Sabbath School Lesson 02 – Blessing Overrules Hostility

Sabbath, January 13, 2018

“If the descendants of Abraham had kept separate from other nations, they would not have been seduced into idolatry. By keeping separate from other nations, a great temptation to engage in their sinful practices and rebel against God would be removed from them. They lost in a great measure their peculiar, holy character by mingling with the nations around them. To punish them, the Lord brought a famine upon their land, which compelled them to go down into Egypt to preserve their lives. But God did not forsake them while they were in Egypt, because of His covenant with Abraham. He suffered them to be oppressed by the Egyptians, that they might turn to Him in their distress, choose His righteous and merciful government, and obey His requirements.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 147.

1. When Joseph sent an invitation to his father to move to Egypt, who came with him? All together how many emigrated from Canaan to the new country?

Exodus 1:1-5 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

“No tax was required of Joseph’s father and brethren by the king of Egypt, and Joseph was allowed the privilege of supplying them liberally with food. The king said to his rulers, Are we not indebted to the God of Joseph, and to him, for this liberal supply of food? Was it not because of his wisdom that we laid in so abundantly? While other lands are perishing, we have enough! His management has greatly enriched the kingdom.’ ” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 178; The Story of Redemption, p. 104.

The children of Israel’s rapid increase

2. What extraordinary phenomenon occurred after Joseph and his generation died?

Exodus 1:6, 7 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. 7And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

“The Israelites had already become very numerous; they ‘were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.’ Under Joseph’s fostering care, and the favor of the king who was then ruling, they had spread rapidly over the land. But they had kept themselves a distinct race, having nothing in common with the Egyptians in customs or religion; and their increasing numbers now excited the fears of the king and his people, lest in case of war they should join themselves with the enemies of Egypt. Yet policy forbade their banishment from the country.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 241, 242.

3. What thoughts arose in the mind of the next Pharaoh when he saw that the Israelite population was rapidly growing? What plan did he put in place to slow down this growth?

Exodus 1:8-11 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 9And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. 11Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

“This new king of Egypt learned that the children of Israel were of great service to the kingdom. Many of them were able and understanding workmen, and he was not willing to lose their labor. This new king ranked the children of Israel with that class of slaves who had sold their flocks, their herds, their lands and themselves to the kingdom. ‘Therefore they did set over them taskmasters, to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure-cities, Pithom and Rameses.’ ” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 178, 179; The Story of Redemption, p. 105.

4. Despite the slavery, increased hours of work, and heavier burdens, how could it be seen that the Israelites were especially blessed by the Lord?

Exodus 1:12-14 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. 13And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

“They compelled their women to work in the fields, as though they were slaves. Yet their numbers did not decrease. As the king and his rulers saw that they continually increased, they consulted together to compel them to accomplish a certain amount every day. They thought to subdue them with hard labor, and were angry because they could not decrease their numbers and crush out their independent spirit.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 105.

Draconian measures

5. What cruel plan did the Pharaoh initiate to limit the increasing multiplication of the people of Israel? How effective was this in limiting the expansion of the population?

Exodus 1:15-21 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 16And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. 18And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? 19And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. 20Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. 21And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

“Failing to accomplish their purpose, they proceeded to more cruel measures. Orders were issued to the women whose employment gave them opportunity for executing the command, to destroy the Hebrew male children at their birth. Satan was the mover in this matter. He knew that a deliverer was to be raised up among the Israelites; and by leading the king to destroy their children he hoped to defeat the divine purpose. But the women feared God, and dared not execute the cruel mandate. The Lord approved their course, and prospered them.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 242. See also The Story of Redemption, pp. 105, 106; Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 179, 180.

6. Not satisfied with the previous results, what other cruel order followed?

Exodus 1:22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

“As the king of Egypt was informed that his command had not been obeyed he was very angry. He then made his command more urgent and extensive.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 180.

“The king, angry at the failure of his design, made the command more urgent and extensive. The whole nation was called upon to hunt out and slaughter his helpless victims. ‘And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.’ ” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 242.

Hostility defeated

7. Following the dark night of slavery and suffering, how did God intervene and save His people?

Deuteronomy 26:8 And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders.

Jeremiah 32:21 And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror.

“The Egyptians had learned the expectations of the children of Israel and derided their hopes of deliverance and spoke scornfully of the power of their God. They pointed them to their own situation as a people, as merely a nation of slaves, and tauntingly said to them, If your God is so just and merciful, and possesses power above the Egyptian gods, why does He not make you a free people? Why not manifest His greatness and power, and exalt you?” –The Story of Redemption, pp. 113, 114.

“This was His purpose in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. At the burning bush Moses received from God the message for the king of Egypt: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me.’ Exodus 7:16. With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm God brought out the Hebrew host from the land of bondage. Wonderful was the deliverance He wrought for them, punishing their enemies, who refused to listen to His word, with total destruction.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 9.

For additional study

“Pharaoh boasted that he would like to see their God deliver them from his hands. These words destroyed the hopes of many of the children of Israel. It appeared to them very much as the king and his counselors had said. They knew that they were treated as slaves, and that they must endure just that degree of oppression their taskmasters and rulers might put upon them. Their male children had been hunted and slain. Their own lives were a burden, and they were believing in, and worshiping, the God of heaven….

“There were but a few families that first went down into Egypt. These increased to a great multitude. Some were careful to instruct their children in the law of God, but many of the Israelites had witnessed so much idolatry that they had confused ideas of God’s law. Those who feared God cried to Him in anguish of spirit to break their yoke of grievous bondage and bring them from the land of their captivity, that they might be free to serve Him. God heard their cries and raised up Moses as His instrument to accomplish the deliverance of His people.” –The Story of Redemption, pp. 114, 147.

“What you need is to see your dependence upon God, and to have a resolute heart. Be a man where you are; show strength of character where you are; be able, through Jesus Christ, to say, ‘No, I will not do this great wickedness, and sin against God.’ ” –Letter 48, 1887.