Growth in the Midst of Affliction
By Susan E. Todd
Exodus 1:8-14

(Exodus 1:8-14) Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come 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. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And 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.

Before we begin there is some important information that you need to know in order to understand this lesson.

First, Joseph is the greatest type of Christ in the Scriptures. We see this in over 150 Bible references in Genesis chapters 37-40. Throughout the Bible, Egypt is always a type of the world. The Israelites, in this particular passage, are a type of the Christian. Now let's find out how all this applies to us and what we can learn from this portion of Scripture.

(Exodus 1:8) Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph

In today's vernacular (and I'm against modern versions) this could be stated as follows: Now there arose up a new king of the world which knew not Christ. Have there been any new "kings" pop up out there in recent times? Let's consider the following areas:

The world of business:Donald Trump, Bill Gates
The world of government:President Kennedy, Princess Di
The world of sports:Mohammed Ali, Michael Jordan
The world of music:Elvis, Michael Jackson, Madonna
The world of entertainment:Marilyn Monroe; Arnold Schwarzenegger
The world of religion:Billy Graham, Benny Hinn

Do any of the above named "kings" or "queens" know Christ as their Saviour? I mean really know Him, not just profess to know Him. NO! Are you surprised? I'm not. Does the world really know Christ today? Does it really want to? Since the devil is in charge of it, the answer obviously is: no. Of the afore-mentioned individuals only three have any ties to "christianity," small "c." The King, Elvis, who recorded Amazing Grace (a true sign of conversion?!?) was a fornicating drug addict who died from an overdose while sitting on his throne. Benny Hinn is a fake healer who refuses to visit hospitals where he holds his crusades. (What a great place to find sick people in need of physical healing.) Billy Graham claims there are many ways to Christ (even though John 14:6 says there is ONLY one) and he also denies there is a literal hell. Can you really believe their salvation testimonies (Hinn has 5 different versions by the way)? If you're going to talk the talk you better walk the walk (Matthew 5:37).

(Exodus 1:9) And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

Well at least they used to be in the Philadelphian age. Unfortunately this is not as true today in the Laodicean age. BUT, true Christians (those who are born-again according to John 3:3) are making waves in the world today and even though there are not as many in number they are still making the world nervous. Why? Because the children of God ARE mightier than the world.

The children of God have the truth
(John 8:32) And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

The children of God have the power of God
(1 Corinthians 2:5) That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

The children of God have the Holy Spirit
(John 14:26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name:, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

The children of God have the Bible
(Hebrews 4:12) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Armed with these four weapons we can conquer the enemy, if we would only use them.

(Exodus 1:10) Come 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.

We are going to look at this verse phrase by phrase. First of all in this context, wisely means cunningly or deceitfully. The idea is to "give them what they want." Blind them to the truth. So how does the world deal wisely with Christians today? Through such fleshly means as the Pentecostal or Holiness Movement, the Holy Ghost Revival, and the Toronto Blessing. (Mark 4:19) And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. There is nothing spiritual about any of these "religious activities."

Contemporary Christian Rock Music is another false "god." CCM is an oxymoron and those promoting it are the real morons. Christian means, or is supposed to mean, Christ-like or Christ-honoring. Rock Music, the beat of the world, the flesh and the devil, is not compatible with Christianity. Period. The CCM-ers "march to the beat of a different drum," so to speak. The Bible mentions several instruments in regard to praise and worship but NEVER is the drum, the prominent instrument in all CCM music, named. Rap, rock and reggae have no place in true worship music.

Contemporary means modern, up-to-date. What's the matter with "old-fashioned?" It worked for D.L. Moody, Ira Sankey, Billy Sunday and a whole host of others, less than a century ago. As a matter of fact, it is still working in many Bible-believing churches across America today.

The real problem seems to be a mathematical one. The verse goes on to say, lest they multiply. What the world is saying is: we have to distract the Christians lest they convict us of our sin, lest they impose their standards on us, lest they cast our "moneychangers from the temple" (Matthew 21:12-13). Christians that are led by the Spirit and really believe the Bible (and don't correct it with the Greek) and apply what it says to their lives will make those who would rather walk in the flesh just a little nervous. Therefore the world will try to do its best to distract them.

The next phrase, "when there falleth out any war," is talking about a conflict or a battle. The Christian's conflict, battle or war is not the things of the world, so to speak, but it is the desire for these things. There is nothing wrong with having a nice house, a new car, a good job, etc. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 6:10 that, "...the love of money is the root of all evil:" Money in itself is not sinful. But the desire for it is. The rest of the verse tells us what happens to those that desire these things, "which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Ephesians 6:12 (For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.) reminds us that our battles are unseen forces. Our conflicts are between right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness. A desire has to do with emotions. It is a craving or a lust for something.

The real war is our will power (the flesh) battling our conscience (the Holy Spirit). That is why these battles are so hard to win. An unseen foe is not an easy target to hit. Yet God has given us the answer in 1 John 4:4, Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:1 explains who the "them" is: the spirits and false prophets that Paul talks about in Ephesians 6.

Next, "they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land." God's people always have been, are now and always will be the world's enemies. Check out these verses:

(John 15:18) If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

(1 John 2:15) Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

(Exodus 1:11) Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

Some of today's taskmasters are: Television; DVDs; video games; computers; the internet; a better job; more money; fame; a new car; family; the world, the flesh, and the devil.

The phrase "to afflict them with their burdens" is very appropriate today. In most homes both parents work to afford a bigger house (higher mortgage payments), an extra car (so mom can get to work), a boat, motor home or cottage by the lake (to unwind on the weekends), daycare for the kids (because mom has to work), etc. The family unit is being destroyed from within but the family is too busy and too tired to notice.

"And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities." You mean like Hollywood, Disney World, Las Vegas and Graceland? Why would they do this? To steal your heart and take your eyes off the Lord. What exactly do places like these have to offer the Christian? Please tell me, I would like to know.

Why would a Christian want to "catch a glimpse" of a movie star or "get his or her autograph?" What kind of morals (concerning marriage and family) or standards (of dress) do they have that a Christian would want to emulate?

What attraction does Disney World hold? Most of its employees are queers! Do you want to rub shoulders with queers? On purpose? Do you want your children to grow up thinking homosexuality is a sin (because according to the Bible it is) unless it is disguised as a Disney project (Elton John and the Lion King)?

What value is there in Las Vegas (commonly referred to as Sin City) or Atlantic City? Do you like to gamble? Or are you there to take in a show (naked women parading up and down a stage)?

Why is Graceland your choice for a vacation? So you can worship a dead idol? Oh excuse me, he sang hymns, didn't he? It's time to wake up Christian, the world has built treasure cities for the god of this world and you are going through its turnstiles like sheep to a slaughter. Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27). Do you hear a different shepherd?

(Exodus 1:12) But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. For the purposes of our study this growth is spiritual.

Abraham grew in the midst of affliction.

Abraham made a big mistake when he listened to Sarah and had a child by Hagar. He lived to regret the consequences of his actions just like we are to this day. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son, the son of his old age, the one God promised him. Abraham knew affliction.

Yet Abraham became known as the friend of God (James 2:23). His faith was very shaky at the start but grew over time, time he spent with God.

He went from hoping to standing firm to being fully persuaded (Romans 4:18-21). Spend time with God, in pray and in Bible reading, and your faith can increase also.

Moses grew in the midst of affliction.

Moses was set aside by God early in his life for a special job near the end of his life. Yet despite his calling he suffered afflictions along the way. He was raised in Pharaoh's palace as heir-apparent to the throne. But his kingdom became a desert as he led the children of Israel through the wilderness for forty years in search of the Promised Land.

Moses greatest desire was to know God and to see His glory (Exodus 33:11;13;18). The Bible tells us that Moses did know the Lord face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10). His affliction was rewarded.

At the end of his life God Himself buried Moses and no man to this day knows where (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). God will use Moses again during the Tribulation period as one of His witnesses (Revelation 11:2).

Joseph grew in the midst of affliction.

As I mentioned earlier, Joseph is the greatest type of Christ is the Bible. Yet that did not spare him from suffering affliction. He was hated and sold into slavery by his brothers, who originally wanted to kill him (Genesis 37:20). He was falsely accused of adultery and unjustly imprisoned.

Despite what he went through God was with him (Genesis 39:2). The same God who was there for Joseph, the one according to Proverbs 18:24 that sticks closer than a brother, will also be there for you in your afflictions.

Joseph's brothers meant what they did to him for harm, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20). Perhaps your afflictions are for good also. God may have a reason for your suffering. Just keep trusting Him. (Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

David grew in the midst of affliction.

David was the greatest sinner in the Bible. He killed a man to get his wife. He committed adultery when he should have been out fighting a war. His children suffered as part of his punishment: Tamar, his daughter was raped by her brother Amnon; Amnon was murdered by his brother Absalom; Adonijah took the throne from his brother Solomon while David was on his deathbed; Absalom dishonored his father by sleeping with his concubines and eventually was hanged while fleeing from his father's men.

Yet despite all the afflictions David endured he is an example of the greatest repenter in the Bible. David became known as a man after God's own heart. (Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.)

God always punishes sin. Yet the sooner we acknowledge and confess our sin, I believe, the more merciful God is to us in dealing with our punishment. I know you are thinking how can that be? Look at all David suffered as a result of his sin, you call that merciful? Yes, I do because in the Old Testament both murder and adultery were punishable by death. God spared David's life. Don't forget, Solomon was later born to David and Bathsheba. It was Solomon who gave us the proverbs. It was Solomon who built the temple for the Lord. If God had taken David's life there would not have been a Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived.

Peter grew in the midst of affliction.

During the three years that Peter was one of Jesus' disciples he had many occasions to put his foot in his mouth and he did so every time. And we chalk it off to his zeal. He was forever saying or doing the wrong thing. But Peter may be best remembered for doing something that we think of as unforgivable. When Jesus was standing trial on the night of His arrest, Peter denied the Lord. Not just once but three times. Just like Jesus predicted he would. Peter knew it was coming but he refused to believe it. Then after His resurrection when Jesus appeared to the disciples Peter reaffirmed his love for the Lord. The Lord is a God of second chances. And Peter got a second chance.

God used Peter after Pentecost. Due to his preaching Peter saw three thousand souls saved in one day (Acts 2:41). Due to his ability to heal Peter saw entire towns saved (Acts 9:35). Peter overcame his greatest affliction and became a great witness for the Lord.

Paul grew in the midst of affliction.

Paul was the greatest persecutor of the early church (Acts 8:1). He was a Jew helping the Jews to destroy any Jew that was a believer. In other words, he was murdering his own people. Paul was a very proud man but God humbled him and he was used mightily of God.

Look at some of the things Paul suffered for the Lord. I'm sure there were many more.

(2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.)

Have you suffered affliction? Have you suffered the loss of a job, your home, your health, a loved one? Have you suffered for your faith? Have you been criticized for your belief in God? For your stand for Christ? Have you suffered like Paul?

At what point would you quit? A little teasing? A little name-calling? A little embarrassment? A little humiliation? Yet Paul would gladly have suffered more. Paul never quit preaching the gospel and witnessing for the Lord. He considered this the greatest calling in the world. (Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?)

Have you grown in the midst of your affliction? You can. Abraham did, Joseph did, Moses did, David did, Peter did, and Paul did. Will you?

The Bible assures us as Christians that we will see afflictions. (2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.) Yet, we are assured of a reward for our afflictions. (2 Timothy 4:6-8 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.)

A crown of righteousness awaits those who suffer and stay true to Christ. The question is: what will you do about the afflictions that come your way? Will you, like Paul, say: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14).

(Exodus 1:13) And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
The world will always oppress the Christians. We will always suffer for our faith. Jesus Himself warned us of this in John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.)

(Exodus 1:14) And 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.

How are Christians serving with rigour? A person can carry and read the Koran in school but a Christian can't carry or read the Bible. A person can dress up like a Muslim and chant but a Christian can't pray and is mocked when dressed according to the standards set forth in the Bible. A school can sanction a Wicca club or a coven for witches and warlocks but a Christian can't start a Bible club. A person can pray to Allah but a Christian can't mention Jesus or God in a public prayer. Queers and lesbians can teach your children about their "alternative lifestyle" but a Christian can't share the gospel or hand out a tract. A person can teach about evolution but a Christian cannot mention creation.

Lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit is filed against Christians every day but nothing is done about queers, Satanists, or perverts pushing their "agenda."

Christians are constantly threatened with jail time; lose of jobs, reputation, etc. for speaking the truth. The First Amendment applies to everyone but the Christian. We truly are in the last days.

(2 Timothy 3:1-7) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Despite whichever new "king" may arise over "Egypt" (verse 8); despite how wisely the world may chose to deal with us (verse 10); despite the task masters that are set over us or the treasure cities that are built to distract us (verse 11), despite the afflictions we suffer (verse 12) and the rigour we may have to serve with (verse 13-14), we are given a wonderful promise in Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

You see, however bleak it may seem now, God is still in control. One day soon The Lord is coming back and He is coming for His own. That is a promise. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see
And I look upon His face the One who saved me by His grace
When He takes me by the hand and leads me through the Promised Land
What a day, glorious day that will be