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Egyptian Bondage and Deliverance

Exodus, Chapter 1

God says through his prophet Hosea, Hos. 11 : 1, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." See also Matt. 2 : 15. There was a loving, divine purpose in the Egyptian residence of God's people. What was it? What did this period mean in the career of Israel?

Most obviously, it meant growth. From the "seventy souls," Ex. 1 : 5, that went down into Egypt with Jacob, there sprang up there a populous folk, large enough to take its place alongside the other nations of the world of that day. Observe the nature of the land where this growth took place. Egypt was a settled country, where the twelve developing tribes could be united geographically and socially in a way impossible in a country like Palestine. However oppressed they were, they nevertheless were secluded from the dangers of raids from without and of civil strife within — just such dangers as later almost wrecked the substantial edifice slowly erected by this period of growth in Egypt.

Egypt meant also for Israel a time of waiting. All this growth was not accomplished in a short time. It lasted four hundred and thirty years. Ex. 12 : 40, 41. Through this long period, which seems like a dark tunnel between the brightness of the patriarchs' times and that of Moses' day, there was nothing for God's people to do but to wait. They were the heirs of God's promise, but they must wait for the fulfillment of that promise in God's own time, wait for a leader raised up by God, wait for the hour of national destiny to strike. As Hosea, ch. 11 : 1 expresses it, this "child" must wait for his Father's "call." The Egyptian period left an indelible impression on the mind of Israel. It formed the gray background on which God could lay the colors of his great deliverance. It is because God knew and planned this that he so often introduces himself to his people, when he speaks to them, as "Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

In the third place, this Egyptian period meant for Israel a time of chastisement. The oppression to which the descendants of Jacob were exposed, when "there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not