The text for this lesson is Exodus 1:8–2:10.
- God sent Moses and then protected him so that he could deliver the Israelites from slavery; in the same way, God sent His greater Son, Jesus, to deliver us from the slavery of sin.
- Law: Sin, death, and the devil try to tempt, oppress, discourage, and enslave us because they are opposed to the joy of life in Christ.
- Gospel: God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, born in a humble way, to deliver us from this temptation, oppression, discouragement, and slavery.
- Jacob’s son Joseph became a great ruler in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, and helped the rest of his family—Jacob along with his eleven other sons and their families—to settle in Egypt (Genesis 37–50). At first, the pharaohs were favorable toward the Hebrews and entrusted to them the care of all the flocks and herds of Egypt. However, as the Hebrews grew more numerous and the memory of Joseph’s wisdom and management faded, a new pharaoh arose who turned the relationship between the nations from one of friendship to one of fear.
- The whole account of Pharaoh’s oppression of Israel, his struggle with the Lord, and his eventual destruction demonstrates God’s faithfulness to His people and His victory over His enemies and the enemies of His people. For Christians today, this account reminds us that while Satan and our sinful nature work to enslave us and put us to eternal death, the Lord fights against them for our release.
- Fearful of the rapid growth of the Israelites, Pharaoh enslaves them and tasks them with making bricks, and then constructing buildings and cities with these bricks, and toiling in the fields (Exodus 1:11, 14). Slavery and hard work do little to control the population of the Israelites, however; they continue to multiply and spread in Egypt. In a second attempt to reduce the number of the Israelites, Pharaoh commands the Hebrew midwives to slay the boys birthed to the Hebrew women. Although threatened and oppressed, the midwives secretly refuse, protecting life rather than engaging in murder. As a reward, the Lord gives the midwives their own children. Now Pharaoh’s fear increases, and he tries to make his whole nation complicit in the murder of the Israelites (1:22).
- Pharaoh represents not only the oppression of God’s people but also the fear that strikes each of us when we fail to trust God. Without the faith and peace God gives us by His Holy Spirit, we would all be mistrustful of others. To the extent it would be in our power, we would attempt to control and even harm others to avoid the perceived threat they present.
- Pharaoh’s fear and tyranny do not win this time. With her fear of God greater than her fear of Pharaoh, Moses’ mother hides him for three months; then she places him in a waterproof basket among the reeds of the Nile. (Notice that she does not send him drifting uncontrollably down the river.) Because the Nile was the center of Egyptian religion, agriculture, and commerce, Moses’ mother could have expected that her baby would be discovered after a short amount of time and perhaps cared for by an Egyptian household. Not only does this happen, but Moses is also brought into the very household of Pharaoh himself. God’s care and provision is clearly evident, working directly against the one who is trying to destroy God’s people.
- This account shows how God’s hand is at work to protect and release His people, even when the greatest of earthly powers works against us and when it appears that God has forsaken us. God actually works through evil and perilous circumstances to bring forgiveness and salvation.