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The Bondage of Sin and the Grace of God

Notes & Transcripts

The Bondage of Sin and the Grace of God - Exodus 1 (Part 1 in a Series of 11)

June 29, 2008

Read Exodus 1.  Prayer:

Lord, fill us with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.  You will is too important for us to miss.  It is not as mysterious as our sinfulness leads us to think.  We struggle with the specific choices of a marriage partner, a job offer, or whether we should by that particular refrigerator.  What we need is the attitude of the Psalmist:  Teach me to do your will.  Your will is clear to us when we obey your revealed Word. 

The psalmist didn’t struggle with knowing your will.  We shouldn’t either.  The struggle is performing it because of sinful neglect of what you have clearly revealed to us.  Forgive us, Lord.  Transform our character and conduct through the renewal of our minds this evening.  Renewed minds are what we need so that we might be equipped to test and approve the will of God, to personally discover that Your way is always best. 

Fill us with your Spirit, not with the allures of this life.  Make, O Lord, our relationships with others right and honorable in Your sight.  Your will is our sanctification.  Your will is that we have joy and gratitude in our hearts this evening.  Your will is not just a job or a marriage partner.  Help us to pursue what you’ve clearly revealed. 

Help us not to simply tack on Christ tonight.  Jesus taught us that we live by every word that proceeds from Your mouth.  Basic knowledge of Your Word is needed or else we cannot be filled with knowledge which consists of all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  We need depth.  Give us depth, Lord.  Bless the reading and preaching of Your Word!

Introduction:  Joseph eased the tormented consciences of his brothers at the end of the book of Genesis.  They had abused him greatly, but Joseph assured them that he had God’s perspective on things.  He said in Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) 20But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

God allowed very sinful and destructive things to occur in the life of Joseph, but through it all God meant it for good.  God allowed it in order to save His people.  Exodus is the continuing saga of God’s great redemptive work on the behalf of His people.  Our first message covers chapter one and prepares the ground for the arrival of Moses.  The bondage of sin is a black backdrop, but the grace of God radiates hope.  Note three contrasts in the text that help us organize our thinking in this chapter:

1.       Joseph, his brothers, and all the generation left in Genesis 50 died, BUT the children of Israel grew into a mighty nation that filled the land (1.6-7).

2.       The Egyptians set taskmasters over the children of Israel to stem the tide of growth, BUT in spite of affliction they multiplied and grew (1.11-12).

3.       Pharaoh intensified matters by seeking to kill all their male infants, BUT midwives who feared God refused to obey and the people multiplied and grew mightily (1.16-17, 20).

Sin’s savagery cannot stand against the gracious redemptive purpose of God.  He is with His people at every turn. 

Transition:  The protection and proliferation of the children of Israel is the theme of the first seven verses of Exodus one.  Verses 8 - 22 continues that theme even when threatened by a satanically influenced pharaoh.  God’s grace teaches us that we need redemption from ourselves and the world.  First there is…

Redemption from Ourselves (1.1-7)

There is a logical bridge that joins Genesis and Exodus.  This is indicated by the connective (NKJ - ‘Now’) which shows a natural progression from Joseph into the story of Moses.  The children of Israel who came to Egypt (v. 1) …came with Jacob.  Thus, the brothers of Joseph are mentioned.  The number totaled seventy at the beginning.  Jacob’s sons are heads of households from which the nation of Israel formed within the incubator of Egypt. 

Recalling Genesis is helpful.  In order to understand why the children of Israel are leaving in the book of Exodus, one must understand what it was that brought them to Egypt.  The background of their arrival is in Genesis.  It reads like a modern-day soap opera:

•                    Joseph, the favored son of Jacob, becomes the envy of his brothers.

•                    The brothers are angered by the favoritism and end up throwing Joseph in a pit in order to sell him into slavery.

•                    The brothers end up taking Joseph’s multicolored robe and drenching in blood so as to deceive Jacob into thinking his son was dead. 

•                    Meanwhile, Joseph models godliness and becomes second to Pharaoh in Egypt.  God is moving.

•                    Famine strikes Jacob and his family and they must go to Joseph for bread.

•                    Eventually Joseph reveals himself and the whole family ends up in Egypt.

Ryken concludes, “The irony is that eventually the families of the men who sold their brother ended up in slavery themselves, toiling under the hot sun for their Egyptian overlords.”

When one looks carefully at the family of Jacob throughout Genesis, the conclusion of verse six is well-deserved:  “And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation.”  The point is that God’s grace is magnified in the failings of the people He chose to work through.  These people, more than anything else, needed redemption from themselves.  They were hopelessly lost without God.

God is constantly and providentially working to deliver His people.  That’s why Joseph concludes in Genesis 50.20 that God allowed it and meant it for good in order to save many people alive.  God takes the failing sinfulness of man and turns it to good.  Exodus will remind us of how merciful God is when we consider our great sinfulness:

Exodus 34:6-7 (NKJV)

6And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin….

Exodus magnifies God as the great Deliverer of His children.  Read Exodus 1.6-7 in the light of the promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12 and 17.  God always keeps His promises.

Exodus 1:6-7 (NKJV)

6And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. 7But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.

Genesis 12:2a (NKJV)

2I will make you a great nation…

Genesis 17:2 (NKJV)

2And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.

Exodus is so pivotal in unfolding God’s work of redemption that it is referred to throughout Scripture as a landmark of remembrance.  No where is this catalogued more beautifully than in Psalm 106:

Psalm 106:6-12 (NKJV)

6We have sinned with our fathers, We have committed iniquity, We have done wickedly. 7Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, But rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea. 8Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, That He might make His mighty power known. 9He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up; So He led them through the depths, As through the wilderness. 10He saved them from the hand of him who hated them, And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. 11The waters covered their enemies; There was not one of them left. 12Then they believed His words; They sang His praise.

Because God keeps His promises, Israel grew from 70 to two million (Exodus 12.37 states that the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses with six hundred thousand men on foot; add as well women and children; 38.26 and Numbers 1.45-47 indicate that the number of men were those 20 or older).

Transition:  God’s protection provided a beginning of the fulfillment of the promise He made to Abraham.  The redemption did not come to a people who deserved it nor did they earn it.  But God, who is rich in mercy, did not let others stand in His way either…

Redemption from Others (1.8-22)

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph (1.8).  That is, the pharaoh of the exodus no longer cared about the ancient history of Joseph.  He was of a different dynasty and looked forward to rebuilding the nationalistic fervor of Egypt.  The Bible does not identify the name of this pharaoh because it is unimportant. 

1 Kings 6:1 (NKJV)
1And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, that [Solomon] began to build the house of the Lord.

The 480th year after the Exodus coincides with the fourth year of Solomon’s reign.  Leon Wood puts Solomon’s fourth year reigning as king of Israel at 966 B.C.  Therefore, adding 480 to 966 years leads to a date of 1446 B.C.[1] 

Constable identifies each pharaoh in Exodus from source material found in The Cambridge Ancient History.  All identifications are probable and help clarify who was reigning when during the exodus: [2]

Ahmose (Amosis; 1570-1546 B.C.; 1st Pharaoh of 18th dynasty) expelled the Hyksos and re-established native Egyptian rule.

Thutmose I (Thutmosis I; 1525-ca. 1512 B.C.; 3rd Pharaoh of 18th dynasty) practiced genocide on Hebrew male babies (Exod. 1:15–22).

Hatshepsut (1503-1482 B.C.; 5th Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty) was the daughter of Pharaoh Thutmose I who drew Moses out of the Nile and later ruled as Queen (Exod. 2:5).

Thutmose III (1504-1450 B.C.; 6th Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty) the Pharaoh of the oppression who tried to kill Moses and from whom Moses fled into Midian (Exod. 2:15).

Amenhotep II (1450-1425 B.C.; 7th Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty) was the Pharaoh of the plagues and the Exodus (Exod. 3:10–15:19).

The examination of this progression of pharaohs points to an ousting of the Hyksos, who were Asiatic foreign rulers of Egypt, and a renewal of nationalistic fervor with the rule of native Egyptians restored. 

The shrewd dealing of pharaoh manifests itself in four measures in the remainder of chapter 1.  The measures are designed to reduce the population of the Israel who was the dread (v. 12) of the Egyptians:[3]

1.       Forced Labor - Exodus 1.11-12

2.       Forced Labor & Cruelty - Exodus 1.13-14

3.       Ordering the Midwifery to Kill Hebrew Male Infants - Exodus 1.15-21

4.       Ordering All People to Kill Hebrew Male Infants - Exodus 1.22

The pharaoh believed that he could keep Israel under his control and continue to exploit her (1.9-10).  He did not want Israel to grow but he desired slave labor for his building projects.  He is not unlike many historical examples of irrational hatred for the Jewish people.  No doubt this is fueled by Satan even though pharaoh may not be aware of it.  Note another tie to Genesis:

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV)
15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

Forced Labor & Cruelty (1.11-14)

The Egyptians force Israel to build two supply cities:  Pithom and Raamses.  It is good to keep in mind that the objective is to stem the increase and fruitfulness of Israel’s population - sort of an ancient Final Solution.  One must not tie the supply city Raamses with Pharaoh Ramses II (1300-1234 B.C.) as its builder.  It was the practice of Ramses II to rename older cities after himself.  This practice insured a name for the pharaoh for years to come.  Therefore, the copied Hebrew manuscripts may reflect that latter change.[4]  Pithom means the “House of Atum”.  Apparently the city contained a temple center of the creator god, Atum, of On-Heliopolis.[5]

As burdensome as it was to build these cities, "the more [Egyptian taskmasters] afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" (v.12).  God keeps His promises and the more unbelievers try to thwart the powerful hand of God, the more they are in dread of His people.

Dread is defined as a “feel[ing] …a loathing, abhorrence, sickening dread.[6]  Observe it’s use in the book of Numbers:

Numbers 21:5 (NKJV)
5And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.”

Numbers 22:3 (NKJV)
3And Moab was exceedingly afraid of the people because they were many, and Moab was sick with dread because of the children of Israel.

The burden of building supply cities did not have the desired effect upon the population of Israel that Egypt intended.  Thus, the Egyptians intensified the bondage and slavery of Israel.  “Umberto Cassuto claims that each word is like another blow from a slave driver's whip.  This is brought out in Cassuto's translation of 1.13-14:  ‘So the Egyptians made the children of Israel work with rigour and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field, in addition to all (other) work, wherein they made them serve with rigour.’”[7]

Illustration:  Egypt’s treatment of her slaves:  “Now the scribe lands on the shore.  He surveys the harvest.  Attendants are behind him with staffs, Nubians with clubs.  One says [to him]:  ‘Give grain.’  ‘There is none.’  He is beaten savagely.  He is bound, thrown in the well, submerged head down.  His wife is bound in his presence.  His children are in fetters” (34-35). 

The Satanic dread drove the Egyptians along with the momentum sin always generates for itself.[8]  The bitter and ruthless driving of the taskmasters was a cruelty that was meant to break Israel.  The making of bricks and mortar and the work in the fields was back-breaking work.  The fields needed to be irrigated.  The process is explained by Gispen as “a paddle wheel that was driven by foot, and was hard to operate.”[9]

Deuteronomy 11:10-12 (NKJV)
10For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; 11but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, 12a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.

Ordering the Midwifery to Kill Hebrew Male Infants (1.15-21)

Why would the Egyptians kill the very people they sought to subject for slavery?  Their purpose was to stop the expansion of Israel’s population not to subject a people for a slave-labor force.  To them, the latter was the happy by-product of their pursuit. 

Pharaoh’s vicious attack is reminiscent of the slaughter of the children in Bethlehem which was Herod’s design to kill Jesus.  The midwives feared God (vv. 17, 21).  This is why it did not happen.  The children of Israel grew rapidly and multiplied (v. 20) no matter what was thrown at them. 

It should be remembered that God blessed the Israelites not because they lied but because they feared Him enough not to kill these baby boys.  The two midwives more than likely represent leadership of a group of midwives that serviced the Hebrews. 

Ordering All People to Kill Hebrew Male Infants - Exodus 1.22

“This plan evidently failed too. The Egyptians do not appear to have cooperated with Pharaoh. Even Pharaoh’s daughter did not obey this command (2:6–8). This plan, too, may very well have continued in effect for many years.”[10]

·         “Why God?”

·         God never intended Egypt to become the Promised Land (32).  See Gen 50.24.

Matthew 27:46 (NKJV)
46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

o   God is not to blame; the Egyptians are.

o   Suffering is always the result of human iniquity. 

o   All our trials are traced back to sin - ours or others.

o   God allowed suffering and hardship.  Why?

§  To help Israel grow (Exo 1.12)

§  To show the need for deliverance - Dan McCartney, Why Does It Have to Hurt?  - “If [God had prevented Israel’s suffering], would the Israelites have ever desired to leave Egypt?  It was hard enough to get them to leave even when they were suffering” (37). 

§  Spurgeon:  “In order to cut loose the bonds that bound them to Egypt, the sharp knife of affliction must be used; and Pharaoh though he knew it not, was God’s instrument in weaning them from the Egyptian world, and helping them …to take up their separate place in the wilderness, and receive the portion which God had appointed for them.”

o   Suffering teaches believers…

§  To look for the Savior

§  To long for Heaven - McCartney:  “It is hard enough for us to leave aside the treasures of this evil world even though we suffer in it.  How much harder is it for us to desire the new heavens and new earth when our lives here are comfortable?”  (37-38).

§  Spurgeon:  “The whip of persecution is helpful, because it makes us learn that this is the house of bondage, and moves us to long after and seek for the land of liberty - the land of joy” (38).

§  To remind us to show gratitude for God’s grace through it all

Exodus 12:8 (NKJV)
8Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Deuteronomy 26:5-9 (NKJV)
5And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God: ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. 7Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. 8So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”

The Israelites were never to forget the Exodus.  God’s purpose in our suffering is always redemptive.  The sufferings and death of His only Son accomplished our deliverance from the bondage and slavery of sin. 

1 Peter 2:21 (NKJV)
21For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.

Romans 5:3 (NKJV)
3And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.

When suffering doesn’t work, Satan turns to slaughter.  “Whether it is Adolf Hitler and his ‘final solution’ for eliminating the Jews, or Communist China and its ‘one family, one child’ policy, or the ‘pro-choice’ movement in the West, opposition to life is always hatred of God” (40).

1.       Sin

2.       Slavery

3.       Death

4.       Life in Christ

John 8:34 (NKJV)
34Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
23For the wages of sin is death…

Romans 7:23-25 (NKJV)
23…I see another law …bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Pro-Life

Shiphrah - Beautiful One; Puah - Splendid One

·         Aided many mothers to keep their babies alive

·         The laws of Pharaoh were at odds with the law of God

Acts 5:29 (NKJV)
29But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

Matthew 10:28 (NKJV)
28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

·         What these women did pleased God.  He dealt well with them and gave them families of their own.

·         God did not condone deceit; he did commend their upholding of life.

·         These women feared the situation no doubt; but they feared God above all.  We must obey Him.

Story from the life of a Dinka tribeswoman from Sudan named Mayen Anyang:

I was at the market in Abin Dau with my family, including our five children, when the raiders came.  We were all taken captive.  I was tied by my wrists in a chain to other captives.  The journey to the North was very hard.  We had to walk for about two solid days.  We were given scarcely any food, and I and my children were beaten.  I have a scar on my wrist from where I was bound.  At the end of my journey I was separated from my family and taken to a camp in Shetep.  Those who ran the camp put constant pressure on me to convert to Islam.  About twice a day they would tell me we should all become Muslim and then it would be possible to live together as brothers, but that if we did not they would kill us all.  On several occasions this was accompanied by beatings.  I was beaten severely with sticks.  The upper bone in my arm now sticks out as a result of this beating.  On another occasion, during the night, they came to me again and told me that I must become a Muslim and that they would beat me if I did not.  I cannot change my religion.  I am a Christian and have committed myself to Christ.[11]

1.       Christians will be forced to take a stand sooner or later.  They will need to decide whether to stand for God or other people.

2.       Home - family members suspicious of our Christianity.

3.       Work - pressured to lie, cheat, or steal to make it.

4.       Community - values at odds with the spirit of our age.

5.       The beautiful and splendid thing?  “I am committed to the cause of Christ.”

Hymn 475 - Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It


----

[1] Leon Wood, A Survey of Israel’s History (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1986), 69.

[2]Tom Constable. (2003; 2003). Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible (Ex 1:8). Galaxie Software.

[3] Gispen, 38.

[4] Ibid, 34.

[5]Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper's Bible dictionary. Includes index. (1st ed.) (801). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

[6]Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (2000). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Strong's, TWOT, and GK references Copyright 2000 by Logos Research Systems, Inc. (electronic ed.) (880). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

[7] Ryken, 33.

[8] Gispen, 35.

[9] Ibid, 35.

[10]Tom Constable. (2003; 2003). Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible (Ex 1:15). Galaxie Software.

[11] Ryken, 43.

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