March 7, 2021 – Exodus 1

Lesson Date: March 7, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Exodus 1:1-22

AIM: To lead students to discover factors that made Israel’s situation desperate and compare those factors to the condition of lost people, and to encourage any who are not saved to place their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.


Before class: Read the notes on Exodus 1 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write the words, “Desperate Situation” on the marker board or chalkboard.  For greater visual interest locate some pictures representing desperate situations to use as visual aids during the introductory step.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the words “Desperate Situation” written on the board.  Ask them what a desperate situation is.

Ask the students to name examples of situations they would consider desperate.  Some examples they might name are: an airliner hijacked by suicidal terrorists, an innocent person held hostage by a bloodthirsty gunman, someone trapped in raging floodwaters, an injured climber trapped atop a remote snow-covered mountain, or a complete lack of food and water.  Show any pictures you have brought.

Ask the students what makes each situation desperate.  Tell them a desperate situation may be described as one in which there is imminent danger and there is little or no hope of rescue.

Tell the class in this first lesson from the book of Exodus we will learn about Israel’s Desperate Situation in Egypt.  We will also learn that there is a situation far worse and far more desperate that affects many people today.



  1. Review and Introduction to Exodus.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (God’s plans for Israel’s future and for our future).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Gen. 50:20).
    • Ask: “Where were the children of Israel at the end of the book of Genesis?” (in Egypt, enjoying the provision and protection of Joseph and Pharaoh).
    • Tell the students that the book of Exodus describes God’s work of freeing Israel from bondage in Egypt, establishing them as a nation, and teaching them how to worship Him.
    • Be sure everyone present has a copy of the new Sunday School Member Quarterly.
    • Direct everyone’s attention to the front cover of the quarterly, and explain that the theme of this quarter’s study is Images of Redemption. Israel’s redemption from Egyptian bondage is an Old Testament illustration of the Christian’s redemption from sin’s bondage.
  2. Israel’s Population Explosion in Egypt.
    • Read Exodus 1:1-7.
    • Ask: “According to verse 5, how many Israelites initially lived in Egypt?” (70).
    • Explain the following:
      • The Israelites stayed in Egypt about 400 years.
      • In time Joseph and those of his generation died.
      • While he was a beloved and respected leader who saved Egypt from ruin, over the course of the centuries people forgot about him.
    • Ask: “What does verse 7 tell us about Israel’s situation in Egypt?” (they grew and multiplied and became very strong).
    • Summarize: God blessed the children of Israel in Egypt, causing their population to increase dramatically over the centuries.
  3. Pharaoh’s Concerns.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Exodus 1:8-10.
    • Tell the class a new king (Pharaoh) arose to the throne.
    • Ask: “What does verse 8 tell us about this new king?” (he didn’t know Joseph).
    • Ask: “According to verse 9, what did he realize about the Israelites?” (they were more numerous and mighty than the Egyptians).
    • Ask: “According to verse 10, what did Pharaoh fear?” (he was afraid if war broke out the Israelites might join with Egypt’s enemies and fight against them from within their own borders).
    • Tell the class Pharaoh and his advisers knew it would be a serious problem to have a large unfriendly force inside his own land.
    • Ask: “What did he realize they had to do?” (deal wisely with the Israelites – handle the situation very carefully).
    • Summarize: As the Israelite population outpaced that of the Egyptians, Pharaoh realized he had to do something.
  4. Pharaoh’s Oppressive Actions.
    • Read Exodus 1:11.
    • Remind the class of the following:
      • Prior to this time the Israelites were honored guests in Egypt.
      • They lived in the land of Goshen (locate Goshen on the Map).
      • They had good land for raising crops and keeping their livestock.
    • Ask: “What did Pharaoh do to the Israelites?” (put them to work as slave laborers).
    • Instead of being free people living as guests of Egypt, now the Israelites were slaves.
    • Tell the class the first factor that made their situation desperate was bondage.
    • Write the word “Bondage” on the board below the words “Desperate Situation.”
    • Tell the class Pharaoh used the Israelites’ free slave labor to build new storage cities.
    • Read Exodus 1:12-14.
    • Ask: “What happened as the Egyptians afflicted the Israelites?” (they multiplied and their population continued to grow).
    • Tell the students the Egyptians were very concerned about this.
    • Ask: “What do verses 13-14 tell us the Egyptians did next?” (made them work harder and harder).
    • Explain that the word rigour in those verses literally means, “to break apart, fracture, severity, cruelty.”[1]
    • Tell them the second factor that made Israel’s situation in Egypt desperate was burdens.
    • Write “Burdens” on the board below the word “Bondage.”
    • Explain that Pharaoh burdened the Israelites down with harsh and heavy labor, hoping to kill them and cause their population to decline.
    • Summarize: Israel’s situation grew more and more desperate: they were in bondage and oppressed with heavy burdens.
  5. Israel’s Desperate Situation.
    • Read Exodus 1:15-16.
    • Ask: “Who did Pharaoh summon?” (the Hebrew midwives).
    • Ask: “What did he tell them to do?” (kill any Israelite baby boys that were born).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Exodus 1:17.
    • Ask: “Did the midwives obey Pharaoh’s command?” (no).
    • Ask: “Why not?” (because they feared God).
    • Explain the following:
      • The Bible tells believers to obey earthly rulers, but we are not required to obey when doing so violates the clearly revealed will of God.
      • The midwives feared God and knew it would be wrong to kill the baby boys.
      • They obeyed God rather than man and were willing to suffer whatever punishment might come their way as a result.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Exodus 1:18-21.
    • Tell the students that Pharaoh summoned the midwives and asked why they did not kill the baby boys.
    • Ask: “According to verse 19, how did they answer Pharaoh?” (they said the Hebrew women were “lively” and delivered their babies before the midwives could arrive).
    • Ask: “How did God reward the midwives for their faithfulness?” (He dealt well with them, blessed them, and gave them positions of great respect so that their names were remembered for generations to come).
    • Ask: “What happened to Israel’s population during this time?” (they continued to grow in number and strength).
    • Tell the class that Pharaoh had one more tactic to curb Israel’s growing population and strength.
    • Read Exodus 1:22.
    • Ask: “What did Pharaoh command?” (that all newborn Israelite boys were to be thrown to their deaths in the crocodile-infested Nile River).
    • Ask how many of those present have children.
      • Ask them to recall the joy and excitement with which they anticipated the birth of their child.
      • Next, ask them to imagine for a moment that they were one of those young Israelite couples.
      • Ask: “How would you feel as the time of your baby’s birth drew nearer?” (afraid, angry, desperate).
      • Ask them to think of the pregnant Israelite women, who undoubtedly prayed that their babies would be girls, not boys!
    • Tell the class that the third factor that made Israel’s situation desperate was that their male babies were under a death sentence. Write “Death Sentence” on the board below the word “Burdens.”
    • Stress the fact that Israel’s situation was desperate. Pharaoh was the most powerful man on earth; the Egyptians thought he was a god.  Young Israelite couples had the choice of either killing their baby boys or facing the death penalty for disobeying Pharaoh’s command.
    • Ask: “What would you do in their place?”
    • Summarize: After failing to reduce Israel’s population any other way, Pharaoh ordered that all their newborn baby boys were to be drowned in the river.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the students that a desperate situation is one in which there is imminent danger and little or no hope of rescue.  Remind them that they named some desperate situations at the beginning of today’s lesson (show any pictures you brought depicting desperate situations).

Stress the fact that the ancient Israelites were in a very desperate situation.  Direct the students’ attention to the words on the board and remind the students that the ancient Israelites were in Bondage, they were oppressed with heavy Burdens, and they were under a Death Sentence.

Say: “That was a very desperate situation, but there is a situation far worse and more desperate than that – or any other desperate situation we could possibly imagine.  It is the condition of a lost person.”  Explain the condition of lost people using the following:

  • Lost people are in bondage to sin, which is worse than the bondage experienced by the ancient Israelites. In Romans 6:17 and 20 the Bible says lost people are the “servants of sin.”  The word servants in those verses literally means “slaves.”  Lost people are slaves to sin.  The Bible also says:

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:2-3).

  • The ancient Israelites were burdened with heavy labor, but lost people are burdened with guilt. Guilt is the natural result of sin and the Bible says everyone has sinned:

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

The Bible also says everyone is guilty before God:

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God (Rom. 3:19).

  • The Israelite baby boys were under the sentence of death, and lost people are under the sentence of eternal death. The Bible says it this way:

“For the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

Stress the fact that lost people are in a desperate situation.  They are in bondage to sin, they are burdened with guilt, and they are under the sentence of eternal death.  They are condemned, doomed, and helpless to save themselves.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Say: “If you have never trusted Jesus Christ for salvation, then you are in a desperate situation.  The only way out of that desperate situation is to turn from your sins and place your faith in Jesus.  If you would like to do that right now, silently confess your sins to God and ask for His mercy, forgiveness, and salvation.”  Voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Isaiah 53:6.  Tell them if they know someone who is lost they should try to tell that person the Good News about Christ so they don’t have to remain in their desperate situation any longer.

[1] Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries. Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1998, Parsons Technology, Inc.


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