God calls Moses to led his people to freedom and tells him to go ask Pharaoh for permission to leave. Then he hardens Pharaoh's heart so he says no and then later punishes not only him but the whole Egyptian community. Why? What's going on?
It begins to make sense when you see in Exodus 4:22 when God makes it clear he views Israel as his 'firstborn son.' The King of Egypt started this whole fight first in Exodus 1:16 when he gave instructions to kill every male child at birth among the Israelites (which led to the whole story of Moses being hidden in the reeds).
In Exodus 1:22 Pharaoh issues a command that every Israelite male child is to be thrown into the Nile at birth. None of this is lost on God at all who promptly turns the Nile to blood as Pharaoh is bathing in it - warming him of what is to come if he does not release Israel...he will end up bathing in the blood of his own nation's children if he does not relent. He does not, and it all ends in tears as the Angel of Death is sent.
Essentially, Pharaoh sought to kill God's son. God has issued multiple warnings and is now coming to take all Pharaoh holds dear. You do not mess with God's kids. An awesome session that is really worth dwelling on some more. Here's the teaching notes Bruce taught from - read over it and let the message sink in. Bless you heaps team - thanks Bruce and Linda...see you again soon!
Bruce Billington - Sonship, Dec 14
God Sets the Scene
Ex 4:22 "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.”
Israel is currently languishing in bondage and oppression and subject to the ruthless control at the hand of the Egyptians. Earlier - in order to restrict the population growth of the Hebrews, Pharaoh had told the midwife’s to put any newborn Israelite males to death.
Fearsome God Confronts Pharaoh
Ex 4:23 “So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’”
When God makes this statement He is directly confronting the powers that be and saying, “don’t mess with my son!! It was a divine declaration, which would continue for centuries to come.
Verse 22 - Israel is my firstborn son
God has chosen and is claiming Israel as His son. By referring to Israel as His son a new order was now to begin. Out of all the nations of the world God has singled one out for his son - not that it was greater, more powerful or special - it was just God’s sovereign choice - (Deut 7:7-8).
Verse 23 - I said to you “Let My son go!”
This is a blatant warning - there is no plea, no bargain and no trade - just a directive from the King of the entire Universe. They get a brief warning but God is about to take whatever action is required to get His son out.
God has called us to come out of the world’s system and way of thinking and work with Him. Israel belongs to God and God expects that his son would serve Him loyally in the years ahead. It is through Him that God wanted to bless and impact the world.
So he may worship/serve Me.
This is a direct challenge to the king of Egypt who thought he was the all-powerful one. God is now going to intervene in human affairs, using the nation of Israel and He will not tolerate anyone getting in the way - least of all a Pharaoh who thinks he can decide the destiny of God’s special son.
Who Do We Serve and who controls our Lives?
Everyone has to serve somebody. Jesus said in Matt 6:24 that we cannot serve two masters. If we truly have given our lives to God we are in His service.
Lev 25:55 ‘For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'
The son is also a servant or slave. George Matheson captured this well in a hymn.
Make me a captive Lord
And then I shall be free
Force me to render up my sword,
And I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life’s alarms
when by myself I stand;
Imprison me within thine arms,
And strong shall be my hand.
The nation is a young fledging who needs to develop and mature. Exodus is about birth and infancy. The Father calls us into a relationship with Him, which is not only based on who He is but also on what He does.
God promises He will bring the people out of slavery - and He does - they are spectacularly rescued from oppression and slavery - but it doesn’t end there. Deut 4:20 ESV describes what this is all about.
But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.
But you refused to let him go.
God is not taking anything into account like that they didn’t know who He was or what He could do - or anything else. He gave fair warning - now judgment is pronounced.
So I will kill your firstborn son.
Pharaoh had commanded his people to start killing God’s newborn sons - as a result God would kill his. This was a direct assault on the royal procession in Egypt - the firstborn son inherited the father’s throne.
Egypt takes no notice so a showdown begins. Egypt was the world’s first superpower and God mounts a direct challenge against their power and authority on the basis of them holding His son. This is about a demonstration of who is in power and who is in control.
It Has To Be Community
Salvation in the Old Testament is a community creating event. Israel is delivered into a community. God saved the Israelites not so they could relate to Him individually - but so they would become the people of His inheritance. This communal aspect of the O.T. continues in the N.T. by the plural description of “sons of God.” The sense of community was essential to the ancient way of life. God has called them from bondage into a lifetime of community - a new family where they are to know the joys and sorrows, the blessings and the struggles, as they walk, serve and fellowship with each other as sons and daughters of the living God (Deut 14:1-2).
Our individual salvation in the New Covenant is not on the basis of our family or community but the hugely important issue of growth, maturity and transformation is.
If we drop out of the Christian community we cannot grow and mature. We are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and God is a community - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We cannot be walking in the image of God unless we are in community too.
Eph 3: 10-11
V10 - so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
V11 - This was in accordance with the eternal purpose, which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
The Christian community becomes the context for our personal story. It is here that we encounter the narrative of God’s action in history, as told by the community of faith. This forces us into a radical encounter not only with God and people - but within ourselves. Everything we have based our life on in the past can no longer work if we are going to pursue the purposes of God!!
We now join our history with God’s people - the community - we cannot work it out on our own. Transformation occurs as we encounter a new community which has a distinctive value system and through that encounter we come to accept their understanding as our own.
The most extreme form of discipline in the New Testament is to put someone out of community because they can no longer mature and embrace the purposes of God. So extreme is this discipline that Paul warns in 2 Cor 2:7 that we must not leave the person out for too long - once they show fruit of repentance you must bring them back in or the penalty it is just too harsh!
We get attracted to the gods of the people we associate with - they call us into their way of life.
1 Pet 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.