Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Surprising Result of the Egyptian Affliction Exodus 1:12-14

But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel.  And the Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.

The text says that the harder the Egyptian slave masters worked the Hebrews, the more they multiplied in numbers and caused the Egyptians to fear them.  Now, as far as I understand human biology there is no direct connection between working someone harder and their ability to reproduce.  I suppose that if one is young and hardy as a result of hard work, it may be said that he or she is more likely to reproduce infants that are more strong and hardy and thus can survive birth better, with the result being that the population grows faster.  But short of that, this was clearly a “God-thing”.  It reminds me of how the Church of Jesus Christ today has been growing much stronger and bigger under adverse circumstances in countries were it is disallowed – China being the foremost example that comes to mind.  God has a way of using difficult times for us as individuals and as pockets of the Church for our own good and for His glory.  And today the Church, while it is not dreaded from the standpoint of physical fear, it is feared as an enemy of the state’s ideological goals.

Now, here’s the funny thing.  The Egyptians didn’t change their ways when they saw this extra growth spurt among the children of God.  They kept on addressing their fear in the same manner – by piling on even more work on the Hebrews.  Today we all know that we can’t solve a problem or a concern by doing the same thing day after day, especially if that is the very thing that may well have been the cause of the problem.  The Egyptians had not yet advanced to that level of business management acumen.  But even today some of the world’s strongest regimes seem to be guilty of the same old habit.  Their only approach to fighting believers in Christ is to murder them, burn their churches, and ridicule them.  And the Church keeps on growing worldwide.

The text informs us that the Hebrews were being worked like slaves in both the Egyptian construction, as well as their agricultural, industries.  In short, they supplied the laborers and the farmhands.  Today these two categories of employment, as honorable as they may be before God and those that appreciate the end results of their efforts, are still deemed as menial work by many, primarily because of how physically difficult and mentally undemanding they are.  In Canada, for example, the majority of laborers are immigrants from other lands or those that have not progressed in school beyond the minimal requirement.  When it comes to farmhands, Canada like other countries tends to call on migrant workers from other nations (mostly Mexico in our case) to come and work seasonally for low wages in order to grow and harvest the crops.  Things have not changed that much in the thousands of years that have passed since the time of our text.

Here are the questions for you and I today.  First, how much adversity are we prepared to suffer in this life?  Second, when adversity comes will we collapse or will we see it as part of God’s will for our lives and His Kingdom?  Given what is going on in the world today – the attack on the Church by the State and liberalism; the progress of Islam (which ultimately believes it has the duty to eliminate both Jews and Christians as infidels from the world in its service to Allah); and the progress of secularism – these indeed are very serious and meaningful questions we need to give some heed to now.

And let us not for a moment think by being ‘godly’ we can avert suffering.  On the contrary, the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians clearly tells us, in his first letter to them, that suffering is central to being godly.  It’s well worth the read.  I believe we need to accept that fact and when adversity comes we need to be able to apply Philippians 4:6,7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Each of us would do well to start practicing that advice now rather than waiting until real adversity is upon us.

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