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A Foretold Affliction — Exodus Chapter 1

This blog post will cover the devotionals #1-7 for Exodus Chapter 1.

**Pictures will be added at a later date.

Please note that this devotional book WILL SOON be for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[1] Exodus 1:1-6

All twelve of Jacob’s sons ended up in Egypt. Joseph (and his own descendants) obviously got there in a different way from his brothers. The direct descendants of Jacob (which excluded his wives and sons’ wives)—his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—totaled seventy. As we saw in Genesis devotional #186, Jacob, his children, their children, and Jacob’s great-grandchildren were those that entered Egypt. It’s interesting that Genesis 46 and Exodus 1 only mention Jacob’s descendants to the third and fourth generations. We see in Scriptures that this is always the case—and there’s a reason for that. We’ll take a look at that another time though. All twelve of Jacob’s sons died in Egypt as free men. Joseph was still considered ‘bound’ to Egypt, of course, but he wasn’t treated as a slave as he’d originally been, nor did his brothers ever get treated as ‘servants’ (or slaves of the land) as the Egyptians who’d sold themselves for bread. As we saw, in Genesis devotional #190, Pharaoh had treated Israel quite well for Joseph’s sake—so that first group of Hebrews flourished. In the book of Exodus, we’re going to unravel the way that God dealt with His people, and gain a fuller understanding of how He accomplished those things.

[2] Exodus 1:6-10 (Part 1)

Sometime after Joseph and his immediate family all died, there was a new Pharaoh on the throne of Egypt (we’ll discuss who this new Pharaoh was (and how much later he reigned after Joseph’s death) in devotionals #52-56). Verse 8 says he didn’t know Joseph. Some might question whether that means he’d never met Joseph personally, or if he didn’t even know about him at all—but the reality is that it means that he simply chose not to honor Joseph’s family (Israel). He wanted to ‘archive’ all knowledge of what Joseph—and his God—had done for the land of Egypt. We saw, in Genesis devotional #189, that the majority of the Egyptians had essentially sold themselves to Pharaoh during the famine so they wouldn’t starve, but Israel was furnished with all they needed to both survive and thrive, without ever having to sell themselves into slavery. They actually did so well that they multiplied and filled the land of Egypt, just as God had promised Jacob in Genesis 46:3, “…do not fear to go down into Egypt; because I will make a great nation of you there.” Well, they became such a large and mighty nation that the new Pharaoh became afraid that they could someday overpower them—and also that, if Egypt ever went to war, Israel might ally with their enemies against Egypt. Did you know that Egyptians were powerful, skilled soldiers of war? We’ll talk more about that when we discuss Moses in devotional #9. The fact that they were intimidated by untrained, non-violent, God-fearing people, is quite something. What’s even more interesting, though, is that verse 10 also says what might be the worst part about that scenario—the Hebrews could ally with Egypt’s enemies in war as a way to get themselves out of Egypt. It’s funny how he was both afraid of them and didn’t want them to leave at the same time. Why’s that? Do you recall from Genesis devotional #178, when Joseph’s brothers thought he (as the ‘unknown’ Egyptian governor) was falsely accusing them in order to ‘excuse’ his real motives to enslave them to Egypt? This sounds an awful lot like what this new Pharaoh wanted to do. We’ll look deeper at his methods in devotional #3.

[3] Exodus 1:6-10 (Part 2)

Acts 7:17-19 says that “When the time of promise drew near, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, until another king arose, which did not know Joseph. He dealt subtilly with our people…”Today, that word, ‘subtilly’, is written as ‘subtly’ but the meaning’s slightly more vague than what Strong’s Concordance shows us: ‘to be crafty against’, ‘to render wise’, ‘[in a sinister acceptation] to continue plausible error’ (we could probably define ‘plausible error’ as an inaccurate [statement / action] that seems likely to be true / valid], ‘cunningly devised’. This is strong stuff here—we saw the same usage of ‘subtil (subtle)’ in Genesis 3:1, where the serpent worked to deceive Eve subtly about the tree of knowledge. What’s even more interesting is that Strong’s Concordance shows ‘to render wise’. This is the wording used in Exodus 1:10, which says, “Come on, let’s deal wisely with them…” What really floors me though, is that ‘to render wise’ is very similar to what Satan told Eve about the tree. In Genesis 3:5-7 Satan said “‘God knows that in the day you eat of the tree, your eyes will be opened, and you will be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ And when the woman saw that the tree was…a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit, and ate, and also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” If you continue reading that chapter, they also go on to hide and lie to God—as well as to blame others to hide their own motives / sin. This is a powerful revelation of what it means to have your eyes opened, be made wise, or be as gods—knowing good and evil. Satan, the most subtle, cunning, divisive being in the universe, deceived other subtle beings into propagating his principles. Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they became ‘wise’ in the way that they were now being crafty against God / others—both hiding (covering up) and lying, as well as trying to subtly place their motives on others. This is exactly what Pharaoh was doing. Satan’s always used his subtlety to enslave his targets (God’s people) to the bondage of sin, so it should come as no surprise that Egypt (the Biblical symbol of bondage / slavery—as we saw in Genesis devotional #18) would use the same methods on the same people. Psalm 105:24, 25 tells us the same thing we’re seeing in Exodus 1:7-10, “And He increased His people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies. He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal subtilly with His servants.” Here we see the same words used again, but interestingly, the wording seems to imply that God Himself turned the Egyptians’ hearts against His own people so that they’d hate and deal subtly with them. What we’re seeing here is the introduction to one of the most misunderstood phrases / concepts in Exodus, and perhaps even the entire Bible (which we’ll discuss more, starting in Exodus 4). I’ll give you a hint though, it’s another one of Satan’s divisive tactics to use plausible error against God.

[4] Exodus 1:11-14 (Part 1)

‘Slavery’ is defined as ‘a condition in which one human being is owned by another’ and ‘exhausting labor or restricted freedom [in relation to a slave]’. It’s interesting that Pharaoh decided to use exhausting labor to limit the rapid growth of the nation of Israel, as a lack of sleep can put pregnant women at risk for some serious conditions or even complicated delivery. Likewise, heavy lifting, standing for long periods of time, or bending a lot during pregnancy could increase the chances of miscarriage, preterm birth, or injury, and has been associated with menstrual disorders, which may reflect reduced fertility. The women were compelled to work in the fields—which you very well know (especially if you’ve ever done it) is extremely hard on the body. On the male side, stress may release steroid hormones which can decrease testosterone levels and sperm production and direction of movement. Chronic sleep deprivation does the same and increases anti-sperm antibodies—further damaging the sperm. The men were forced into rigorous work with mortar and brick—which is hard labor. Egypt was indeed ‘wise’ when dealing with population control. “He put taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. They built Pharaoh treasure cities.” Though Israel went to Egypt, they kept their distance from other people—and this is what excited the fears of Pharaoh—beyond the size of their population. However, they were needed—as they were a powerful workforce that greatly benefited Egypt and Pharaoh. He especially wanted laborers that could build his extravagant palaces and temples, and thus, he viewed the Hebrews as the same as the Egyptians who’d sold themselves as slaves. Once the taskmasters were put in place, Israel’s slavery was solidified. ‘Taskmaster’ is defined as ‘a person who imposes a harsh or onerous [‘involving an oppressively burdensome amount of effort and difficulty’] workload on someone’. Taskmasters are notorious for being mean and relentless—almost to the point of death. With all these things in mind, we have a pretty good idea that they experienced much stress, sleep deprivation, and physical strain. In Genesis 15:13, God told sleeping Abram in ‘a horror of darkness’ that, for four hundred years, his descendants would be a stranger in a land that’s not theirs, and would serve them; and they’d afflict them. Recall, from Genesis devotionals #38 and 42, how we saw that man’s lifespan would quickly drop from about a thousand years to just 120, and that Moses would die at 120? We saw that it’d already gotten down pretty far (maybe even that low), but perhaps years of slavery really solidified the lower lifespan of mankind. Yet, what happened in their affliction? Did it affect them? It quite likely did—as we would’ve just seen—but verse 12 says that the more Egypt afflicted Israel, the more they multiplied and grew. And the more they increased, the harder the hearts of Egypt became in compelling more work to be accomplished in a shorter time, but with longer hours of work. The only way they could’ve defied the negative impact on their bodies was by a miracle.

[5] Exodus 1:11-14 (Part 2)

In devotional #4, we saw how, the more violently Israel was treated, the more they grew. It’s interesting how that principle shows up elsewhere in Scriptures. Leviticus 25 talks about pruning the vineyard and etc., and eventually it’d yield plenty and satisfy. God would end up providing three years’ worth of food in just one year (which sounds a lot like what He did in Egypt during Joseph’s famine). To those of us who don’t understand what happens inside the tree (especially fruit trees), it seems harsh and counterproductive to cut the branches. However, pruning ends up doing so much good for the tree. It maintains balance by causing dormant buds in the old wood to produce vegetative growth that’ll become the next young fruiting wood. This automatically makes me think of creating a new generation that’s set up for righteous success in the fruit-bearing scene, by allowing Godly, yet dormant character traits (like the five wise virgins who had oil, but let their lamps burn out) to be awakened! Pruning controls the age and position of the cropping wood, which improves fruit quality. Old, unpruned trees produce large crops (decreasing the quality of the fruit over time at the expense of new growth). This reminds me of the Pharisees, who were perfect in the law (aka—the hundreds of ‘rules’ they believed they had to keep), yet were completely lacking in true righteousness. Their stubbornness in this area prevented them from even hearing heart-changing truth—let alone being changed by it. Pruning of damaged, sickly, dead, or even badly placed / positioned branches allows the tree’s energy to focus on producing stronger and better-placed branches, etc. Spiritually, pruning equates to the trials, pain, struggles, loss, etc. that we experience. The different afflictions hurt at the present, but something good usually comes from it for someone (see Romans 8:18-24). God allowed the famine to occur so that Israel would be forced to look to Egypt for ‘salvation’. They’d been mingling with the other heathen nations, and thus, had adopted the practice of idolatry—and largely lost their holy character. He knew they’d eventually end up being oppressed by the heathen nation they ran to for nourishment, and that they’d finally turn back to God in their affliction—and re-adopt His principles. Malachi 3:3 says, “And He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, so they may offer an offering to the Lord in righteousness.” Similarly, Isaiah 1:25 says, “And I will turn My hand upon you, and purely purge away your dross, and take away all your tin.” Hard labor was intended by Pharaoh to subdue their growing numbers and destroy the same independent spirit they showed in keeping separate in customs, worship, etc. from Egypt. Yet, Egypt was grieved by the growth of Israel (in size, strength, and character).

[6] Exodus 1:15-19

After Pharaoh realized he couldn’t get Israel to stop reproducing with slave labor, his heart grew harder and more violent. He gathered the Hebrew midwives and told them they must immediately kill any boy they delivered. Satan had a reason for inspiring the sons specifically to be killed. He knew God would bring a deliverer through one of those births. Just as Satan (through Joseph’s brothers) sought to prevent Joseph’s dreams from coming true, he tried the same through Pharaoh. He'd do the same thing (through Herod) when Christ was born. He thought he could use them as his instruments for sin, but they were instruments for righteousness. They couldn’t imagine doing something so terrible, and they didn’t. In Acts 4 (especially verses 18 and 19) and 5:28, 29, the Sadducees had marveled after seeing simple, unlearned men being so bold—and they knew that they’d been with Jesus. They still sought to stop the spread the truth (in other words—the growth of the body of believers), and told them to stop preaching in Jesus’ name. Peter and John said, “You judge whether it is right in God’s sight to hearken unto you more than unto God.” Then, they continued their work, and were again questioned: “Did we not straitly command you not to do this? Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” The disciples responded, “We should obey God rather than men.” There are several parallels I see between these two scenarios. First, the ‘authorities’ commanded God’s people to do something He wouldn’t have them do. Second, when questioned for their ‘disobedience’, someone in one situation blatantly said they must obey the God they fear, and the other situation (in which they’d acted on the same principle) said, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, because they are lively, and are delivered before the midwives come to them.” This reminds me of the lively stones of 1 Peter 2:5 who are built up as a spiritual house. What I especially think of, though, is Luke 19:39, 40, where the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke His disciples, and He responded that if they held their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. This was when He rode on a donkey through the streets and prophecy was fulfilled. He was essentially saying that nothing could be done in man’s power to prevent God’s purposes / plans from being accomplished. It makes me wonder if (beyond the midwives not being willing to carry out Pharaoh’s preventative measures and kill the newborn boys) God gave them excuse so they didn’t have to lie—did He help them give birth without a midwife? They were quite literally like the stones that would cry out! The third parallel I see is that Jerusalem was filled with Jesus’ doctrine, just as Egypt was filled with His people. And fourth, the ‘authorities’ claimed God’s servants would cause them to be responsible for Jesus’ blood (death)—in other words, they’d be ‘forced’ to kill Him because that’d be the only way to stop God’s progress. The Egyptian king would’ve not only been guilty of the blood of all the sons he commanded to be killed in attempt to stop God’s progress within Egypt for Israel, but the reverse would eventually happen to Egypt’s own sons—but this time, God wouldn’t step in and stop it. The most recent parallel though, is that, by trying to make Joseph a slave to Egypt, he was put where he could enter, learn, and rule in their palace. Likewise, by forcing Moses’ mother to hide him from murder, he was put where he too could enter, learn, and lead in the Egyptian palace. Pharaoh had wanted to kill the Hebrew boys to prevent the deliverer’s coming, yet he paid for the education of the one who’d come for that very purpose.

[7] Exodus 1:20-22

“God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and waxed very mighty. And it happened, that, because the midwives feared God—He made them houses.” This is so powerful because we saw from 1 Peter 2:5 (in devotional #6) that the lively stones are built up a spiritual house. Here, as we see in 1 Samuel 2:35, God says, “I will raise Me up a faithful priest, that will do according to that which is in My heart and mind: and I will build him a sure house, and he will walk before My anointed forever.” The midwives weren’t priests, but they fit the description in this verse—and God made them spiritual houses. 2 Samuel 7:10, 11 says, “I will appoint a place for My people, Israel, and I will plant them…the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.” Pharaoh told all his people that all Hebrew newborn sons must be cast into the river. If he couldn’t deceive the mothers into believing they died at birth, he’d be blatant and drown them. The same passage (Acts 7:17-19) that we looked at in devotional #2 is finished here: “…they cast out their young children, with the intention that they might not live.” Would it accomplish its work?

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