The Slavery of Israel
One way to destroy a people is to oppress them into submission. This was step one of Pharaoh's plan for the control and eventual destruction of this despised people. The Hebrews were to be used as forced labor, to build cities for the throne. This slavery would accomplish two purposes:
- It would end the ongoing expansion of the Hebrew race, and
- It would build two cities to guard the eastern border.
But what was the effect of this persecution? The numbers of Israel increased, and they spread even further. This resulted in the Egyptians increasing their efforts to destroy these people. I think here we see another major principle of God, that under pressure, His work grows. Under oppression, the people of Israel increase.
Principle: We see this growth occurring during the persecution of the Church, which led to believers being scattered.
“… Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:3-4).
This, in turn, led to the gospel being spread as the Lord commanded in Acts 1:8,.
“… You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” So the Church grew.
It is much the same for the believers, in that it is only through hardship and troubles that we are given the opportunity to mature.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:1-4).
If we desire to grow and mature, then we must risk asking for and be willing to endure pruning. We must be prepared to accept the Lord’s working in our lives.
“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:4-11).
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
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