Exodus Introduction Lesson 2
Egypt, Its prosperity
The Divine purpose of Israels servitude
The man Moses
The River Nile and its regular overflowing kept the area along the river extremely fertile, making it like a well-watered garden under the tropical sky; conditions couldn't be better for raising all kinds of produce. Egypt had plenty even in the time of famine for the rest of this area of the world. Egypt would have been the garden state of the then known world. In fact, only the fertile valleys of California surpass the fertility of Egypts Nile valley. That fertility brought Abram, Isaac and Joseph down into Egypt from Canaan when the famine was devastating.
The flood waters were not from rain, but were from the annual overflow of the Nile. It had to overflow out of its banks at least 24 ft. at Cairo for the harvest to be good. The Lord reminded Israel of the need of the Nile's water when He told them of the rain He would send upon Canaan in response to their faithful serving of Jehovah God. Israel was continually tempted to look back on Egypt with longing. (Deut. 11:10)
Egypt was separated into Upper and Lower, and at times the two were combined under one Pharaoh through strength or intermarriage. One of the symbols for the land of Egypt (Upper) was a bent read, referred to in such passages as 2 Kgs. 18:21, Isa. 36:6, Ex. 29:6. Lower Egypt bore the title of 'bee' in Isa. 7:18. Some feel that the hornet is a reference to Egypt that destroyed Canaan for Israel.
Deuteronomy 7:20 Moreover the LORD thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed. Joshua 24:12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, [even] the two kings of the Amorites; [but] not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
Scriptural history has to do primarily with the southern part -- Lower Egypt. The monuments are primarily in Upper Egypt.
The closing years of Israel's stay in Egypt would have found them peaceful, prosperous and probably well assimilated with the Egyptians around them.
Obviously, hundreds of year in the paradise of the ancient world would have had a tremendous impact upon the Covenant People. Even after Moses revealed the emptiness of Egypts gods, they were still held captive by Egypts paganism. A new generation had to be raised up apart from all of the splendor of Egypt; it took 40 years of wilderness wonderings to separated Israel from Egypt, and Egypt from Israel.
Through the godly homeschool movement, God is slowing rising up a new generation of Christians apart from the worldly splendor of modern culture. They are the ones who will reclaim the Covenant promises of God that once made the Western Culture so strong. The Lord is even now shaking all things that are built on the sand, so His faithful servants can rebuild on the rock in according to His word.
Edersheim says that Israel was in Egypt 350 years, which was a period almost totally blank of any secular or sacred record.
God saw the sons of Jacob needed what could only be met in the fires of the furnace of Egypt. He saw that they could not live among the pagan Canaanites without becoming pagans themselves, so He brought about world events to force Israel into Egypt. They were shepherds, and needed to learn how to build. So in the fires of afflictions, they learned what was needed to inherit the promise made to Abraham, and build a new culture founded on the law-word of God. Only those cultures built on the firm foundation of the law-word of God as given to the ancient nation of Israel will prosper, and stand the test of time.
Observe: their learning was over an extended period of time, not just one generation. We want to learn everything now, so the Lord can use us in a mighty way in the present. It took at least 400 years for Israels promise to be fulfilled; years of great trials that made it look like the Lord had forgotten His Covenant.
God tells Israel (Jacob) to fear not to go into Egypt, because there he would become a great nation. (Gen 46:2) Then the Book of Exodus opens with an account of the greatness of this nation. (Ex 1:7) The Lord had also promised the oppression and servitude of Abraham's descendants. (Gen 15:13-16) But just a sure as was this promise of oppression, was the promise of deliverance in the fullness of His time.
Oppression was necessary in Israel's life. Without it the nation of Israel would not have developed past the nomadic shepherd stage to a civilized, cultured nation. (An honest and just culture cannot develop apart from a Christian base.)
Egypt forced Israel to become highly civilized: they had to learn to read, calculate, plan and organize, as well as to learn every trade imaginable in order to build as required to do as slaves. The very thing Israel was forced as slaves to do was the means of their deliverance and latter prosperity.
Over the centuries that Israel stayed in Egypt, he experienced a major change in life-style. Edersheim points out that the patriarchs had possessed camels, but now there is no reference to them. The nomadic life was taken out of them, replaced by the domestic life needed for a nation to conquer a land. Later Biblical record states that Israel learned skills as carpenters, weavers of fine Egyptian linen and as potters. A nation needs designing and construction skills that are unneeded by nomads as Abraham and the 12 patriarchs.
Israel was forced to learn and develop skills; he learned to work with his hands, build and to develop agriculture. Israel would never have been self-sufficient and able to build Canaan if he had not been oppressed Egypt.
According to Greek historians, Egypt boasted that in their great works only captives and slaves were used, never their own people. Therefore, a very large portion of the knowledge, skill and industry of Egypt when it was the world power was transfused to Israel. Then when Israel left, the knowledge and wealth left with him. After the Exodus, Egypt was left an extremely poor country; it took many years for Egypt to regain its skill, industry and wealth.
Josephus tells us that the Egyptians had grown lazy and delicate, and they looked upon the Hebrews with ill favor because of Israel's natural love for hard work that caused them to prosper. He also says that this contributed to Egypt becoming very abusive toward Israel. The result is that Egypt "forced them to learn all sorts of mechanical arts, and to accustom themselves to hard labor."
Israel would probably never been more than a band of shepherds without his experience in Egypt. Certainly, he would have not learned the skills to build the beautiful Tabernacle, to rebuild Canaan, and latter to build Solomon's Temple without the skill and industry learned in Egypt under oppression. Nor would he have had the enormous wealth to dedicate to Jehovah God if it had not been for this terrible oppression.
The oppression also forced Israel to call upon the Lord in the midst of the paradise in which he had become so secure and comfortable and assimilated into.
During this period from the end of Genesis to the opening of Exodus, the children of Israel were blessed by God with a rapid increase.
Note that increase in numbers is a sign of Gods blessing upon a people:
Psalms 127:5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
This is in accordance with the idea often presented in the Bible, and the promise often made there of a numerous posterity as a proof of the divine favor. (Barnes) Accordingly, the lack of children is proof of Gods disfavor.
The new rulers who took over after the overthrow of the Shepherd Kings looked on Israel's increase with great alarm, and tried to take steps to stop it with slavery and suppression. (Ex 1:7-14) But rather that stopping Israel's increase, Egypt's king only compounded his problem. So much so that the Egyptians became alarmed at the increase, v.12. Therefore, plan B was placed into action: kill all of the male babies, v. 17. When this did not work, Pharaoh commanded his people to cast all of the Hebrew's male children into the river. Evidently, this did not work either, for his own daughter disobeys this command.
First, throughout history, the fires of oppression have caused the Covenant people to increase in numbers.
Second, one learns very little apart from oppression.
With Israel settled in Goshen, the Egyptians had him surrounded and intermingled. Only the passover (Paschal) blood could separate the ones with the true faith from the ones with the false faith. (We must live and work in the world at what the Lord has called us to do. It is the blood of the Lamb that separates us.)
The 40 years in the wilderness had at least a three-fold purpose.
1. Separate the false religion of Egypt from Israel.
2. Develop the skills that Israel had acquired in Egypt, i.e., build the Tabernacle.
3. Teach them self-sufficiency and dependence on the Lord. As slaves in Egypt, they learned dependence on the state. Mans slavery gives security provided by the master.
During the centuries from the close of Genesis to the time of Moses, God had been totally silent, yet the Covenant People grew and multiplied as promised to Abraham. All that the Covenant People knew about the true God was what their fathers passed down, which kept their hope of redemption alive. Fathers are responsible before God to pass down the TRUTH to his family.
Although settled comfortably in Egypt, Israel kept its 12 divisions and its system of elders; that is, the heads of families, or tribes. Moses called them together when he returned to deliver them. Israels government was a strong patriarchal system centered in the family, under the headship of the father.
Though there had been no direct revelation from Jehovah God, Israel had retained its religious observances that spoke of Jehovah God. One such observance is reflected in the Ten Commandments when the Lord said, "Remember the Sabbath day." We also know that they had kept the rite of circumcision, (Ex 4:24-26) and the idea of the sacrifice. (Ex 8:25-28) Moreover, the names given to the children born during that blank time show their continued knowledge of Jehovah God.
However, though the hope and religion of Jehovah God was kept alive in the midst of the paganism of Egypt, Israel absorbed a great amount of Egypt. What they had absorbed resurfaces regularly, starting right after the first Passover. Even before they crossed the Red Sea, they remembered the good part of their bondage. Then as soon as they crossed and got thirsty and hungry, they again wished for the good things they had in bondage. The tremendous hold of the false gods of Egypt shows up again at the foot of the Mount while Moses received the Law. The Law was to distinguish Israel as the people of God from the rest of the nations of the world.
The hold of Egypt's pagan religion was evident even in the children of the ones who died in the wilderness: Joshua had to tell them to put away their strange gods. (Joshua 19:14) Stephen indicates that they served the gods of Egypt along with Jehovah God until the Babylonian captivity.(Acts 7:37-45)
The birth of Gods deliverer, Moses, is recorded in chapter 2. In chapter 3 records Moses' call to liberate the Covenant People according to Gods covenant with Abraham. Moses was a very reluctant servant when he was told what he was to do, and offered excuses. God had sent him through His School of Hard Knocks to train and equip Moses for the very difficult task ahead.
Observe: Gods providence in all things prepares His Elect for the task to which He calls them.
From the end of chapter 2 through the end of the Book, all 38 chapters are concerned with the one year before the deliverance and the one year after. It is a detailed account of the events of these two years, with very little mention of what took place during their wanderings.
For 400 years, God was silent. It appeared that the God of Abraham had forsaken them and His Covenant, but He had not. His unseen hand of Providence was working, as He prepared them and Egypt according to His foreordained purpose. The working out of His purpose included the exaltation of Pharaoh and Egypt to the place where they could oppress the millions of Hebrews who were living among them. (Rom 9:17) In fact, God was using this time of servitude to prepare a mighty army.
Exodus 6:26 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the LORD said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies. (7:4, 12:17, 51)
In Egypt, the Covenant People became a mighty army; an army with which He would overthrow the powers of this world, Egypt and the Babylons of this world. His old army was armed with literal swords; His new army is armed with the Sword of the Spirit. In both cases, the battles were not then nor are they now won with might, by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. (Zech 4:6)
No doubt those who were the heirs to the Abrahams Covenant felt that the God of the Covenant had forsaken them. However, those who knew the Scriptures knew that they had to be in this forced servitude for 400 years. (Gen 15:13, 14. In Babylon, knowing Scripture, Daniel knew the 70 years of captivity was ended, and prayed accordingly.)
Upon this apparently hopeless scene, God suddenly breaks forth with the glorious redemption of His people such as the world had never seen. In His redemptive work against Egypt, He destroyed the worlds mightiest power of that day.
1. No matter how difficult the situation or circumstance, the Lord is working His predetermined purpose. His providence works everything for His glory and for the good of His Covenant people. His providence may work for centuries before He is ready to make Himself known.
2. Moses' parents knew the Scriptures, but they could not foresee their sons place in God plan. It was Providence that caused them to cast their child upon the waters of the Nile, with faith that Jehovah God would watch over him.
3. Even though the deliverance was promised by the Lord in His word at the precise time that they were delivered, in both cases (from Egypt 400 years after the promise, and Daniel 70 years after the promise), deliverance was conditioned on the prayers of God's people. (Ex 2:23)
When the Spirit of the Lord is ready to move, He lays it on the heart of His people to pray. He also lays on their heart what to pray for and pray about.
Yes, the Word of God is full of promises, but those promises are claimed by prayer, even the promise of THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE. Our Lord would not have instructed His people to pray thusly if it was not a necessary ingredient for the coming of His kingdom and the doing of His will here on earth. (Thy kingdom come is a request for Gods judgment upon those who oppose His kingdom.)
Exodus can be separated into two main parts and many subsections. First, the redemption of Israel ending with 'the song of Moses,' 15:22. Second, the consecration, or the adoption of Israel as the people of God, and closing with the erection and consecration of the Tabernacle.
The book gets its name from the first half, and the word Exodus means departure or death. The word Exodus is found three times in the New Testament as decease, Lk. 9:30-31, Heb 11:22, 2 Pe.1:14-15. The word means more than death, and it refers to an accomplishment, complete or perfect.
We see echoes of Exodus, as well as all of the Books of Moses,
in the gospel of Matthew.
1, the genealogy of the beginning of the nation of Israel;
2, the exodus into Egypt by Joseph, Mary and the Christ child;
3, the exodus out of Egypt;
4, the sermon on the mount parallels the giving of the law to and through Moses;
5, the death, burial and resurrection gives us God's new temple or tabernacle for the Elect. The testimony against the Lord was that He said that if they would destroy the temple, He would build it back in three days, which signified His body as the true temple;
6, the exodus for His Elect today also from slavery into freedom.
I. Exodus shows us the sovereignty of God in history over the nations. In spite of Pharaoh's hatred against God, he becomes God's instrument for the destruction of Egypt and the deliverance of His Covenant People.
In the name of preserving Egypt, Pharaoh destroys it. Though the nations of the world move toward their time of triumph over God, God's judgments still prevail, and they fall into the pit they have digged for the innocent. (Ps 7:15, 57:6, &c.)
II. The Pharaohs of this world who have set themselves up against
the Lord and His Christ
shall meet the same fate as the Pharaoh of the Exodus met.
III. Wicked men love what Egypt and Babylon represented, a total state controlled order: cradle to grave security though it comes with total bondage. (Our paper dollar bill caries the image of the fallen anti-God dream of man.) The reason men love slavery to the state is for the security slavery offers. But God will overthrow these false gods in His good time.
These Exodus lessons only hit the high points, and are not an in-depth study. We want to get some insight into the world around us, and see some practical applications of the word of God for everyday situations.
May God bless all who study His law-word.