Day 4: The Economy

Exodus 1:9-10

He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it happen that when any war breaks out, they also join themselves to our enemies, and fight against us, and escape out of the land.”

One of the realities about the ruling class is that they are only there because God put them there. There is usually someone stronger out there. Here we have a record in the Bible in which the leaders in Egypt recognized that they were not the most powerful ones, but they didn’t recognize that God was the one who put them into power. Perhaps, as shepherds, they gained military power and used it to overthrow the existing dynasty. Perhaps they thought that the Hebrews would do the same to them. The fact is, God did not need to use any of the Hebrews to overthrow Egypt. It is very interesting that the thing that that was bothering them was their economy.

When people get used to using the labor of others in order to gain wealth, they start to justify all kinds of oppressive control. They may claim that they are just saving the economy, but the fact is that they are being lazy and not working for themselves. The Hebrews were adding a lot to the economy of Egypt and the leadership wanted to make sure that it stayed that way.

The word translated “wisely” in these verses is translated “shrewdly” in other English translations. It is clear from their actions that “shrewdly” is an appropriate translation overall, but it is amazing how oppression can be interpreted as “wise” by oppressive leadership. The people are more powerful than the leadership even if they don’t realize it, but we must remember that, as “the people,” God is still in charge. He doesn’t want us to be rebellious or take revenge and only if He is with us will we ever succeed. He wants us to obey Him and do what He says no matter what anyone else says or does. God is in charge of the economy and Israel was actually demonstrating how it works.

The human family, when blessed by God, is the economy, and the family of Israel was getting both large and strong. So here we see two philosophies of economy. The first is the natural human family under the rule of the God of Israel, the second is oppression and slavery under the government of man.