-Four hundred and thirty years after the time of Joseph (Exodus 12:40, Acts 7:6), the Hebrew children are set free to return to their promised land. Exodus begins before this releasing with a new king who arises over Egypt that did not know Joseph and feared the multiplication and might of the Hebrew people. Therefore, oppression becomes the theme of the first chapter of Exodus. He enslaves the sons and daughters of Israel making them labor vigorously building storage cities in Pithom and Raamses and making them work hard in the fields. They worked with brick and mortar very rigorously as slaves.
-The dread of the sons of Israel continued to grow as they kept multiplying and increasing in might. The Egyptian rulers made their lives bitter with increasingly hard labor, but God was with His children.
-The king of Egypt plotted against the Hebrew boy population by telling the Hebrew midwives to put to death males that were being born. However, these women feared God and did not do as the Pharaoh commanded. The LORD blessed them for their fear of Him and established households for them even though they had lied to Pharaoh. They had done the greater good of promoting God’s plan for redemption by saving lives. This, just like with Rahab later on (Joshua 2:1-6), does not make this a sinless act, but is used for God’s purposes.
-Pharaoh takes another step in dread of the Hebrews by commanding the people of his nation to cast every male Hebrew child into the Nile. The evil of this king is clearly evident and God was now at work to deliver His people, although it would be a process and take some time (approximately 80 years, Exodus 7:7).
-*Application* Oppression is never a good way to handle your business. What began as a place of refuge and salvation for the sons of Israel, in time turned into a place of slavery and bondage. Why did this happen? It was because the new Pharaoh did not know God and feared an uprising against him. He was egotistical and wanted to build his own kingdom rather than making good lives for the people in his land. Being a good leader of whatever domain God has given is important. Treat your people with the love of God and bless them with favor. In other words, be the opposite kind of person this new king of Egypt was. Also, we see the blessings of obedience to God rather than man in the story. Resolve to fear God over man in every situation and you will incur His favor.
Verse to Memorize: Exodus 1:8