Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Excursions in Exodus- Beginning Blessings

As an attempt to post more regularly, I am beginning a series of posts on the book of Exodus. I am leading a study on Exodus at a local nursing home, so I will adapt my study notes to use as posts. My goal will be to explore Exodus through a redemptive-historical perspective. Below is the first, brief study.


Exodus begins where Genesis left off, but the situation has changed radically. A new pharaoh rules takes the throne who has no memory of Joseph and how he had preserved Egypt from disaster during the famine. The honor once accorded Joseph’s family was rescinded, and now the sons of Jacob were made slaves in state building projects.

The family of Jacob, the clan of Israel, was not just another ancient near eastern people-group suffering under unfortunate circumstances. This was the people of God, bound to the creator of heaven and earth by his solemn bond and covenant. God had promised Abraham that he would “bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Their current plight seems on the surface to be a direct contradiction to God’s promise. Has God abandoned his people? Is the Fear of Abraham impotent in the face of the gods of the Egyptians?

In spite of the desperate condition of God’s people, Exodus 1 is clear that God had not abandoned or forgotten about his people. God was with Israel, and he was blessing them even in their bondage. The author show this by describing the incredible growth of Israel in Egypt. Compare the statement from Exodus describing Israel’s growth with God’s blessing on creation in Genesis 1. “The Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.” “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” The growth of Israel was not an accident of nature; was not the natural genealogical progression of a clan, but was the direct blessing of God upon his people. God was blessing Israel, and it was manifest in their amazing birthrate. The Lord was fulfilling through Israel his initial creation blessing on mankind.

The growth of Israel is also a result of his special, covenantal blessing. God had promised Abraham that “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.” God began to fulfill his promise by blessing his people, and causing them to expand, even in the midst of their exile. God blessing for the children of Abraham was not only in the general realm of creation, but specifically redemptive. In fact, by God’s fulfillment of his special, redemptive blessings ensured that the general, creational blessing could be extended beyond Israel to all nations. God ends his blessing on Abraham saying, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

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