A New King, Who Knew not Joseph

Exodus 1:8-14

People are funny. Can’t wait for latest newest gadget, yet hate change. Rejoice in change of administration, yet refuse to put away old habits. Try to hurry up next season, yet spend hours with friends talking old times. Like conveniences of new construction, yet long for old neighborhood. Children of Israel no different – they struggled with change also. Was much to like about life in Egypt – had been granted best lands, best opportunities when first arrived.

Gen. 47:6 “The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock.”

Not only that, God had made big promises in covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob:

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.”

But was not all God promised:

Gen. 15:13-14 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. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”

Promised affliction for his people, judgment on their enemies, then deliverance. Before that would happen, would be a new king with a new set of policies that caused a new host of problems for people of God, children of Israel.

A. a new KIND of king v.8

not simply new as next in line, instead a new kind

like it or not, change in the works… for Egyptians as well as children of Israel… more than you’d expect with pres. inauguration

probably entire change of dynasty, whole ruling family – may know history, but didn’t know Joseph, no personal relationship

consequently no loyalty to individual or programs and policies implemented during Joseph’s time as prime minister

side note: this king identified in text almost certainly different from Pharaoh of plagues – if 18th Dynasty, that included King Tutankhamun… longest reign 38 years — need at least 3 additional Pharaohs to get to Exodus

not informed by Joseph or the Bible

likely scenario: Pharaoh of Joseph’s time of Canaanite origin, sympathetic to Joseph and family because of shared roots; Pharaoh of our text an Egyptian, no friend of previous dynasty – possibly racial prejudice involved

missing crucial piece of information – Joseph not there to inform of God’s long-range purpose, Moses hadn’t written Genesis yet

if this Pharaoh knew promise God made to Abraham, chose to disbelieve – “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you;” (Gen. 12:3)

good lesson for our day: people and relationships change – for genuine security, hopes must be built on what does not change

as story of redemption plays out in Exodus, seems children of Israel had more confidence in what could see/touch than God

at same time an unknowing instrument of God’s will

later statement God made to Abraham (see Gen. 15:13-14) makes plain – not only Pharaoh’s idea to persecute children of Israel

his plan to address problem evil beyond measure, he was responsible for his policies/actions, yet were actions God used for good

Pharaoh thought of himself as independent ultimate authority over all things in his kingdom, yet was doing exactly what God intended

his actions plus those of successors necessary to prepare children of Israel to leave Egypt – not happening so long as comfortable

B. a new set of policies v.9-11

following pattern set out once before

Gen. 11:3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.”

v.10 “come, let us deal shrewdly with them” – coincidence? I think not! – remember from last week, God intended experiences of children of Israel to be example for us

those building tower on plain of Shinar intended to make name for themselves, forestall being uprooted and dispersed

king of Egypt had similar end in view – preventing children of Israel joining with external enemies, making an escape

wanted to preserve his dynasty at expense of Hebrew children – yet God promised Abraham Gen. 12:2I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great”

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” Psa. 127:1

those who try to hinder God’s building of house on a fool’s errand – may have success short term, doomed to failure

in this case, acting out of fear

see how things mushroom out of proportion when fueled by fear – if this happens, then that happens, and on and on

if they multiply, if there is war, if they join our enemies, if they fight against us, if they escape, then… OH NO!

is Pharaoh’s fear real? maybe, don’t know for sure; is this early example of political spin doctor at work? perhaps

definitely a tool Satan uses to influence and control – fear/uncertainty/doubt changes election outcomes, stock market closes, people’s actions in all sorts of situations

definitely not the way child of God should think – Pharaoh did because confidence in things of human invention, not true God

here’s the irony – what king feared would never happen; instead, God he and successors refused to fear brought judgment on everything they trusted

control rather than manage

assumed that, left alone, Hebrew children would certainly cause trouble – why? when all of history while in Egypt peaceful co-existence

unbeliever thinks how they would respond in situation, credits that reasoning & response to others; cannot grasp how believer would act – similar situation for Egyptian king

Bible doesn’t tell how king’s plan was implemented, simply that work environment for children of Israel changed significantly

previously had been self-employed, able to provide for own needs and families; new order, working for government with no wages paid, any self-employment done on the side

working two full-time jobs, getting paid for only one… primary one intended to be burdensome enough to control population

policies in direct opposition to God’s plan

king intended to limit or reduce population – God intended to grow from small family into great and mighty nation (Gen. 18:18)

king intended to control movement, prevent escape – God intended they would leave en masse, return to Canaan

unwittingly king set himself up against God, not simply Hebrew children – had picked a fight with God, didn’t realize that

C. a new host of problems v.12-14

situation backfired – results what king feared

can easily understand king’s frustration – analyzed situation, came up with best plan imaginable, encourages more of what were trying to prevent

guaranteed outcome when trying to work against God and his purpose – God uses actions of evildoers to bring about own downfall and at same time bless his people

powerful lesson for people of God

often greatest blessing comes through greatest affliction – “the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew”

true at individual level, also for church in general – times of greatest spiritual growth and strengthening times of hardship

encourages, even forces dependence on God to supply what is needed – in situation of children of Israel, needed affliction to bring to point of willingness/desire to leave Egypt

government response – turn up the heat

an irrational but not unexpected response: plan had opposite effect, let’s try harder – subjected to even greater oppression

Egyptian frustration with wrong results made more angry, determined… iow cruel, merciless in treatment of slaves

king of Egypt not unique in policies and responses – affliction and oppression an ingredient in church life from beginning to present

no match for God’s promise – be fruitful and multiply

absolutely nothing could thwart God’s purpose to prosper his people numerically – “do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.”

must be careful to look at God’s promises, not present circumstances – children of Israel had no way to figure out how God would bring good from their circumstances… is precisely what he did

same is true of God’s people down through ages and today – Christ promised to build his church, nothing can stop it

that truth what encourages us to pray weekly for Ust-Kut, UPG’s, unsaved friends and loved ones – confidence God is invincible

Opening sentence of our text will never be said of our King – never a circumstance where King Jesus does not know one of citizens of his kingdom. King Jesus’ loyalty toward his people never in question – he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Further, Jesus is source of life – gives life not death to all those who come to him in faith. Yes, was born as little baby in manger… didn’t stay that way. His purpose in coming – to endure death for his people that they might have eternal life.


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