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Jan 16 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 14, 2018 -Exodus Chapter 1

Thorns In the Nest

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.”
So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. Exodus 1:8-12

Intro: Recently, an idea has been nagging at me

Namely, that I should be taking you through the Old Testament (maybe not the whole thing)
– the New Testament (NT) presents itself as a continuation of the Old Testament (OT)
• there are parts of NT we cannot understand with out OT (e.g., the Book of Hebrews)
• besides that, there is the explicit statement of Jesus

. . . all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Lk. 24:44)

– one meaning of fulfilled is that predictions regarding the Messiah found fulfillment in him
• but there is another meaning: to bring something to fullness, to completion
◦ to actualize its latent potential

As Jonathan Pennington observes, the gospels “explicitly connect the events of Jesus’s life to the ‘fulfillment’ of the Scriptures. This at times refers to ‘fulfillment’ in the sense of prophecy completed but more often means rather that Jesus deepens, explains, fills out, and reveals the true intent.”

• there is an orientation and richness we lose in the NT without the OT

When it comes to the OT, Most of us have been exposed to wrong ideas or poor teaching

A wrong idea: God is presented differently in OT than NT
• for example: the angry deity of the OT through Jesus became a loving Father
Poor teaching: This usually results from a lack of appreciation for what the OT is in itself
• some Bible teachers try to find Jesus in every verse of OT
◦ so they read him into the OT or make superficial connections between the old and new
◦ what they produce adds nothing to our understanding of OT or NT

How does the NT identify itself with the OT? In 3 primary ways:

  1. With texts – direct quotations
    This was to fulfill what was spoken . . . (Mt. 4:14)
    Abraham believed God, and it was credited . . . (Ro. 4:3)
  2. With types – Gal. 4:24, “allegory”; He. 11:19, “type”
  3. With copies and shadows and symbols
    – the physical sanctuary and its worship were modeled according to a spiritual pattern
    . . . who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (He. 8:5; 9:9, 23, 24; 10:1)

– we can draw straight line from these examples to the OT
• but there is also an indirect relationship between the New and Old Testaments
◦ this is easy to understand if you think of a road in relation to a destination
• the OT is the road that takes us to our destination in Jesus

The Bible tells a story

The Bible is not (as many assume) a book of religious rules and doctrines
– its setting is always in real life and involves real people
• so what is the grand story of scripture about?”
• theologians tell us, “Redemption,” that it is a record of “salvation history”
◦ although this became popular in the 20th century,
◦ 300 years earlier, someone else had discerned the same overarching story

Jonathan Edwards had in mind to develop a biblical theology using a “new method, and in the form of a history.” He published a volume in which he had worked out his plan, but in 1739 he preached a series of sermons to his congregation in which he traced this history of God’s redemption of humankind. In the first sermon, he described this “doctrine” as “a work that God carries on from the fall of man to the end of the world.”

– but the story of scripture has to be more than that
• we are being redeemed to what?
◦ to where we were before it all went haywire
◦ God’s original purpose in creating humankind
• to know and love him – to respond to him in kind
◦ this is why we had to be made in his image
◦ he wanted persons capable of loving him as he loved

I sometimes think of the first chapter of Genesis where God is busily creating this and that, from galaxies living things. It is as if his goal was to go on creating one thing after another until he came up with something in which he could see his own reflection. At last he created the man and woman in his own image and his creation was complete.

Nothing in the natural world has this same capacity to know God and return his love
– the more we are defined by the natural world, the less our capacity to know and love God
– that is why we have to be redeemed
• to restore the intimacy that the original couple enjoyed with God
• Jesus is humankind’s ultimate Redeemer and redemption

How does Exodus carry forward the story of redemption?

We will find out as we work our way through it
– but as we do, we’ll discover Exodus has value in itself
• the revealed truth it contains is spiritually enriching
◦ God comes close to a people, reveals himself to them
◦ he reveals his name! His people can know him and call on him
• he reveals a lot about himself: he loves, cares, forgives
◦ God embraces these people in a covenant and calls them to a destiny
◦ he instructs them in worship, holiness and his commandments
– some of what is here may confuse, irritate and frustrate us
• but that’s good, because its goal is to get inside us
◦ to draw us into a lived-experience of its truth
• to bring us into real contact with God

Where do we find ourselves in this first chapter?

The story takes up where Genesis left off
– but we jump quickly from that point into a new era

Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation

• their descendants were flourishing–until a new king arose
◦ a new pharaoh, with a new perception of Israel and a new policy
• the first thing he did was widen the gap between the Egyptians and Israelites

He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel . . .”

◦ this creates an animosity that will be intensified as the story progresses
– he adopted a policy that was founded on fear
• he imagined a future when they would become a threat
◦ not as a military force, but if war broke out,
◦ they could take advantage of it and make their escape
• ironically, his actions produced the very result he feared
◦ but more importantly, his policy advances God’s purpose

Pharaoh’s policy moves forward in four waves

11-12, First wave – “taskmasters” (sounds terrible, doesn’t it?)
– Nietzsche, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”
• of course, that is not always true
• what does not kill us may leave us disabled or traumatized
– in this instance, however, Israel continued to thrive
• “spread out” translates a Hebrew word that means to break through
• Egypt tried to wall off Israel’s growth, but Israel broke through
(cf. 2 Samuel 5:20, the “Lord of breakthrough”)

13-14, Second wave – more of the same, but intensified

and they made their lives bitter

– some of us have worked for bosses or companies that did this to us
• others have grown up in homes where someone made made our lives bitter
• this is a descriptive Hebrew idiom whose meaning we can feel
◦ we have been soured on certain environments or activities,
◦ because someone made those places or activities miserable

15-21, Third wave – Pharaoh enlisted the collaboration of Hebrew midwives
– here is the first mention of God
• their reverence for God did not allow them to comply with Pharaoh’s orders
◦ their explanation for their actions–the difference between Hebrew and Egyptian women
◦ plays into Pharaoh’s myth of a fundamental division of the races
• fear, or the feeling of reverence, affects our behavior
◦ there are things our experience of reverence will not allow us to do
◦ and things we must do for the same reason
– then God is not only mentioned, but for the first time in Exodus, he acts
• he rewarded the midwives for their noncompliance

22, Fourth wave – a general edict

Conclusion: Israel had lived in Egypt for four hundred years

Why did it now have to turn sour? Why all the misery?
– because life in Egypt, under the shadow of Egyptian gods was not their destiny
• but as long as they flourished in Egypt, why leave?
• they had to experience enough discomfort to want to change
◦ a little unhappiness would not be enough
• sound familiar?
◦ you hang onto a job because you need the paycheck
◦ and you can’t think of any alternatives for making more money or a less expensive lifestyle
– most every therapist or pastoral counselor will tell you,
everyone resists change
• and most people do not change with out being pushed into it
◦ a crisis of some kind must happen first; a loss or calamity
◦ the pain of staying the same must become greater than the pain of change

We do a lot to distract ourselves from the need to change
– we feel restless, troubled, discontent
• we reach for a temporary fix – new car, new clothes, new toy
◦ open Facebook, turn on TV, start cleaning the garage
◦ our dependence becomes addiction – demands more to get the same feeling
• for a moment we escape the emptiness
◦ distract ourselves from inner voice telling us,
◦ “This life is not working. This self is not me”

So God permits hardship to enter our lives
– he uses adversity to awaken
• and awakens us to bring us to our destiny
• a destiny we have not reached we discover our true selves in him

In the same moment the identity of Jesus was revealed to Peter,
Jesus also revealed to him his own identity,
and Simon son of Jonah became Peter the Rock

This is redemption,
the recovery of our true selves,
reflected to us in the face of Jesus Christ

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