Exodus: God's Plans, God's People [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Woodrow Kroll
eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: This Back to the Bible Study Guide features president and senior teacher Woodrow Kroll using the ESV text to walk small groups and individuals through the dramatic events of Exodus. These 15 interactive lessons powerfully demonstrate how God always fulfills his purposes through his people.
eBook Publisher: Crossway Books, Published: 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2009
God Has a Plan
Things in this world have a way of looking like they
are completely out-of-hand! But appearances, as
convincing as they may seem, can be misleading.
God remains in control even when things seem out of
control. Exodus shows us that God is always working
out His plan.
Read Exodus 1:1-2:10
1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt.6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation.7But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
Pharaoh Oppresses Israel
8Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.
15Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16"When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live."17But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this, and let the male children live?" 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them." 20So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live."
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph (Ex. 1:8).10
The Birth of Moses
2 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.2The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.4And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children." 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?" 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go."So the girl went and called the child's mother. 9And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages."So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, "Because," she said, "I drew him out of the water."
We don't know how many boy babies died under Pharaoh's program to prevent Israel from growing as a nation (Ex. 1:22).We don't know how many were killed in and around Bethlehem under Herod's effort to eliminate the child Jesus, "born king of the Jews" (Matt. 2:2, 16-). We do know that people have often gone to extreme and horrible lengths to derail God's plans. We also know (or ought to) that God's plans cannot be thwarted.
Psalms 1-contrast the lives of those who willingly cooperate with God's plan and those who don't. The principles from these psalms apply to individual lives (Ps. 1) as well as to nations, "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?" (Ps. 2:1). The situation may be desperate and the outlook may seem hopeless, but as David put it, "Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!" (Ps. 3:8). Those who live their lives in faithful acknowledgment of God's plan discover the deep truth that, "the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish"(Ps. 1:6). We may not know God's plan or strategy in any given situation, but we can be certain that God does have a plan, and He will accomplish it in us!
our hundred years is a long time. The lessons of the past are easily forgotten in that many years. Thus the Book of Exodus opens with the ominous note that Joseph, the rescuer of Egypt, had been forgotten. Within a generation or two after Jacob's sons died, their descendants in Egypt had been "fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them"(Ex. 1:7). But the Egyptians forgot Joseph and began to fear the nation growing within their borders. And the Israelites forgot a footnote from their own history. God had told their patriarch, Abram, that his descendants would suffer: "Then the Lord said to Abram, 'Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years'" (Gen. 15:13). Apparently no one was keeping track of time.
God's warning to Abram included two promises: "I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions" (Gen. 15:14). God would judge the abusers and reward those who had suffered. Remembering God's promises might not have made the suffering easier, but it would have given the people a clearer reason for hope. Instead, they settled into Egypt, and they might gradually have lost their identity if God had not set them apart through suffering. God had a plan.
Seti I (Sethos), who many think was the Pharaoh who "did not know Joseph" (Ex. 1:8), built magnificent structures. He built the Hall of Columns at Thebes. He built a temple at Abydos.
He also carried out extensive buildings projects in the Nile Delta region. History remembers Seti as a ruler who built impressive buildings with rich colors and striking architectural features. But these structures, which still inspire awe today, were built with the blood, sweat, and lives of countless slaves--many of them Israelites.
Seti's son, Ramesses II, not only followed him onto the throne but also inherited his father's fondness for lavish construction projects. This was a period in which a great deal of building activity took place in Egypt. The taskmasters, who were responsible to get the work done, were hard bosses. As a result, the Israelites were deprived of any personal rights and afflicted to the point that their lives were bitter.
" Viewed from eternity's perspective, how
many events will we have chalked up to
accidents or coincidence that will turn
out actually to have been God's deft
touch at accomplishing His purposes?"
* * * *
These slave masters made the people's burdens even more difficult than they really had to. The reason for this is clear from some of the other actions taken by Pharaoh's officials. They didn't just want to use the Israelites as slaves; they wanted to use them up and destroy their national, tribal identity. This is why the attempt was made to impose the killing of male babies at birth. Why kill the next generation of workers? Apparently the Egyptians didn't think they would run out of slaves, but they had a deep-seated fear of the Israelites.
Moses was born during a dangerous time for Hebrew babies. Since the midwives had not cooperated with the plan to kill the Israelites' male babies at birth, Pharaoh issued a blanket order that all Egyptians were supposed to "cast into the Nile" (1:22) any Hebrew baby boy they found. Moses' parents kept his birth secret as long as possible, but by the time he was three months old, the risk was too great. So, Moses' mother decided literally to place her child in God's care. Instead of casting her son into the Nile, she set him in a floating basket on that same river, trusting God with the outcome of his voyage. God had a plan.
Viewed from eternity's perspective, how many events will we have chalked up to accidents or coincidence that will turn out actually to have been God's deft touch at accomplishing His purposes? God used the apparent coincidence of Moses' basket bobbing in the reeds, a young woman's curiosity and mothering instincts, and a sister's courageous suggestion to advance His plan. God appointed an impromptu committee of at least four women (Pharaoh's daughter, her servant girl, Miriam, and Moses' mom) to thwart Pharaoh's plan. What better place to hide God's choice for the man who would lead His people out of bondage than in the very household of those who were in charge of the bondage?
God's plans, then and now, flourish in the face of the unlikely, the doubtful and the impossible. We should never be surprised by God's ability and sovereignty, but He delights to surprise us with His creativity. Our task is never to figure out how God will accomplish His purposes; our task is to unswervingly trust that He will! When God had accomplished His purposes for Israel in Egypt, He set in motion an exit strategy. When the people were finally ready to trust God, they discovered He had a plan. And that plan succeeded!
When Exodus opens, Israel has been in crushing bondage
for several generations. They are reaching the point
of understanding that their only hope rests in God's
intervention. They are beginning to cry out to God for help.
As you pray today, think about what it takes for you to trust
God with the "enslaving" aspects of your life. Ask God to
show you areas of your life where you may still be trying to
work things out on your own rather than cooperating with
the plan He has in mind for you. Trust Him with those
areas He shows you.
As you read Exodus 1:1-:10, consider these questions:
1) What vivid mind pictures does the content of this Bible book stir up?
2) When Joseph's generation died, what happened to the extended family they left in Egypt?
3) How did Pharaoh rationalize enslaving the Hebrew people in Egypt?
4) What happened when the Egyptians began to treat the Israelites harshly?
5) In what ways did the Hebrew midwives boldly defy the death order of
6) What do you think Pharaoh hoped to accomplish by killing Hebrew
boys but allowing the daughters to live?
7) What are some of the unpredictable events surrounding Moses' early survival?
8) How have you personally discovered "God has a plan"?