Life has a way of changing very quickly. For the people of Israel, life took a sharp turn for the worse with the succession of a king.
Egypt’s new king had no regard for Joseph and his descendants. You will remember how, under the Lord’s guidance, Joseph won the favor of Egypt’s king in his day because he instituted measured that prevented the people from starving to death.
As long as Joseph was remembered, the Jews lived well on Egyptian soil, but when he was forgotten they fell under the suspicion of the nation’s leader.
Good people and their works are soon forgotten by man, and the same can be said about a nation’s heritage. God used Joseph to bless Egypt with plenty of food when nations around them had no food. There should have been no doubt that Israel’s God delivered them with His hand, but as generations passed memories of His blessings faded.
National problems start when arrogant leaders disregard the heritage of the people over which they have authority, and the Jew’s problems began with a king.
The king saw the Jews outnumbered Egyptians, and feared they would ally themselves with Egypt’s enemies and overthrow him.
To make sure there was no rebellion, the king appointed cruel supervisors to dominate the Jews. In fact, these supervisors were specifically to “afflict them with their burdens.”
It was not enough to enslave the Jews, the king wanted to be especially harsh in dealing with them. His plan did not work and Scripture tells us “the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.”
The Egyptians pushed still harder against God’s chosen people, making “their lives bitter with hard bondage.”
Not only did the Jews have to build, they were forced to manufacture the materials with which they built. There was no mercy in the ways Egypt treated the Jews.
Seeing he made no headway with his plan of oppression, the king spoke to two of the Hebrew midwives, telling them to kill all the sons born to Jewish women.
By killing the sons, the king believed he could control the population of Jews in his country and at the same time he would be eliminating the next generation of potential warriors against Egypt.
There was a problem with this plan, too, because the midwives feared God, and they would not murder Hebrew boys.
Of course, this became obvious to the king, and he asked the midwives why Hebrew boys were living. The midwives told the king that Jewish women gave birth so quickly the babies were born before they could arrive to assist the mothers.
God showed His favor to the midwives and the Hebrews. The people kept on growing in number and became even mightier, and because the midwives had reverence for God, He blessed them with families of their own.
Christians, no earthly power, no matter how wicked, can overcome the power of God. Through the blood of Christ, God made a covenant with you that no one can rob from you.
— The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church, Lumberton, N.C. email@example.com.