Read Exodus 1:6-22
Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
God does what He says He’ll do.
Long ago, He told Abraham He would create a nation from Abraham’s descendants and here it is. The Israelites are now so numerous that the Egyptians are afraid of them.
And they haven’t been absorbed into the Egyptian culture.
If we hadn’t skipped it, you’d remember a story in Genesis (34) where Jacob moved near a town called Shechem, and the men there wanted to merge together with Jacob’s family. Let’s marry your girls, and you marry our girls and we’ll become one people, was the idea.
That story ended in a bloodbath, but my point is I don’t think that was an uncommon approach to things.
It didn’t happen here.
It’s as though God chose the one place where there was no possible chance of His people being intermixed with any other people.
And then He grew them.
Like a large oak tree, they spread and spread, until the Egyptians realized they were outnumbered.
I wonder why the Israelites didn’t realize it? Why was it possible for the Egyptians to brutalize them? I don’t know. Possibly, the Israelites just weren’t paying attention. They were off living their own lives on the edge of Egypt. Also, the Egyptians had all the power structures. They were the rulers of the land.
At any rate, they forced the Israelites into slavery – just as God told Abraham they would, long before there even were Israelites – and despite that, the Israelites kept on growing.
As though nothing humans could do could stop God doing what He planned.
So there we have it. The Israelites are being brutalized, absolutely degraded and beaten.
And they are God’s special nation.
They know it. They still have all the stories, all the promises. But it seems as though God has forgotten them.
Ever been there? Ever felt totally let down by God? Hopeless? Helpless? Overwhelmed and abandoned? Like your babies are being killed? Your dreams? Hopes? Loves?
Have you ever watched the future you planned just blow up, fizzle out, or vanish?
Then you’re getting it. You’re at exactly the right place to read Exodus. You’re identifying with the Israelites, and wherever there is trouble or disappointment in your own life, that’s the connection.
That’s why we read the Story.
To see what God does.