Church Growth!

Exodus 1:1-7

Why Exodus? Story of faraway people in faraway place with little connection to us, right? Book divides easily into 5 major sections:

Exodus 1-6 – remembered by God; Exodus 7-12 – judgment from God; Exodus 13-18 – redeemed by God; Exodus 19-24 – living with God; Exodus 25-40 – worship of God

Perhaps you noticed – God way more central to content of this book than ancient people of Israel. Let’s add more to that concept: if God is lead character, focus of attention, did that God have stated purpose in what is recorded there? Know from last week – God’s purpose in delivering from Egypt “so that they might serve God“. So… he had good of his people and his own glory in view. Our wise and all-knowing God had more in mind –

1 Cor. 10:6, 11 “Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved. …Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” NASB

God brought his people, children of Israel, through the precise experiences they endured on purpose – to set an example for us. He directed Moses to write record of their example for our instruction. To ignore or dismiss content of Exodus as of little relevance is to miss out on something God purposely did for our benefit.

One more thing – Exodus really not a standalone book. Like much of Bible, authors presume reader/listener has knowledge of what came before. Exodus really Part 2 of 5 in the one book of Moses, the Torah or Pentateuch. Continues God’s story begun in Genesis – if Genesis tells story of God’s creation of world, Exodus tells story of God’s creation of church – calling a people out of world into worshiping community.

A. His story is one story v.1

“And these are the names…” – see Gen. 46:8ff

fuller list in Genesis, here’s the point: what we just read a continuation of story begun on page 1 of your Bible

everything God has declared regarding his purpose – if not yet fulfilled, is still on the table; later revelation elaborates on how God will keep his promises, carry out his sovereign decrees

Genesis ends with Joseph in coffin, not end of story – continues even when God is “silent”

Joseph himself believed more yet to come – Gen. 50:24-26 “carry up my bones from here”, following example of father Jacob

see Gen. 49:29ff – Jacob to be buried where Abraham and Isaac were already – just as God had made covenant promises to all three patriarchs, they showed in funeral arrangements confidence in promises… Heb. 11:22

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.”

for most of 400 years in Egypt, no recorded direct word from God, few details either

from death of Joseph until setting of birth of Moses summarized in Ex. 1:7-8, yet God maintained his witness

has been moving “behind the scenes” to carry out his purpose

once famine was over, during time of Joseph’s Pharaoh (at least) children of Israel completely free to return to Canaan

instead had put down roots in Goshen (Nile delta) – God had to bring about enough change to dislodge them

B. God cares about individuals and groups

those born to Jacob: ordered by birth mother – Leah, Rachel, then concubines

sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin; sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant, were Dan and Naphtali; sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maidservant, were Gad and Asher

oh no, not another list of names – yes, God again shows all who take time to read just how precious his people, his church are

“children of Israel” used twice in text, with different connotation

first time v.1 referring to Jacob’s immediate family – second time v.7 God’s people in view collectively; true for rest of Pentateuch

further explains to us: God never loses sight of individual no matter how large the group; he deals with us particularly in context of the whole

C. People come and go but God’s promise endures v.6-7

“Joseph died… but”

and so had Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham – buried in cave in Machpelah… in Canaan… in faith, even though had not received promises (Heb. 11:13)

children of Israel needed to remember to hope in God, not Egypt

same God sovereignly directing Joseph’s experiences would continue leading his people… long after Joseph’s generation

just because no apparent need for people to return to Canaan, God still committed to his plan – about more than good life here… remember Paul, 1 Cor.

their experiences for them and us – teach that hope must be in God, not government; desire must be for things of eternal importance, not of this world

God from beginning has had one plan, one purpose, one people

his plan to call hopelessly lost people out of their sin, sending his only son into world to be their righteous substitute, that by their redemption he would display glories of his grace in Lord Jesus

every covenant, every promise, every act and word of God somehow linked to his central purpose of redemption

D. God is making a people for himself v.7

seventy in v.5 “multiplied and grew exceedingly”

began with one, Abraham; then one son, Isaac, another son Jacob, then twelve sons, now 70 making trek to Egypt

followed by v.7, see in miniature God making family into great nation (despite appearances) – Moses’ way of saying God was keeping his promise

covenants contained promises and expectations – God enabling his people to carry out his mandate

Gen. 46:2-3 “Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.”So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.”

Gen. 35:10-11 “And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel.Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.”

Gen. 26:3-4 “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.“And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;”

Gen. 17:5-6 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.”

Gen. 12:2-3 “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Gen. 9:7 “And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.”

Gen. 1:28 “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

expectation: as God keeps his promises, his people must do their part – “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it”

but that was before Fall and curse! what about now? same language repeated to Noah, then to Jacob, continues today

also indicates Fall into sin, curse, Flood did not derail God’s eternal purpose – no way one little Pharaoh could stop God’s plan

church growth a process, at times painful

significant increase in numbers – already happened, with repercussions – began with 70, by time of departure… 1 million+

for most of time in Egypt mostly painless, enough so children of Israel said wanted to go back – thought would be better than traveling through the desert

yes, was through instrumentality of Joseph that ancestors escaped starvation in Canaan – don’t forget Gen. 50:20 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

came about that way because God blessed them, quietly keeping promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob

significant change in conditions – still in future

had not yet experienced hardship God promised… yet: Gen. 15:13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.”

church growth achieved by proclamation of Gospel – Christ was born to save

seen in shadow form in OT, now we have fulfillment – seed of the woman, born in Bethlehem, announced by angels and shepherds, destined for Calvary

might seem God moving in slow motion – 400 years for them in Egypt, 1400 more years for Savior, additional 2000, each event on God’s timeline carried out exactly as God planned and when he planned

God calls those that are his out of the world into his Church. And expects they will be his agents, going out into world with good news of the Gospel. God expected OT people, children of Israel, to be a light to the nations; same hods true today. All those who claim the name of Christian must share good news like Shepherds – remember, didn’t just whisper news of Jesus’ birth among themselves. They made it widely known what they had been told – we must do likewise.

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