January 29, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. ‘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.’ So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; 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.”—Exodus 1:8–14 (NIV)
In the NFL, you often see coaches and general managers fired after a few unsuccessful seasons. And when that happens, typically no player is safe. Why? Because the new GM and coach have no ties to the current players (they didn’t sign or draft them), so they have no problem releasing players to get the guys that fit their system.
Why am I telling you this? Well, around 300 years after Joseph ascended to power, saved Egypt from famine, and brought his family to settle in Egypt, the Israelites were still living there and numbered in the millions. And like a new GM and coach in football has no ties to the current roster of players, this new king, whom scholars believe was Amenemhet III, had no allegiance or emotional ties to Joseph or his family. He didn’t care about what some Hebrew dreamer, who happened to be a former slave himself, did to help the Egyptian people survive a terrible famine.
When he saw both the threat of their numbers and the opportunity for a seemingly endless supply of free labor, he jumped on it. In addition, David Guzik points out, “The ancient Egyptians were famous—or infamous—for their proud sense of racial superiority towards all other people. It isn’t surprising to see them afraid and discriminating against this strong minority group in their midst.”
You may be asking, “What’s the biblical principle here?” Well, there are a few key things here about God and His nature.
Did you know that nothing happens in the world or in your life that catches God by surprise? He’s in control, and He’s working in your midst, your heart, your life, and the lives of those around you. And just like He did here with His people, He suffers along with us, feels our pains, traumas, and hardships, and equips us with everything we need to not only accomplish His good purposes, but also to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NIV).
Pause: What does today’s passage teach us about God?
Practice: If you’re struggling through a season of confusion, difficulty, hurt, doubt, or suffering, please know the Lord sees you, is with you, loves you, and has a plan for you. And part of that plan is that you don’t suffer alone! Please e-mail me at DanielS@CalvaryFTL.org if you’re in need of prayer, help, community, counseling, or all of the above! We’re here for you, and we’re ready to walk alongside you!
Pray: Father, thank You that even in the darkest of circumstances, You are in control, You are working, moving, and accomplishing Your good and perfect purposes, and You are drawing people to Your Son through it all! In my suffering, I pray You would be my strength, my shield, and my comforter, and that You’d surround me with the support and prayers of Your people. In the suffering of others, I pray You would use me as You see fit to draw them to You and be there for them! Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.