We just finished up Easter. It was awesome!
Over 1000 Easter eggs.
The power of the Gospel.
It’s like we came out of the grave of quarantine.
Just like Jesus came out of the grave.
To celebrate how Jesus came out the grave.
But now we are following up by going to the book of Exodus. Exodus is not too difficult to find in your Bible. Go to the beginning. Page through Genesis until you get to the end of it. Then, you will find Exodus. The second book in the Bible.
Exodus’ date is not totally certain. The most commonly accepted theory has it occurring in 1446 B.C. That means its events happened 3477 years ago.
It was a different time.
It was a different place.
It was a different people.
Did you know the word “EXODUS” literally means “a mass departure of people?” In the book, the people of Israel make a mass departure from the oppression and death of their Egyptian overlords.
We aren’t out of it yet.
But COVID numbers are improving.
The Exodus from COVID is beginning.
How do we do it?
What do we keep in mind as God provides us with Exodus?
As we study the OG Exodus, may God guide our hearts in truth, understanding, and hope. Before we begin, a prayer: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is the truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; open our eyes to hear what you want us to hear; open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Background
The story begins with the Israelite people under oppression. A bit more about how that happened:
In the book of Genesis, we are introduced to a guy named Israel. Israel had 12 sons. Their names were Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar and Zebulun; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher, Benjamin and Joseph.
That last one, Joseph, is probably the most famous of all. The family originally resided in Canaan and Joseph is the first one to “move” to Egypt.
Maybe “move” isn’t the right term.
Forcibly bloodied, sold into slavery, falsely accused, left to rot in prison, and miraculously saved by God’s grace is more accurate.
But that’s another sermon series for another time.
The main point is that Joseph eventually became the second in command of the Pharaoh of Egypt. He was placed in charge of food stored in preparation for a seven-year famine and, then, rationing the food during the famine.
Joseph did a great job and saved many lives.
The Egyptian people were thankful. The king even invited Joseph’s family to come to Egypt and live with them.
This is where Exodus picks up:
They who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt. (v.1-5)
How do you get to 70? Each of those 12 brothers had their own family. If you’re really into Bible trivia, you can find a full accounting of these families in Genesis 46. What’s interesting to me is how sin and sadness was already a part of their family:
Reuben had a wife and four kids.
Simeon had five children with one woman and another child with a second woman.
Judah had five children, but two of had died at a young age.
Asher had four boys and a girl.
Gad had seven kids.
And Dan had a single child.
The Israelite family was accepted into Egyptian society.
They were given a place to live.
They were given food to eat.
Their kids were invited on play dates.
And the dad’s got to join in whatever the ancient Egyptian equivalent of the local bowling teams were.
The family of Israel was the family of Joseph.
And Joseph was a savior to the Egyptian people.
But then some things started to change. These things are only a few verses long, but they represent some years of attitudinal changes that reshape the role of the Israelite family in Egyptian society.
The family of Israel became the People of Israel.
Verse six says it this way, “Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them. (v.6-7)
Wanna do some math?
There were 70 men in the Israelite family according to Genesis 46:29. Of those 70, 12 of them were in Joseph’s generation.
That means 58 boys grew up and got themselves wives for a total of 116 in their family.
If each those couples each had an average of 3 children, that would be 116 aunt and uncles plus 290 children.
If you did that same math with the next generation, you’d get…
Carry the 1.
Multiply the square root.
And count to it…
Very quickly this was becoming more than just a singular immigrant family in Egypt.
Very quickly they were becoming an entire minority culture.
And at least one person didn’t like it.
Unfortunately, he was a very important person.
A NEW Pharaoh rose to Power.
Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. (v.8)
I don’t know why this happened.
Maybe he didn’t pay attention in history class.
Maybe his uncle didn’t buy him any Joseph action figures.
Maybe history just gets lost sometimes because people don’t care to talk about it.
I don’t know.
But this new Pharoah didn’t know the incredible blessings Joseph’s family brought to Israel.
He only knew…
That he didn’t like them.
“Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” (v.8-10)
It sounds almost like a rallying cry of sorts, doesn’t it?
These people are the reason for our problems.
These Israelites are the reason that the economy is shrinking.
These foreigners are the reason that gas prices have risen.
We need to need to stop them.
I’ve got a plan.
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor… (v.12)
They mocked the Israelites.
They developed derogatory racial terms for the Israelites.
They made the Israelites eat at their own restaurants.
They whipped them.
They beat them.
But despite all these negative changes, there is one thing that didn’t change.
…the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread… (v.13)
Because they were God’s people.
And God wanted his people to be blessed.
And if God wants his people to be blessed…
There’s nothing an angry, xenophobic king can do about it.
Even when OPPRESSED, God’s people are BLESSED.
This has been true about the pandemic.
At the end of 2020, there was a GALLUP poll that asked questions about American’s mental health.
Across the board, every group of people ranked themselves as having a dip in mental health.
Every group except one.
Do you know what that group was?
Not the rich.
Not even Super Bowl victors.
Those who have remained connected to their church.
It’s more than just emotional health.
God’s Word has become more easily available than every before.
Social media is flooded with church services, sermons, and songs every weekend.
God’s people have doubled down to meet with each other via ZOOM, even if they had to get their kids to bed.
People have spent more time in God’s Word.
People have spent more time in prayer.
People have spent more time just simply depending on their Savior Jesus.
Which is a blessing.
A blessing delivered during the oppression of the pandemic.
And even if none of that were true, God’s people are still blessed.
We are still loved by Jesus.
We are still saved by his grace.
We are still redeemed.
We are still sanctified.
We are still forgiven.
III. The Decree
When people are oppressed, God’s people are still blessed. This is truth.
But there’s another unfortunate truth that can run alongside.
When others see how God’s people are still blessed when their oppressed…
They bring more oppression.
…so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. (v.13-14)
I don’t care that it’s hot; get the straw.
I don’t care that you’re tired; put the mud in the brick forms.
I don’t care that it’s your birthday; I’ve got a whip and I give his daddy welts as a present.
All of this comes to a head in verse 15, The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” (v.15)
Being a 15th-century B.C. midwife couldn’t have been a very glamorous job.
There are long hours.
Need to be ready at a moment’s notice.
People are emotional.
People are rude.
So, I don’t know…
I imagine these two women finishing up with a family.
Their clothing soaked with sweat.
They started taking off their shoes.
Oh my aching feet…
PHAROAH WANTS TO SEE YOU BOTH NOW!
And Pharoah was someone to listen to!
Someone to fear!
His palace was impressive.
You pass countless armed guards to get to him.
There are paintings in the wall describing the number of people that Pharoah’s grand army has defeated!
Or – decapitated.
They enter his throne room.
He sits so high above them.
They are forced onto their knees.
His perfectly trimmed Egyptian goatee screams a message of dominance.
Maybe these midwives did fear him.
Just not as much as someone else.
The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. (v.17)
Because while their earthly king said, “Murder.”
Their heavenly king said, “Do not murder.”
So, they don’t listen.
And when the king caught wind of this and called them into his courtroom to question their disobedience, they just blamed it on the strength of Hebrew women. “They are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” (v.19)
Which isn’t totally untrue.
Hebrew women were strong.
Because they had an all-powerful God on their side.
And it was this same powerful God that worked through these two lowly midwives to save his people.
God works through UNLIKELY people to accomplish His INCREDIBLE work.
Cause two midwives is probably not who you’d expect to do God’s Work.
A super soldier?
A techy billionaire?
Or an assassin who turned over a new leaf?
But this isn’t the Avengers.
This is God.
God often chooses the people that look weak.
The people that seem unimpressive.
The people that are unsung…
To do his incredible work.
Is that you?
Do you feel weak?
Are you unimpressive?
Are you unsung?
You are exactly whom God is looking for.
Even during this year.
Even during a pandemic.
Even if you aren’t labelled essential by government edicts.
Even if you aren’t labelled essential by others in society.
Even if you don’t label YOU essential.
Scripture says this, “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
Because it’s all about God.
And the more that the world thinks you are unimpressive.
The more the world feels that you are week.
The more unsung YOU are.
The more SUNG God will be.
Which is the point.
Because he alone is the Savior.
And he is directed people to be saved through YOU.
IV. What Now?
How do you do unsung work for our Savior God?
1) Fear God
That was the driving force for Shiprah and Puah.
They feared the eternal God more than they feared the temporal king.
They feared the being who breathes eternal hellfire rather than the man whose body would be burned with regular fire.
Fear in Hebrew has two senses.
The first is terror.
To fear something because it is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than you.
But there’s a second aspect of the Hebrew definition.
An aspect that encompasses respect.
Our God saved us.
He lived perfectly when you couldn’t.
He died innocently in your place.
He rose triumphantly to assure you of your forgiveness.
Because of God, you are forgiven.
You are in his kingdom.
You have peace.
Nobody else can offer that to you.
And nobody else should cause enough “awe” to inform your day-to-day decisions.
No one else.
Not a friend.
Not a family member.
Not a coworker.
Not a C.E.O.
Not a Twitter trendsetter.
Not a President.
Fear him more than anyone.
And fear him more than anyone.
2) Obey God in Whatever You Do
Maybe you don’t have a high-ranking job.
That doesn’t mean God can’t work through you.
I remember when I was a dishwasher.
I was in charge of scrubbing pots.
I was in charge of cleaning pans.
I was in charge of dumping out the stinky pot of used grease from the fryer.
It was lowly.
I also remember a certain waitress, older than me, who was having boyfriend issues.
He had fathered her child and since left her.
She felt alone.
She felt sad.
She felt abused.
And after one particularly, abusive phone call, she was in tears.
The cooks laughed it off.
The boss said, “Suck it up.”
The other waitresses began to gossip.
When it was quiet…
And she handed me a plate filled with fish fry grease.
She said, “I’m sorry. It’s been a rough day.
For whatever the reason….
I’m still sure why…
I was able to say:
“I’m sorry he said that. It must be hard to be alone. But I know that you aren’t. Can I tell you about Jesus?”
To his glory.
Jesus brought comfort to her that night.
1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Do you do dishwashing? Do it for God’s glory.
Do you do newspaper delivery? Do it for God’s glory.
Do you post on social media for 13 followers? Do it for God’s glory.
Do you teach 1-year-olds? Do it for God’s glory.
Because when you do.
You are an unsung hero.
Understand that’s only in the world’s eyes.
Because God sang about you as he knit you together.
God crooned with joy as he gave you life.
God added a new stanza to the song of salvation that’s all about you.
And God brings the beautiful melody of the Gospel to others through you.
I guess what I’m saying is…
You might be unsung to the world.
But to God?
Because you’re sung.