November 26, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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“Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already). And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”—Exodus 1:1–8 (NKJV)
The Book of Exodus opens by recapping the tail end of its predecessor, the Book of Genesis. These first few verses remind us that the descendants of Abraham, through whom God promised to establish a mighty nation, were now securely settled in the land of Egypt. As the lineage goes, Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac was the father of Jacob, and Jacob was the father of the twelve sons listed here. These twelve sons would be the foundations upon which this divinely-determined nation would be built.
God had sown the ancestral seeds in the fertile empire of Egypt, according to His providential plan. But notice the three important developments outlined here. First, Joseph and all his brothers die. This could have had a demoralizing effect, because all the characters who factored into this divine drama were now dead and gone. Would the promise and purpose of God to build a mighty nation from them also die? The answer is a decisive, “No!”
This brings us to the second development: God abundantly blessed their lineage. Quite simply, there was a population explosion among the descendants of Israel (Jacob). Check out all the adjectives used to describe their growth—“fruitful. . . increased abundantly . . . multiplied . . . grew exceedingly mighty . . . the land was filled with them.” God’s Word goes out of its way to tell us this was a baby boom unlike any other!
This leads us to the third development that a new king came to rule over Egypt who didn’t know or care anything about Joseph. That’s an ominous note because as we’ll see, the favor the Israelites once enjoyed in Egypt was about to be taken away from them. This new ruler saw the prolific growth of their people as a threat, and he would deal with the threat the way most rulers in the ancient world dealt with threats . . . by seeking to eliminate it! And mind you, this is the most powerful man on the planet at this particular point in time.
If we were to stop right here, we’d be tempted to think that’s the end of God’s plan to raise up the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into a mighty nation. And we’d be dead wrong! For as we’ll see in the continuation of Exodus, God’s purpose will prevail no matter who tries to prevent it from happening.
This truth also plays out in our own lives. When it comes to God’s predetermined plan for you and me, no unforeseen developments can stop it from happening. God’s will shall prevail and will unfold according to His perfect timing as we continue to trust in Him to fulfill His promises. A new king has arisen, but the same God rules!
Pause: What central truth do we need to take away from these first few verses in the Book of Exodus?
Practice: Reflect on how this passage from God’s Word can encourage you when life takes an unexpected turn.
Pray: Lord, I know You are greater than the things that catch me by surprise in life. When circumstances conspire to prevent Your good purpose from happening, I can rest in faith knowing that You are able and You will perfect all of Your promises towards me. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.