There is no drama like the Book of Exodus. A nation is enslaved, and a leader is made who meets the Living God, and brings the message and power of this God back to His people’s captors. There are miracles, terror, unbelief, trust, sacrifice, and an incredible deliverance. God’s people are rescued, led by His Presence, brought to His Word in the desert, and constituted as a nation to live under His rule. And then the disciplines and disasters begin, as this people learn to live for their God. So let’s start…
Exodus begins with blessing followed by misery. Abraham’s offspring are safe in Egypt, together and out of reach of the famine. There they prosper and multiply (vv.1-7). But God’s people aren’t out of reach of the new powerful leader. The reason for the new Pharaoh’s hostility seems plausible – these people look like they could turn hostile overrun the nation (vv.8-10). Danger so quickly follows peace.
Remember, though, that the Bible isn’t just a story of human loves, hates and plans, with an occasional visit from God: there is a deeper drama behind the events from Eden right to the end of the Book of Revelation, and that is the struggle between God’s chosen offspring and the hatred of the Devil (Gen.3.15). So where we see opposition to the people of God, in Scripture as much as in the world, we need to remember a deeper and a devilish hatred. In Pharaoh, as in all hatred towards the church, we see that the Evil One uses his agents for his persecuting work.
And the devil’s ways are pitiless. The Hebrews are ruthlessly put to hard labour (vv.11-14). So fanatic is Pharaoh’s persecution that male babies are now to be put to death (vv.15-16). But so brave is the midwives’ faith that they calmly lie their way to saving the young lives, and do so with the blessing of God (vv.19-21). The Evil One is no respecter of courage or faith, and any child of the Promised Line will face his fury. After all, he knows that one day a child will come to bring salvation to the world, and he knows that his time is short.
Pharaoh’s Final Solution seems just that, a failsafe plan to extinguish the Hebrews (vv.22). He is wicked, and he is wrong. God will protect His own. Of course He can, and of course He will, since He is God. A covenant God always works in covenant grace, and He will never give up on the promises made to Abraham. Jesus, our persecuted and delivered Rescuer, teaches us this.
Childbirth, ancient style: bringing a new generation of covenant believers into God’s purposes of grace.