International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 29,2012
Purpose: To marvel at God's continuing faithfulness to the people of promise
Scripture Text: Exodus 15:1-3, 19, 22-26 (NRSV)
(1)Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. (2)The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (3)The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.
(19)When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.
Exodus 15: 22-26
(22)Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. (23)When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. (24)And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” (25)He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. (26)He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
There are a few interesting points I would like to make concerning the years from Joseph's death until Moses leads God's chosen remnant out of Egypt. It seems obvious to me that the burial sight of Joseph was well marked and because of his position under the ruling Pharaoh it may have been near or in one of the Pyramids of Egypt and his body was probably mummified, as this was the Egyptian custom. Regardless, for four hundred years it had remained a sacred place for the descendants of Jacob.
In Exodus 1:3 we are told there were 70 descendents of Jacob/Israel that made Egypt their new home, not counting Joseph and his family. For the next four hundred years they worked hard, prospered and multiplied, and kept alive the story of Joseph as well as the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The sad statement of Exodus 1:8 “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph,” changes everything. This haunting statement might even be applied to our own history as a nation, today we wonder if in fact our present rulers remember how and why our nation was founded. Joseph, who had saved the nation of Egypt from famine, was no longer relevant or even remembered. Only those that were descendants of Jacob/Israel still had a place in their heart for the once very famous and powerful Joseph. This should challenge us today to remain faithful in remembering where we came from and what our heritage is all about as Christians in America. We do not want to be guilty of being that generation that does not remember who Christ was.
I think when this new Pharaoh took over he was very much aware of how this family of foreigners had grown into a considerable force within Egypt. He made every effort to slow down their growth and destroy their will to survive, but that made them only grow faster and stronger. It also separated them from the Egyptians, their culture and stories made them into a proud people that were protected by their God, and the God of Joseph, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. All of this time they never forgot Joseph's promise to them; Genesis 50:(24) Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die; but God will surely come to you, and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”(25)So Joseph made the Israelites swear, saying, “When God comes to you, you shall carry up my bones from here.” (26)And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Now God had come to them through Moses, Aaron, and Mariam, and had convinced Pharaoh to let them go to that land promised 7 or 8 hundred years prior to Abraham. These three descendants of Levy became the family, through which God would work to lead these people of promise out of captivity, but there was a catch, they needed to listen carefully to His voice, and do what was right in His sight and heed His commandments. Their obedience was required by God, so that He could bring about the blessing that had been promised.
In life we are always looking for God's blessing, but we grow weary of doing our part. We do more of what we please, than what pleases God. We follow our own rules and decide which of God's laws are relevant for us. We must always remember it is humility that releases grace. Proverbs 3:34 "Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble".