Do you feel adrift in life? Maybe you don’t think your life is important. Maybe you feel that you have nothing to offer to anyone. Maybe you are feeling discouraged and depressed. Emotions change as circumstances change. When those circumstances don’t change in the direction you want to go, it can often lead to discouragement and a feeling of hopelessness. The good news is there is hope, no matter your situation.
The best place to find hope is in the Bible. The Bible books of Genesis and Exodus were written by a man named Moses. In these books, he tells the story of his family and his people, the children of Israel, and how God intervened to save their lives.
Their story is inspiring and a reminder that our Lord is never far away! He is acting on our behalf even when we don’t see it. God knows the future. So He prepared for what would happen many years (May I say generations.) before the story unfolded.
Who is Israel?
Genesis chapters 11-50 tell the story of the beginning of the Israelite nation. It started with Abraham and his wife Sarah, then follows the lineage through their son Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Abraham never saw the promise fulfilled.
“And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Genesis 22:15-18
The story continues with their son Jacob and his wife Rachel. Israel was the name God gave to Abraham’s grandson Jacob. In Genesis 35:10, God tells Jacob his name shall no longer be Jacob, but his name will be Israel. The descendants of Jacob are called Israelites.
Their son Joseph would also be an important part of this story, playing a major role in the formation of the Israelite nation. Each were preserved through every trial. They raised up families who continued the lineage, waiting for God’s promise of becoming a great nation to be fulfilled.
It begins…God set things in motion.
God always knows the beginning and end of our stories. God had a plan for Abraham’s descendants. He also knew it would be a struggle, but God keeps His promises. God had told Abraham many years earlier that his descendants would go to a strange land (Genesis 15:13). God had made a covenant with Abraham to give him all the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates River.
God Preserves Joseph…
Joseph and his family didn’t know God had a plan for them. God would orchestrate Joseph’s life so that he would save his people during the great famine. Joseph was instrumental in beginning that first step in the process of moving the Israelites to Egypt.
When Joseph was a young man, much younger than his eleven older brothers, his father gave him a coat of many colors. He was the envy of all his brothers, for they knew he was their father’s favorite son. His father loved him more than all the brothers, resulting in great envy and hatred from the brothers. Then Joseph had a dream. In the dream he saw himself and his brothers in a field binding sheaves together. Joseph’s sheaf rose up and the brothers’ sheaves rose up and bowed down to Joseph’s sheaf. Joseph’s brothers became very angry when he told them about his dream. They hated him even more, for their jealousy was very great. Their jealousy and hatred caused them to form a treacherous plan.
The brothers were out feeding their father’s flocks when Joseph showed up. Joseph had been sent by their father to check on the men and the flocks. As he was traveling toward them, the brothers recognized him, and decided to kill him. His older brother Reuben intervened, saving Joseph’s life.
Reuben suggested they cast Joseph into a deep pit. So they did, and they took his beautiful coat of many colors. It was Reuben’s intent to rescue him later when the brothers had gone away. While Reuben was away, the brothers determined to sell him to Midianite merchants. They in turn sold him to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver, the same amount of money for which Judas sold Jesus. When the brothers went home, they took Joseph’s coat of many colors and smeared blood on it. They told their father Joseph had been killed. In the meantime, the Ishmeelites took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh (Genesis 37). God knew a famine would strike the land in years to come.
At the time, Joseph didn’t know his trial was God’s plan. He didn’t know his jealous brothers would sell him. He didn’t know he would be the salvation of his people. All that was happening in Joseph’s life was part of a plan He was putting into place to make sure His people would survive. What an amazing thing!
Joseph grew into a man in Egypt, becoming the Pharaoh’s right hand man (Genesis 39-50). He had found favor when he was able to interpret the Pharaoh’s disturbing dream. Consequently, he became a wealthy and powerful servant of the Pharaoh. Pharaoh set him over all the country of Egypt. In the process of saving the Egyptians during the great famine, God had also positioned him to save his family. Joseph was instructed by Pharaoh to bring his family to Egypt where they would have food for their family and their animals (Genesis 45:16 – Genesis 46:4). The descendants of Joseph and his family lived in Egypt for generations. They multiplied and became more numerous than the Egyptians. They lived happily in Egypt until a new and wicked Pharaoh came into power.
God Preserves Moses…
Now Moses was a man that society and a wicked Pharaoh had determined must die. However God had other plans. He needed Moses to carry out the rescue of a great nation. When God has a plan, no one can thwart it as Pharaoh soon found out.
This Pharaoh did not know the history of Joseph and his family. He only knew the Israelites were overtaking Egypt. These descendants of Abraham (who is the “father” of the Israelites) were feeling such despair. They were in bondage by a wicked Pharaoh who sought to kill them off. He and his people could see how these immigrants were growing stronger and prospering. The Egyptians were afraid they would choose to side with Egypt’s enemies and overtake them. So the Pharaoh developed a plan.
It began when the wicked Pharaoh made a decree that all baby boys from birth were to be cast into the river. The girls would be spared. He believed if the boys were killed, the Israelite people would be weakened and would die out. His plan of course failed. Moses mother made a basket of bulrushes and waterproofed it. Then she placed three month old baby Moses in the basket and set it to float on the river edge among the reeds. His sister watched over the baby. One day Pharaoh’s daughter came along to bathe. She saw the basket and had it brought to her. When she opened it, baby Moses was crying. His sister came over and volunteered to find a nurse of the Hebrew people as they were called. Of course she brought her mother. Moses grew up in the household of Pharaoh, but he was very much aware of his heritage. One day Moses intervened in a dispute between an Egyptian and a Hebrew, which resulted in the death of the Egyptian. When he knew others knew what he had done, he fled to Midian where he later married and raised a family. One day while he was keeping his father-in-law’s sheep, God spoke to Moses in a bush that was on fire, but was not consumed the Bible says in Exodus 3. This was the beginning of the deliverance of the Israelites.
God had a plan that was put into place through several generations. Ultimately Moses was preserved from death, so he might fulfill God’s purpose for his life. He was the deliverer of his people. He led them back to the Promised Land that had been Jacob’s, i.e. Israel’s land. So who was Moses that God would call him to save his people? Moses was a direct descendant of Abraham through Jacob’s son Levi’s grandson Amram.
I find it truly amazing how God used one family to save their people. All had a role in the process. Each of Moses’ ancestors all the way to Abraham, the first, were preserved by God. God knew the future, so He set things in motion to protect His people. This tells us how important each life truly is. God has a purpose for each one. There is no life that is without purpose. God does not make mistakes.