March 1, 2024

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FOR GOD’S PEOPLE, IT IS PROSPERITY UNDER PERSECUTION

IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.

TOPIC: FOR GOD’S PEOPLE, IT IS PROSPERITY UNDER PERSECUTION.

COMPILED/EDITED BY:-
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM

“But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites”
Exodus 1:12

These words reveal how God’s plan continues to move forward regardless of human efforts to stop it. Despite Pharaoh’s purposefully harsh slave labor, the Israelites “multiplied.” The rapid growth of the Hebrew people continues to concern Pharaoh. In fact, he adds further slave work to stop them (Exodus 1:13). Moses uses this verse to show how God’s efforts are more powerful than those of the Egyptian king. In addition, God continues to fulfill His promise to make Abraham’s descendants a nation (Genesis 12:1–3).

The Egyptians were “in dread” meaning they feared the rapid growth of the Jews. The Egyptians were a superstitious and polytheistic people who saw the growth of the Jews as something concerning to security as well as perhaps a spiritual sign. This was also an issue of racism: the Hebrew phrase here, yā’qu-su mi pene, also implies disgust and hatred. Egypt’s attitude towards the people of Israel involves not only fear, but loathing as well.

“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.”—Exodus 1:10-12

The children of this world are wise in their generation. Their policy may be short-sighted and their stratagems crooked, nevertheless the world admires the wisdom of their counsels, and makes light of the craftiness of their projects. In their opposition to the Christian church, the men of the world might certainly have been as well able to outwit her by the variety of their manoeuvres as to overwhelm her by the force of their numbers, were it not that there is an unseen One in her midst, who is more than a match for the guile of their hearts and the might of their hosts. Looking back at the early struggles of the Hebrew race to gain a footing among the nations, it is very clear that had the contest been merely between Pharaoh and Israel, the Egyptian king could exercise power and policy enough to defeat the sons of Jacob and reduce them to serfdom; but when a new name is brought in, and the contest appears to be truly between Pharaoh and Jehovah the God of Israel, it is quite another matter, and a far different issue may be counted upon. There is one behind the curtain that takes Israel’s part. He sees through all Pharaoh’s plots.

Throughout the history of the Christian churches, there have been periods of intense persecution. Persecution is a tool of the devil to defeat the people of God. However, again we have observed through history that some of the greatest times of growth in Christian history have come about as a result of persecution. Notice what happened to the church at Jerusalem after the death of Stephen:
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” – (Acts 8:1, 4)
The devil attacked the church at Jerusalem, and it resulted in the spreading of the gospel throughout the rest of the world.

The children of Abraham and Jacob grow rapidly, forming a prosperous nation made up of twelve tribes, one for each son of Jacob. This inspires fear and hate from the Egyptians. Their king first tries to slow down the Hebrews’ growth by enslaving them. Next, he increases the brutality of their work. Then, he tries to command Jewish midwives to kill their own people’s newborn baby boys. When these all fail, he openly orders the murder of all Jewish infant boys. Inadvertently, this creates the very situation which leads to the rise of Israel’s eventual leader, Moses.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
– (1 Peter 4:12-13)

IN THE CASE OF ISRAEL, it did seem to be a deep-laid plot, very politic and crafty indeed, that as the kings of Egypt, themselves of an alien race, had subdued the Egyptians, they should prevent the other alien race, the Israelites, from conquering them. Instead of murdering them wholesale, it did seem a wise though a cruel thing to make them slaves; to divide them up and down the country; to subject them to toil till their spirits were broken; to appoint them to the most menial work in the land, that they might be crushed down and their spirits become so base that they would not dare to rebel. Thus we may suppose it was hoped that their physical strength would be so relaxed, and their circumstances so reduced, that the clan would soon be insignificant if not utterly extinct. But God met and overruled this policy in various ways. “The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied.” The census proved the error of their calculation. The cause looked likely, but it was not productive of the consequence expected. Had it been another people, the tactics might have been successful; but they were God’s people, endeared to him by their ancestry, ennobled in his sight by their covenant destiny, and encompassed with his favor as with a shield. No conspiracy formed against them could thrive. And so it came to pass, that like certain herbs which spring up when trodden down, or like certain trees that grow taller if loaded with weights, Israel rose superior to all her disadvantages. “The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.”

Let us now carry the same thought a stage farther, and take a brief survey of THE HISTORY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD. The like means will appear in manifold operation. Men meditate mischief, but it miserably miscarries. God grants protection to the persecuted, and provides an escape from the most perilous exposure. Full often the darkest conspiracy is brought to the direst confusion. No sooner does Christ gather a church in any place, be it a renowned empire or a paltry village, than opposition is stirred up. “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.” “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,” is the first check for the serpent’s wiles, the first ray of hope for his helpless victims; and the prediction will continue to be fulfilled till at last, according to the word of the Lord, the tares are bound in bundles to burn them, and the wheat is gathered into his garner.
Whenever there has been a great persecution raised against the Christian church, God has overruled it, as he did in the case of Pharaoh’s oppression of the Israelites, by making the aggrieved community more largely to increase. The early persecutions in Judea promoted the spread of the gospel; hence, when after the death of Stephen the disciples were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles, the result is thus given: “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” So, too, when Herod stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church, and killed James, the brother of John, with the sword; what came of it? Why Luke tells us in almost the same words that Moses had used: “The word of God grew and multiplied.”

And now I close this address by just very briefly hinting that THIS GREAT GENERAL TRUTH APPLIES TO ALL BELIEVERS; but I will make a practical use of it. Dear brother, dear sister, are you passing through great trials? Very well then, to meet them I pray that God’s grace may give you greater faith; and if your trials increase more and more, so may your strength increase. You will be acting after God’s manner, guided by his wisdom, if you seek to get more faith out of more trial, for that trial does strengthen faith, through divine grace, experience teaches us, and as we make full proof of the faithfulness of God, our courage, once apt to waver, is confirmed. Do pray the Lord that when the trials multiply you may get faith wherewith to meet them; that out of the eater you may get meat; and out of the strong find strength.

Turn to him thine eye: penitently trust him: rely upon him, and he is ours, and then henceforth the Lord of Hosts shall be with you, and God of Jacob shall be your refuge, and your afflictions also shall work your good. May God bless each one of you, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

SHALOM!

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