It was on this day that, having learned of their flight the previous day, Pharaoh began his pursuit of Israel into the wilderness. Ironically, on this same date over 3500 years later, on April 20, 1889, another tyrant, Adolph Hitler was born.
As we go through these Hebrew dates, it’s amazing to see how there are so many similarities between different events, oftentimes separated by hundreds if not thousands of years. In this particular case, we see two different tyrants who were of the same mind and the same spirit. Each sought to destroy God’s people, only to be destroyed themselves.
In the case of the Exodus story, it begins when a Pharaoh came to power who did not acknowledge Joseph’s contribution to the welfare of the country. This Pharaoh also began to implement harsh restrictions upon and, eventually, hard labor upon Israel in an effort to prevent the Hebrews from leaving the land. It’s recorded in the first chapter of Exodus.
“Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, ‘Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.’” (Exodus 1:8-10)
These harsh policies were implemented in order to keep Israel in the land, but were the very thing that provoked Israel to call upon the Lord, which eventually led to them leaving the land. In other words, the very thing that Pharaoh tried to do in order to keep them in bondage is the very thing that led to their liberation. Later, when another Pharaoh pursued them into the wilderness to prevent their escape, he ended up being destroyed. As far as Egypt, it hasn’t been the same since.
In the case of Hitler and the Nazis, their opinion of Israel was no different than the Pharaohs. In Mein Kampf, Hitler said:
“The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jews.”
There is no need to describe Hitler’s cruelty toward the Jews but it was that cruelty that prompted the Jews of the world to seek out a place to call their own. This led to the return to their ancient homeland and, ultimately, the establishment of the modern day state of Israel. Since the collapse of the Nazi regime, Germany hasn’t been as powerful since that time, either.
The argument could be made that, had these tyrants never come to power, Israel might never have been inclined to return to the land of their fathers. It would seem, then, that God used Israel’s enemies to play a role in fulfilling His plan for His people. History has proven that if tyranny did not arise, Israel would be content to remain “in Egypt” and live in opposition to the Father’s ultimate plan.
Today, more and more tyrants are popping up all over the earth including in places you would never have expected. And as tyranny rises and seeks to oppress God’s people, perhaps it is a sign to His people that the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham is at hand – maybe in our lifetime. All of this is to say that we should not get too attached to our stuff. It is very possible that we are the generation to witness a great upheaval in the world with the overall purpose of provoking Israel to rise up and return to the land of their fathers. Until then we are to, as Messiah said, “Occupy” until He comes, not until you think He’s going to. When we do this, we are doing our part to advance His Kingdom in the earth.