What happens if a foreign object or a dangerous virus or infection gets into our blood stream, what then? Yes, our body begins to attack the virus or foreign body; it goes into fighting and survival mode. There is an increase of blood flow, high temperatures and immune cells fight the deadly object to help the body cope with and destroy the foreign object.
What happens if the body is unable to defeat the foreign virus? We die! Something so small, so insignificant actually kills a living person millions of times larger than itself. Viruses are deadly because they find their life, and in fact, find their whole being, in sucking the life out of their host, and in doing so, ultimately kill themselves, by killing off the body who is keeping them alive.
The story of the exodus; of Israel breaking from their oppressors, is a true story about a life and death struggle of a body fighting a deadly virus. The body is us, the whole human race, who survives lives and finds its well being in God the creator of heaven and earth. From him we have been created and have life. The virus infecting the body is a deadly infection…a foreign god. A god, the Pharaoh of Egypt, who claims to give life and provide all things, but sadly this god is a virus, an infection that finds its life and being in the living body of the human race. If not treated and dealt with, will kill the body, the Israelites and him along with it.
The significance and utter importance of the exodus story must be understood and known by us who believe in God. Why? Because it is the battle for heaven played out on the battle stage on earth. Sounds dramatic? Sounds a little over stated? Not when we being to realise what is happening and what is at stake. If the battle had been lost and the Israelites remained in Egypt to be ethnically cleansed, killed off, where would we be as people, as Christians; as the redeemed people of God?
This sermon is a little different to what we have been used to, we are going to take a look at the story and discuss some key points to try and bring out the real spiritual meaning to what seems to be just an historical and factual event.
To set the scene for the exodus story, we need to wind back time. (power point slide)
Like all battles, this war began many years earlier when a foreign god, the serpent convinced Adam and Eve to trust in him rather than God the creator for our wellbeing. In doing so, in serving a foreign god, humanity became infected with a deadly virus, the devil, who, like a virus, draws all life out of us until we die. In the exodus story the devil isn’t in the serpent, its the Pharaoh of Egypt. (picture of Pharaoh) The Pharaohs, if you don’t know your ancient history, believed they were gods. They were not born on earth but came down from the gods of the sun. The role of the Pharaoh on earth was to have divine rule over all the people. Everyone was to serve him, and in turn, he would provide everything necessary for life.
Sounds familiar? (next slide) What was the devil trying to do in the garden? What was he trying to do with Jesus when he said ‘”All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” The devil is trying to be God, latch onto another life to kill it.
The story begins with ‘Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt’ What is meant by ‘did not know’?
To know means more than to just being acquainted. Knowing in the bible means ‘to have a personal, committed and in depth relationship with someone.’ For the Pharaoh to not know Jacob meant he had rejected any relationship with Jacob; he did not recognise what Jacob represented. That he is the one through whom God would create a new nation of people, holy and pleasing to him. As you are well aware, it is through this family line, the Israelites, that God would bring his Son into the world, to redeem the world. ‘Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.”
What do you think is important in this verse ‘Come, let us 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.’?
The words ‘come let us’, were the words God used when he chose to create human life and bring Adam and Eve into the world. They are words of life. “Come let us make man in our image’. The Pharaoh uses these words to bring death, just like a virus. To act shrewdly was to stop life. We know from later in the story that he forced the Israelites to work extremely hard, and when this failed to kill them off, he murdered every male Israelite child by drowning them in the Nile. The Devil wants to kill off God’s chosen people
We as Christian are also God’s chosen people and the devil continues to try and destroy us. We can recognise his presence in our own lives. He doesn’t create but rather, he pulls down and destroys…or deals shrewdly with us. He kills us through fighting and disunity in our families and relationships. He kills us when hatred and anger affect our moods and controls us. He kills us when he gets us to trust in him and his ways to solve our problems. He kills us when we serve him.
There is a very important word, deliberately used by the writer, in the next verse, see if you can pick it. ‘So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.’ Any guesses? Probably not. The word ‘forced labour’ come from the word to serve or ‘worship’.
The Pharaoh is commanding that the people of Israel worship and serve him rather than their God. And he is going to force the issue. The Israelites have a choice to make, what is it? Yes, they have a choice of who they are going to worship, a false god, or the true God. Take the easy road, serve the Pharaoh, or worship their God and suffer the consequences.
Perhaps you have had to deal with this same decision. Perhaps you have had to choose the hard road and no longer serve a foreign god; no longer serve your sinful nature which has held you captive to an addiction or secret desire. And, like the people of Israel, who chose to continue their worship of God, and so suffered the consequences of hard work and even death. Perhaps you too have had to suffer losses or danger or difficult times because you choose to serve and worship the God of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
Today’s text concludes with a ray of hope; with God breaking into the darkness and death of slavery and oppression under the power of the devil. A baby boy is born into a world of death. Moses is the man who will eventually lead God’s people out of Israel, but first he too must be saved from death.
‘When Moses’ mother could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him…placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him.’
What is ironic about this rescue?
The same water which killed so many other children is the water which saved Moses. It is through water that Moses is brought from death to life. God uses something that kills to bring life.
You and I have been brought from death to life through the waters, not of the Nile, but of baptism. It is through the water and promise of God that we have life and salvation; freedom from the bondage of sin; our exodus from slavery to a new life in Christ.
Can I encourage you to read the story of the exodus, the whole book, and start to see the spiritual connections between Israel’s exodus and reaching the Promised Land, and what God has done for us in Christ.