Background And Life of Moses
Tim Temple

Introduction

Our text is Exodus, chapter 1, beginning with verse 1:

Exodus 1:

1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.
2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,
3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,
4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.
6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.
7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; 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.
11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
12 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, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
15 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:
16 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.
17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.
18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?
19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.
20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.
21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.
22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

At the close of Deuteronomy, chapter 34, we are told that since the time of Moses, there has arisen no prophet in Israel like Moses whom the Lord knew face-to-face. Yet, the Scripture indicates very clearly that Moses was a mere man, so it is important for us to consider the life of Moses, recognizing that here was a man who found the secret of close, personal fellowship with God and usefulness to God; and yet he was a man with the same kind of failures and the same kind of sin nature that all of us have. The story of the life of Moses is a very useful story, and with God's guidance in the next few weeks, we want to think about the details of the life of Moses for the instruction for our own lives that God might give us therefrom.

Moses was a human being and he was a man with his own failures and his own shortcomings. For example, as we get toward the close of his life, we are going to see that at about the age of eighty, he still had a severe inferiority complex. We are going to see, as we look at his life, that at times he had severe depression and even at times a death wish and contemplated ending his own life. In his final days, Moses made a mistake that kept him from entering the promised land for which he had been heading and for which he had been working all of his life. So even though the Scripture says that Moses was a peculiarly unique man of God and a man who knew God in ways that other people have not known him, he was also completely a human being, and his life should be very instructive to us.

Moses Willing to Listen

The key thing about the life of Moses that sets him apart, even though all of these human things are true of him, is that he was willing to listen to God and, by faith, to obey God. Even though he had failures and shortcomings, he was a man greatly used by God.

As we begin to think about the life of Moses, we are actually not going to be talking about Moses himself, as you can see by the chapter that we have read together, rather, we are going to be thinking about the kind of situation into which Moses came and the severe circumstances for which God was going to use Moses as a solution from the human standpoint.

The New Testament tells us in I Corinthians, chapter 10, that the things that are written in the Old Testament are written for our example so that we can learn by example and not have to learn by experience. As we look at the details of the Old Testament, it is always wise to remind ourselves that God has included these things in the Old Testament even though they were in a different dispensation, even though the society and the circumstances were different from the society in which we live. God has specifically included these things so we can learn from the principles there so God will not have to teach us by experience.

Experience, some say, is the best teacher, but that is really not true. The Word of God doesn't bear that out. Experience is a very thorough teacher. Experience is a teacher that teaches with very little problem of forgetting, but experience is not the best teacher; otherwise, God would not have bothered to record these things in the Old Testament. God wants us to learn by example. God wants us to study the Old Testament and learn from the mistakes and the good decisions that were made there so that He will not have to teach us by experience. So as we look at the life of Moses, God help us to think about it in that way.

We have divided this chapter into four parts. In verses 1-6, we want to think about the new land. In verses 7-10, there is the new leaderwho had arisen. In verses 11-16, we have the new labor. This was the situation the Israelites found themselves in. Then in verses 17-22, there is a new kind of liberation. Even though they were not released from slavery, they found the possibility of being free under God's direction. With these four things in mind, we hope to be able to analyze this chapter and see the information that is there.

The New Land

In verses 1-6, let's briefly notice the new land into which God brought the descendants of Abraham. We read in verse 1 that a number of the sons of Jacob came into the new land. Then in verses 2-4, we have the names of those sons of Jacob. We will not take the time to read those names again, but it is important for us to notice that everyone who is listed here is a descendant of Jacob. The reason that is important is that God has included this information as a picture of truth for us, as an example of truth for us.

We want to remember that in the last part of the book of Genesis, just before this book begins, God had been promising to Jacob that his sons were going to be the ones through whom God would bless the rest of the world, just as God had promised to Jacob's forefather, Abraham. All of Jacob's descendants were going to be part of God's promise, and in the last chapters of the book of Genesis, the specific prophecies of the part these sons would play are given.

It is significant for us to notice from the standpoint of analogy that all of these sons entered into Egypt with Jacob because later we are going to see that great trouble came into their lives because of their relationship with Jacob. There is a picture here that we must be careful not to overlook. That picture is the fact that the human race has entered into the problems that we face because of Adam. Just as all of Jacob's sons were involved in the hardship and bondage of Egypt because they were Jacob's sons, to a great extent, you and I as human beings face the problems of the sin nature because we are the sons of Adam.

I mention that because the Scripture tells us clearly that every human being who is born into the world has a sin nature. Every one of us has a tendency and, in fact, a probability of sinning. Think over the last twenty-four hours, and you will recognize that that is true. We all have a sin nature, and that is because Adam sinned and Eve sinned and God said that all of their descendants would be born in their image. Part of that image is having a sin nature.

We are going to notice as we go through these chapters of the book of Exodus that God solves the problem by bringing someone in from outside. God solved the problem in a unique and miraculous way, and I think the first picture that is presented to us in the life of Moses is the fact that God has solved the sin problem for you and me in a unique and miraculous way. You see, all of the human race is sinful. When Adam and Eve sinned, it was one hundred percent of the human race, and even though the numbers in the human race have increased, the percentage cannot increase. So as there were two people comprising one hundred percent of the human race, the whole human race was sinful and had a tendency to sin. As that number increased to three and then four, then to five, then to twenty and then to one hundred and then to one thousand, and then to millions, the percentage is still the same. The whole human race is dead in trespasses and sin.

This is why it is not possible for you to have a solution to the sin problem by the means of some other human being. The Pope cannot save you; the writings of some famous leader cannot save you; the keys to the Scripture and science and health cannot save you. Even the Virgin Mary cannot save you. They cannot save you because all of these individuals are tainted by sin. Just as Jacob's descendants had to be saved by the actual direct intervention of God and God's bringing His man onto the scene, in the same way there is pictured here for us that you and I are saved by God's bringing His man onto the scene on a much larger scale—Jesus Christ, Who was sinless and Who was thus able to pay for the sins that the rest of the human race was guilty of.

So it is important for us to keep in mind, as a background, this pilgrimage to the new land that was made by Jacob and his sons. Everyone that was there was there because of his relationship to Jacob, just as in the human race, we are in the problem we are in because of our relationship to Adam.

Egypt Considered Picture of the World

There is also a picture in this new land. If you are familiar with Bible study, you will know already that the land of Egypt is consistently considered by Bible teachers to be a picture of the world. As you study the Old Testament, it will help you greatly to keep in mind that when we find a reference to the land of Egypt in the Old Testament, it is put there as an illustration of the problems that come when a believer gets entangled with the world. Over and over and over again God's people, Israel, got into problems when they got entangled with Egypt; and so one of the basic principles of Bible study is to remember that the land of Egypt is usually a picture of the world, a picture of the unsaved and a picture of the problems that can come when we begin to get entangled with the unsaved or to depend on the unsaved or to adopt their ways.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the land of Egypt is considered a picture of the world is the fact that the whole civilization centered around the Nile River. In Egypt, then as now, it rains very little, but the Nile River floods regularly so the agricultural system to some extent today, but particularly in that time in which the book of Exodus is recorded, depended on that flooding of the Nile River. Whereas most of the rest of the world would look to Heaven and see rain falling and would have some indication that the rain came from God, Egypt always kept her eyes on the ground and they never saw the rains so much as they saw the floods. Of course, this is a picture of the unsaved. It is a picture of those who keep their eyes on material things and things around them and never look to God and never recognize that what we have is from God.

Romans, chapter 1, tells us that those who know God but do not glorify Him as God are those who continue on and on in wickedness, and Egypt is a picture of that. They kept their eyes on the earth rather than the clouds, and that made them feel independent of God. That is a summary of worldliness. The human race today is going the way it is going where it is going because there is a spirit of complete independence of God. There is no recognition of the sovereignty of God or of the power of God. In fact, as we get a little farther into the life of Moses, we are going to see that the Egyptians actually worshiped the Nile River. There was a god of the Nile River, among other gods, that they worshiped.

This, too, is typical of man. Romans, chapter 1, tells us, and our experience in our own society today bears it out, that as human beings we get to the place where we worship and serve the creature more than the Creator. The twentieth century in the United States is a perfect example of those who worship technology and who worship scientific advance and who worship technological developments. When we think about a crisis of some kind such as an energy crisis or a military crisis, our tendency is to think of our technology or our military strategy or our wise human leadership, which will somehow work our problems out all right. Somebody will invent something that will solve this problem, or some leader will arise who will be able to marshal our forces and solve our problems. That is worldliness. That is an independence of God. Our response should always be first to say, “God help us.” Of course, our tendency is not to do that, and our society as a whole is completely characteristic of Egypt in that we don't even think along those lines at all.

Typical of Death

Another typical feature of Egypt and a reason that it is a picture in the Word of God of the world is that it has actually become famous for death. I don't know whether you have ever thought about it before or not, but most of the time what the people like to see in Egypt is the pyramids. Do you realize that the pyramids are, for all of their structural uniqueness and all of their beauty, tombs? The thing that is the most famous about Egypt in the minds of tourists today is her tombs. Ironically enough, those buildings were built to last for eternity, and they may. They may be right there through the millennial kingdom until the destruction of the earth as we know it and the creation of the new Heaven and the new earth, but the most famous landmarks there, though they may last forever, are tombs and they are symbolic of death.

Of course, this is typical also of the world in that ultimately everything has to end in death. The world concentrates so thoroughly on life and tries not to think about death, so it may seem that we have digressed quite a bit; but the thing that we need to notice is that this is the background into which Moses was born, a background of humanism just as the kind of background in which we live today, a background of dependence on human wisdom, a background of dependence on human might and power. As we look at the life of Moses, we should be able to see some very, very important factors in the way God would want to use us just as He did with Moses.

Prophecy of the Abrahamic Covenant

Another thing we need to think about in the life of Moses is the prophecy that has to do with this new land. Turn back to the book of Genesis, chapter 13. Many years before the time in Exodus, chapter 1, God spoke to Abraham. Originally, God had spoken to Abram (His name was later changed to Abraham.) as was recorded in chapter 12. He said, “Leave your homeland and go to a place that I will show you,” a very general command. In Genesis, chapter 13, verse 14, God appears to Abram again:

Genesis 13:

14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Here is a very important thing to keep in mind as we begin to look at the life of Moses: Moses' people were not where they were by any accident. Rather, they were in that situation because God had promised years and years and years before that they would have that land, that they would be in a promised land, and part of the situation of coming to that land would be to go through Egypt.

Turn to Genesis, chapter 15, and notice another aspect. In Genesis, chapter 13, God said, “I am going to give you a national homeland.” Remember at the time God said that, Abram was just a man without even any children, but He said, “I am going to make of you a nation, and I am going to give you a place to live.” The Abrahamic Covenant is a very, very important thing to keep in mind in our study of the Word of God. God said, “I am going to make a nation out of you, and I am going to give you a homeland. I am going to make you a blessing to the rest of the world.” Much of our understanding of the scheme of things prophetically is based on those promises God made to Abraham called the Abrahamic Covenant.

God elaborated on the Abrahamic Covenant in chapter 15, beginning in verse 13:

Genesis 15:

13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

Here God was elaborating on His promise to Abram and He said, “I am going to give you that land, but before you have that land, your descendants are going to have to spend some time in slavery. As a part of My long-range plan, you are going to have to spend some time in slavery; but after that slavery, I am going to bring you out of the slavery. You are going to come back to this land that you are standing on, and it will be yours.”

We need to remember that the situation into which Moses was born, even though it was a very severe time of testing, was all a part of God's plan. It is important for us to understand that about the situation there in Egypt. Incidentally, here is a very specific example of the promise in Romans, chapter 8, verse 28, that all things work together for good. God's timetable is different from ours, and it took over 400 years for God's plan to work together for good as it culminated in the people having their own promised land. Ultimately, the promise was fulfilled in just exactly the way God had said it would be, in a much better way than the humans involved could ever have worked it out. So as we wait for God to work in our own lives, in our own situations, we need to keep in mind that God has His own perfect timetable. Hopefully, the situation you are facing or I am facing will not take 400 years to complete. We can legitimately hope that but, at the same time, we need to remember the record of Scripture that God makes His promises sometimes on a long-range basis, and we need to be very careful that we don't get impatient and get ahead of God or begin demanding something of God.

Principle of the Fullness of Iniquity

In Genesis, chapter 15, verse 16, God said, “You will come back to this place, but the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” God, in saying that, was explaining to Abram why they could not have the land right then. There were several reasons that it was going to be over 400 years before they had that property. We will see as we go along that God had several things to teach the Israelites and to get them ready to be the nation that He wanted them to be, but one of the reasons was, as He states here: “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Here we have the principle of the cup of iniquity—the principle of the fullness of iniquity, we might say.

Through the years scholars have wondered about the rise and fall of civilizations. They have studied the things that have made civilizations great and the things that have made them disappear. As you know, there are a number of civilizations that seem to have disappeared for no good reason. One is not that far from us—the Aztec civilization in Mexico. Anthropologists have theories about why that civilization seemed to have disappeared at its height, but no real knowledge. There are some other civilizations that we have some information about and some that we don't have much, but the Scripture tells us that nations rise and fall, not because of any greatness of humans involved, but simply because of God's principle of the cup of iniquity. God allows a civilization to progress, and God uses the men who are involved and their wisdom and their education and their intellect and all of those things, but the basic thing upon which God bases the rise and fall of civilizations is this matter of the cup of iniquity. God allows men to go on in their iniquity until their iniquity has reached a proportion which He can no longer tolerate.

Romans, chapter 1, gives a good description of that course of iniquity, and when that cup of iniquity is full, and that time is known only to God, then God wipes out that civilization, no matter how advanced technologically or politically, no matter how humanitarian they may be or how seemingly wicked they may be. At God's perfect time, when the cup of iniquity is full, God wipes out that civilization.

I am taking a moment to mention that because that has a very real significance for our society in the United States of America today. We are entering a time, as all of us know, of great decision-making and great interest in our national leadership. Let me remind you that God is not going to bless the United States on the basis of who we choose as our president and who we choose as our senator and our governors, etc. Those are factors in God's blessing upon us, but God is going to bless this nation or judge this nation on the basis of the cup of iniquity, the principle of the fullness of iniquity.

If you really want to have an effect on our national affairs, you should spend your time praying that God would convict our hearts individually—not just the president or the governor, not just the speaker of the house or the secretary of state—that we would turn back to God and become the holy people that God wants us to be and then we would infect others around us. If there is any hope for this nation, it is the hope of a revival spiritually because we are rushing headlong to the fullness of the cup of iniquity.

There are things true in the United States today that are in excess of what was being done at the time of the fall of the Roman civilization and other civilizations in the past. There are some areas in our civilization that perhaps are not as bad as some of those, but from the human standpoint, the cup of iniquity is becoming very, very full. Only God knows when it will reach the fullness, but the only hope for our nation is that that cup of iniquity be stayed in its fullness, and every selection that we make of political leaders and every action that we take as individuals must be geared to God's bringing back a sense of holiness and awe of Himself and responding to the principles of His Word. That is our only hope as a nation. God may use some particular political leader; He may use some particular political movement; but the thing that you and I must be interested in is praying for God's movement in the hearts of men because the cup of iniquity appears to be, from a human standpoint, very nearly full in our nation.

That is the thing that God had told to Abram years before: “When this civilization reaches the fullness of iniquity, I am going to wipe it out and then I am going to give you that land.” That was the prophecy of that land.

Great Suffering and Perishing

Go to Exodus, chapter 1, and notice another thing that was true in that land, something that might be surprising if you are not familiar with the principles of the Scripture, and that is that in that new land that God had prophesied they would come to. This was not the land that they would ultimately have for their own, but it was the land that God had prophesied in Genesis 15 that Abram's descendants would live in. Notice in verse 6 what was true. God had led them to a place that He had prophesied years before, very clearly. Notice Exodus, chapter 1, verse 6:

Exodus 1:

6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.
7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

It goes on to tell us that this king went on to say, “Let's persecute these people,” and so one of the things that was true of the new land to which God had led them and which God had prophesied was that there was great suffering. There was perishing in the new land. God led Jacob and his sons into that land and He let them die there. He let his descendants suffer there.

The reason I am mentioning that is that it is important for us to remember that sometimes the plan of God includes suffering. We should know that by now. God, in His wisdom and His sovereignty, allowed these people to die. He allowed some of them to suffer, but it was all part of His long-range plan. We should never be surprised if God's plan involves suffering because along with the suffering, there is God's grace, which is sufficient for every need. Don't ever think that just because you are suffering, you are out of the will of God or that God has forgotten about you. It may be a specific part of His plan.

A New Leader Arises

In verses 7-10, we have recorded some details about a new leader that rose up. We read that Jacob's immediate generation died and Joseph, Jacob's son, died. He had been very prominent and a hero in Egypt before the family came to the area, and so, in verses 7-10, a new leader arose who did not know Joseph.

The prelude to his reign is described in verse 7, and that is that the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob, were multiplying rapidly. They were not known at that time as Jews or Israelites, but I am using the terms with which we are familiar about these people. They were multiplying, and there began to be a great many of them. This emphasizes the sureness of God's promise. This is exactly what God said would happen, and even though they were suffering and perishing, they were also multiplying, so God's plan was completely in effect. God had promised over and over again that He was going to make him a great nation, and He did that even though He allowed it to take place in a time of suffering.

In verses 8-10, this new king makes a proposal, which was that they begin to persecute these people because, he says, “There are too many of them, and they are going to try to overthrow us if we are not careful. We need to begin to persecute them.” This shows that God allows suffering to come along.

In verses 11-16, we read about the new labors that they had to undergo. Notice, beginning in verse 11:

Exodus 1:

11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

The reason those specific cities are mentioned is that the original readers of this would have recognized the names of those cities, and even we, living centuries later, recognize that to build whole cities involved a whole lot of slave labor, so God wants to impress upon us that they did not just go out and spend a Saturday or two making bricks. This slave labor was of long duration and very intense activity. They became master builders, and yet, they were slaves all of that time. They had extreme persecution.

It is important for us to remember that God's plan never guarantees pleasure and prosperity. God, in His grace and His mercy, has allowed most of us to live in times of extreme prosperity. I know that some of you have been through times of suffering. On a personal basis, there are people even today suffering financially and physically; but on the whole, we live in a time of tremendous prosperity. I think we have a tendency to think that that is a part of being God's children, that being God's people is to have financial prosperity and physical blessings; but if we are alert, we realize there have been many times in the history of Christianity when that was not the case. Here were God's people, God's chosen people, in fulfillment of God's prophecy, undergoing times of great suffering. Sometimes God's purposes are best fulfilled by times of adversity.

The Scripture is full of that. That should be no surprise to us. Let me mention I Peter, chapter 3, verse 14; Romans, chapter 5, verses 3-5; James, chapter 1, verses 2-4. All of these passages tell us that many times God's purposes in our lives are best accomplished through persecution and suffering.

In verses 12-14, we find some perplexity also. Notice verse 12:

Exodus 1:

12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

Again we see God's hand here. The Egyptians were trying to wipe out the Israelites, and yet God saw to it that they continued to multiply and increase. This was truly miraculous. Throughout history, studies in anthropology have shown that in a time of persecution, people do not multiply. In fact, a program of national persecution is a good way to extinguish a race if you can keep up the persecution long enough, so God was directly involved in this. Even though they were greatly persecuted, they continued to multiply. In their perplexity, the Egyptians just tried harder. Verses 13-14 tell us that they increased the persecution. Sometimes we think things are very bad, and God allows them to get worse. God allows that, but again, remember that God is completely in control of this situation.

Egypt's Perseverance

In verses 15-16, we come to the part of the chapter that we might refer to as perseverance. Notice:

Exodus 1:

15 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:
16 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.

Here not only are they going to have persecution, but actually extreme persecution. Can you imagine giving birth to a child and the fear and the dread that would be involved in realizing that if that child were a son, he would be immediately put to death? That would be a tremendously hard thing to bear. The Egyptians were persevering in their attempts to wipe out the Israelites. Actually, this was part of Satan's historic enmity against the Jews. From the beginning of God's revelation in the book of Genesis, where God spoke to Adam and Eve, and He spoke to Satan, saying, “Ultimately, the seed of the woman will triumph over you,” and from that day forward Satan tried to kill the seed of the woman. All of the descendants of Adam and Eve, down to Abraham, down to Jacob and all along the promised line of the ultimate coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, Satan attacked over and over again. Here is an example. His main purpose was not to just wipe out these Israelites who were slaves to the Egyptians; his main purpose was to try to thwart the plan of God in bringing a descendant of Abraham on the scene to deliver God's people. His ultimate purpose was to wipe out the Jewish race.

The New Liberation

This takes place again and again. The book of Esther is a perfect example. Satan even succeeded in getting legislation passed in that book that would have made it legal to kill all of the Jews, so again and again Satan has tried to wipe out the Jewish race. In verse 17, we find a real change of pace in this story because in verses 17-22, we have what we are referring to as the new liberation . As you read through the chapter, you see that slavery doesn't end here; but there is a very important sense of freedom that we find in these verses. The source of this liberation is in verse 17:

Exodus 1:

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

Notice that very important phrase: “The midwives feared God…” They had the courage to obey God because they feared God more than they feared the king. We read often in the Scripture about the fear of God bringing holiness. Here is a perfect example of it. These midwives knew that they must obey God. They knew that the God of the Jews was a powerful God, and they had a respect, an awe for Him more than their respect and awe for the Pharaoh, and so the source of this freedom was the fear of God.

May I insert here by way of application that this is always true. We tend to think that if we have a fear of God, it will narrow our life, that if we have a fear of God and a holiness that results in a fear of God, we will not be able to enjoy life as much, but the opposite is true. As we fear God and as we live in obedience to Him because of our awesome respect for Him, that is where real freedom is found. That is where freedom from the bondage of sin is found, and here is an example of it. These women feared God, and so they were willing to disobey the Pharaoh.

In verses 18-19, Pharaoh made a search of these women who had found this liberation and said, “Why are you not obeying me?” In verse 19, their answer was:

Exodus 1:

19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

The question that always arises is, were these women justified in telling this lie? You see, this wasn't the truth at all. They were simply refusing to kill these male babies. So the question comes, would it be right to tell a lie? Notice verse 20:

Exodus 1:

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

This would seem to imply that God blessed them because of the lie they told. Actually, if we had time to examine the original language and all of the implications of it, what we would find is that these verses are saying that God blessed them not because of their lie, but because of their fear of God. That fear of God that produced the boldness to disobey Pharaoh could have also produced the boldness to tell Pharaoh the truth, but they fell short on that score, sadly, and they made up a lie and God blessed them, but not because of their lie. He could have blessed them more greatly if they had not lied, but God blessed them because of their fear of God and their obedience to God, even if it was a fearful obedience.

Success of their Liberation

In verses 20-21, we have the success of this liberation. We read in verse 20:

Exodus 1:

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.
21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

That is, He gave them children, which in the Egyptian society was a very great thing. So God blessed these women because of their obedience to Him and in spite of their lying. He may have disciplined them for the lying in fact, but He blessed them because of their willingness to obey God rather than men.

He continued to bless the Israelites and they continued to multiply. Notice the satanic reactions. Satan is faithful. Satan is not going to give up easily. Notice verse 22:

Exodus 1:

22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

Now the situation is much worse. Now the order is issued to everyone, the neighbors and the friends. Before, it was just the midwives who would be directly involved in the delivery of the babies; but now, if you had a neighbor who was expecting a baby and you were an Egyptian and the neighbor was a Jew, you were required to keep an eye on that neighbor. As soon as that baby was born, it was your responsibility to find out if that baby was a male or a female. If it was a male, it was your responsibility as a lawful Egyptian citizen, to murder that baby, to murder that child. So the situation, as we come to the conclusion of the chapter, is a very, very grim one indeed. It is this grim situation into which God brings the man whom He is going to use, from the human standpoint at least, for the deliverance of Israel.

Let me mention that the important thing for us to remember is not the seriousness of the situation, not the grimness of the problem that the Israelites faced, but the fact that God had them in mind and that God was going to do something about it.

This is not a very pleasant way to end. I can't say that we will go out happier than when we came in. We may be a bit more depressed to leave just thinking about the sad situation the Israelites are in, but what is true of this particular study is also true of our Christian life in general, and that is that we must be careful not to look at the immediate picture, but to look at it with God's frame of reference. Recognize in our own lives, as we recognize in the life of Moses and in the background of the life of Moses, that God is at work. As we concentrate on the scenes of this one chapter, it may seem to be a very depressing thing, and we may think that surely God has forgotten about His people; but as we back off and look at this simply as the background into which God brings His deliverance, we recognize that the opposite is true, that everything that takes place in this chapter is really God's setting the stage for a miraculous work that ultimately will honor and glorify Him the most.

Conclusion

As we conclude, will you remember that God is still the same in His dealings today, and these things that are so disturbing in your life, these things that make you wonder if God has forgotten you, these things that make you wonder if they could become any worse, are part of God's sovereign plan and ultimately He is going to glorify Himself. Our responsibility is to imitate those Egyptian midwives to fear God rather than men, to fear God rather than circumstances and wait to see God's deliverance.


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