Long after Joseph’s death, the nation of Israel is thriving in the land of Egypt. The census at Sinai showed approximately 603,000 males 20 years and older. Add to that number women and children and the total population may have reached as high as 2 million.
The latest king on the throne had no idea who Joseph was or what he had done to single-handedly save the people and build the Egyptian empire into what it was. Instead, Pharoah was threatened and feared that if God’s people got ticked off at him, they could do some damage to the kingdom. His next step is to devise a plan to take them down a notch so he can feel more secure in his position. Have you ever worked for someone like that? Instead of seeing your strengths and realizing that if they put them to good use, it would actually benefit them, they oppress you in hopes that you’ll eventually leave and they’ll feel bigger and better about themselves.
In this case, however, Pharoah didn’t want God’s people to leave the land of Egypt. In fact, he knew he had a good thing going for him. So he set taskmasters over them to browbeat them into submission. The problem with that idea was that the more they afflicted the Israelites, the more they multiplied and grew.
When Plan A failed, Pharoah resorted to Plan B. Since he couldn’t enforce birth control and there were no abortion clinics back then, he ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill every male during childbirth, figuring they could further dilute the Israelites if necessary by intermarriage. But Plan B backfired when the midwives refused to submit to his evil request and God rewarded them with families of their own while His people continued to prosper and multiply at record rates.
In the book of Acts, oppression and persecution were the main catalysts for explosion of the early Church. Historically, geographically, corporately and individually, it’s when we get comfortable that we don’t grow. In fact, growing stagnant can kill what we do have, rendering the Church powerless and complacent to the needs around us. Getting comfortable is the death rattle of the Church. If we’re not ticking someone off enough to come after us, it’s highly probable we might be doing something wrong.
This oppressive and volatile setting set the scene for Moses’ arrival. Because he had to remain hidden to save his life, his mother floated him down the river in a tiny makeshift ark, delivering him right into the hands of Pharoah’s daughter. God never lacks creativity in getting us to where He wants us to be. Moses’ sister, Miriam, is sent to watch over her brother and follows him straight to the palace. Innocently, she suggests a Hebrew woman could nurse the baby and it just so happens she knows someone who would be perfect for the job.
With that brilliant suggestion, Moses’ mom gets paid to mother her son for the next 2 or 3 years while he is adopted into the royal family, learning their strange customs and becoming integrated with their culture. This training will prove critical later in life when God calls Moses to live up to his namesake and deliver His people from the bondage of Egypt.
It’s easy to look back at your childhood or things you’ve been through and see them as a hindrance or a stumbling block to your future. But God didn’t plan for it to be that way. It takes a paradigm shift in thinking to see how your past can actually benefit you and help you to move forward not only to fulfill your purpose, but to help others fulfill theirs, which is actually your ultimate purpose.
Some people complain that Mom didn’t bake enough cookies or Dad couldn’t afford to buy the coolest toys on the shelf and that’s why I am where I am today – a helpless victim, crippled by inadequate parents. Colleen Foshee from Deep Breath Ministries said something funny and true at the same time on Twitter this week – “God has never once said ‘I had a good plan for you but your parents really messed it up.’ Trust Him. the good plan is still on!”
I like that. Regardless of who you might be blaming for where you are right now, if you’re over eighteen, the responsibility to move forward with your life has now been officially handed over to you. Just take up the torch and keep running. I understand fully how abusive and serious situations can hinder your progress for a time and season, but sorry, even that does not revoke your responsibility to stop ignoring the depression, anger, frustration and emptiness and get help if you need it in order to move forward.
Moses had to make a choice to either focus on himself and his past or simply answer God’s call to step into his destiny. Seeing how he tried every exit he knew to get out of it, it was obviously not an easy choice to make.
Pursuing your purpose is not a garden of sweet-smelling rose petals. It’s more like the Garden of Gethsemane. I’m not going to lie to you – it will require blood, sweat and tears on your part. In other words, death to self is the rite of passage for fulfilling your destiny. Remember those words, “Not my will, but Yours be done?”
The good news is that the decision is the hardest part. Like marriage, it’s scary looking in from the outside, but once you’re fully committed, then your only option is to work things out for the long haul. We see it with God’s people being persecuted in Egypt. We see it with the early Church. And we see it in our own lives when stuff happens. The same four-letter word that can turn your world upside down is what makes a garden grow. That’s when real growth and transformation begin. Life’s struggles are a mandatory prerequisite to fulfilling your destiny. It just depends on how you view it.
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