is uncontrollable. Pharaoh cannot control it and is threatened by their obvious blessed status. They are breeding like rabbits! This for ancient people is the sign of blessing – children, population growth, and fertility.
2. Fertility is the goal of worshipping the gods of Egypt. Pharaoh carries out his rituals and exercises his divine reign to secure the blessing of fertility for the people. But here, the God of the Hebrews is already outdoing the gods of Egypt. They are more blessed than the local Egyptians. This is a major threat – economic, security and religious.
3. There is a double meaning of all this talk of “labour” or work” In Hebrew, this word can also be used for the “work” or worshipping God (liturgy). Israel’s labour here is hard, destructive and unjust because it is done for a foreign god. God will turn their hard labour into rest, joy and blessing when they “work” for him and with him in their worship (working) life.
4. Interesting that the Hebrew midwives enact civil disobedience. They deliberately defy the law of the land. When is it OK to do this Christians?
5. Pharaoh has to act in every increasing violence – killing baby boys – halting this divine power the Hebrews seem to posses – but God is on to it. A war is brewing of cosmic proportions.
The Birth of Moses (Ch 2)
1 Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket (“ark”) among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
1. God is doing something new. A new hope rises in the carnage of dead baby boys. A baby boy escapes the evil of Pharaoh. This boy will the first of a new age. He is from the tribe of Levi – the priestly tribe. He will be the priest of Israel who will have direct access to God on the people’s behalf and vice-versa.
2. The baby is placed in an ark. Genesis 6:14 and Noah’s ark comes to mind. Just as God saved a remnant of humanity and living things in an ark, now he is doing the same with his promise to Abraham. Later the guidelines for knowing God as a community (10 Commandments) will also be places in the ark of the covenant. Through his Word he will continually save people so they can know him and live with him.
3. Pharaoh’s daughter is a pre-cursor to God himself here. She hears the cry of this baby. She is moved with pity and shows mercy and compassion in saving the baby from annihilation. God will also see and feel the pain of his people an act (next week).
4. Moses is a forward sign of this new nation of God who will also be drawn from the water and even a sign of the promised Messiah who will be baptised by John and command his church to baptise the world in his name (Matthew 28)
We are drawn out of the water in baptism.
We have been snatched from the hand of the evil one and our own sinfulness and places in the ark – the place of God’s presence and protection and life.
Christians have often used this boat kind of imagery to name places of worship. Where the people gather is the nave – the body of the ship. Often church architecture has included vaulted ceiling of stone or timber – depicting an upside down boat or ark. What does all that mean for you?
Pharaoh kills the sons of the Israelite, thereby picking a fight with the God of the Israelites. The final “plague” or sign will be the undoing of Pharaoh. God the Warrior will fight for his covenant with Abraham – blessing of a nation, a name and a land of blessing.
Interesting that God uses another Egyptian to rescue his chosen special leader, Moses. Is this a show of God’s craftiness and intelligence and power?
This new nation will not be founded with a land, known leader, political system. It will be founded by the direct action of a holy and all-powerful God and so, be a unique, specially chosen and formed community of God in the world with a special task – to be the means through which God deals with the sin of human beings and gives his blessing of life to all nations.
How have you been snatched from hard labour to idols and entered the rest and blessing of living in God’s blessing?
Would there ever be a reason why you would practice civil disobedience?
Has God heard your cries and acted to save you in a situation?
What is your life founded on: a world view, a family, a teaching, ……?