Genesis 15:13, 14: in this passage, God is speaking directly to Abraham. God has made a covenant with Abraham in which God has again reaffirmed to the childless Abraham that he will have a son. “Then He (God) said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” Despite this unbelievable prediction by God that Abram would indeed have a son, God states something that must have troubled Abraham.
God stated that Abraham’s descendants would be afflicted and that this affliction would last four hundred years. Exodus 12:40 is a reference to 430 years as the time of affliction. Without getting deep into the theology of these two passages, a careful read of Genesis and the story of Isaac reveals that from the time of Isaac’s birth, Ishmael, the illegitimate son of Abraham and Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, picked on or afflicted Isaac. The life of Isaac was full of affliction and the dysfunctional family life between Isaac and Rebekha. Contentions mounted as the twin sons, Esau and Jacob, continually fought.
Considering our two texts mentioned above, from Isaac’s birth until the beginning of Exodus, chapter 2 is 310 years. Abraham had been told his descendants would be strangers in a land not their own. Abraham had also been told they would serve the people of this land.
We saw how this slavery or service to the Egyptians began in Exodus chapter 1 and how Pharoah attempted to stem the growth of the Israelites as a people. The covenant-making and keeping God promised Abraham that he would deliver his people. As we see above, “the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:14). The promise had been made. The question is, how will this happen.
It is evident in the covenant language of Genesis 1:26-28 and Genesis 12:1-3 that the call of Abraham was a call to restore creation. But can a people enslaved and themselves subject to heathenism and without a proper understanding of God accomplish such a feat to recreate the earth?
“And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months” (Exodus 2:1). As we saw at the close of Chapter 1, twice an order had gone out to destroy male babies born to the Israelites. The first time the midwives had disregarded the order. The second command was for the boys to be taken from their mother and thrown into the Nile river.
As we will later see, we now have the why the waters of the Nile turned to blood.
Interestingly, before the flood, Noah had been instructed to build an ark. It was so that the people could be saved from the world-destroying. Now in Exodus 2:3, the mother of this Baby also builds an ark. The passage then implies that this baby that is born would rescue the Israelites from slavery. It uses similar language or symbols to link us to Noah and his family’s redemption and salvation story. The ark became a vehicle by which redemption or salvation, a way Noah and those with him could be saved.
Now the mother of this baby builds an ark, not of Gopher wood but bulrushes and daubed with asphalt and pitch to make the ark waterproof (Exodus 2:3). And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.
Imagine being the sister of this newborn, three-month-old baby, who was doomed to death by Pharoah, having to watch over the ark to see what happens to your brother (Exodus 2:4).
But as we will see in our next post, God sometimes works in mysterious ways to preserve His own. “For then the daughter of Pharaoh came to bathe in the river.”