EXODUS: DIVISION I
ISRAEL AND EGYPT: THE OPPRESSION OF GOD'S PEOPLE BY A NATION THAT HAD REJECTED GOD, 1:1-22
(1:1-22) DIVISION OVERVIEW— Israel: Exodus is the great book of deliverance, of salvation, and of redemption. Exodus clearly pictures and proclaims that God...
• delivers us
• saves us
• redeems us
God's great deliverance is pictured for us in the experiences of Israel. Israel was a new people created by God in ages past to be His witnesses, the people of God who were to bear witness to the only living and true God. Israel is the focus of the Book of Exodus.
Throughout Exodus, it is helpful to remember this fact: Israel was a whole new race of people, a race created by God to carry on the godly line of believers and eventually to bear the promised seed, the Savior of the world. What had happened was this.
From the very beginning of human history, man had sinned and brought death upon the human race. But to counteract sin and death, God had promised to send a Savior (the promised seed) through the godly line of Adam and his son Seth. Time and again God had to intervene to keep the godly line of believers pure. This He did right up to The Great Flood. At that time God chose Noah, and later the line of his son Shem, to carry on the godly line of people. God kept His promise and kept the hope of the promised seed and Savior alive.
But even after The Great Flood, the human race, just as it had always done, continued to deteriorate into utter depravity (Genesis 11:1-32). Thus God had to once again intervene in human history. This He did by calling Abraham to father a whole new race of people, a people who were to carry on the godly line and give birth to the promised seed and Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. As stated above, that new race of people was Israel.
Note this: God had at least five purposes for creating a new race of people through Abraham. Note that the same five purposes are true of both Israel as a nation and believers as the new nation and people of God. (See note, pt.3—• Genesis 12:3; also see note—• John 4:22; note—• Romans 4:1-25; and Deeper Study #1—Luke 1:68 for more discussion.)
1. God wanted a people who would love and serve God supremely. His followers were to be a people who would give Him their first loyalty.
"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee" (Genesis 17:7).
"And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul" (Deut. 10:12; cp. Deut. 6:5; Isaiah 43:10; Matthew 22:37).
2. God wanted a people who would be His missionary force to the world. His followers were to be a people who would be a dynamic witness to all other nations that God and God alone is the only living and true God.
"Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour" (Isaiah 43:10-11).
"Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation.... For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:26, 47; cp. Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18).
3. God wanted a people through whom He could send His Son to the world. His followers were to be a people through whom He could send the promised seed, the Savior and Messiah of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.
"And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:18).
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16; cp. Genesis 3:15; John 4:22. See note—•Exodus 1:6-7.)
4. God wanted a people through whom He could give His written Word, the Holy Bible, to the world.
"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever" (Romans 9:4-5).
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets" (Hebrews 1:1).
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:19-21; cp. 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Peter 1:10-11).
5. God wanted a people through whom He could demonstrate the truth about life and salvation to the world. Note that all three of these truths were demonstrated throughout the history of Israel. (See note—• Ephes. 1:3; note—• Ephes. 1:7; note—• Ephes. 2:8-9; and note—• Ephes. 2:11-18.)
a) God wanted to demonstrate that life and salvation are not of this world, not of the physical and material world. Israel was always seeking the physical and material blessings of this earth, and most Israelites trusted the physical rituals of religion to save them and to identify them as the people of God (physical rituals such as circumcision and ceremonies). But the world is passing away: it possesses a seed of corruption and does not last; it is not permanent and eternal. The world desperately needs to acknowledge and learn this fact. Thus God used Israel to demonstrate this fact to the world, that life and salvation are not of this world, not of the physical and material world. (See note—• Matthew 8:17; note—• 1 Cor. 15:50; and note—• 2 Peter 1:4.)
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:50).
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:15-17; cp. Psalm 102:25-26; Isaiah 24:4; Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 51:6; 2 Cor. 4:18; Rev. 21:1).
b) God wanted to demonstrate that life and salvation are spiritual and eternal. Again, Israel's constant search for physical and material blessings—the people's neglect of the spiritual and eternal—demonstrated this. What was needed for life and salvation was not the physical and material blessings of the earth, and not a religion of form and ritual. What was needed was a permanent and incorruptible seed: a new creature, a new man, was necessary in order to provide salvation and life for man. The world needed to know that whatever God did, He did permanently and perfectly. Thus life and salvation are not to be of this earth, of physical and material elements (which last only for a few short years). Life is of the spirit, of another dimension of being entirely, the spiritual dimension. The spiritual dimension is the real world where God Himself and His heavenly host and the departed believers live—all in perfection and for eternity. Life is forever and permanent, and it is either lived with God or apart from God. (See note—• Ephes. 1:3.)
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Peter 1:23).
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).
"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephes. 4:24; cp. John 3:3, 5, 16).
c) God wanted to demonstrate that life and salvation are secured by faith and by faith alone, not by works and self-righteousness. The religious rules, rituals, and ceremonies of Israel could not save the people. Good works and religious service can never make a person perfect, and perfection is essential to live in God's presence. Thus no man is saved by works and self-righteousness. He is saved...
• by trusting in the righteousness and perfection of the promised seed, the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
• by trusting that the righteousness and perfection of the promised Savior covers him and makes him acceptable to God.
• by trusting that God accepts him in the righteousness and perfection of the promised Savior, that God actually counts his faith in the Savior as righteousness.
All of these are just different ways of saying the same thing: man is saved by the grace of God through faith—no other way. He is saved only by grace and by faith. God demonstrated this through the history of Israel. (See note—• Ephes. 2:8-10. Also see outline—• Romans 9:1-5 and notes—• Romans 9:1-5.)
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephes. 2:8-9).
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5).
As stated, Israel was a whole new race of people, the descendents of Abraham. God had created Israel to carry on the godly line of believers and to eventually bear the promised seed, the Savior and Messiah of the world. The first great Book of the Bible, Genesis, covered the birth and early beginnings of Israel.
Now, the second great Book of the Bible, Exodus, begins with Israel in Egypt. Remember that Egypt is a picture, a type, a symbol of worldliness. Egypt was a society that had reached the summit of prosperity, technology, and pleasure; but the people had rejected the only living and true God (Jehovah) and created their own gods to follow. Israel, the new race of people who believed in the true God, sat right in the midst of Egypt; and Egypt was oppressing and enslaving Israel. The people of God were being persecuted by the world. Israel needed God's help. The people who believed in the true God (true believers) needed God to intervene on their behalf. The believers of that day needed God to deliver them from the persecution and oppression of the Egyptians. Thus the great subject of Exodus—the great need for deliverance, salvation, and redemption—jumps right out at the reader in the very first chapter of this great book of the Bible.
I. ISRAEL AND EGYPT: THE OPPRESSION OF GOD'S PEOPLE BY A NATION THAT HAD REJECTED GOD, 1:1-22
A. The Past Deliverance of Israel: The Picture of God's Deliverance and God's Faithfulness, 1:1-7
B. The Enslavement of Israel by Egypt: How God's People Overcome Oppression, 1:8-22