Just when everything is going great; the journey seems smooth, and we think we have finally arrived, the scenario shifts again. We cry to God, “I’ve been faithful! Why is this happening to me?” The children of Israel find themselves in a similar position.
“A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” (Uh oh!) All that Joseph has stood for, the good works he has done, is erased in a moment. The children of Israel flourished under the cooperative spirit that Joseph had instilled in them. Joseph had forged strong relationships with the Egyptians, and Israel had continued to grow.
“A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” This king chooses to remain ignorant of the good work that Joseph and past leaders have done. This new king is afraid. He fears the growing Israelite population in his country, fears that the Israelites might turn on him, fears that he can’t “rule” over them. So he returns to the bitter oppression of the past.
“A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” The days of cooperation and mutual respect have ended. This king brings harsh work and selfish demands. The taskmasters brutally afflict the Israelites! The focus is to break the spirit of the Israelites and stop their continued population growth.
Yet, as often happens with God’s people, God’s blessings continue to abound. And the more abuse the Israelites face, the more they flourish.
Where do you struggle in your own work, life, faith? What history are you ignoring? What do you need to resist in your life? How is God blessing you in the midst of your struggle?
O God, give me courage today—courage to press on, to seek abundant life. O God, give me wisdom today that I will choose the right things to do. O God, give me faith today to trust you regardless of what may come my way. Amen.
All the texts bear witness to the rich and powerful sovereignty of God, who generously gives life. In the Exodus text, both the future of Israel and the future of God’s plans for all humanity are imperiled. At one level, the infant is saved only by the cunning of his mother and sister and by the compassion of the Egyptian princess; but, truthfully, Moses is saved only by the grace of God. Psalm 124 looks beyond the birth of Moses to the moment of the Exodus and celebrates with great joy God’s redemption of the people. Only by God’s help can humans nd life and freedom. In Romans 12 Paul calls for the transformation of the person through the power of God. We are to “be transformed,” thus placing primary emphasis on the activity of God in the life of the Christian. The Gospel reading is a confession of Jesus’ identity as the Messiah. Matthew emphasizes the rootedness of the church in the disciples’ recognition of Jesus’ messianic nature.
• Read Exodus 1:8–2:10. When have you had a scary experience that God’s “grand plan” made successful?
• Read Psalm 124. Looking back on your life, where can you see God’s hand guiding you through rough times?
• Read Romans 12:1-8. Take time to answer the writer’s ques- tion: “How are you using your gifts in your church and in your community?”
• Read Matthew 16:13-20. Who do you say Jesus is?
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