【Bible Study】Exodus 01: Enjoy Life with An Eternal Hope

Bible Study: Exodus

1. Understanding God's Purpose

Good morning everyone. Today is the day we start our first chapter of Exodus. I assume you have read through the whole Exodus chapter one, right? Have you read it? If you have not read, please stop and read now. Make sure you read. If you have read it, Exodus chapter one, then I'm sure you will have a lot of, a lot of questions to pop up.

Number one: what was the Lord doing? Can you imagine, over 400 years, how many generations were there? Come and went, and passed away. And then probably when they were born until they passed away, in their whole life, they were the slaves in Egypt. And I'm sure that a lot of people do not understand why God did this. Why God was doing this? And the worst thing is, in a couple of hundred years ago, in Genesis. In Genesis 15:12, God told Abraham: your descendants will be enslaved in the country? Probably they never mentioned Egypt, right? But they mentioned the foreign land. As strangers in the country, not in their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years.

If you and I were Abraham, what would be your response? What would be your response if you and I were the people who were enslaved in the Egypt, And work the whole life as a slave?

A lot of people can not accept it. No, they can not accept it: "What are you doing, God? Oh God, no! Why are you doing this?" Do you know that kind of suffering? I'm sure a lot of people will do. Do you have this kind of question? I'm sure you have. But you are a little bit hesitant to tell people: oh yeah, actually I have. I would think so. What God are you doing? Oh my God, this was horrible! When we read Bible, we have been filled with this kind of confusion for years.

If you stand from the human point of view, you will have such questions. I'm sure you have all the 1001 questions, because you stand in the human point of view. Why God was doing this to the descendants of Abraham? Abraham never even talked back. In a few hundred years ago, Abraham never talked back. To be enslaved 400 years? If you and I were Abraham, I'm sure you are going to ask: God why you are doing this. But Abraham never even asked: oh, why are you doing this? That is exactly the difference between you and I and Abraham. Do you know what Abraham’s understanding is, when he heard the Lord says that his people will be enslaved for 400 years?

After this, in Exodus chapter one, this is the time Moses was not born yet. Moses led Israel people out of Egypt after 80 years when he was 80 years old. So during the 80 years , the Israel people in Egypt suffered even more. They were under great oppression now. They were oppressed by the Egypt people. Can you imagine? Can you imagine how horrible it is? Year after year? And not one year, it was 400 years! From chapter one all the way to Moses who led the Israel people to come out from Egypt was this 80 years. I'm sure you will get problem to understand that. Then the problem, that kind of problem is the difference between you, me and Abraham.

Do you know what is Abraham’s view on this? Everybody has his/her own fate and everybody has his/her own life. But no matter what you really have, no matter what you really have about life. Actually, Abraham had a totally different view. From a normal human being, the difference is how long you can see the history. If we read Exodus today, this was what happened about 3500 years ago. Am I giving you a bit of difficulties to understand where I am coming from? In fact, human being life is meaningless. Our human being life is meaningless. All your problem is that you are so serious about what you do every day, you live everyday life. You're so serious and you're so stressed now.

So from Abraham’s point of view, this life on the Earth is not so important. The eternal life is a lot more important than this life. During this life, we are all slaves. Whether we are a slave or we are a wealthy person, or a king, or a powerful figure, or a merchant who is doing a very big business, to Abraham, this doesn’t make too much sense. The difference between us and Abraham is how long we see. If we stand from the eternal, or we see a few 1000 years, probably 10s of years and probably the past few years, this life is just meaningless. It was not so meaningful. Exactly because Abraham was pursuing an eternal life, he looked at it from God’s point of view. Remember, if you look at from God’s point of view we see a totally different picture.

What is the main topic of this chapter? In Bible study, I always like to highlight one thing: how we should study the Bible. When we study the Bible, we are not studying to address our concern, but to address what God wants to tell us in this chapter. “What God wants to tell us” is the main thing we look for almost in every chapter. Every chapter, every book, we got to ask: God, what do you want us to know? What do you want us to perceive? What do you want us to understand as your point? That is the main point.

When you read the Bible, if we only concern about our own point and our own understanding, that makes no sense. That really makes no sense.

“From Slaves in Egypt to the Army of God”. 400 years over, a lot of people passed away. Do you think that is acceptable? And this is what God was doing for Abraham. And if God was doing this to Abraham, was it what Abraham wanted?

Is that what Abraham wants? Is this a blessing? I don't understand what it is. I really don't understand. Can you figure out what God’s point of view? Yeah. Let me tell you something that may make you feel shocked. God sees everyone come and go in this life. All are meaningless.

Let me share with you something, although the following sharing might be a bit blunt. You and I and many other people are very serious about the job. When you are talking about your job, talking about the pressure in your job, talking about the position, talking about your responsibilities, talking about some deal, some work, some tasks, some assignment from your boss, etc. You are so serious about those things. If you see from the God’s point of view and you accept the point of view, I’m sure you will enjoy life. Vanity and meaningless are two words that can be found in bible, the point of these two words is the same.

To God, what is God looking at? God is looking at eternal life. God is looking for something that will last forever and beyond the grave. God is looking for the salvation for the whole human being.

Therefore, to Abraham, the 400 years of slavery is acceptable. In Genesis, it said Abraham will become a blessing for all the nations. He wanted to be a blessing for all the nation and he wanted to be living in the eternal life. Abraham’s point of view of life does not focus on the earthly life nor earthly things. He's not looking at the life based on the earthly perspective point. If you align your view with Abraham’s, your view of life is going to be shifted.

Now I know we have a lot of young people and teenagers in the church. But many of them don't look far. In fact most people are very short-sighted. Short-sighted person would not have future. Your future would just be the future of everyone who is living an earthly life.

Now, this 400-over years and a few generations of Abraham descendant are indeed a heavy price. But to God, whether you are in Egypt, whether you live in Canada, whether you live in a wealthy life, whether you live as a slave, it makes no difference to God.

Probably you would feel quite shocked by the difference between your view and God’s view. It may not be easy for you to accept God’s view. But if you studied human life thoroughly, you would probably accept God’s view a bit easier. Because we barely think about human life, nor did we do any research about human life, or we don’t even bother, we would feel it’s a bit hard to accept God’s view. We just believe certain things and never put them under examination. Accept it or not, God made this thing happen, and we are fortunate that we hadn’t lived in Egypt for 400 years for the whole life. But we actually are enslaved in this world. We are enslaved by the things we do. We look at the job. We look at the work and look at the tasks. Look at the assignment. Look at the project. We look at those things too seriously. That's why we get all kinds of pressure.

2. Hope Brings Happiness

Now, God wants to make Abraham descendants numerous, as numerous as the star in the sky. Can you imagine God’s plan? Our God wants to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. How does he make it happen? He bring the whole Israelites of people into the Egypt and Israelites become slaves. You know what words the Bible used to describe Joseph and his brother?

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them. Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 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.”So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. (Exodus 1:6-13)

You know what happened the moment they do this? Israel people become more numerous; they multiplied more. There is something very interesting now. The more oppressed, the more numerous they are, the more they can multiply. Probably some of you never had gone through any sufferings or you live a wealthy life. Your life may or may not need to be improved. Probably, since you were born, you have never encountered any tough life. Now you have not gone through a tough life. But now I will compare you, you yourself who have never gone through any suffering, living a good life every day, with ready meals, clothes, able to buy anything you want. Today I will compare your life to a slave’s one in the Exodus, how would you feel?

Nowadays, people are comparing the level of joy, or “ happiness”. They have computed some index, called the Index of Happiness. Probably you may not be as happy as the Egyptians, or the slave in Egypt. You may ask me: “How do you know? Or how do you know the people in the Egypt as a slave? How do you know they are happier than me?” I do not know anyone in 3500 years ago, but I know myself. When I was young, the whole China was very poor. But let me tell you: people living in 1950s-70s were happier, much happier than today. Today the people are much wealthier but have a lot more diseases and a lot more problems: Blood pressure is going up; Blood sugar is going up…a lot of such health issues. People get really stuck. But when I was young, I had not even heard of anyone who had diabetes. I had not even heard of someone who got cancer. Maybe there were very few and it was very difficult for me to know.

But today you say: “Oh, someone went for medical check-up”. Then they come back and found that they got cancer. Another one went to the hospital and got a check: Cancer again. Someone else was diagnosed with diabetes. Things go wild. Today, even if people are perfect, no sickness, everything perfect, but you can see many people somehow are not so happy. I found it so difficult to understand. In fact, the happiness index or the level of happiness has nothing to do with your status. It has nothing to do with whether you are a slave, whether you are a wealthy merchant, whether you are a famous entrepreneur, whether you are a celebrity. No matter who you are, and the happiness level is only to do with your inner feeling.

Your inner feeling is a good measure of your life. Whether you are a slave, whether you are a wealthy merchant, if you are happy every day, one day, two days and another day until we pass away, then your whole life is happiness. Some other people are not happy and live with long face every day. In Singapore people call such face as “Papaya face”. Their life is filled with a lot of unhappiness, unhappy day to day, until they pass away. Their life is then a life of unhappiness. Do you agree with me?

Now the problem is this: what can bring happiness? Can anyone answer to me? Especially young people. If you are teenagers, you don't see them far. You see quite short, your degree, your school, your score, your career and your future. Then you start to plan and do all these kinds of things and become very serious about this. If Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and we see it as a bad thing, but is it really a bad thing? Before Israelites became salves, Joseph was a slave and he worked wholeheartedly as a slave and promoted as a manager for all other slaves. And Joseph eventually became a Prime Minister in the Egypt.

Now come back to the question: what bring happiness? Can anyone tell me what bring happiness? You may wonder why some people are so happy when the whole family was very poor, and the whole family live happily. They really had much happiness than many other families today. For some people in the age of 50s or 60s or 70s, you know one thing – Hope! Let me give you the answer which is hope. If someone hopes to be better, hoping things will whether get better or not, they have this hope and they will be happier because people live by hope. Whether you are a slave, whether you work as a cleaner or a professional, don’t lose your hope for the future, basically the better future is actually leading to the hope which will bring us happiness.

Probably you agree or you don't agree. But the Israelites in the Egypt were all enslaved, they kept working and were really oppressed because the Egyptians used them ruthlessly and treated them badly. Actually, let me tell you why am I talking about this point. I know a lot of young people will join the Bible study with me. I want to bring a point for you to understand. I see a lot of unhappy people, not because they are poor, it’s because they are unhappy. What kind of argument is this? Unhappy is some kind of choice of their own. If they become so serious about their study, study becomes the burden. If they become so serious, they will also treat their work, job, and project seriously, they become pressurised and eventually become not so happy. Are you with me? If we have hope, we hope in the autumn, we will harvest in the field, we work hard for the hope of the harvest. So, we know hope will bring happiness. If we lose hope, we will lose happiness. We believe that we have a better future and we will live with happiness because we live by hope.

The hope is something to bring energy into our life so we can match on. Hope and happiness are perception, it doesn’t really matter whether they will happen or not. The generation of Israelites come and all that generation gone. To God, whether you are happy or you're not happy, that is your own choice. Actually, to God and Abraham, they never even really concerned about whether you are in this foreign land, just Like how Abraham moved from one place to another place. And come to a couple of 100 years later, Abraham’s descendants became slaves in Egypt and they worked very hard. But to God and Abraham: this is life. Whether you want to be happy or you don't want to be happy, it’s your choice. I would like encourage all our young people. If you have foods, you have clothes. you have a place to stay and you enjoy your life. And then somehow, we will bring a lot of happiness into our heart. And that's the problem. There is really a problem. Do you agree with me? Now, how to enjoy life? How to enjoy life is one of the amazing topics.

Probably I'm moving away a little bit from this Exodus Chapter One. But what I am talking about is why God is doing this? It has nothing to do with the happiness. God is doing this and we will not compromise with anyone. These wealthy people like Egyptians who put salve masters over Israelites and even the Egypt King Pharaoh, the happiness level or happiness index is all about that. You and I both know their days were full of worry and full of problems, they had spent a lot of energy to figure out how to deal with these Israelites. Not very much meaningful as well.

Today, if you are pursuing to be a famous person or a successful businessman. You want to make a lot of money. Then I need ask you, does it really bring happiness? No, it does not. The hope for the eternal life, the hope for a better future will bring happiness and even we look down all the sufferings today. If you ask me, how can you be so happy? I said: “Oh, because I have studied a lot. I know how to live my life.” I don't want every single day in my life is filled with sorrow and depression, I want to enjoy my life from young to old. When I was a student, I enjoyed studying. When I was a worker. I enjoyed working. When I was a professional and became an engineer, I enjoyed technical stuff. When I became a manager, I enjoyed management. When I became a leader, I enjoyed leading people to a better place. Are you with me? I would hope everybody who listen to my Bible study will know the happiness, how to enjoy your life, and enjoy what you're doing. Whether I'm a slave or I'm not a slave, whether I'm washing a toilet, whether I'm cooking a good meal. Oh my God, after washing toilet and start cooking good meal, if you can still enjoy the meal, then that would be different issue. Are you with me? To God, they never even concern about whether salved or not salved. They never even concerned about it.

God said: “Happiness is…” Probably God never said that. But I said: “Oh yeah, happiness is your choice. Whether you enjoy working or to be a salve, it’s your choice. whether you enjoy to be a businessman, it’s your choice.” You know I see a lot of people holding high positions, their life is full of sorrow, worry, oppression and depression, some people get even worse. Do you want to be an emperor? Have you studied the life of emperor? You see that life is good or not? Probably not even better than the salves in the Egypt. Are you with me? We look down everything in this life in order to have a same level of understanding of God, if we have a same level of understanding about life from God perspective and from God point of view. Then you would know: “Oh yeah, how stupid I was in the past.” You know as the emperor, as a king, as the Prime Minister or as a minister in some countries, every day they are dealing with all kind of problems that are much bigger than what they can do. If you look at their faces, they are all stressed out.

When you study the life of an emperor, do you think an emperor was having a good life? Probably not better than the slaves in Egypt. Are you with me?

If we have the same level of understanding about life from God’s perspective, from God’s point of view we will understand there is no value in this life. The value in this life is worthless.

Being the emperor, king, Prime Minister or Minister of any countries, they are dealing with problem more than what they can handle.

If you look at their faces, they are all very stressful, trying to compete in the election, right? They are probably over 70 years old, an old man still trying very hard to compete in the election, not understanding the problem they are going to face later in their lives. Why are they doing this?

If your goal is to make money, I am very sure you will not be happy. You will be thinking, “Oh yeah, if I made money then I won't be happy?” You can do your own research and found out money cannot bring happiness.

If Israel people became numerous and multiplied more times. Come on, if they were not living by hope, if they were not enjoying their life, how could they become numerous?

Did they worry about their kids after they were born? Do you think they were worried their kids would be slaves like them? I don’t think they were worried as they lived with the hope that their kids would grow up to overturn the Egyptians and they would be freed from Egypt. They held on to the hope and believed God one day would deliver them from Egypt. Exodus chapter 1 are telling us to live with a hope.

When people have a wrong perception and wrong theory about human life, they live their life seeing everything is not good and unable to enjoy their life.

They will say “My boss is no good, my co-worker is no good, the environment is so toxic, they’re so toxic and they are full of poison.” “And I am not happy to talk to them.” We must understand no matter how the environment we are living in, or we are working in, we need to enjoy. One day, we will be superior than them.

I have seen many people blame the environment, but the environment has nothing to do with your happiness**. Happiness is your choice**. And you can become numerous. The more you are oppressed, the more numerous you will be. The more flourish you will be.

If you look at the midwives, their job was to deliver babies, and the Egyptian King told them to kill all the baby boys and keep the baby girls alive. The midwives did not follow the Egyptian king’s instruction and they took a great risk. Right?

When the Egyptian king confronted the midwives why they kept the boys alive, they gave an obvious excuse stated before they went to deliver the babies, the boys were already born. You know what happened?

3. From An Eternal Point of View

God bless them and God bless the midwives have their own families, people increased and became even more numerous. Honestly, God is everywhere and anywhere but the problem is our understanding, the way we perceive life and the way we see things will bring God’s presence or we turn God away.

We turned away from God or God turned away from us, why? All because of your thinking? I hope all of you to become knowledgeable about human life.

If you do not know the spiritual world, you do not stand from the eternal life point of view, your whole life has no hope.

If you stand in the eternal life point of view, from the eternal life perspective and you will see a totally different picture of this life; we will enjoy even washing a toilet and cooking a meal.

At times when we cook a meal, we may not even enjoy eating it as we have too many worries.

We have no hope, no hope for our future. No matter where you are, you have a future because your future is in God’s hands. Importantly, we do not blame the environment.

Ironically, when the environment is comfortable, most people will blame the environment and they become discontented.

On contrary, when the environment is very tough, and most people hardly blame the environment. When I was young, we never blame the environment, we did not know how to blame the environment as our minds were not focus on the tough situation. If we blamed the environment, we cursed the environment, we would suffer greatly.

Sometimes we were so hungry with no food, and we had to find food to fill our stomach. We were so poor and had to borrow money. My Mum always said to us, in five years’ time when we were all grown up, our future would get better. To be honest, five years later nothing changed, we were still the same, but it gave us hope.

Today let us live in God’s perspective, know it is a good test for all of us. Eventually we will stand before God, God will give us a praise and God gives us a good comment. God put on the Glorious Crown on our heads, and we become a king.

Our God is the King of kings. Now can you understand better? I am sure you would not have that kind of understanding before you studied the chapter. You don't blame the environment and don't spoil your day. Let your day full of joy. Let your day to be a day of enjoying life.

If we face challenges, we have the hope of overcoming. If we face shortages, we have a hope of prosperity. If we are living in sufferings or sickness, we know there will be a day we get healed.

Today, if we are a student, we study, eventually we will yield the fruit and we will harvest the fruits of the study. If we are working, we will harvest the fruits of our work.

Now you know, what kind of a person I am, right? When I am working, I enjoy. When I am studying, I enjoy. When I am cleaning up the house, I enjoy. I enjoy everything and I do not want to spoil my day not even a single day.

What is the main topic I am trying to explain? Why is God doing this right now? The more we are oppressed, the more numerous we are. If you want to get result, you will get oppression. Oppression in the environment is beyond our control. It is not what we wanted. If today we can take on more challenges we are facing, more pressures we are facing, the more we will grow.

Are you with me the more oppression, the more hope we will have! We are living by hope. We are an overcomer. We can take on any challenges and no one will be able to take away the joy in our heart because we are doing all this for the sake of God.

May the God bless you!

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