Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Exodus 1:1-14 and 2:23-24
These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
When Jesus talked about “burdens,” the Jews who were listening would have realized that he was thinking about the story of the Exodus, when God delivered his people from the burden of slavery in Egypt. The people of Israel ended up in Egypt when Jacob’s family moved there during a drought in Israel. They stayed there many years and grew in numbers. Their situation turns grim when a new leader of Egypt comes, who doesn’t remember Joseph (Joseph had been second in command to one of the previous pharaohs.). This new Pharaoh enslaves the Israelites, who cry to God for deliverance. Verses 23-24 teach that God is not a neutral observer to all this; God hears the cries of those who are enslaved, remembers his covenant (God’s solemn promise) and will have a plan for deliverance. How are you ‘crying out for help?’