Day 2 // Persecution and Expansion

Approach

What thoughts or anxieties are occupying your mind currently? Take a moment to lay them before God. Ask Him to help you trust Him with them and to focus on how He is speaking through this passage.

When was a time that you felt treated unfairly and no one cared?

Read // Exodus 1:8-14

8Then 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. 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.”

11So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites13 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.

Reflect

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see a pattern of persecution that leads not to the oppressors intended effect but to the working out of God’s purposes in the world. This is a clear manifestation of the principle Joseph describes in Genesis 50:20 speaking to his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good”. 

In the early church, we see the persecution of Stephen in Acts 7 leading to a dispersion of God’s people and a powerful missionary movement (Acts 8:4). Truly, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” Today we see a similar paradigm at work in China since the onset of communism as well as in many other places across the world. 

Anyone paying attention to the story of God’s people cannot honestly claim that God promises an easy and trouble-free life to those who believe in Him. God never promises a life of ease but He does promise that He will “work all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose”(Romans 8:28). 

Why do people so often assume that following God means an easier life?

Why is that reasoning flawed?

Do you sense any cynicism or frustration in your own life that may stem from a deeper expectation that God owes you a better life? 

Pray

Thank God for the freedom to worship in this country. Ask for the grace to never take that for granted but to use this freedom for His glory. 

Apply

Take some time together to look up some Christian people who are persecuted across the globe. Check out https://www.persecution.com/for resources on persecuted Christian groups. 

Talk to each other about this question:

What would it feel like to be treated this way for what you believe?

As a group or family lift them up in prayer. Make a prayer card to carry around in your pocket or wallet that will help remind you to pray for them this week.