2019-01-13 - Exodus ~ The Quality of Faith
The Flight from Egypt: God Moves the People Out
Previously, we introduced this section that describes the departure of Israel from Egypt, and the Hebrews' release from the bondage under which they had been suffering for the last two hundred-plus years. We discussed some technical issues of dating the time period of the actual years in slavery, as well as the departure from Egypt.
The result of this, recorded in the next section, is the overwhelming desire of the Egyptians for the Hebrews to leave town. As promised, the Lord uses this enthusiasm and fear to encourage the Egyptians to let the Israelites take jewels, gold, silver and garments with them, as they left the land. Later, this wealth will be used to furnish The Tabernacle. And so approximately one million Hebrews leave, along with a large group of camp followers. Remember, the mixed multitude is probably made up of a racially mixed group, Hebrews and Egyptians.
- God Moves the People Out: So now we find the people moving out of the land of Egypt, and God is the one Who was leading them. One of the things we should really learn to appreciate is the fact God not only knows where we are in our maturity, but He fixes our circumstances consistent with our weaknesses.
God knew the people were fearful. While they had seen the Lord working, their level of faith was low. It wouldn’t take much to send them running back to Egypt. Because of this, God doesn’t take them on the most direct route to Canaan, which would have taken about five days. Instead, they go the back way by the Red Sea. The reason for the detour is the presence of the Philistines. If the Hebrews went through their territory, there would have been a battle, and though with the Lord’s aid they could win, they were not yet ready for the confrontation.
By the way, note that the people went up in martial array or harnessed, the idea being they went up in an orderly manner, not as a great mob. They marched as if they were an army, probably feeling like they had just enlisted in the Marines.
Circumstances were going to get tougher, not easier. I know circumstances can really get rough for us, as well. We have all been in situations we knew were more than we could handle, and we were right. Can you think of any examples in your life? But with the strength, of the Lord we will stand as we should.
I suspect sometimes we feel like saying “Lord, you're wrong, I’m not this strong.” It is clear from Scripture, the Lord will not put us where we shouldn’t be. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes put ourselves in the wrong place, and therefore pay the penalty. This is also the case with Israel, who always managed to get herself in trouble. But this certainly isn’t what the Lord wanted for them.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25–34 ESV).
Much of what we study here will continually reinforce the fact the Lord loves us and knows our needs. I know that often this is hard to believe, emotionally, but sometimes, we must first accept it intellectually - and the reality will come. We must pray that the Holy Spirit will fill us with the reality of God’s love.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7–11 ESV).
Now, back to the text. In verse 19, which is one of the greatest examples of faith I think we can see. Here, it is the faith of one already dead. Moses gathers the bones of the long dead Joseph, to take them back to the land of Canaan, just as Joseph had made his family promise.
“And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24–26 ESV).
Some two hundred years later, the bones are taken out of the land of Egypt. Joseph’s faith was so great, there was no doubt in his mind the Lord would remove the people from Egypt, and that faith caused him to make plans for his own disposition, all those years later. Does your will have a rapture clause? Just kidding.
So the Lord Himself led the people of Israel into the wilderness, going before them as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. People are soooo weird. I heard someone suggest what was happening here was these people were being observed by extraterrestrials, and the cloud and fire were caused by the effects of the spaceship. Men will accept the account here as fact, but they just want to reject the reality of God. They would rather believe in “little green men.” So the presence of the Lord was manifest for the people, during all of their journey.
The next section is rather extensive, so let’s break it down into “bite-sized chunks.” The chapter is really one complete picture of the fleeing of the Israelites from Pharaoh, the coming up against the barrier of the Red Sea, and the salvation provided by the Lord. Like the old Republic Serial, we see the people marching on into the wilderness, and hot on their trail are the Pharaoh and his army.
- Wangerin, Jr., Walter, The Book Of God, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996, p. 128-130.
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