Scripture: Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Exodus 1:8-10 ESV
Takeaway: The author of Exodus (likely Moses) picks up with the end of Joseph’s story and tells us that after he died, the people of Israel “were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them” (1:7). And during this four-hundred-year span, Joseph’s trustworthy and loyal service to his Pharaoh faded from the memory of successive rulers. Now, the once sixty-six family members of Jacob’s clan (Genesis 46:26) who resettled in Egypt under Joseph’s care have mushroomed to over a million, posing a threat to the current Pharaoh as he perceives. And so he proposes that they deal shrewdly with the Israelites to weaken and discourage them so that they do not join forces with neighboring enemies and gain their independence (above verses).
Takeaway: While we should never shy away from receiving God’s blessings, we need to be mindful of how others may respond. Even within the church, jealousy can invoke ungodly gossip and speculative allegations. And outside the church, our secular culture often seeks opportunities to bring down those who prosper under the principles of our Christian faith. The attacks in recent years on Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby over their biblical stances on the sanctity of marriage and the life of the unborn (respectively) come to mind. Moreover, Jesus warned his followers that the world would hate and persecute them like the religious order of his day did to him.
So do we merely brace ourselves for enemy attacks? No, we need to be proactive. We will fair better if we care well for our communities—even those who scorn the Christian faith. And like Israel, if memories fade of our charitable, godly service and new leaders attack us, our God will deliver us in due time. Meanwhile, be thankful and pass on these blessings of the Lord to others.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the fruitful labor of your Son, who passed on your blessings of forgiveness and restoration to us in the face of horrendous persecution. Would you please help us follow your Holy Spirit’s lead to press through the fallout of fruitfulness and bless others with the abundant resources you grant us? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling