Today, as I read Exodus 13, verses 17–22 caught my attention. "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” By day, the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way, and by night, in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”
God knew the Israelites had been through a lot. 430 years of slavery, the whips, the terror, seeing people die from exhaustion, the last nine months of plagues, the night when death struck the Egyptian firstborn, animal, and human. It had to be exhausting, both emotionally and physically. Finally, it had to be spiritually draining.
God knew it all. In his compassion, they had light at night to brighten the road and a cloud during the day to provide shade. He provided food and water, and their sandals did not wear out. All of this he provided, even though it appears that they spent much of their 40 years grumbling against God, the God who had rescued them from slavery.
God knows what you are going through today. Whatever your fear, worry, or pain, He has compassion for you. He will meet every one of your needs and, best of all, give you His unfailing presence. Trust in God and you will be blest.
The Tenth Plague and the beginning of the exodus are listed in chapters 11-12 of Exodus. This plague did it, for the firstborn of every animal and Egyptian died. Pharoah’s household was not exempt. Pharoah was the ultimate god of the Egyptian people.
What caught my attention in these two chapters is the similarity between the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament and the lamb of the New Testament, Jesus.
The lamb was brought into the household four days before it was sacrificed. Jesus entered Jerusalem four days before his crucifixion.
The lamb had no defects. Jesus had no sin.
The lamb was a male. Jesus was a male.
The lamb had to die so its blood would save the firstborn from death. Jesus had to die, and his blood was shed to save people from eternal death.
The lamb’s bones were not broken. Jesus’ bones were not broken.
The next two plagues are listed in chapter 10 of Exodus. Each plague is worse than the other. All of them were designed to show God’s power over the Egyptian gods.
The plaque of locusts destroyed everything that could be eaten. Their god of storms and disorder, whose job was to keep away such disasters as the locusts. This plague of locusts took away their food supply. It is interesting to note that none of the plagues affected the people of Israel.
When Pharoah would not repent, God unleashed the 9th plague, the plague of darkness. This is not just ordinary darkness, but a darkness that can be felt. It showed God’s power over the Egyptian Sun God.
Pharoah’s heart has now hardened beyond return. God had to show his ultimate power to the Egyptian's ultimate god, Pharoah himself, to force him to let God’s people go. I will look at the 10th plague tomorrow.
In case you think that you are exempt from hard-heartedness, God’s Word in Hebrews 3:12–13 reminds us, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
The plagues continued as I read chapters 8 and 9 of Exodus this morning. Each plague is worse than the other. All of them were designed to show God’s power over the Egyptian gods.
In chapter 8, God set upon the Egyptians a plague of frogs. This was to show God was more powerful than the Egyptian God of fertility and renewal, who had the head of a frog.
The next plague was the plague of gnats made from the dust of the ground. This was to show God’s power over the Egyptian god of the dust of the ground.
The last plague in chapter 8 is the plague of flies. This was to show God’s power over an Egyptian god whose head was a fly. This god was the god of creation, movement of the Sun, and rebirth. Once again, God showed he was more powerful than the Egyptian god.
In chapter 9, we read about the fifth plague. All the animals in the field that belonged to Egyptians would die. The animals of the Israelites would not die. This plague was to show God’s power over the Egyptian god, who had the head of a cow; she was the god of protection and love.
When that plague did not change Pharoah’s mind, God sent the sixth plague, the plague of boils, upon humans and animals. This was to show God’s power over the Egyptian goddess of medicine and peace.
When Pharoah still did not let God’s people go to worship God, God sent an even harsher plague. This time God sent hail and fire like Egypt had never experienced in its history. This plaque showed God’s power over the goddess of the sky. Those who learned their lesson from the other plagues protected their animals and slaves, while others left them in the open. Only the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was spared.
Pharoah responded by telling Moses he had sinned, asking him to pray to stop the terrible storm. As soon as Moses did, and the storm stopped Pharoah hardened his heart once more and did not let the people go.
God’s message was always the same, “Let my people go.” All Pharoah had to do was repent and let God’s people go, but he did not, and the Egyptians paid the price for his hard-heartedness.
As I read chapter 7 of Exodus this morning, I wondered why God chose the plagues he brought upon the Egyptians. Each plague showed God was more powerful than a particular Egyptian god. There were ten plagues because the Egyptians worshiped ten idols.
The god of the Nile was depicted as a man carrying life-giving water. Not only did the people depend on the Nile for drinking, but the fish, which were a main dish for the Egyptians, depended on the Nile to live. So, God turned the water of the Nile into undrinkable blood, and all the fish in the Nile died.
Just as God showed his power over the Egyptian gods, we need to remember that God is more powerful than anything humans can devise. God created all things, seen and unseen. God sustains all things. They exist and function only because He allows them to exist and function.
As I read chapters 5 and 6 of Exodus this morning, verse 9 of chapter 6 caught my attention. "Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor."
In retaliation for Moses’ request, Pharaoh made life even more miserable for the Israelites. They, in turn, turned against Moses. But their lack of faith in God’s promises could not stop God’s plan of redemption. God told Moses to stay on track; He was not finished.
As God’s people, our Savior will bring us through our earthly trials, whether we believe He can or not. Think of how much more peace we can have when we put our needs in His care instead of doubting His care for us. God acts in His time, which is always perfect.
In chapter 2 of Exodus, we read that Moses had to flee Egypt. In chapters 3 and 4, we hear God tell Moses that He has chosen him to free the Israelites from slavery. I want to focus this morning on verses 11-14 of chapter 3 where we read, “But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
With those last words, God changed Moses’ focus from himself to the Lord. He wanted Moses to know that the power to free the Israelites depended not on Moses’ power but God’s. We must remember that, especially when we are discouraged as we do the Lord’s work, as a congregation or individually.
As I read chapter 2 of Exodus this morning, verses 23–25 caught my eye. “During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”
These verses underscore the depths of God’s concern for his people. Notice the verbs: heard, remembered, and looked. God longed for the time to be right for their deliverance.
This paragraph from Exodus applies to us today. God hears. God cares. God knows. In Christ Jesus, He remembers His promise to free us from sin, burdens of guilt, slavery to shame, and our fear of death.
Today, I started reading Exodus. Chapter One spans nearly 400 years of history. The population of Israel has become so numerous that, as the Bible tells us, the people were everywhere in Egypt. As we read in verses 8–13, things were getting ready to change.
“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt." “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us." "Come, we must deal shrewdly with them, or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us, and leave the country.” So, they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.”
Things went from bad to worse when Pharoah gave orders to murder all newborn boys. They were already overwhelmed with work, and now their baby boys were being murdered. Where was God? They, after all, were His chosen people. The people of Egypt must have been laughing at them.
Since we are people of the New Testament, we know God has not abandoned them. He was with them in their time of trial and grief. He was setting up their delivery.
Maybe you are going through a time of trial and grief. Maybe you are wondering where God is in your life. Please know that God is at work in your life. He wants to encourage and cheer you on as you wait for His deliverance. God does not lie. He will do what He says He will do.
As I read Genesis 50 this morning, verses 15-21, “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs, we did to him?” So, they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, saving many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
Genesis 50 wraps up the history of the patriarchs. What caught my attention this morning was the last part of verse 17, which I have bolded. Joseph, a foreshadowing of Jesus, had completely forgiven his brothers for all the evil they had committed against him. He cried because he saw in their words that they had never believed in his forgiveness, for it was obvious that they still feared his punishment. Their pain and fear were so unnecessary.
Do you find yourself repeatedly confessing sins that God has forgiven? If so, confess the sin of not believing Jesus’ words of grace. Ask the Holy Spirit to increase your faith in God’s forgiveness, freeing yourself from the burden of unnecessary guilt.