Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121
Read the “0120 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” – (Exodus 1:12)
In our passage of Scripture this morning we read about the nation of Israel after they had been in Egypt for 400 years. When we last left the family of Jacob at the close of the Book of Genesis, the people of God were prospering, but after many generations have passed in this foreign land, they are now being persecuted. It seems that the Egyptians had recognized the hand and blessing of God upon His people, and became afraid that the Hebrews would take them over. So, they enslaved them, and made their lives bitter. However, the more the people of God were persecuted, the more they grew. On a natural level, this doesn’t make any sense, but then again, the principles of God often go against human reasoning. These Egyptians simply couldn’t keep God’s people down, no matter how hard they tried.
There are two observations that I would like to make from this passage:
1 Throughout the history of the Christian churches, there have been periods of intense persecution. Persecution is a tool of the devil to defeat the people of God. However, again we have observed that some of the greatest times of growth in Christian history have come about as a result of persecution. Notice what happened to the church at Jerusalem after the death of Stephen:
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” – (Acts 8:1, 4)
“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:12)
The devil attacked the church at Jerusalem, and it resulted in the spreading of the gospel throughout the rest of the world. Persecution actually caused the church to grow. Paul was persecuted throughout his ministry, but he states that the things that happened to him caused the gospel to go further. In America today, we are experiencing the greatest prosperity and freedom that we have possibly ever had in Christian history. However, are the churches growing? Are we seeing more people converted to Christ? Most Christians today are not even aware of what our true mission is in this life. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not asking for persecution, and I certainly don’t look forward to it, but I am convinced that a revival of true church growth will only take place if God allows things to heat up a bit.
2 The second observation that I would like to make has to do with the personal walk of the individual believer. We also tend to grow more during times of trial and testing than we do during those mountaintop seasons. Consider these passages:
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” – (1 Peter 1:6-7)
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” – (1 Peter 4:12-13)
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” – (James 1:2-4)
I know that when I look back in my own life I can clearly see that more growth came during those difficult days rather than the days that I was “at ease in Zion”. Again, I do not enjoy the hard times, but I have learned to embrace them, and also embrace the God who loves me enough to mature me and, with the trials he brings me through, conform me into the very image of Christ.
Posted in Thoughts from Exodus by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.