Exodus part 1: A God who speaks.

A couple of weeks ago we read in Genesis, how God created everything from nothing, chose a man for no other reason that He did, He was faithful to his descendants and gave them a promise, a covenant. We’ll start with the next book of the Old Testament Exodus. Exodus was also written by Moses (as Genesis was) and starts nearly 400 years later. Exodus is named for the Israelites leaving Egypt but deals with their journey in the desert as well.

In chapter 1: We see that there’s a new Pharaoh who doesn’t know or care about Joseph  saving Egypt. He and his people are jealous/ worried about/ fearful of the number of Israelites and so force them into hard labour.* Pharaoh orders the midwives Shiphrah and Puah to kill all male Hebrew babies at birth. They fear God and so don’t obey him.

In chapter 2: A Levite couple hide their son in a papyrus basket and let him float on the River Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter rescues him and lets his mother nurse him till he is weaned. Moses as an adult sees an Egyptian beating an Israelite and so kills the Egyptian. Pharaoh tries to kill Moses, so he flees to Midian. There he stays with Reuel /Jethro and marries his daughter Zipporah and has a son and names him Gershom ( I have become a foreigner in a foreign land). The chapter ends with saying God remembered His covenant with Abraham’s descendants.

In chapters 3-4: Moses sees a burns on fire but that hasn’t burned up. He hears God speaking to him, who says (in v 5) “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Moses is given his commission , to deliver the Israelites. God warns him that Pharaoh will not relent until he sees all the signs God will perform. God also tells Moses that the people will not leave empty-handed, but will plunder the Egyptians when they leave ( the same promise He gave Abraham nearly 400 years earlier). God gives Moses three signs to perform for the people to prove that I AM Who I AM has sent him, ( staff turning into a snake and back again, Moses’ hand becoming leprous and then being healed, water poured on the ground becoming blood). Moses argues with God, but God’s anger burns against Moses and He says (in v 15)”I will help both of you( Moses ad Aaron) speak and will teach you what to do.” Aaron(his brother) is on his way to meet Moses. Moses leaves to Egypt with his wife and sons. *Zipporah circumcises her son to prevent Moses being struck down by the Lord who meets them on the way.

In chapters 5-6: At the end of chapter 4, Moses had reached Egypt and meets with the elders and gives them the signs God gave him, and they believe in Him and worship Him. Moses asks Pharaoh to let his people go, but Pharaoh orders the workload of the Israelites increased ( they still need to make bricks but straw is not provided). God promises (in v 6)‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’ God tells Moses, Aaron can speak for him, be his prophet.

In chapters 7,8,9,10: God performs many signs. First Aaron’s staff becomes a snake and eats up the snakes conjured by the chief priests from their staffs. Then the River Nile and all water stored in the cisterns turn into blood, and the chief priests of Egypt do the same. Then frogs cover the land, the chief priests do it as well. After this plague, we see Pharaoh tell Moses for the first time to pray to God to remove the plague and then he’ll let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord. But changes his heart later. Then gnats cover the land, the priests are unable to do so and so say “this is the Hand of God”. Then flies cover the land, from this time on God makes a distinction between the Israelites living in Goshen and the Egyptians, the Israelites are not affected by these latter plagues. Then the livestock of the Egyptians die. Then all the Egyptians have boils break out on their bodies. *Then a plague of hail. Then a plague of locusts (this time Pharaoh says only the men may leave). Then a plague of darkness lasting three days ( this time Pharaoh says the men, women and children may go to worship God but they must leave their flocks behind).

Can your enemies see “the Hand of God” in your life? –Tweet this!

In chapters 11-12: In the previous plagues Moses warns Pharaoh, then the plague comes, Pharaoh relents and gives permission for the people to leave but asks Moses to pray to take away the plague, Moses prays, the plague stops ,then Pharaoh hardens his heart and refuses to let the people go. God warns Moses about the last plague, but tells them  (in v 2) that men and women alike are to ask their neighbours for articles of silver and gold.’ (The Lord made the Egyptians favourably disposed towards the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.) Moses warns Pharaoh. *God gives Moses the Passover instructions. At midnight the Lord strikes down the firstborn of every Egyptian, but the Israelites who followed God’s directions are saved. Pharaoh and his officials urge the people to leave. Pharaoh asks to be blessed first. His people are afraid they’ll die if the Israelites remain any longer. They give the Israelites all they ask for ,so the Israelites plunder the Egyptians. (in v 42) Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honour the Lord for the generations to come. 

ornamental decorative cabbage close-up

In chapter 13: God gives Moses guidelines to consecrate every firstborn to Him, of the human womb and the animals as well, if they do not redeem the animal, they must break its neck. God leads them from in front by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. (in v 18)The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’[b

In chapter 14: God tells the Israelites to camp by the Red Sea. The Egyptians changed their minds about letting the Israelites leave and chase them with 600 chariots and the whole army. The Israelite people in fear cry out to Moses and wish that they had stayed in Egypt. God tells Moses that I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. Moses tells the people  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ The Angel of the Lord goes from in front of the people to the back and the pillar of cloud gives light to the Israelites while the Egyptians are in darkness the whole night. During the night the Lord drives the water back with a strong east wind and the Israelites cross on dry land. When the Egyptians try to cross the Lord brings the water back and they drown.  And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. 

In chapter 15: Moses sings a song of joy to the Lord. Miriam and the women take out tambourines and with dancing praise Him. It’s so beautiful  you might want to read the whole thing here. They travel from the Red Sea into the desert for 3 days without finding water.They find water in Marah but it is bitter. *Here we see the Israelites complain. Moses cries out to the Lord who shows him a piece of wood, which when thrown into the water makes it fit to drink. There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’  Then the Lord took them to Elim which had 12 springs and 70 palm trees and they camped near water. 

In chapter 16: They travel from Elim to the desert of Sin where the Israelites grumble about the lack of food. God sends quail to the camp at twilight and in the morning after the dew evaporates there’s a layer of manna (bread that was white like coriander seed and tasted like honey) on the ground. Each person collected enough for their family. No one had too much, no one had too little. They were to collect manna each day except on the Sabbath ( when what they collected the previous day would be enough for two days without spoiling). God does this so that  I(He) will test them and see whether they will follow my(His) instructions. The Lord tells them to keep a jar of manna for generations to remember that God provided for them.

In chapter 17: The Israelites left the desert of Sin and travelled from place to place till they came to Rephidim where they grumbled about not having water. This time the Lord tells Moses to take his staff and the elders of Israel and in their presence, strike a rock and water comes gushing out. Amalekites attack them at Rephidim, Moses sends Joshua and the *fighting men to attack them. Moses, Aaron and Hur watch the battle from on top of a hill. When Moses holds his hands up, the Israelites win, and when his hands come down , the Amalekites win. So Aaron and Hur put a rock for Moses to sit on and hold up his hands. The Israelites win and  (in v 15) Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is our Banner. 16 He said, ‘Because hands were lifted up against[c] the throne of the Lord. 

In chapter 18: Jethro/Reuel Moses’ father-in-law who is a priest in Midian hears about what God has done for the Israelites and that they have been released from Egypt. He received Moses’ wife Zipporah and his two sons Gershom and Eliezer whom Moses had sent away (we don’t know when that happened) and brings them to Moses in the desert. Jethro listens to everything that God did for the Israelites and gives Him praise and brings sacrifices to God. He also sees the way Moses handles the leadership (disputes, administration etc) and gives him very good advice about choosing helpers and delegating authority which Moses follows.

In chapter 19: On the first day of the 3rd month after the Israelites leave Egypt, they enter the desert of Sinai and camp at the base of the Mount Sinai. God calls Moses up to the mountain to speak to Him and tells him to remind the people “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. *Moses comes back down and gives the Israelites the message. 

In chapter 20: God gives Moses the 10 Commandments. The people see thunder and lightning coming from the mountain and are terrified to speak or see God themselves so they ask Moses to speak for them and they’ll listen to him. 20 Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’ God asks Moses to build an altar of earth and sacrifice their offerings on it. If they build one of stones it should be of undressed stones and they should not use a tool on it or it’ll be defiled.

*I love that their names, Shiprah and Puah, are mentioned, while Pharaoh ( a title)’s isn’t. Because they were faithful to Him, He gave them families of their own.

*We don’t see Zipporah after this , until Jethro brings Moses’ family to him in the desert and gives him advice about governing (later chapter). Zipporah and the sons may have gone back to her father’s house now, or turned back later, it’s not clear. What we do know is that Jethro does bring them back after Moses and the Israelites are in the desert and have escaped from Egypt.

*The plague of hail was such a storm that Egypt hadn’t seen. There was lightning and thunder and hail. What’s interesting to note is that God allows Moses to warn Pharaoh. Some Egyptians  (who are said to fear the Lord) bring their slaves and livestock under shelter, but others leave them out in the fields. Those who were left in the fields were beaten down by the hail, all trees were stripped bare and the flax and barley are destroyed ( I love the details provided in the Bible).

*Passover was later celebrated as a festival and was one of the most important ones in Israel. Even Jesus celebrated Passover. He would be crucified during it as the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Here He tells them to take a year old male lamb without defect, kill it, and spread its blood on the doorpost of each home. They were to eat the meat of the lamb quickly and not leave any of it for the next day, if the meat was too much for a family, they were to share with another family . They were to cleanse their homes of all leaven and eat unleavened bread. Jesus as the Ultimate Sacrifice would shed His blood for us and cover  our sins. We “eat bread and drink wine/juice” in remembrance of His flesh broken for and His blood shed for us.

*We’ll see that the Israelites complain again and again and again. They seem to forget all the great things God has done for them until then. The Israelites sinned by complaining, because they complained against God, not Moses.

*Fighting men. The Israelites leave Egypt armed for battle in Exodus13:18.

*We’ll see Moses go up to Mount Sinai, speak to God, bring His message down to the people and take their reply back to Him, and he does this multiple times. The people say they will do what God asked them to do. God tells them the mountain is be set apart for Him, the people are not to force their way to see Him or they will be killed. God invites Moses to come up and then later Aaron. God tells the people He will come down to them in a cloud and they are to consecrate themselves before He does and the priests are to do as well. This is amazing because when God is born as a man, He comes down to the people as well, but He chooses the form of a common man who interacts with all people and at His death, He tears the veil of the temple signifying that all people now have unfiltered and unlimited access to Him. 

I know this is a long post on Exodus, but God reveals Himself through the Old Testament as well if you look for Him. He uses the OT to talk to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Have a blessed week friend.

Love,

Vanessa.

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