This is the third time I’ve had to restart this blog entry. Third time because the LORD has pointed so many things out to me in these first few chapters of Exodus that I have tried to capture them all. But I’ve decided not to do that. Instead I will focus on just one great overriding theme in these first few verses, and that would be found in the Egyptians.
God demonstrates fully his divine plan. He has no opposition, really. Those who oppose Him only think they do. Remember the way God stripped the pantheon of the Egyptians in the creation account and in so-doing, demonstrated to the first audience of the book that there are no gods? Now He is doing it again. Every time God does something in Egypt, it is not so Charleton Heston can look good someday on the big screen. It was not solely for Israel’s deliverance either. It was for the promise laid in Abraham that the nations be blessed. God was moving against the gods of Egypt and those who worshipped them!
Setting: the Jacobsons have moved to Egypt under Joseph’s watchcare and the tribes have grown into a people so numerous their hosts feel threatened. A Pharaoh is in power who does not know Joseph (though he or his parents probably grew up eating the grain accumulated by Joseph and enjoyed the prosperity of the nation gathered under Joseph) nor does he know Joseph’s God. The Egyptians turn from host to task-master and the people are enslaved. This should not come as a surprise, because long before Joseph, long before Jacob, long before Isaac, God told Abraham this would happen (Gen 15:13-16).
Today is a historic day—like it or not. Today, the Atlas V rocket blasted off on the New Horizons mission to Pluto and Charon. This rocket will be travels so fast, the probe will scoot past the moon’s orbit 9 hours after lift-off (the last time we went that direction, it took us three days). Acceleration took the craft to 4780 mph in the first couple of minutes, then 16, 240 after less than 10 minutes. The space probe will not reach its’ destination until 2015. Timing is everything. If they did not lift off before February 14, we were going to add 5 years to the mission. See, a year from now the gravity of Jupiter is going to be used to slingshot the craft onto a speedy arrival Pluto-ward and right now is the time to blast off. Any later than Feb 14, then Jupiter is unusable. The point: timing is everything.
The Israelites were in Egypt at just the right time. They would be there for just the right time. They would leave Egypt for the Promised Land at just the right time.
What is standing out to me is the fact that God’s people are held in bondage. In the very literal sense this was true of this people group. But when I look at the text and see what God’s people are experiencing and see what God is doing, I am observing that God’s Word is directed to Egypt, “Let my people go!” And the response is, “I don’t know this God.”
God is moving His people out with a heavy hand against Egypt so they will become reacquainted with the God of their fathers. He is doing this so Israel will know that He is the LORD. Exodus 6:1-9, note v. 7, “‘Then I will take you 1afor My people, and bI will be 2your God; and cyou shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”[i] God struck the waters of the Nile for Israel to get to know their God.
Is God being cruel moving so heavily against Egypt? Why is God dealing with Egypt like this? Because God is a missionary God. Everything He does is tied up in His plan to save mankind and now He has grown a nation through which the Messiah will come. He is God moving against Pharaoh so that Egypt will know that He is the LORD, “aThe Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I bstretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”[ii] God struck the waters of the Nile not so much as a judgment per se, but that Pharaoh would get to know the God he claims he does not know, “‘Thus says the Lord, “aBy this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike 1the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and bit will be turned to blood.”[iii]
But the timing had to be right.
Conflict exists when one of God's servants attempts to serve his own interests rather than God's. Conflict exists when one of God's servants confuses himself for the Master. The one who heeds riches and empty praise inherits only himself. Listen to Spurgeon talk about Aaron’s budding rod:
- “This incident is an instructive emblem of the sure victory of the divine handiwork over all opposition. Whenever a divine principle is cast into the heart, though the devil may fashion a counterfeit, and produce swarms of opponents, as sure as ever God is in the work, it will swallow up all its foes. If God’s grace takes possession of a man, the world’s magicians may throw down all their rods; and every rod may be as cunning and poisonous as a serpent, but Aaron’s rod will swallow up their rods. The sweet attractions of the cross will woo and win the man’s heart, and he who lived only for this deceitful earth will now have an eye for the upper spheres, and a wing to mount into celestial heights. When grace has won the day the worldling seeks the world to come. The same fact is to be observed in the life of the believer. What multitudes of foes has our faith had to meet! Our old sins—the devil threw them down before us, and they turned to serpents. What hosts of them! Ah, but the cross of Jesus destroys them all. Faith in Christ makes short work of all our sins. Then the devil has launched forth another host of serpents in the form of worldly trials, temptations, unbelief; but faith in Jesus is more than a match for them, and overcomes them all. The same absorbing principle shines in the faithful service of God!” [iv]
Here’s a thought: God was moving against the captors of God’s people. We preach the gospel of the cross to people who need to be saved, and this is right. But what about preaching to those who continually hold God’s people enslaved? The alcohol industry needs to hear, “Let my people go!” The so-called adult entertainment industry needs to hear, “Let my people go!” Crime bosses and drug lords need to hear, “Let my people go!” Creditors need to hear, “Let my people go!” Psychologists and Psychiatrists need to hear, “Let my people go!” The Music and Movie industry needs to hear, “Let my people go!”
We need to pray the hand of the LORD move against them. I’ve done it and have seen it done. I’ve seen bars closed and converted into churches in the name of Christ Jesus. I’ve seen rock concerts cancelled because Christians prayed for God to move. I’ve seen a corrupt policemen repent of sin and impact a city for Christ.
God’s people must be led from bondage of sin, yes. But Christ must be preached to those who hold the chains as well!
1 Lit to Me for a people
a Ex 19:5; Deut 4:20; 7:6; 2 Sam 7:24
b Gen 17:7f; Ex 29:45f; Lev 11:45; 26:12, 13, 45; Deut 29:13
2 Lit to you for a God
c Ex 16:12; Is 41:20; 49:23, 26; 60:16
[i]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Ex 6:7. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.
a Ex 7:17; 8:19, 22; 10:7; 14:4, 18, 25
b Ex 3:20
[ii]NASB, Ex 7:5. Ibid.
a Ex 5:2; 7:5; 10:2; Ps 9:16; Ezek 25:17
1 Lit upon the waters
b Ex 4:9; 7:20; Rev 11:6; 16:4, 6
[iii]NASB, Ex 7:17. Ibid.
[iv]Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, June 28 PM. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.