Monday, February 21, 2011

Exodus: Chapter 1

Here we go--onto the next OT chapter!

We learned in Genesis that God told Abram clearly what his heritage could expect--a great increase in number and 400 years of servitude that included persecution.  Three and a half centuries span the end of Genesis and the start of Exodus, and the fulfillment of God's Word to Abram is revealed in these opening verses.  We already learned that the Pharaoh in Joseph's time was probably of the Hyskos nation, a Semitic people who had conquered Egypt for a time.  Now the native Egyptians have regained control and there is no memory of Joseph--and no love for the Israelites.  There is, however, a recognized 'need' for their labor and a fear that the massive Israelite population could one day help depose the Egyptians again.  (One estimate of the number of Israelites at the time of the Exodus is in excess of 2 million!  It all started with the '70 souls from the loins of Jacob.')  I am intrigued by how God orchestrates all things to effect the changes He desires...and reassured that the promises of God are fulfilled in specific ways.   I am also reminded that the memory of humanity is very frail and easily corrupted; even great individuals are forgotten in a relatively short time.  So much of life is invested in elevating ourselves and building our image--such a waste!  "Only one life and it will soon be past.  Only what is done for Jesus will last!"

The persecution of the Israelites included the attack on the baby boys and unrealistic work demands, but God's blessings are not restricted in difficult times.  Difficulties often deepen His blessings and His people are everywhere--even in the Egyptian nurses charged with killing the Hebrew infant boys.  I was surprised to learn the names of these nurses indicate they may have been high officials in the Egyptian court:  Splendor and Beauty were their names and their reverence for God was indeed beautiful and splendid.  They were placed in a difficult situation:  lie or kill.  God never rejoices at dishonesty, but His value on life is a clear and consistent truth in scripture.  The nurses chose God's value for life over their assigned duty--perhaps putting their own lives at risk.  Theirs was a sacrificial obedience to a God-given value.  Finally, the heavy work orders certainly prepared the hearts of the Israelites for the plans of God as well.

I am continually encouraged as I walk through these chapters that God's plans and purposes will unfold and bring about His perfect will!  Times may be difficult and the beauty of His ways a bit obscured--but it is our privilege to search Him out in all things.

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