Creation and Chaos

The next series of devotionals are on Exodus and are written by Matt Coombs. Matt is one of the leaders at St Mary's.

Exodus 1

The Israelites Oppressed

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy[a] in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country."

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 "When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?"

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive."

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live."


The first book of the Bible, Genesis, begins with divine creation, blessing, multiplication and growth.

The second book of the Bible, Exodus, begins with oppression and suppression at the hands of a clearly threatened and insecure Pharaoh seeking to control and manipulate the world around him.

It could be said that the same fear is in all of us. The fear of being powerless and subject to another's will.

This fear drives slavery, oppression, war, violence, racism and brings about misery, scarcity and famine in a world that was destined for abundance and life.

Enslavement and oppression is the world's response to the freedom and life that God has built into the fabric of creation.

To subject another human to abuse and suffering is to strip them of their dignity and dehumanise the very creature God made in his image. This is the force of death in the world that Pharaoh and Egypt symbolise.

Midwives & Passive Resistance
So who will respond to this despot ruler? God? Well, eventually, but in chapter 1, it is not God who intervenes, but two midwives; Shiprah and Puah. (I like that they have been named in the text!)

These two women play an important role in bringing down the mightiest ruler in the world. Their sense of justice, morality and righteousness convinced them not to kill the Hebrew boys. It's more like civil disobedience, an act of defiance against Pharaoh that allows for God's abundance and life to flourish. The Promise of Abraham (Genesis 12 - the start of God's redemptive plan for all creation) has not been forgotten.

The Wisdom writer says "Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honour." Proverbs 21:21

Never discredit the small acts of righteousness, justice and morality. Sometimes they feel costly. Sometimes the other path seems easier to walk. But when we side with God's way and refuse to be complicit with the ethics of the world, there is space for God's abundance and life to flourish.

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