Mark Fox July 14, 2024

Saving the Deliverer

The new Pharaoh did not know Joseph, except perhaps by reputation. What he did know was the people of Israel living in Egypt were growing and were strong. The ruler of the most powerful nation on earth said of the Hebrews, they are “too many and too mighty for us.” He was afraid of these people he did not know, who came from a different land, and his fear of them rising up against him led him to take drastic and wicked actions. His first act was to command the Israelites be made slaves. Their freedom to live in a foreign land disappeared over night, as taskmasters were appointed to rule over them with whips. God told Abraham this would happen, many years before: “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for 400 years.” 

But the more the Hebrews were oppressed, the more they multiplied. These were God’s people, devoted to him and free in him, even while enslaved. Their suffering did nothing but cause them to lean more into God by faith as they “groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help.” The same holds true today and always has: the greatest growth of Christianity happens in times and places where it costs something to follow God and trust Jesus. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”  

What happened in Egypt? When the oppression of slavery didn’t work, the king took steps to eliminate a race of people by destroying the male seed. He commanded the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to put to death every Hebrew baby boy as soon as he was born. 

The Pharaoh’s new edict threatened to eliminate the birth of the one who would lead God’s people out of bondage. But Shiphrah and Puah stood in the gap, as their reverence for God and life led them to refuse to do what the Pharaoh had commanded. Included in the number saved was Moses, the deliverer of Israel. 

These women are clearly heroes of the faith in the Bible, the first two “pro-life heroines” in history. Shiphrah means “beautiful one” and Puah means “splendid one,” and they were true to their names. These two effectively said to Pharaoh, long before Peter and John said to the rulers and elders in Jerusalem, “We must obey God rather than man.” 

Do you see the contrast between Pharaoh and these two women? Fear of man can cause us to do unspeakable things, as the Egyptian ruler did. But a love and reverence for God leads us on the path of righteousness, no matter the cost, as these two godly women illustrate for us. They must have understood the consequences of disobeying the Pharaoh. But the Bible and the history of Christianity are filled with examples of people who were willing to offer themselves as living sacrifices for the sake of obedience to the call of faith in Jesus.

Finally, the irony cannot be missed. The Pharaoh was worried about boys becoming men, but his plan was blown up by two women.

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Mark Fox July 14, 2024
Mark Fox July 8, 2024

The Story of Redemption

You know the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. How do you eat the book of Exodus, 40 chapters, nearly 26,000 words, packed full of amazing stories of the redemption of God’s people? One bite at a time. I hope to spend most of the next two years walking through this book with the family of believers at Antioch. Why would we do that? Because we meet God in Exodus, as the hero of the story, just as he was in Genesis. God makes himself know to Moses and to the children of Israel, and to us, in this book. The Bible itself is the story of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration. Exodus is the greatest story of redemption in the Old Testament. The book was first called “Names” in Hebrew because of the first few words, “These are the names.” But when the translation into Greek happened in the third century B.C., the Septuagint, it was renamed “Exodus,” which means “departure.” The first time that word occurs in the Greek is chapter 19: “On the third moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt…” 

This book is not about a people in Egypt, not primarily. No, they went out. This book is about the departure of God’s people by God’s mighty hand out of Egypt. It is not about residence; it is about exodus. And it is about God’s intervention in the affairs of men. In honor of our nation’s history and our celebration of Independence Day last week, I offer this story, which many of you know, about God’s intervention in our nation’s history before our nation ever came to be.

In 1755, during the French and Indian War, 23-year-old Colonel George Washington was one of 1,400 British troops under the command of General Braddock marching to capture Fort Duquesne, near Pittsburgh, when they were attacked by a French and Indian force. During the battle, “Braddock was killed and every officer on horseback was shot, except Washington.” The young colonel later wrote to his brother, “But by the All-Powerful Dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.” A Native American who fought in the battle later stated, “Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet! I had seventeen fair fires at him with my rifle and could not bring him to the ground.” 

Sounds like a miracle to me. But it pales in comparison to what we read in Exodus.

 “The exodus,” Philip Ryken wrote, “was the great miracle of the Old Covenant.” There is only one greater act of redemption in the whole Bible, the greatest of all time, and that was the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Psalm 66 invites us to study Exodus: “Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land…Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard…” The exodus shaped the whole Bible, and there are over 120 references to it in the Old Testament alone. Psalm 77 tells us who God is:

“Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you,   they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled…Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

I am looking forward to every bite of this wonderful testimony of God’s providence and love.

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Mark Fox July 8, 2024