In the book of Genesis we have the good news of creation including the first man, followed by the bad news of man’s fall. Exodus, then, is the book of redemption with its consequences. In spite of man’s disobedience, God promised a Redeemer would come to redeem man back to Him. That Second Man would be Jesus Christ.
God foresaw that we, even today, would need guidance and lessons concerning His power and grace and love for His people so He recorded these very human incidents in Exodus for that reason. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16.
God used the 430 years the children of Israel were in Egypt to prdoduce a nation that would be called “His people.” Later, when they showed an attitude of insensibility to grace and an ignorance of their moral and spiritual condition, He was forced to put them under the Law and the consequences of government. In spite of all this, God was able to establish a relationship with a people descending from Abraham’s grandson Jacob, later called Israel.
The move to Egypt was caused by a famine and the first five verses of Exodus contain the names of Jacob's sons who went down to Egypt with their father and their families. Together with Joseph and his family who were already in Egypt, they numbered seventy souls. You could hardly expect this to be the start of a great nation except for one thing, God was involved.
Joseph, who had been sold to the Ishmaelites by his brothers when he was 17, was already in Egypt. God was using some strange events to build a nation He would call His Own people.
Long before this, God told Abram, in Genesis 15:13-14 this: "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them for four hundred years: and also that nation, whom they shall serve will I judge and afterward shall they come out with great substance:"
The first 12 chapters of Exodus record the opposition in Egypt to the formation of this nation. Whatever actions men may take in wickedness and rebellion, they are subservient to God’s divine will.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter said this concerning Christ, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” Acts 2:23. Here man’s wrath was used to accomplish God's will.
In Exodus 1, the children of Israel are still in Egypt. In Scripture, Egypt is a type of the world, so Israel in Egypt is a figure of man's natural condition in the world. Verses 6-7. "Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation, And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.” They prospered in both numbers and wealth. After all, they were the children of promise. Even in Egypt, God's favor still rested on them. This is the earthly prosperity God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob over 400 years before. God never forgets His people, although they may forget Him.
Now another figure appears on the scene in verse 8. "Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." This is quite significant.
Joseph in Egypt was a type of Christ while He was on earth. Pharaoh is a picture of Satan, the god of this world. This Pharaoh didn’t know Joseph and as a type of Satan he is an antagonist to the Lord's people. Satan still uses anything he can to keep God’s People helpless and in bondage.
Pharaoh’s problem was this. Verse 10. "Lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land." Sometimes we forget that the world fears the children of God and that we believers are an antagonism to the world.
Pharaoh, in his role picturing Satan, tries to prevent their deliverance but God is still in the picture. Verses 12-14. "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. 13: And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage."
Whatever their condition, they are the people of promise, destined to fulfill the purposes of God, and as such they are under God’s care and direction. Pharaoh was powerless to destroy them.
The real conflict here was between God and Pharaoh with his schemes against the children of Israel, and he would fail on every count. The condition of the Israelites is typical of the condition of the unsaved in the world as slaves to sin and Satan.
God used this persecution to make the children of Israel feel the weight of their burdens and to awake their desire for deliverance before He acted on their behalf.
The sinner can be insensible to his degradation and contented, if not happy, in his alienation from God; but if that individual is ever to be saved he has to experience what is pictured by this account of the condition of the Israelites. Until there is a real desire to be saved, there is no deliverance.
Pharaoh was an absolute king, and as such his subjects risked death if they dared oppose him. Verses 15-17. “And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive." God protected and blessed the Egyptian midwives in their disobedience to worldly authority because they believed their first duty was to God.
The mightiest monarch in the world was powerless against God and against those identified with the people of God. And, in Verse 20. “God dealt well with them, and because they feared God, He made them houses.” Romans 8:31 states, "If God be for us, who can be against us ?"
In verse 22, Pharaoh's enmity increased and he "charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive."
God would use this very decree to prepare a deliverer for His people.
Exodus 2:1-2. “And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son; and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months." The king had commanded that every newborn son should be cast into the river, but what mother would drown her own child? His parents believed God had given them this son for a reason. Hebrews 11:23. "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment."
They owed allegiance to their earthly king, but first they owed allegiance to God. They trusted God and in spite of the king's commandment, they hid the child for three months. They trusted God and He never leaves or forsakes those who put their trust in Him.
This is faith in action. They were disobedient to the king's wrongful command, and didn’t fear the consequences. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in a later date, they believed that the God they served was able to deliver them out of the king's hand.
After three months she did “cast him in the river.” Verse 3-5, "she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.”
God was arranging all of this for His own glory. Pharaoh’s daughter was acting in her own will and she never knew she was being used by the divine will of God. Everything she did, even the time she went to the river to bathe, was all according to God’s purpose in respect to this child who was to be the deliverer of His people. Verses 6-7. “And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?” Who could resist the tears of a helpless little curly haired brown eyed baby boy?
Verse 8. “And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother." That baby was Moses. He was placed in the river because of the king decree, but God restored him to his own mother to raise. He grew up in the care of his mother and under the protection of Pharaoh's daughter.
Verse 10. "And the child grew and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water."
The man of God's choice to deliver His people from Pharaoh, the one who became the mediator between the Children of Israel and Pharaoh, was protected by Pharaoh. Acts 7:22 tells us that during this period he became "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."
Forty years later we come to this incident. Verses 11-15. "And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and, when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Why smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian and he sat down by a well."
Moses was wrongfully defending his people by killing the Egyptian, but God even used those actions. Hebrews 11:24-25. "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;"
God didn’t necessarily endorses Moses’ actions but He did use them to further His plan. There was failure here of a man of faith but his actions were honoring to God because he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He refused things that would tempt the natural man to identify himself with the people of God.
If Moses would have stayed in Egypt, he would have been depending on the power of Pharaoh instead of God. If Pharaoh granted them relief it would have been a worldly relief and not a deliverance by God. Pharaoh’s authority over the people of God would be recognized and Israel would have remained in captivity, dependent on Pharaoh. Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God.
God did not intend to use Moses to deliver His people at this time. Moses had to learn that the only weapon to be used to deliver Israel was the power of God.
In verses 11-15 we see Moses as a type of Christ who was also rejected by His people and persecuted by the world. Hebrews 11:27: “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."
The path of faith led him into the desert and God provided him a Gentile bride, Zipporah. She pre-figures the church in her association with Moses during this time of his rejection by Israel.
The church is the Gentile bride of Christ today but His heart is still with Israel. Zipporah was the Gentile bride of Moses but His heart was still with Israel.
Chapter 2 ends with the Children of Israel in slavery in Egypt and Moses in exile in the desert. Exodus 2:23-25: “And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24: And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25: And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.”
Forty years later we find 80 year old Moses staring at a burning bush in the desert. Exodus 3:1-4. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, “Here am I.”
What a contrast with the first 40 years of his life as the adopted son of an Egyptian Princess, surrounded with all the luxury and refinement of the age. Now he’s a lowly shepherd, herding sheep for his father-in-law Jethro.
God had placed that burning bush to test Moses. The Angel of the Lord spoke to Moses out of the flames and he answered the Lord’s call with “Here am I.”
He had been chosen to lead God’s people out of bondage in Egypt, but first God would deal with a Pharaoh who admitted that he “knew not God.”
Chapter 4 records Moses’ argument with God and his final acceptance, that along with his brother Aaron, he would follow God’s will and present God’s words to their people.
Verse 31, “And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped."
Moses and Aaron followed God’s directions and wasted no time in confronting Pharaoh.
Exodus 5:1-5: “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go, I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest He fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let (hinder) the people from their works get you unto your burdens. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens."
God's conflict with Pharaoh would be resolved by judgments. He delivered the message to Pharaoh in grace and with the opportunity for obedience and it was rejected. God had been patient and long-suffering for 400 years before He lifted up His hand is in judgment.
It’s the same way with the world at the present time. God's judgment on this world has been withheld for over 2000 years while His mercy and grace have been proclaimed far and wide that whosoever will may believe and be saved.
This present day of grace will close soon and the moment the Lord Jesus rises from His seat at the Father's right hand, the door will be shut, and judgments will begin to fall.
Let’s review the story so far. The redemption of Israel was the question at hand. The Israelites could in no way redeem themselves so God would have to act for them. They were in bondage to Pharaoh and unable to have any part in their own redemption. If they were to be freed, God would have to free them.
The king of Egypt was a man, but in the position he occupied he was also a type of Satan as the god of this world who holds the people of the world in bondage.
God's purpose then was to deliver the Children of Israel from bondage and His purpose today is to offer salvation to the unsaved and deliverance from Satan’s bondage.
Pharaoh’s true character comes out with this verse. "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go."
He put himself in direct opposition to God just as Satan does. His position never lessened, he went on until he was responsible for the death of all the first born of Egypt.
At the first of this message, I stated that God promised a Redeemer Who would come to redeem man back to God. That Redeemer is Jesus Christ, His Son. Since God has always required a blood sacrifice for sin, the shedding of His Son’s sinless blood for our sins is the only way man could be redeemed back to God.
God promises us redemption
though simple faith in that sacrifice.
"He that believes on the Son has everlasting life:
and he that believes not the Son shall not see life;
but the wrath of God abides on him."