6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. 15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” Exod. 1:6-22
In this passage we find partial fulfillment of God’s original purpose of creating people for Himself. God wanted to establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. When God created Adam and Eve He commanded them saying: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). The same command was given to Noah after the flood “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1, 7). This command was given to Adam and Noah in the context of the divine covenants that God made with them.
God wanted them to produce a great number of people, a nation, to worship God and glorify Him. However, neither of them was able to do so. It is not until we come to the Abrahamic covenant that we see God Himself promises Abraham that He will make of him a great nation and Abraham will be exceedingly fruitful (Gen. 12:2; 17:6; 18:18). God also promised Abraham and his children the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 24:7; 26:4).
In Exod. 1:6-22 God’s promise was kept and Abraham’s hope was fulfilled as we read over and over again that the people of Israel were “fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” (Exod. 1:7, 9, 12, 20). Israel has become great in number but they were in the wrong place, in Egypt, not in the Promised Land. So God in His sovereignty used Pharaoh and the Egyptians to put Israel under slavery so that later on He would get them out of Egypt using Moses to lead them to the Promised Land.
Within God’s sovereignty we also see God’s providence worked out in the fact that “the more they [Israelites] were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.” (Exod. 1:12). We also see God’s providence in the story of the Hebrew midwives who feared God and He blessed them (Exod. 1:15-21).
Ultimately God’s original plan and His promises to Abraham were fulfilled in Christ who is the true seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16), to whom all the promises were given and in whom were fulfilled (Rom. 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20). We, having faith in Christ as that of Abraham in God, have become the true descendants of Abraham and heirs according to the promise (Rom. 4:16; 9:6-8; Gal. 3:29).
Trust God, for He is sovereign. Fear God, and He will bless you.
Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy