Monday, February 1, 2010

Oppression! Outrage!

Joseph becomes a ruler. Is used by God to rescue his entire family. He later passes from the scene.

The Israelites grow. A new Pharoah comes along who knows nothing about Joseph. His command is to kill all Hebrew boys.

6 "In time, Joseph and all of his brothers died, ending that entire generation. 7 But their descendants, the Israelites, had many children and grandchildren. In fact, they multiplied so greatly that they became extremely powerful and filled the land.

8 Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. 9 He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. 10 We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.[b]”

11 So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. 12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. 13 So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. 14 They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.

15 Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver.[c] If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.

18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”

19 “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”

20 So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.”

In that context a baby is born. He is placed in a floating crib. Desperate, to be sure, but better than certain death.

If you know the story of Moses, you know that he was put into a waterproof basket and placed into the Nile river. Did you know that technically, his parents were following the letter of the law? That is, to chuck every Hebrew boy into the Nile river?

1 "About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. 2 The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. 3 But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. 4 The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him."

How could mom and dad know that THIS little baby was going to be famous? Was going to be the deliverer of his people? Never mind. He was their baby and they loved him with that intense love that God puts into the heart of every parent.

They "throw" him into the Nile river, in the reeds where he won't go out into the sea, and send big sister to watch out for him.

The story is dramatic. We will pick it up tomorrow.

Don't forget. These folks were slaves. Their life was very hard.

Then, as so often happens to the desperately poor and oppressed, they were ordered to do the unthinkable. Kill their own baby boy.

Yet God was with them. Does that give you hope? Encouragement?

No comments: