Weekly Devotion – Exodus 1:1-5

Published 1:21 pm Monday, January 16, 2023

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By Mike Caton

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

We’re going to start the new year and a new devotion series with a look back in the Old Testament book of Exodus. Why Exodus? Why not? Personally, I love the Old Testament. There are so many things happening, faithful characters we can imitate, infamous characters we can learn what not to do from, accounts of God doing miraculous things, there is action, intrigue, and so forth. In 1 Corinthians 10:11 Paul is speaking about the Israelites and their history and he says, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” The Old Testament was written to teach and warn us. We need to avoid the mistakes those folks made, and if we can learn from their errors, we will be ahead of the game.

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Genesis ended on a high note for the Israelites, Joseph had come to the rescue of all of Egypt, he had risen to the second highest position in the land, he had brought his father and brothers there to care for them and life was good. We get a hint at how much time has passed in the next verse, but we are here given a quick glimpse into the family tree of Israel. The Israelites stayed in Egypt 400 years total, and though some of them were good years, many of them were not. When Joseph brought his family down to Egypt, there were only seventy of them. But what a reunion that turned out to be! Joseph, Israel, and probably Benjamin were thrilled to be united, but the other brothers were in a frenzy. They knew how Joseph ended up in Egypt to begin with. I wonder how the brothers explained it to their father, or if it was ever discussed in detail. We know the brothers were afraid of Joseph, thinking he was going to take revenge on them. But of course he didn’t.

Just from that summary there are lessons about love, forgiveness, grace, acceptance, and mercy. Moses, who wrote this book, is setting the stage here, reminding us of their beginnings. Maybe it is a good time for us to look back as well, just for a few moments. Consider last year, or last month, or last week, or whatever it is. But let’s not just dwell on the negatives and painful memories. Sure, there are probably lessons to learn, but let’s not forget the good things that happened as well.

But even in the good things there are lessons to learn. And above all, let’s not forget to thank the Lord for where we are today, for the things he has brought us through, for the things he has brought us to, and for the opportunities that lie ahead.

Father, thank you for always watching over us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Mike Caton is the preacher at Mount Olive Church of Christ in Belhaven. He volunteers at the Ponzer Fire Department and works full time with Hyde County EMS. If you would like to receive daily devotions in your inbox, email mikecaton@centurylink.net.