How did the nation of Israel go from being favored by the Egyptian leadership to suffering so much persecution and prejudice that they would end up enslaved by a nation that once welcomed them? And what does it say to us as Christians in our nation today?
What if you were arrested for being a Christian? Would the evidence be for you or against you? One day each of us will stand, either before the “Judgment Seat of Christ” or “The Great White Throne Judgment.”
Jesus said, “ “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Will He be able to testify for you or have to testify against you?
Exodus 1 & 2
The Root of Prejudice
Abraham, Joseph … now Moses
Now we begin another adventure into the Word of God!
God is getting ready to raise up Moses and remember:
“… whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15.4).
When we studied the life of Abraham, the Father of Faith, it helped us know and trust in the faithfulness of God to keep His promises. The Scripture says Abraham:
“Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be’ ” (Rom. 4.18).
In Joseph we saw a picture, a shadow, of Christ, the Son who was willing to lay down his life for His brothers, to forgive though they caused His suffering.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).
Now, through the life of Moses, we’ll begin to see more of God’s character. This time as our Deliverer—the One who sees our bondage and hears our cries and “in the fullness of time,” His perfect timing, He delivers us. We’ll talk more about this in the days to come.
The Root of Prejudice
But today let’s take another look at chapter 1.8-10:
8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; 10 come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.”
How did the nation of Israel go from being favored by the Egyptian leadership to suffering such persecution and prejudice?
Verse 8 says a new king arose who did not know Joseph. According to Mike Wilkerson in his book Redemption, “This didn’t mean he’d never heard of Joseph, the national hero; it means he refused to acknowledge Egypt’s debt of gratitude to Joseph, and, by extension, he refused to see the Israelites (Joseph’s people) as a blessing to the land.
All loyalties were forgotten, and the Israelites were suddenly in danger in the only homeland they had ever known. As the king of Egypt, Pharaoh should have been the one to provide peace, protection, and provision for the people of the land. But this Pharaoh grew fearful of them and then angry. He turned on the Israelites and incited the Egyptians against them with his propaganda (vv. 9-10).”
Notice the root of the prejudice was fear which turned to anger. Once fearful thoughts were seeded, the people were easily incited to go along with Pharaoh’s mistreatment of the Israelites.
Religious Prejudice in Our Nation
I’m not going to talk about racial prejudice, although I believe that many of the same principles hold true. Perhaps that’s a subject for another post.
Instead, I’d like to look at the changes in attitudes toward Christianity in our nation. We like to call ourselves tolerant. In fact, being called “intolerant” is one of the worse things that can be said about someone today. But it seems, as a nation, we’re willing to tolerate almost anything, but biblical Christianity.
We’ve all seen what happens when Christians, even respectfully, refuse to participate in programs or ceremonies that contradict God’s commands and principles. Whether it’s a baker, a photographer, a Catholic hospital, a restaurant, or a craft store, the attacks are angry and mean spirited.
A few days ago I watched an interview with a self-proclaimed “pro-life feminist.” She’s a member of an organization who espouses feminist values and the worth of women, including the 50% of unborn babies who are women. Her organization was invited to take part in the “women’s march on Washington,” that is until the organizers realized what they believed, at which time, they were uninvited, simply for holding to right-to-life principles.
Like the new king who didn’t know Joseph, many of those in power refuse to acknowledge the contribution of those who made this nation what it is. History has been rewritten, in many cases.
Appreciation for the values and religious convictions of our founders has been replaced by fear and anger. As a nation, we have dismissed our Christian heritage. We have forgotten the part that generosity, commitment to religious freedom, and adherence to Judaeo-Christian values have played in the blessings our nation has enjoyed. Understanding and gratitude have been replaced by fear and anger: fear that the freedom to live life anyway we please without criticism or consequence will be taken away and anger toward anyone who speaks the truth.
I don’t know if God will give our nation a reprieve from the judgment we surely deserve, but I do know that we’re called to be salt and light to the world around us (Matt. 5.13-16).
I know that we’re called to pray for our nation and our leaders on every side of the aisle and of every political persuasion:
¹ Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
And I know that we must obey God and not man when a choice has to be made:
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
May we hold fast to what is true and pleasing to God and may we be faithful to pray for those who, whether in fear, anger, or ignorance oppose us.
Today’s Other Readings:
What would the evidence say?
In verse 1 the Psalmist, David, poses the question, “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?” We might say it this way, “Who is a true believer?” He answers by laying out a number of characteristics which should become evident in a believer’s life. Jesus put it like this, “You will know a tree by its fruit” (Matt. 12.33).
As we study these qualities, we must remember that the only way we can walk uprightly, consistently, and with the right motives, is to rely on Christ who is our righteousness. Also, remember that we won’t be perfect in this life, but if we are believers, we should be growing (Eph. 4.14-16) and producing fruit (Matt. 7.18).
Do you walk uprightly? Does your life look any different from that of unbelievers? If you were arrested for being a believer and tried in a court of law, would there be any evidence against you, besides the fact that you go to church? And is that evidence mounting?
Do you speak the truth? This is more than just not telling outright lies. Are you deceitful? Do you think “little while lies” are OK? Do you conveniently omit key facts?
Do you backbite? Are you a true friend, employee, church member? Are you loyal and trustworthy?
Do you do evil? Are there things you’re doing … watching … thinking … that are clearly evil?
Do you take up a reproach, criticize or bring disgrace to others, such as, friends, family members, fellow believers?
Do you despise a vile person? Do you agree with God that homosexuality is an abomination and that abortion is murder and see those who do those things as sinners desperately in need of a Savior? Or do you think it’s just another choice and who are we to condemn them? While we are to demonstrate the love of Christ to those who are outside the covenant of God, we must be willing to speak the truth in love.
Do you honor those who fear the Lord? Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? Someone said, “If you don’t want to spend time with Christians here on earth, it’s unlikely you’ll spend eternity with them.” Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13.35).
Do you swear to your own hurt and not change? Or are you fickle?
Are you greedy? Are you out for “usury,” that is to get the highest interest or gain that you can from a situation? Can you be “bought”?
David says here that it’s the man or woman who walks uprightly who will not be moved. The NASB says, “will never be shaken.” The NLT says, “Such people will stand firm forever.” If we feel like things in our lives are shaky, maybe we need to examine our lives and see if we are living in a way God says will stand.
One day each of us will appear, either before the “Judgment Seat of Christ” or “The Great White Throne Judgment.” Jesus said:
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10.32-33).
Will He be able to testify for you or have to testify against you?
Ponder the Path of Your Feet
Solomon echoed the psalmist’s thoughts when he said:
“Ponder the path of your feet and let all your ways be established” (v. 26).
He Signed Up for It
Verses 22-23, “Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.’ And they were exceedingly sorrowful.”
Jesus knew exactly what He had signed up to do. He knew He would be betrayed. He knew just how He would suffer and die. Not only did He understand that in a general sense, but as He washed Judas’ feet, He knew that Judas would betray Him, and … He knew that each of us would betray and sin against Him, and He willingly died in our place anyway!
So We Won’t Suffer Loss
I pray that this commitment to read God’s Word is a blessing. Even though, at times, it may bring conviction, it is always for our good. Paul said:
“I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us” (2 Cor. 7.9).
Lord, help us to be good repenters, to allow Your Word to penetrate our hearts and impact our lives for our good and for Your glory, in Jesus name, amen.
Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry
Exodus is a real story about God redeeming his people from the bondage of slavery and how their difficult journey home exposed their loyalties—though wounded by Egypt, they had come to worship its gods. Most Christians don’t make golden idols like the Israelites in the wilderness, but we do set up idols on our own desert road—idols like substance abuse, pornography, gluttony, and rage. And even those who don’t know the pain of actual slavery can feel enslaved to the fear and shame that follow sexual abuse or betrayal by a spouse, for we suffer at the hands of our idols as well as those created by others. We need more than self-improvement or comfort—we need redemption.
Redemption is not a step-oriented recovery book; it’s story-oriented and Bible-anchored. It unfolds the back-story of redemption in Exodus to help Christians better understand how Christ redeems us from the slavery of abuse, addiction and assorted trouble and restores us to our created purpose, the worship of God. Readers will discover that the reward of freedom is more than victory over a habitual sin or release from shame; it is satisfaction and rest in God himself.
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