Read Exodus 1:6-10
6 In time, Joseph and all of his brothers died, ending that entire generation. 7 But their descendants, the Israelites, had many children and grandchildren. In fact, they multiplied so greatly that they became extremely powerful and filled the land.
8 Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. 9 He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. 10 We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.” (NLT)
When we think of persecution, we conjure up pictures of Christians being thrown to the lions in some Roman era stadium. But most persecution is not like that. Some of it is psychological rather than physical. Sometimes it is not so much an attack on Christian beliefs but an attack on a perceived threat to existing power.
Paul knew all about this in Ephesus. He was attacked because his teaching threatened the livelihood of those who made money from local idol worship. And in our text today, the Egyptian leaders weren’t so much concerned with theology as with power. The Israelites were now necessary to their economy and if they weren’t kept under control they could become a dangerous enemy.
Whenever followers of Jesus come under attack, we can never assume it is about the divinity of Jesus or the truth of the resurrection or his certain return. It may well be about a perceived threat to others’ status or power. It could be about fear of being held accountable to God or memories of a harsh religious upbringing.
Jesus assured us we would be opposed. But our opposition may come in all shapes and sizes and from very different motivations.