I’ve just started reading through the book of Exodus in my quiet times. In the grand total of 22 verses I have read so far, one thing has been crystal clear to me:
This is not a children’s story.
But don’t we often treat it like it is? Poor Israel in a bit of a pickle; poor Moses too afraid to stand up against big bad Pharoah. And then there are the plagues which are basically just God’s big practical jokes, right?
Wrong. On every level wrong.
The story of Exodus starts with the kind of heartbreak, pain and anguish nearly unimaginable to us in the comfortable West.
- A nation cut off from their homeland, unable to return.
- Parents forcd to work horrific hours as slaves – beaten and bloodied if they step out of line.
- Children ripped from parents’ arms and flung into the Nile to drown.
- This is not a children’s story.
But despite this; despite every obstacle in their way, the people of Israel continue to grow…and grow…and grow:
- Despite being stuck in Egypt they ‘multiply greatly’ (v7).
- Despite being forced into slavery, they ‘multiplied’ (v12)
- Despite the threat of genocide, ‘the people increased’ (v20).
Here’s the point. Nothing Pharoah could throw at God’s people could stop God’s plan for them from happening. God promised to Abraham he would make a nation of Israel, so that is what he would do. God always keeps his promises.
It’s easy for us to look at the state of the world and fear for the future of the Church. Persecution in Saudi Arabia, North Korea, the Maldives. Horrific scenes in Syria and East Africa. Closer to home, Christianity is increasingly being pushed to the margins.
Is this the end for the Church?
When Jesus says he will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, he wasn’t joking. He wasn’t spouting empty words. Yes, the church is under siege – but it’s also growing. It’s oppressed but it’s surviving. It’s pushed to the margins but still thriving. Why?
Because God keeps his promises. He kept his promises to Israel and he still keeps his promises today.
So let this shape your prayer for the persecuted church. Pray she would stay strong, taking hold of the promises of God no matter what Satan throws at them.
Because Jesus is building his church.