Exodus 1:8: Transitioning Into Pressure and Revival

by Mamdouh Riad on February 2, 2021

Israel’s glorious exodus from Egypt began by a significant transition. 
 A transition from a government that was friendly to God’s people
to one that was hostile toward them:


“Now there arose a new king in Egypt who did not know Joseph….So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves  and made their lives bitter with hard service.... In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.”  (Exodus 1:8,14-15).


Prior to that transition, Israel was comfortable in exile. Egypt became their home:


“Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land..”(Genesis 47:11). 


They prospered in exile: “But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” (Exodus 1:7).


But God’s people were not meant to remain comfortable where they were. Even under a friendly government. Even if they prospered. That was never God’s plan for them. His call and plan for His people, has always been to take them to the promised land where He would dwell among them:


“And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.” (Exodus 29:46). 


His plan was for His people to live in His manifest Presence: 


What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth, other than Your presence?…” (Exodus 33:16).


Because of the Lord’s zeal for His people and His heart to move them from where they were to where He wanted them to be, He engineered this transition in Exodus 1:8. 


He who, “Changes times and seasons... removes kings and sets up kings..” (Daniel 2:21), He who, “Brings low and exalts.” (1 Samuel 2:7), He who “The deceived and the deceiver are His..” (Job 12:16), whose “Thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8), He who called heathen king Nebuchadnezzar “My servant..” (Jeremiah 27:6) and another heathen king Cyrus “His anointed one..” (Isaiah 45:1), in His infinite love and wisdom began to transition His people from their status quo into His call for their lives by raising up a government that was hostile to them.


The greatest move of God among His people in the entire Old Testament began with that transition.


It was only after pressure that for the first time in exile, the people of God remembered that this was not where they were supposed to be, and cried out to God:


 “The people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.” (Exodus 2:23). 


It was only under pressure that prayer increased in the land. Pressure and persecution woke them up from their slumber and reminded them that they didn’t belong in exile, but in the promised land where they would be a dwelling place for God. 


They would not have arrived there had it not been for the difficult and painful transition of Exodus 1:8.


We see this pattern throughout the Scriptures as we study God’s ways with man. Before the pressure of exile in Babylon, the people of God arrogantly dismissed the word of the Lord in Jeremiah’s time:


“It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and there was a fire burning in the fire pot before him. As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot.  Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments.  Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them.  And the king commanded Jerahmeel …. to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet..” (Jeremiah 36:22-26).


It was only after exile, that they wholeheartedly responded to the Word of the Lord in Nehemiah’s time:


“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.”  And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” (Nehemiah 2:17-18).


Human history from Genesis to the second coming of Christ, is one story unfolding. It’s the story of God's love and relentless pursuit of man. It's the story of the Lord looking for people to be His, preparing a bride for Himself from every nation, tribe and tongue. A blameless and spotless bride (Ephesians 5:27). God’s dealings with the nations of the earth and all history is moving towards that end. 


We get a picture of this in the dream that God gave King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:31-45, when he had a dream of one statue that represented the different chapters of human history, and how God will establish His kingdom that will fill the earth. God was giving Nebuchadnezzar a glimpse of human history that was unfolding as one story.


The Lord is sovereign over all history including it’s dark chapters. As the Lord’s people, we must understand that events that unfold before us are not merely the result of political, economic, or social circumstances, but the Lord is sovereign over all and He intervenes, allowing some things and preventing other things to accomplish His purposes.


One example of understanding historic and current events from a biblical worldview is found in Isaiah 10:5-7. Assyria, a mighty nation at that time, attacked Israel. "Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger, and the staff in whose hand is my indignation. I will send him against an ungodly nation and against the people of my wrath. I will give him charge to seize the spoil, to take the prey, to tread down like the mire on the streets.” 

In other words, this event was not mereley caused by the military, economincal, or political ambitions of Assyria at the time. God was involved in this event.


Verse 7 is very significant: "Yet he does not mean so nor does his heart think so." (He doesn't know that he's doing the will of God.) But it is in his heart only to destroy and cut off not a few nations." 

The Lord is sovereign even when unbelievers are unaware that they are being used by Him for His purposes: “The hearts of kings are in the hands of the Lord; He turns them wherever He wants." ( Proverbs 21:1). 


The Scriptures above are giving us an example of a specific historic event and revealing to us what the Lord was doing at the time, to provide us insight that historic and current events are not merely circumstantial, but God is ruler over all.


Revival and spiritual awakening do not need a friendly government. The revival in the book of Acts took place under severe pressure, persecution, and martyrdom. So did past revivals in the underground Church in Russia, China, and the current revival in the Middle East, where millions of Muslims are coming to Christ. The fastest-growing church in the world today is in Iran, under a government that is hostile to the Church. Many of those revivals also began with a difficult transition.


Pressure has a way of reminding us that, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14).


May we heed the Lord’s words to the Church of Smyrna, not fearing pressure or persecution, but being faithful to the end:


Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” (Revelation 2:10-11).


The Scriptures teach that  pressure and revival come hand in hand, just like the book of Acts:


“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples,but the Lord will arise upon you,and His glory will be seen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1,2)


We pray that the Lord would grant us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in His knowledge (Ephesians 1:17), to be people who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying
(Revelations 2:7), to be like the sons of Issachar who understand our times and know what we ought to do
(1 Chron 12:32), and to be people who align ourselves with the Lord’s heart, wisdom and agenda, crying out, “True and righteous are Your judgments(decrees/decisions/the way You run the world), Lord God almighty.” (Revelations 16:7).