Exodus 15

Except for the occasional lyrics of a song, I have little interest in poems. However, there are times when a poem is especially interesting. For instance, I learned a love poem written by Edmond Waller when I was in high school. I still remember some of the words:

Go lovely rose
Tell her that wastes her time and me
That now she knows
When I resemble her to thee
How sweet and fair she seems to be

Tell her that’s young
And shuns to have her graces spied
That hadst thou sprung
In deserts where no men abide
Thou must have uncommended died

Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired
Bid her come forth
Suffer herself to be desired
And not blush so to be admired

Then die—that she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair

In today’s Scripture passage, everyone was eager to hear the words to this poem set to music. The event that caused such interest was God’s miraculous rescue of the Israelites from Pharaoh and his army. The Lord parted the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to cross to the other side. But when Pharaoh and his army tried to cross, God caused the water to collapse on them and they were all drowned.

“There they stand, seeing the shores of the sea strewn with the dead bodies of men and horses, with the broken pieces of chariots and weapons of war scattered in all directions… all ornaments of the mighty power and distinguishing favor of their covenant God!” (Bush 183-84)

After experiencing such an incredible event, it is no wonder that the people joyfully sang about what the Lord had done.

Now as we read through this song, it would be easy to read it and miss what is being said. You could summarize the song with, “Yay, God saved us. Amen.” However, there is much more than that in this poem. The writer, probably Moses, used Hebrew poetry and song to express his thoughts about what the Lord did for them that day.

To help us understand the poetry better, I have converted the song’s lyrics into an outline of five questions. Hopefully, these questions will help us to remember what the Lord did back then.

  1. What is the Lord to me? (2)

    [Read Exodus 15:2.]

    I like how the song writer points us toward the Lord. In these verses, he points out four things that the Lord is to us.

    a. He is my strength.

    The Lord was the strength behind the Israelites’ deliverance. What had the Israelites done to defeat Egypt or part the Red Sea. They had done nothing.

    ILLUS. When we were in college, the college soccer coach wanted his players to learn to trust in the Lord and to not be proud in their own abilities. One year the team’s theme verse was Psalm 20:7 which says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” That is the right focus.

    b. He is my song.

    The Lord was their reason for singing. As they celebrated the victory over Pharaoh’s army, they made sure to make the Lord the focal point of their song.

    c. He is my salvation.

    The Lord was the One who had saved them from the Egyptian army. As the author of that act, He could right be called their salvation.

    d. He is my God.

    The Lord had been an abstract idea until this point. Yes, they had seen the plagues, but this was something even more eye-popping. Now they could say that the Lord was their God, not just the God of their forefathers.

    APPLIC. What is the Lord to you, today? Is He the One who strengthens you, makes you sing, and who has rescued you? Is He your God or just an abstract idea you think about on Sundays?
  2. What was the Lord for me? (3-8)

    [Read Exodus 15:3-8.]

    If you were to describe what the Lord has done for you, what would you say? Moses and the Israelites were quick to describe Him in war-like terms.

    a. He was a warrior (3-5).

    “Some have thought there was something degrading in a form of expression which seemed to bring down the Deity to the level of a mere mortal hero. … The very same phrase occurs 1 Sam. 17.33, as an appellation of Goliath” (Bush 186).

    Rather than think this is degrading of God, try to think of the best way to explain in English how tremendously powerful God’s defeat of the Egyptian army was. He showed himself to be a mighty warrior on behalf of the Israelites.

    Who is this mighty warrior? The Lord is His name.

    This reminds me of when Pharaoh asked who “the Lord” was. At the time, he was so full of himself that he didn’t recognize the Lord. But he eventually found out that the Lord was His name and He was a mighty warrior.

    b. He was powerful (6-8).

    Moses proclaims God’s power in poetic terms. He refers to God’s right hand and nostrils. While God is a Spirit, we understand things in human terms.

    Right hand – “The right hand, being naturally the strongest from being most employed, is used by an apt metaphor for the highest degree of power” (Bush 187).

    ILLUS. I remember arm wrestling someone in 8th grade. I could not beat him right handed. He was too powerful.

    This is the idea of God’s right hand. His power was on display for all to see and nobody could stop him. With his “right hand,” He dashed the Egyptian army to pieces and overthrew those who fought against Him.

    Nostrils – “The blast of Your nostrils (v. 8) refers to the wind that parted the sea, and the words You blew with Your breath (v. 10) refer to the wind that collapsed the billowed water; these are poetic anthropomorphisms” (Hannah 132).

    This is a curious idea. Are any of you powerful enough to blow water apart with your nostrils? Some might sneeze and make their coffee spill, but no human can make water divide. It almost seems like God’s power was so great that just a sneeze caused the water to stand aside.

    APPLIC. Think back to those events in your life where God showed Himself to be powerful for you. Have you forgotten? Take some time to thank Him today.
  3. What did the enemy think? (9-10)

    [Read Exodus 15:9-10.]

    It is easy to see that Pharaoh and his army had not learned their lesson under the ten plagues. They actually thought they could win against the Lord. These hard hearted men were fools to harden their hearts and fight against the one, true God. And yet they progressively thought of how they would overcome Israel.

    a. We can overtake them.

    First, they agreed that they could pursue Israel and overtake them. Remember how Pharaoh and his servants decided that they shouldn’t have let the people go. They then figured that they could pursue and catch them.

    b. We can plunder them.

    But their pursuit was not to just catch them, they wanted to plunder them. Remember how the plagues had decimated the Egyptian economy. Their crops and livestock had been ruined and many had given away valuables to the departing people. They Egyptians were ready to plunder them and take back whatever they could take.

    c. We can destroy them.

    The Egyptians were ready to satisfy their lust for revenge on the Israelites. They were ready to draw their swords and kill their former slaves.

    d. We were wrong.

    But none of these thoughts ever materialized. The Lord blew with the wind and caused the waters to cover them. Then the heavily armored soldiers sunk in the water like lead.

    They were wrong.

    “Thus it is that men are often never more confident and presumptuous than when they stand upon the very brink of ruin” (Bush 188).

    APPLIC. How said it is that some people are so hardened against the Lord that they rush to their doom still thinking that they can fight against God and win.
  4. Who is like the Lord? (11-13)

    [Read Exodus 15:11-13.]

    The first question is very specific. Who is like the Lord among the gods. Moses and the Israelites had recently seen how impotent the Egyptian false gods were against the Lord. This led them to believe at least three things about the Lord.

    a. Nobody else is so glorious.

    God’s glory is unlike any other. He is holy (totally separated from any other), fearful (so incredibly powerful that we should fear), and a doer of wonders (look at the Red Sea for instance).

    “Though we honor him with praises on our tongues, we should do it with an humble awe upon our spirits” (Bush 189).

    Is there anyone so glorious as our God? The answer is obvious. No one.

    b. Nobody else could have done this.

    The idea of the earth swallowing them seems odd since the army was drowned in the water. But this was just another way of saying how far under the earth they were taken. Jonah used the same words to describe his time under the water inside the great fish.

    Who else could have done this? The answer is obvious. No one.

    c. Nobody else would have helped.

    The Israelites of this time were not necessarily lovable people. They complained against Moses before crossing the Red Sea and at the end of this chapter, they complained about not having water in the wilderness.

    And yet the Lord showed mercy on these people and guided them out of Egypt across the Red Sea, and eventually took them to the Promised Land.

    Who would have done this for such an ungrateful people? The answer again is no one.
  5. How will the nations respond? (14-18)

    [Read Exodus 15:14-18.]

    Think about what just happened.

    “The greatness of Egypt had been effaced, her land ravished, her people left in mourning, and her army destroyed. Other nations, hearing of the power of the Israelites’ God, would cower in fear” (Hannah 133).

    a. They will hear and be afraid (14-15).

    This is exactly what happened later in Israel’s history.

    Joshua 5:1 –”So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.”

    Moses rightly points out that other nations would hear and then fear. He mentions the Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, and Canaanites. Each of them were affected by sorrow, dismay, trembling, and a melting of their hearts. They knew that they could do nothing against the Lord or the people He was protecting.

    b. They will be filled with dread (16-18).

    Have you ever been so afraid that you couldn’t move? We call this being petrified. This is the picture presented in the song. Because of the greatness of the Lord’s “arm,” the Canaanites would become as still as a stone. They would be so overcome with dread of the Lord’s power that they could not resist.

    I would imagine that it would be tempting to think that it was their own power that made them afraid. However, “it was not their own arm which would get them the victory. It was to be the greatness of God’s arm … that the inhabitants were thus rendered impotent” (Bush 191).

    APPLIC. We ought to consider this point as well. Whether we are thinking of our changed life or success in obedience or evangelism, always remember that it is God’s might that made all of these things possible.

Conclusion

At the end of the song, we have two extra thoughts.

In verses 19, Moses summarizes what the Lord did. The Lord drowned Pharaoh and his army in the water. But the Lord allowed the Israelites to walk on dry land in the midst of the water. What could have been a terrible defeat was turned into a terrific victory because of what the Lord did.

In verses 20-21, Miriam gets the women involved in their own response to Moses’ song and celebration. With a timbrel in her hand, she sang an answering chorus which praised the Lord and showed what happened to Pharaoh’s army.

What do we learn from this ancient song?

1. We learn that those who fight against God will eventually lose.

Our world is filled with people who think that they can get away with sin and that God will not hold them accountable. But this is never the case. Pharaoh and his advisers saw the power of God and were given the opportunity to respond, but they chose to harden their hearts and eventually found that they had made the wrong decision.

2. We learn that the Lord loves and fights for His people.

As you read the words of Moses’ song, were you aware of how often the Lord’s power was wielded against the enemy and how often He showed his love for His people? God loves His people. And if you are one of His children, you can be sure that He loves and cares for you.

Will you take a moment today and thank Him for that?

Bibliography

John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, 132-33.

George Bush, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, 183-94.

Mother’s Day – 1 Samuel 1

Today we celebrate our mothers. Many of us had the privilege of knowing and growing up under the care of a good mother. She carried us inside her belly for 9 months, fed us, potty-trained us, spanked us, clothed us, and dealt with all of our shenanigans. Despite our best efforts to the contrary, she led us in the way we should go and somehow chose to keep us! So, it is fitting for us to remember and honor our mothers today.

If you were to search for every mention of mother in the Bible, you would come up with a variety of interesting events. In my Bible, I found 306 mentions of the word mother. In the beginning, Adam called his wife Eve because she was the mother of all people. Then there was Sarah who gave birth to Isaac at age 90! Then there was Bathsheba who convinced David to make her son Solomon king. In the New Testament, we read of Jesus’ interesting relationship with his mother Mary. Even while dying on the cross, he put his mother in the care of a close friend.

While there are many stories about mothers in the Bible, the one best remembered is probably the story of Hannah and Samuel. It is the story of a woman with a less than normal family situation, a frustrating desire, and a miracle child. As we look at what happened, you will feel the emotions and see God’s hand at work in the situation.

[Read 1 Samuel 1:1-7.]

  1. Hannah’s odd family situation (1 Sam. 1:1-7)

    Do you ever get the idea that someone else’s family is normal and your own is the weird or troubled one? I suppose that every family has its quirks and probably some secrets as well. Sometimes we think that a godly person must have come from a perfect family where nothing bad ever happened and everyone was perfect examples of faith and propriety. The family situation of Hannah says otherwise.

    a. She was one of two wives (2).

    Imagine what it must have been like to live in such a home. Would you be willing to share a husband with another woman? I think not. It would be a bad situation involving jealousy and mistrust. Not good at all.

    i. This was not God’s plan.

    You only need to go back to Genesis to find God’s perfect plan for marriage. There God gave Adam one woman as his companion not two or three. And from this we learn God’s pattern for marriage: one man and one woman.

    ii. This was not a pattern for happiness.

    Having more than one wife may have seemed like a good idea to Abraham, Jacob, and Solomon, but consider how things turned out for each of them. Abraham added Hagar to give him a son but almost lost his wife. Jacob wanted to marry one but eventually had four women. If you have read the Book of Genesis, you know all of the conflict that resulted from those poor choices. Then there was Solomon who had 300 wives and 700 concubines. Can you imagine that Mother’s Day celebration?

    Like these others, Hannah’s home was not a happy one.

    iii. This was not surprising for the times.

    Being that they lived during the time of the judges, it is not surprising that this was the case. At that time, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). Does that sound familiar? Perhaps that description could be said of how our current culture operates. And as it was back then, those who stray from God’s blueprint are often frustrated, unfulfilled, and unhappy.

    b. She was unable to have children (2b).

    Many would be mothers struggle with infertility. They have the desire but the desire remains unfulfilled for a variety of unknown reasons.

    i. During this time, children were considered a blessing.

    Have you noticed how angry people are today about “reproductive rights”? Many are angry that the Supreme Court may be overturning Roe vs Wade and making abortion legal. This mindset is at odds with what the Bible says.

    According to Psalm 127:3, “children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Instead of looking at children as an unwanted obstacle to happiness, we should view them as God does. Children are a blessing given by the Lord.

    This is certainly what Hannah thought about children — especially because she was unable to conceive.

    ii. Note that children are not always part of God’s plan.

    For those who have not been able to have children, keep in mind that God’s plan sometimes is different than what we desire. There are some who never marry. And there are some whom God does not choose to bless with children. It doesn’t mean that you are any less special to God. Instead, His plan for you is just a little different.

    For Hannah, the constant conflict and ridicule from the other woman was more than she could handle. Every day, it was hard for her to get up and smile because the one thing she really wanted was something she could not obtain.

  2. Hannah’s frustrated prayer (1 Sam. 1:8-18)

    [Read 1 Sam. 1:8-18.]

    During the family’s annual visit to the tabernacle, Hannah would weep and pray. Her husband, who loved her more than the other woman, couldn’t understand her emotions.

    a. She was depressed.

    Her husband didn’t know what to do. As is the case with most husbands (or so I have heard), Hannah’s husband was unsure how to help his wife. They had tried to have children but nothing happened. He even asked why she didn’t value him more than ten sons.

    To make matters worse, the other woman provoked her, making things more miserable than they needed to be. You get the idea that she flaunted the fact that she had children and Hannah did not. What a terrible things to do!

    Hannah was quickly sinking into a deep depression that nobody seemed to be able to help.

    What if you were able to talk to Hannah at this point in her life, what would you say? The words of an old song come to mind.

    Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?
    Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus
    Are you grieving over joys departed?
    Tell it to Jesus alone
    Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus
    He is a Friend that’s well known
    You’ve no other such a friend or brother
    Tell it to Jesus alone

    That song has support in the New Testament. Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us that “we do not have a High Priest [speaking of Jesus] who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

    b. She was distraught (9-11).

    After the meal, Hannah went to the tabernacle to pray. Her emotions were so powerful that she wept in anguish. She was at the breaking point and could find hope in nobody else.

    As she wept, she prayed to the Lord and made a vow. She promised two things. First, if God gave her a male child, she promised to consecrate him to the Lord for life. Second, she would never cut his hair.

    The second part of Hannah’s vow may sound familiar. Like Samson, her son would take the Nazarite vow. This was an outward expression of the person’s consecration to the Lord. Besides not cutting his hair, he would never drink wine or touch a dead body. You can read more about this in Numbers 6:1-21.

    Basically, Hannah made a deal with God that she intended to keep. If he would give her a son, she would dedicate the boy to God’s service for his entire life.

    c. She was accused (12-16).

    Did you notice who was nearby when Hannah arrived at the tabernacle? It was Eli, the high priest, sitting by the doorpost. As he watched her weeping and praying, he got the idea that something was wrong with her. He saw her lips moving but didn’t hear any words. So he assumed that she was drunk.

    Why would the priest think she was drunk? Well, if you read more about Eli you will find that his sons were very wicked. Their evil practices are described in the next chapter. Perhaps his own family experience led him to believe that most people were evil. Or he may have seen many people turn to the bottle to handle their difficulties. Whatever his reasoning, he confronted Hannah and accused her of being intoxicated.

    Hannah quickly denied being drunk and explained her situation. In a play on words, she insisted that she had not been drinking intoxicating beverages, but had been pouring out her heart to the Lord. She explained that her grief had led her to pray fervently to the Lord.

    d. She was comforted (17-18).

    Despite his first impression, Eli quickly changed his tune. He told Hannah that he understood and hoped that the Lord would grant her request. Hannah responded with grace and hurried back to her family.

    If you had been there, you would have noticed a completely different woman. She washed the tears from her face, ate a meal, and skipped down the path like a little girl. Well… we don’t know if that happened, but we do know that she was no longer sad.

    In all reality, Eli hadn’t told Hannah that God would answer her prayer. He only hoped that God would do that. Was Hannah reading into what Eli said? Would her hopes be dashed in the coming days?

  3. Hannah’s happy results (1 Sam. 1:19-20)

    [Read 1 Sam. 1:19-20.]

    a. She worshiped the Lord (19).

    When you have prayed to the Lord and been encouraged that He will answer your prayer, what has been your response? Hannah’s response was to rise the next day and worship the Lord.

    This parallels what God tells us in Philippians 4:6-7:

    “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

    Hannah’s hope in God’s provision had taken away her tears and replaced them with a calm assurance in God’s goodness for her and the future.

    b. She had a baby boy (20).

    Not long after this trip to Shiloh, Hannah became pregnant and had a little boy. How happy she must have been! In thanks to God for answering her prayer, she named him Samuel.

    Samuel (sometimes spelled Samual) is a male given name and a surname of Hebrew origin meaning either “name of God” or “God heard” (שם האלוהים Shem HaElohim) (שמע אלוהים Sh’ma Elohim).”

    It seems that the latter meaning fits best for Hannah’s situation. She had taken her grief to the Lord and was heard.

    c. She gave him to the Lord (21-28).

    [Read 1 Sam. 1:21-28.]

    Can you imagine how Hannah felt after God answered her prayer? The Lord had given her a son but she had promised to give this boy to the Lord. What a conflict of interest! So what should she do?

    After talking things over with her husband, they decided to keep the child until he was weaned and then fulfill her vow. When the boy had been potty-trained and was able to eat regular food (probably 3 years old, BKCOT 434), she made the journey to Shiloh and presented him to Eli the priest.

    When she arrived, she reminded Eli who she was and what had happened several years earlier. She praised God for answer her prayer and explained that she had promised to lend him to the Lord for life.

    Wouldn’t you like to have been there when this happened? All of the women would have been crying and hugging Hannah. All of the men would be scratching their heads and wondering what old Eli was going to do with a little boy in the tabernacle!

    The next chapter reveals that Hannah didn’t stop being a mother to little Samuel. She visited him and brought him a new outfit every year but she kept her promise to the Lord. And because of her willingness to keep her promise, the Lord blessed her with three more sons and two daughters.

Conclusion

Today’s message from God’s Word is heart-warming. We like to see how things turned out for Hannah and her little boy Samuel. But as we read this true story in the Bible, what lesson should we take with us?

1. God can overcome your bad family situation.

If you were to read about Samuel’s future ministry and not know about his family situation, you would think he had come from a godly home with no issues. But that was far from the case, his dad had two wives and his mom didn’t get along with the other woman. It wasn’t the perfect situation, but God chose to bring Samuel into that situation and used him despite of it.

Do you think God could use you despite your family background? We know that God can do anything but often think that we are limited by our upbringing. What if my parents got a divorce when I was younger? What if my dad beat me when he was drunk? What if my family situation contains things I can’t talk about? Could God still use me? The answer is yes. Remember, “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

2. God cares for you.

Do you recall how bad Hannah felt while she was childless? Her depression was deep. Her grief was great. Her hopelessness was growing. And yet God was always there.

Sometimes our emotions get the best of us. We think that we are alone and without hope. But is this really the case? Does God leave us to suffer in our situation without showing any interest in our case? I would say no.

Consider what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:7. There he says that we should be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Do you believe that to be true? I think that most of us understand the first part but don’t accept the second. Our circumstances often cloud the truth that God wants us to know.

Today, know that God does care for each of His children. He cares about you and wants you to take all of those burdens that have been pressing down on your shoulders and lay them at his feet. When you do that, believing that He actually does care for you, you will find the peace that only He can give.

It worked for Hannah and it will work for you.

Bibliography

David Erdmann, Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Vol. 3 Samuel-Kings, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960, reprint 1980, 47-53.

“Samuel (name)” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_(name) on 5/7/2022.

Eugene H. Merrill, “1 Samuel” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, 433-34.

Angelic Warfare

Have you ever wondered why certain national leaders have taken such wicked or cruel actions? Think about the Egyptian pharaohs during Moses’ time, Jezabel, Manasseh, Stalin, and Hitler. Each of them chose to kill many people and seemingly with no good explanation for their actions. What caused them to go to such extreme steps?

Daniel 10 gives insight into what is happening in the spiritual realm. Angels are fighting other angels as they seek to influence nations in either a good or bad direction. The following quotation is a good summary of what is happening.

“Although the entire subject of the unseen struggle between the holy angels and the fallen angels is not clearly revealed in the Scriptures, from the rare glimpses which are afforded, as in this instance, it is plain that behind the political and social conditions of the world there is angelic influence—good on the part of the holy angels, evil on the part of the angels under satanic control. This is the struggle to which Paul referred in Ephesians 6:10-18.”

John Walvoord in Daniel The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Chicago: Moody, 1971, 247.

Exodus 14

On my recent trip to Fargo ND, I was wondering if the driving portion of my trip would be interrupted with a blizzard. But nothing of interest happened while driving. However, the flight portion of my trip back was not as free from trouble. To begin with my 1:55 pm flight from Fargo was delayed two hours due to mechanical issues. We finally made it to Chicago but then that flight was delayed 2½ hours. Ugggh. This wasn’t in my plan and I was tired. My faithful wife was waiting for me at the airport in Columbus and we finally arrived home after 1 am the next morning.

Trips can be interesting and also frustrating. But for the Israelites, this journey was all sunshine and happiness to this point. The Egyptians had given them gold and valuables as they left. The former slaves were now rich and traveling away with God’s significant blessing on their lives.

But as you know, most journeys have a flat tire or something bad that happens. Otherwise, we wouldn’t remember much about those trips. The Israelites were about to experience a bump in their road that they would never forget.

[Read Exodus 14:1-14.]

  1. The plan (1-14)

    The Lord had everything planned out. Along with his own part in what would happen, he planned for how Pharaoh would respond, how the Israelites would react, and how Moses would lead them.

    a. God’s plan (1-4)

    When a general plans an attack, he thinks through what his actions will cause the enemy to do. In this case, God knew what He was doing.

    He told Moses to have the Israelites camp near Pi Hahiroth, Migdol and the sea. Where are these places?

    The names of Migdol (tower) and Pi Hahiroth (house of mountains) are uncertain. Although their meanings may indicate they were in a mountainous region. (see Wikipedia).

    The Lord knew that Pharaoh would see Israel’s helpless position and pursue them. Once Pharaoh did this, the Lord would gain honor by defeating Pharaoh and his army. The end result would be that the Egyptians would know that “I am the Lord.” There would be no further doubt who was in control.

    b. Pharaoh’s plan (5-9)

    Meanwhile, Pharaoh finds out that the Israelites had left. This seems strange to read as he had already let them go. Perhaps his servants informed him like an agenda driven news reporter.

    The result was that Pharaoh and his servants changed their mind about letting them go. No doubt they suddenly realized that having no slaves would increase their own work and diminish their fortunes.

    So, Pharaoh gathered his chariots and armies. Note that he took 600 choice chariots along with the rest of the soldiers, horsemen, and chariots of Egypt. What were these choice chariots?

    Choice chariots – According to a Jewish source, “Chariots in those days attacked in squadrons of three and charged in the formation of a triangle, one on the point and two on the flanks. The chariots also had knives and sharp instruments on their sides. The result was that three charging chariots could break through any line of infantry. Chariots in the ancient world were the tanks of today” (Pharaoh’s Chariots).

    All of this was a result of the Lord hardening stubborn Pharaoh’s heart. It made no sense otherwise. Why would Pharaoh respond in such a way when the Lord had already decimated the land of Egypt. Was he dense? Yes, he was.

    c. Israel’s plan (10-12)

    The happiness of being delivered from slavery in Egypt drained instantly from their faces when the Israelites saw Pharaoh and his army approaching.

    The people cried out to the Lord and complained to Moses. Their fear revealed the thoughts of their hearts. Why did you bring us out into the wilderness? to die? We would have been better to stay as slaves in Egypt!

    Psalm 106:7-8 – “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known.”

    Note: Sometimes hard times and unexpected events can cause us to speak before thinking. Be sure to guard your tongue and be slow to respond.

    James 1:19-20 – “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

    Instead of blurting out your initial thoughts, wait a moment and take the time to pray and consider how you should respond. Are you trusting the Lord? Are you reacting like Jesus would react?

    d. Moses’ plan (13-14)

    Moses’ response to Israel’s complaining was based on his trust in the Lord … but was also based on what God had said to him earlier. See verse 4. The Lord had already told him that He would “gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army.”

    What seemed like a terrifying situation was actually in God’s plan to judge stubborn, unbelieving Pharaoh and his people.

    But think a little bit more about this. The Israelites were afraid of Pharaoh and his armies … after all that they had seen the Lord do in Egypt? Why were they not trusting the Lord to deliver them in this instance as well?

    The Lord had turned the Nile River into blood, caused frogs, swarms, and locusts to infest Egypt. Their flocks has been killed. Their crops had been destroyed. Boils had blistered on the Egyptian bodies. And finally, the firstborn of every family had been killed by the death angel. Why were they still afraid?

    They were afraid because they knew Pharaoh’s intentions.

    If the news reports from Ukraine are correct, there is much reason for the Ukrainians to be afraid of the invading Russian army. The cruel treatment and executions described by the news sound terrible.

    The same could be said of the Israelites. They knew what Pharaoh was capable of doing and were terrified that they would be tortured and even killed.

    But Moses’ words to them were still correct: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” If they had learned anything during the plagues, it was that the Lord was on their side, working for their benefit. What seemed like a hopeless situation was just another chance for God to earn their trust.

    Summary: God’s plan was to gain honor from this situation. No matter how fierce Pharaoh and his army seemed to be, He would be victorious. At this point, the Israelites just needed to wait and trust Him.

    So, how did it turn out?

    [Read Exodus 14:15-31.]

  2. The result (15-31)

    Just as the Lord had planned, so it came to pass. He instructed Moses, protected His people, caused a great miracle, judged the Egyptians, and earned the respect of the Israelites.

    a. God’s instruction (15-18)

    It is interesting that the Lord asked Moses why he was crying to Him. Was he talking about Moses or the people?

    In any event, the Lord told Moses to send the Israelites forward. In order to do this, Moses was to raise his rod over the sea and divide it. In a miraculous, unexplained way, the Lord would cause that portion of the sea to become dry land for them to walk across.

    The Lord promised that Pharaoh and his army would follow them but that He would gain honor by what happened next. They would know that “I am the Lord” after what he was about to do.

    Just what happened?

    b. God’s protection (19-20)

    Remember the heavenly cloud by day and fire by night that led the people? The Lord caused this cloud and fire to stand between Israel and the Egyptian army. Thus the army was unable to reach the Israelites all that night.

    c. God’s miracle (21-23)

    What happened next cannot be explained by science. It was a miracle of God. When Moses stretched out his rod over the sea, the Lord sent an east wind all night that divided the water and dried the ground. The water became a wall on either side of them.

    Throughout the years, people have been skeptical of what God did. One website suggests that a normal occurrence in this area happened that dried the path that allowed Israel to cross the Red Sea. But if this was the case, how were walls of water raised up on either side of the pathway. This explanation doesn’t answer that.

    An old farmer was in the hospital and shared a room with an atheist. The atheist thought that he could outsmart the simple-minded farmer with his explanation of the Red Sea Crossing. He said, “Mr. Farmer, do you think that the Red Sea Crossing was a miracle? Did you know that there are times in that area where the tide causes the water to recede and the wind holds back the water for a period of time so that there are mere inches of water left?” The farmer thought for a minute before replying. “Well, Mr. Atheist, if that is true, it is an even bigger miracle.” The atheist asked for an explanation. “Well, God must have done a miracle to drown all the Egyptian army in just a couple inches of water.”

    We don’t need to explain how it happened other than that God did something miraculous.

    Now where did they cross?

    Several ideas have been suggested for the location of the Red Seas Crossing. The most probable location is Nuweiba Beach on the west coast of the Gulf of Aqaba.

    “If you visit Nuweiba Beach you will see that both ends are bordered by steep cliffs with really nowhere to go. That is why Pharaoh would have said, ‘They are entangled in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ (Ex. 14:3) … Here there is a 10 mile long and a ¼ to ½ mile wide sand bridge which joins the two countries together. This sand bridge is fairly level and has a depth of only 1,000 feet. This would have given the Israelites a gentle slope to walk on and to bring their carts across, but at the same time been plenty deep enough to drown the Egyptian army. Any other area along the Red Sea would not be suitable for crossing given the many cliffs and drop-offs.” (“Where was the Red Sea Crossing?”).

    It is interesting to see that the perfect place to cross still exists.

    d. God’s judgment (24-29)

    When the Egyptians saw what happened, they pursued the Israelites. Not fearing for their lives, they drove their horses and chariots into the same dry land in the middle of the water. But the Lord did not allow them to catch up to Israel. Instead, he troubled them by causing their chariot wheels to come off and have trouble driving.

    When they saw God’s hand against them, they tried to go back. But the Lord did not allow them to escape. The Lord told Moses to stretch out his rod over the sea so that the waters returned to its full depth. The Egyptian army was covered by water and drowned.

    Divers have also found what appear to be corral encrusted chariot wheels and axels on both sides of this area (“Chariot Wheels At Bottom of Read Sea”).

    What happened to Pharaoh?

    While Exodus 14 does not mention Pharaoh’s death, we know that he drowned because of what Psalm 136:15 says. There, the psalmist says that God “overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.” This was the final earthly judgment on Pharaoh for his stubborn, unbelief and unwillingness to obey the Lord.

    As you can see, the stubborn Egyptian ruler finally received the judgment he had earned. This is a good place to think about your own relationship to the Lord. Have you turned from your sin and rebellion against Him, or are you still stubbornly refusing to submit to Him?

    Remember, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). While you may escape God’s judgment during your lifetime, you will eventually have to stand before His throne after you die (Rev. 20:11-15)

    Are you ready?

    e. God’s respect (30-31)

    The end result of this event was that the Lord saved Israel from the Egyptians. What they feared might happen did not in fact happen. Instead, the bodies of their enemies washed ashore showing a vivid picture of God’s deliverance and care for his people. This miraculous event created in the Israelites a deep respect for the Lord and His servant Moses.

Conclusion

Someone once said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” In this case, God’s plan came off just as He had planned it to be. The terrible slavery in Egypt was now ended and those who had treated them so cruelly were no longer able to do so.

If you were to ask the Israelites a year ago, if they would be free from slavery, they would have laughed at you. But now God’s loving plan to free them and take them to the Promised Land was finally coming to pass.

One of the lessons we can learn from this chapter is that God is in control and that we can trust Him to take care of us. No ruler, nation, or Satanic opposition can stand against the Lord God Almighty.

Are you trusting in Him today? I don’t mean to ask if you have been born again, but if you are trusting Him today. Solomon said is best in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

What may seem like an impossible situation to you, is not an impossibility to the One who created you, sustains you, and maintains the universe. This ought to give each one of us greater confidence in doing what God has given us to do. He is with us. Let Him lead and trust Him to accomplish His plan today.

Bibliography

“Where was the Red Sea Crossing?” as viewed at https://thecalltojordan.com/2018/11/01/where-was-the-red-sea-crossing on 4/30/2022.

“Chariot Wheels At Bottom of Red Sea” as viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIQ-QAKTqZc on 4/30/2022.

John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publication, 1989, 131-132.

George Bush, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis: James & Klock, 1852, reprint 1976, 168-183.

“Pi-HaHiroth” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi-HaHiroth on 4/30/2022.

“Migdol” as viewed at https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/migdol on 4/30/2022.

“Pharaoh’s Chariots” as viewed at https://www.jewishhistory.org/pharaoh%E2%80%99s-chariots on 4/30/2022.

Works of God: Deer Hunting

While working at Peniel Bible Camp in the early 1990’s, one of Pastor Gassman’s daughters would pray each year that God would provide a deer for their family. Each year, she would pray and then go hunting. And each year, God provided a deer for their family. Being a meat and potatoes guy, I was happy to take part in those family meals with the answer-to-prayer venison on my plate. As I recall, it was very good eating.

Fast forward a few years to November 3, 2019, and something similar happened but in a more unique way. One of the men in our church, had been hunting with no success. Each week, I would ask Dale how the hunt was and assure him I was praying for him. However, each week contained the same negative response — no deer yet.

Then it happened. During our coffee break between Sunday School and the morning service, I heard a thump which I took to be the front door closing. But when I greeted Dale at the front door, he asked me if I had seen the deer. Not sure what he meant, I looked out the door and saw nothing. He told me to look down the sidewalk. There beside the church was a deer which had collided with the side of the church and broken its neck!

For the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop smiling. We had prayed and God had answered that prayer in a very unique way. This reminds me of what God said in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Instead of putting God in a small box and expecting him to do as we imagine, sometimes God shows us that He is able to provide in ways we wouldn’t expect.

Exodus 13

The Book of Exodus began with the troubled history of Israelite slaves who were mistreated by the Egyptian pharaohs and their people. As we have studied each chapter, we have seen how God was working on their behalf to deliver them from bondage and to increase their faith in Him.

Last week, we learned about the Passover and exodus from Egypt. The Ten Plagues destroyed Egypt and finally broke Pharaoh’s will. He finally let God’s people go.

After such exciting chapters, you may feel a let down when you come to Exodus 13. There are no miraculous plagues or feisty conversations between Moses and Pharaoh. But what we find in this chapter is nonetheless important because it tells us something about our God and His care for His people.

Despite the lack of “exciting” content, I hope that you will carefully follow along and see the goodness of God in this chapter and also allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart.

  1. The Lord’s Command (1-2)

    It is interesting how the Lord continued to use Moses as his spokesman. Moses had represented the Lord to Pharaoh. Now he is representing the Lord to the Israelite people. With that relationship in mind, the Lord spoke to Moses so that he would convey his command to the people.

    [Read Exodus 13:1-2.]

    I recently listened to a debate about capitalism and socialism and learned that socialism desires for all of the people to be in charge instead of one person. While we like the idea of individual rights, free speech, and the right to vote, this doesn’t seem like a practical way to govern a large company or nation. This thought came to mind as I read these verses. God seems to always use one person to lead, speak, and represent him as opposed to the entire group. Perhaps God’s idea of government throughout the Bible is something that we should study in the future.

    The Lord told Moses that all of the firstborn were to be consecrated to Him. It is interesting to read that this included both the firstborn of people and of animals. Compare this to the tenth plague in Exodus 11-12 and notice that the firstborn of Egyptian people and animals were killed. The Lord seems to continue that idea in this command to consecrate the firstborn.

    Why did the Lord want the firstborn consecrated to Him?

    Isn’t God already the Creator and Owner of all that He has made? Yes, He is. But in this instance, the Lord wanted the Israelites to have a continuing reminder of what He had done.

    So, “to perpetuate the remembrance of that remarkable event, and in token of their gratitude for it, their firstborn … were to be consecrated to God as his peculiar portion” (Bush 154).

    Do you remember the Andy Griffith episode where Andy puts out a fire in a barrel of rags while Gomer Pyle is sleeping? The rest of the episode has Gomer showing his thankfulness to Andy for saving his life. That episode is funny because Gomer becomes obnoxious to Andy and his family.

    The Israelites were in a similar but much different situation. The Lord had saved their lives and delivered them from the oppressive Pharaoh in Egypt. But their devotion would now be shown toward the Lord by doing what He required. In thankfulness for his deliverance, they were to consecrate their firstborn sons to the Lord.

    What about you?

    The command given here was for the Israelites and not for us. However, you too have benefited from what the Lord has done. He gave His own firstborn (Jesus) to take our place and shed his blood to save us from the judgment we rightfully deserved.

    What should we do in response to God? “Does he stand so high in our affections that we are willing for his sake to part with what we love best in this world?” (Bush 154) Instead of giving our firstborn, we ought to consecrate our lives to His service.

    Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

    Perhaps it would be good to mediate on your own response to what the Lord has done for you and to decide how you can express your thankfulness to Him today.

  2. Moses’ Instruction (3-16)

    After hearing what the Lord wanted the people to do, Moses gave more specific instructions to the people. They were to celebrate what God had done and then consecrate the firstborn. Let’s look at the first section.

    [Read Exodus 13:3-10.]

    a. Celebrate what God has done (3-10).

    i. Remember what the Lord did (3a).

    How easily we forget what the Lord has done in our lifetime. Do you remember any of the prayers that have been answered at Calvary Baptist Church? Do you remember what the Lord has done in your lifetime?

    The Lord wanted the people to have an annual reminder of what He had done in Egypt. They were to be reminded that God showed His strength to deliver them from their slavery in Egypt.

    ii. Feast of Unleavened Bread (3b-7)

    To help them remember, after they arrived in the Promised Land, they were to not eat leavened bread for seven days. This was called the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

    Unleavened bread is bread with no yeast in it. Normal bread rises in the oven because of the yeast in it. But unleavened bread stays compact and flat.

    How would this remind them of what happened?

    “Since the children of Israel left Egypt hastily, they did not have time for the bread to rise, so it was made on that very first Passover without leaven, also known as yeast” (gotquestions). (See also Deuteronomy 16:3.)

    When you are used to eating regular bread, it would be a stark reminder to eat flat, cracker-like bread. Doing this for seven days would cause them to remember the events that took place in Egypt.

    iii. Remind your children (8-10).

    You can probably recall your young child asking questions about why certain things were done in your home. The Israelite children would have similar question. Why are we eating this flat bread? This would have been a good time to recount what God had done in Egypt.

    One of my favorite songs in a different hymnal is “Give ear unto God’s Holy Word.” The lyrics encourage us to teach our children about God’s mighty works.

    “Give ear unto God’s Holy Word and hear His perfect law
    Remember what His hand hath done and tell His works in awe
    Recount unto thy children’s hearts the things which thou wast told
    The truth which thou hast heard and known from generations old.
    So shall thy children hope in God and not forget His name
    But follow in the ways of Him Who ever is the same”

    This is a good time to think about ways to remind the next generation of what God has done in your life and in this church’s time here in Willard. Celebrate what God has done.

    b. Consecrate the firstborn (11-16).

    [Read Exodus 13:11-16.]

    In this section, the Israelites were instructed to consecrate their firstborn male children and animals to the Lord. This practice would begin when they finally arrived in the Promised Land.

    i. The firstborn were to be set apart for the Lord (11-13).

    The act of consecration to the Lord was a setting apart. The Hebrew word means “make to pass over; i.e. from [your] own power and possession; [you shall] make a transfer of it” (Bush 157).

    With this in mind, God was telling them to transfer the ownership of their firstborn son or animal to Him. This would be hard to do. Would any of you be willing to give any of your children to someone else? Most parents would say no.

    It would also be difficult for a herdsman to give up the firstborn animal as there was no guarantee that there would be any future offspring.

    But giving to the Lord was something that should have come easily for thankful people who had just been delivered from slavery. Giving to the Lord would have been an act of thankfulness each time it was done. And (to put your mind at ease) the Lord also expected the parents to redeem (buy back) their children instead of sacrificing them on an altar as the animals were (in most cases).

    “Since donkeys were considered ceremonially unclean animals (Lev. 11:2-4) they could not be sacrificed, but they could be redeemed (padah, ‘to buy back for a price’) by lambs sacrificed in their place” (Hannah 130).

    Now, why was this done?

    ii. The practice reminded them of what the Lord had done (14-16).

    In the future, when a son asked his father about the firstborn, he would hear the story of how the Lord delivered them from Egypt with “strength of hand.” By the end of the ten plagues, there was no doubt who was stronger than stubborn Pharaoh.

    Some years ago, I met a man with extra large hands. His hands were literally half again as big as mine. I can’t say what would have happened if I had arm wrestled him, but I figure he would have had the advantage. His hand strength would have overcome me.

    How do you think a boy would respond to his father’s story about Pharaoh and God’s mighty power?

    He would probably never forget that story. Hearing that the Lord defeated Pharaoh and his gods ten times and destroyed the land would be a constant memory (like frontlets) that the Lord is all powerful and able to deliver them from any future enemy.

    Summary: God wanted the Israelites to celebrate and consecrate. They were to celebrate what God had done for them. And they were to consecrate their firstborns to the Lord in thankfulness and remembrance of God’s goodness to them.

  3. The Nation’s Journey (17-22)

    With all the instruction and celebration, it is easy to forget that Israel was on a journey to the Promised Land. These verses tell us three details about the journey to this point.

    [Read Exodus 13:17-22.]

    a. God’s path (17-18)

    “The shortest route to the land of Canaan was through the territory of the Philistines in the direction of Beersheba and the Negeb. It led along the Mediterranean Sea, the military road of the Egyptians” (Hannah 130).

    However, the Lord did not lead the Israelites on that path. He knew that these recently released slaves were not battle tested enough to handle the Philistines who would oppose them on this route. He knew their hearts and did not want them to become afraid and want to return to Egypt. So, he gave them a different path which went southeast from Egypt through a deserted area (not desert).

    b. Promise to Joseph (19)

    Years ago, Joseph had instructed his children to take his bones/casket back home to be buried. Moses remembered this and brought his remains with them. “Later Joseph’s bones were buried at Shechem (Josh. 24:32)” (Hannah 130).

    c. God’s direction (20-22)

    Such a large group must have traveled slowly. Remember that there were 600,000 fighting men. If you were to add a wife to each man and a couple of children, the total population must have been about 2 million people. Whatever the case, this group made their way from Succoth to Ethan on the edge of the wilderness area.

    As they traveled, the Lord led the way with a pillar shaped cloud during the day. At night, He led them with a pillar of fire which lit the way which would have been comforting in an area which was unknown to them.

    Summary: The Lord showed his care for Israel in these verses. First, He took them down a route that would not discourage them. Second, He reminded them of better times with Joseph’s casket being carried with them. Third, He led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Conclusion

As we conclude our study of Exodus 13, I wonder what caught your attention?

1. God’s command to consecrate the firstborn

As you saw God’s command for the firstborn to be consecrated, did you also see your need to consecrate your life to the Lord as opposed to living it for yourself? He certainly is deserving of anything we can offer to Him.

2. Moses’ instructions to celebrate and consecrate

As you read Moses’ instructions for Israel to remember what God had done for Israel, were you reminded of times when He met your needs and worked out things in your life that you thought could never be handled well? He certainly has in the past and still can today. Celebrate the Lord today.

3. God’s care for the Israelites as they traveled

As you read of the Lord’s care of Israel along their journey, did you realize that the same God has been caring for you all along? He has promised to never leave or forsake His children. So, trust and thank Him for His watch care over you.

Bibliography

John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publication, 1989, 130-31.

George Bush, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis, James & Klock, 1852, reprint 1976, 154-164.

“Frontlets” in ATS Bible Dictionary as viewed at Topical Bible: Frontlets (biblehub.com) on 4/23/2022.

“What is the significance of unleavened bread?” as viewed at What is the significance of unleavened bread? | GotQuestions.org on 4/23/22.

1 Thessalonians 5:25

Advertising companies are always looking for a short jungle that will stay in the minds of consumers. Over the years, some radio or television commercials are so good that if you heard just a few notes or words, you would immediately know what company was advertising. Let’s try it.

  Where’s the beef?Wendy’s
  Plop Plop Fizz FizzAlka Seltzer
  They’re magically deliciousLucky Charms
  I wish I was an…Oscar Mayer
  Give me a break, give me a breakKit Kat
  Like a good neighbor…State Farm
  Ba-da-ba-ba-baaa … I’m lovin’ itMcDonalds
  I don’t wanna grow up, I’m aToys R Us
  Every kiss begins with KKay Jewelers
  The best part of waking up is…Folgers
  Be… all that you can beUS Army


Todays’ verse is short and succinct like a slogan or jingle. It is only four words long but reminds us to do something very necessary for Christians to do. What is it?

[Read 1 Thess. 5:25.]

  1. Who should pray?

    When you ask your online friends to pray for you, who are you really addressing? You are not expecting non-Christians to pray to God for you because they don’t know Him. You are asking your fellow-Christians to pray because they are part of the Christian family.

    Define ἀδελφός – “a brother, near kinsman, or relative; one of the same nation or nature; one of equal rank and dignity; an associate, a member of the Christian community”[1]

    Paul was talking to fellow Christians in the family of God. He considered himself to be no better than them and to just be one of their Christian brothers. This showed his humility in asking them to remember him (as a brother) in prayer.

    Prayer is for fellow believers whether men or women. So all of us should listen to what Paul asks because we are all being addressed.
  2. What does prayer involve?

    A radio talk show recently shared a clip of someone praying at a political rally. He ended his prayer by raising his voice and telling God that ________ would be the next president of the United States. As he prayed, I got the idea that he was speaking more to the crowd than to God.

    What does prayer involve? This is a good question. Is prayer just throwing words into the air? Or is it something very special?

    a. It involves talking with God.

    Define προσεύχομαι – “From πρός (prós, ‘to’) + εὔχομαι (eúkhomai, ‘to pray, vow’)”[1] The very word construction means pray to. So prayer should be a conversation with God. When you look at the prayers of godly people to God, they are always talking to someone not making a speech to the people listening.

    Read these sample prayers of Solomon (2 Chron. 6:12, 14-15), Jesus (Luke 23:34), and Elijah (1 Kings 18:36-37), and consider whether they were talking to themselves or someone else.

    b. It involves intercession for others.

    On our church website, there is a picture of my wife and I along with a short description of us. In English it might say, About Us. If it were written in Greek, it would be the Greek words “περὶ ἡμῶν.” These are the words Paul used in this sentence.

    Paul was asking for prayer for more than himself. At different times, Paul traveled with a variety of people (Barnabas, Silas, Luke, Timothy, John Mark, Demas, etc.). But praying “for us” also would involve praying for the variety of needs this group might have: relationships (Acts 15:37-40), the pull of the world (2 Tim. 4:10), persecution (Acts 16), and spiritual success (2 Thess. 3:1).
  3. Why should we pray?

    I will let you read the following passages and consider how God uses prayer in each of our lives.

    a. It is God’s process for accomplishing his will (John 14:13-14).
    b. It is God’s process for increasing your love for others (Phile. 1:4).
    c. It is God’s process for building our faith (Acts 12:12-17).


Conclusion

Each Wednesday night, our church family meets for prayer. We asked for praises and prayer requests and write them on a piece of paper. But there are times when we forget the answers to these questions. Who should pray? What does prayer involve? Why should we pray? I hope that you will consider the answers listed above the next time you pray.


Exodus 11-12

Typically, on Resurrection Sunday, the pastor brings a message about Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Lord rose from death on the third day to show that He conquered death. His resurrection also gives us hope that His promise to raise us after death will be fulfilled. The resurrection gives us hope today.

However, this morning, we will continue our study in the Book of Exodus. Chapters 11-12 give an account of the first Jewish Passover. During this time, God gave the Israelites hope that they would be delivered from Egyptian slavery. And we will also see that what happened is a picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

  1. Announcing the Final Plague (Ex. 11:1-10)

    Chapter 11 details God’s conversations with Moses and also Moses’ announcement of the final plague to Pharaoh. In it, we will see how God’s plan would finally unfurl.

    a. The Lord spoke to Moses (1-3).

    God told Moses that He would send one more plague on Pharaoh and Egypt. Once completed, Pharaoh would let them go. In fact, he would drive them out.

    b. Moses spoke to Pharaoh (4-8).

    [Read Exodus 11:4-8.]

    If you recall, Pharaoh and Moses had come to words and had promised not to see each other again. But these threats did not come to pass as planned. God sent Moses back to Pharaoh to announce the tenth plague.

    Moses told Pharaoh that the Lord himself would enter Egypt and kill all the firstborn people and animals. He told Pharaoh that the grief would be unlike anything they had experienced before. But none of this would affect the Israelites; no harm would befall them. Moses announced that the Egyptians would beg for him and the Israelites to leave Egypt.

    Why was Moses so angry when he left?

    “His indignation was justly moved at the repeated falsehoods of the king, at his mercenary and cruel disposition, and at the insolent manner in which he had himself been treated by him. But it was mainly in view of the indignity put upon the messages of God that his spirit was stirred” (Bush 134-35).

    Over and over again, this hard-hearted king refused to listen to All Mighty God. He allowed his country to be destroyed, people and cattle to be killed, and all because he was stubborn and would not submit to God. Moses could have said, “You brought this on yourself! How many more people must die because of your stubbornness?”

    c. The Lord knew Pharaoh’s heart (9-10).

    Pharaoh’s current response was not a surprise to God. He announced that Pharaoh would not listen to Moses and that God’s purpose would be fulfilled. The land of Egypt would soon know without a doubt that their false gods were nothing and that the Lord was All-Powerful.

    The Lord had dealt with this hard-hearted king for months now. He had given him the opportunity to respond, but he stubbornly refused to submit to God. The more he hardened his heart against God, the more God hardened his heart.

    Take a moment and think about your own response to God over your life. Have you been hard-hearted toward Him? Be aware that there may come a time when you will become so hard-hearted that you will not be able to change. And then it will be too late.

  2. Preparing for the Final Plague (Ex. 12:1-27)

    In the first part of chapter 12, God told Moses how to prepare the Israelites for the last plague and their departure from Egypt. What happened next would be so memorable that they would make this month the first of their year.

    [Read Exodus 12:3-7.]

    a. The lamb (3-11)

    The Lord had Moses instruct the people to take a lamb on the 10th of the month and keep it at their home until the 14th. Then at twilight, they were to kill the lamb and paint some of its blood on the lintel and doorposts of their home. After that, they were to roast and eat the lamb with their family. And they were to be dressed in traveling clothes ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

    b. The judgment (12-13)

    The Lord announced to Israel that he would pass through the land of Egypt and strike every firstborn. This would be a judgment against the false gods of Egypt that were worshiped by Pharaoh and his subjects.

    How would this be a judgment against Egypt’s gods?

    As we have looked through the plagues, we have also seen that the Lord was often targeting the false gods the Egyptians trusted to protect them from harm. Whether it was frogs, flies, locusts, hail, or something else, their gods and their supposedly divine Pharaoh were incapable of protecting them.

    During the last plague, the Egyptians would have been trusting another god to protect them from harm. “The goddess Isis, the wife and sister of Osiris, supposedly protected children. But this plague showed her to be totally incompetent to do what the Egyptians trusted her for” (Hannah 126).

    By the end of this last plague, Egypt and Pharaoh would know who was truly in charge.

  3. Responding to the Final Plague (Ex. 12:27b-32)

    Both the Egyptians and the Israelites were told about the coming plague. They knew that the Lord had promised to kill the firstborn of every family. Now how would each group respond?

    [Read Exodus 12:27b-32.]

    a. Israel did what God told them (27b-28).

    It was not just the Egyptians who were awe struck by what had been happening. The Israelites were amazed by God’s power as seen by each of the plagues. Now, as Moses told them what God was going to do, they responded in two ways.

    First, they bowed their heads and worshiped God. Their thankfulness to God was expressed by honoring him in this way. Second, they left Moses and Aaron to do what God had commanded. Their response showed that they believed what God had said and would do as he required.

    How about you?

    While it is good to bow your head and show respect for God, is that all the further that it goes? Or does your love for God affect the way that you live every day? God wants your worship and your daily actions.

    Jesus said, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (John 6:46) He was pointing out the difference between mere words and words that are followed up by obedience. If you truly love God, your life will show it.

    b. The Lord struck the firstborn of Egypt (29-30).

    At midnight, the Lord carried out his promise to kill the firstborn of every family and animal in Egypt. It affected all of the Egyptians from Pharaoh’s firstborn son to the firstborn of someone in prison. None of them escaped God’s judgment. There was no house that was not filled with mourning that night.

    c. Pharaoh let them go (31-32).

    This was the tipping point for Pharaoh. He had resisted the Lord until this point. He hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron and sent them away. And this time, he did not stipulate who could go or whether they could take their flocks. He just wanted them out of the land.

    Surprisingly, he asked Moses and Aaron to bless him also. “Amazingly the Pharaoh, who was considered a god, was now humbled to the point of asking that Moses and Aaraon … bless him” (Hannah 129).

  4. Applying the Final Plague

    The New Testament often uses events in the Old Testament as examples for us today. It is as if God planned what happened back then to show what He was doing for us through Jesus. Consider three New Testament verses that tie the Passover to what Jesus did for us.

    a. Jesus is the Lamb of God.

    [Read John 1:29.]

    John the Baptist was the great preacher who called Israel to repent of their sin and turn to God. His preaching affected not only the Jewish people but also soldiers and religious leaders.

    When he saw Jesus walking toward him, he suddenly announced that Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” What did he mean? John knew what others did not. He knew that Jesus, like an unblemished lamb, was God’s future payment for our sins.

    b. Jesus shed his blood for us.

    [Read 1 Peter 1:18-19.]

    God tells us that the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23). It further explains that we deserve to be cast into the lake of fire at the end of time for our sin against God (Rev. 20:11-15). But it also tells us that our sins have been paid for God. How did he do that?

    Peter tells us that the penalty for our sins was not paid by gold or silver. It wasn’t paid for by following some traditions or rituals passed along by religious leaders either. Instead, Jesus’ blood paid the price for our sins. When Jesus bled and died on the cross, his blood counted as the payment for our sins so that we could escape the judgment we deserve.

    But how does that work?

    c. Jesus is our Passover.

    [Read 1 Corinthians 5:7b.]

    The Bible tells us that “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”

    Remember how the Israelites escaped the 10th plague? A lamb was killed and its blood was painted on the doorposts and lintel of their homes. Then when the Lord came to kill the firstborn, He passed over their houses when He saw the blood. They escaped the judgment when He saw the blood.

    Jesus is our Passover.

    All of us have sinned against God and deserve to be judged. And there is nothing we can do to make amends for those sins. We are headed for the lake of fire with no remedy of our own making. But God had promised that Jesus is our Passover.

    When a sinner like you or me puts our faith in what Jesus did on the cross. When we believe that His blood paid the price for our sins, God has promised to pass over us and save us from the judgment we deserve. Jesus is our Passover.

Conclusion

Today, we have the opportunity to remember what Jesus did for us on the cross. He died to pay for our sins. We also remember that He didn’t stay dead but was raised back to life after three days. All of that is wonderful… unless what Jesus accomplished has not been applied to your own life.

If you, today, have not believed in Jesus as the final and only payment for your sins, will you trust the Passover Lamb of God for yourself? If you have, you know the joy and peace that every believer has. If you have not, you face a coming judgment that you don’t need to face. Jesus took your punishment. Will you believe Him today?

Bibliogrpahy

John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, 125-29.

George Bush, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, 130-47.

“What was the meaning and purpose of the ten plagues of Egypt?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=2103 on 4/16/22.

God’s faithfulness

Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 5:24, D. Edmond Hiebert says,

“God is faithful, to be trusted, reliable concerning all that He has said. … He never lies in making a promise and never begins a work without carrying it out to completion.”

The Thessalonian Epistles, p. 254.

That ought to encourage every believer. God will be with us to sanctify and preserve us. Why? He will do it because He is faithful to those He has called.

Exodus 10

God had sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to demand that he let His people go. Pharaoh, who was treated as the son of the Egyptian god Re, was unsympathetic with the Lord’s demands and claimed ignorance of who the Lord even was. But over the past seven plagues, he could no longer claim ignorance of who the Lord was.

Plague 1 – Water into blood
Plague 2 – Frogs invade their homes
Plague 3 – Lice infest Egypt
Plague 4 – Swarms of insects
Plague 5 – Pestilence kills Egyptian livestock
Plague 6 – Painful boils on Egyptian people and animals
Plague 7 – Hail mingled with fire

After the hail destroyed the Egyptian crops, Pharaoh admitted his sin and asked for mercy. But as soon as it was gone, he and his servants hardened their hearts and would not let God’s people go.

What will it take to break the heart of this hard-hearted king?

  1. Plague 8

    [Read Exodus 10:1-11.]

    a. Why did God send these plagues? (1-2)

    The Lord mentions two reasons for sending these plagues. First, the Lord wanted to show these signs to Pharaoh. As we read through the chapters describing the plagues, you may be tempted to feel pity for Pharaoh. Why did God harden his heart? Why was he treated so severely? The fact is that Pharaoh was very deserving of what he received. He was part of a people who had rejected the Lord and worshiped idols. He was part of a people who had severely mistreated the Israelites. He was part of a people who had previously murdered the Hebrew children. What the Lord did to Pharaoh and Egypt was just recompense for their evil behavior.

    Second, the Lord wanted Moses (and Israel) to be able to tell the story to future generations so that they would know that He is the Lord. In years to come, Moses would have the opportunity to share with his children and grandchildren what the Lord had done during their time in Egypt. These true stories would instill in their hearts the power of the Lord. It is something they would never forget.

    b. What was the promised plague? (3-6)

    With God’s words in their mouth, Moses and Aaron spoke to Pharaoh. First, they confronted him about his refusal to humble himself before the Lord. Second, they announced what the next plague would be.

    If Pharaoh refused to let Israel go, the Lord would send locusts that would cover the ground, eat whatever food was left, and fill their houses. It would be something never before seen in Egypt.

    c. What was Pharaoh’s offer? (7-11)

    After Moses and Aaron left, Pharaoh’s servants counseled him to make a deal. “Such extensive economic disaster caused Pharaoh’s officials to realize that retaining their slaves was not worth the price” (Hannah). Their land was already destroyed and would only become worse with locusts.

    When Moses and Aaron came back, Pharaoh asked who would go if he let them go. He appeared to be on the verge of giving in, but he wanted to know who was going. When Moses and Aaron told him that all them would be going, he lost it! He must have thought that Moses was trying to trick him somehow. There was no way he would let all of them go.

    d. How bad was the plague? (12-15)

    [Read Exodus 10:12-20.]

    The Lord commanded Moses to stretch out his hand over the land of Egypt to begin the plague. When Moses raised the rod over the land, the wind began to blow from the east. The wind blew all night and in the morning the locusts arrived.

    What are locusts?

    “Locusts are large grasshoppers that live on almost every continent of the world and are known for their propensity to gather in large, destructive swarms. However, locusts often live for several generations, spanning decades, in the solitary, sedentary style that’s characteristic of other species of grasshoppers. It’s when locusts come together that their behavior changes” (Uyeno).

    “When locusts swarm, they can eat their own body weight in food every day. They gather in huge groups that can literally darken the sky and strip fields bare. There is little to be done when combating a modern-day plague of locusts. … In an astoundingly short period of time, they can completely destroy a crop; … life-threatening for subsistence farmers” (McMahon).

    There were so many locusts that the ground was covered the entire land and darkened the sky. Every plant and fruit was consumed by the locusts. Whatever had been left after the plague of hail was now completely gone.

    During a locust invasion on the Canary Islands a person said that “there was no opening one’s mouth but some would get in. … When a man opened his mouth to put in a morsel, he was sure to chew one of them” (Bush 125).

    What was the significance of this plague?

    “Besides the obvious vegetation destruction, this plague would constitute yet another blow to their religious system. There was a god who protected against the locust (Senehem). He was a minor deity. Yet, it was the function of many gods to protect the fields, vegetation and all that was destroyed by the locusts. This plague adds to the cumulative effect that Pharaoh is impotent and their gods are not able to secure order” (Free Sunday).

    Egypt soon realized that their gods were unable to protect them and that the Lord was the one, true and all-powerful God.

    e. What was Pharaoh’s response? (16-20)

    Things must have been very severe because Pharaoh hastily called for Moses and Aaron. He admitted his sin against the Lord and against them. He pleaded with them to ask the Lord to remove the plague because he knew it meant death for Egypt.

    Moses did as Pharaoh requested. He prayed and the Lord answered. A strong west wind carried the locusts from Egypt into the Red Sea and not one was left in Egypt.

    Pharaoh had responded well at first, but as soon as the locusts were gone so was his so-called repentance. The Lord hardened his heart and he would not let the Israelites go.

    “Pharaoh had indeed on former occasions made some pretenses to humbling himself, but as he was neither sincere nor constant in it, it passed for nothing in God’s esteem. … Let us learn from this how little value God puts upon those religious acts in which the heart is wanting” (Bush 121-22).

    How about you?

    As you see Pharaoh’s false repentance, do you see a picture of yourself? There are many people who have made a show of turning from sin and becoming a Christian. But later, they are found out to be nothing but a fake. God doesn’t want a show of tears and false promises; He wants your heart.

    Christians, as you talk to people about the Lord, remember that God is able to bring sinners to repentance.

    2 Timothy 2:24-26 – “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

    With God all things are possible.

  2. Plague 9

    [Read Exodus 10:21-29.]

    a. What was this plague? (21-23)

    As with the sixth plague (boils), no warning was given to Pharaoh about the ninth plague. The Lord told Moses to stretch out his hand toward the sky so that darkness would cover Egypt. The darkness would be so bad that it could be felt.

    How can darkness be felt?

    “Perhaps the language is figurative in that the darkness was so overwhelming that it gave people a groping feeling. The word, ‘felt,’ can be translated ‘grope, feel, or search’” (Free Sunday).

    Whatever the case may have been, the darkness lasted for three days. It was so dark that nobody left his place for those three days. “The meaning probably is, that no one went out of his house to attend to his usual business” (Bush).

    But the Israelites were not affected by this plague. God made a difference between His people and the idolatrous Egyptians.

    What was the significance of darkness to Egypt?

    “Re [pronounced Ray] was the foremost god of the sun. … Pharaoh himself was called the Son of Re. … Venerated as the one who illuminated the land of Egypt, the Son of Re was in charge of … the sun’s illumination. Therefore, this plague demonstrated that Pharaoh was not in control” (Free Sunday).

    b. What was Pharaoh’s offer? (24-26)

    From the darkness, Pharaoh called for a meeting with Moses and Aaron. (I wonder if he could see Moses or just had to speak and listen.) He gave permission for all of the people to go as long as they left their flocks and herds. Even the children could go.

    But this was not what God required. Moses reminded Pharaoh that they had to take their flocks and herds for sacrifices to the Lord. At this point, the Lord had not told them what sacrifices were needed, so they would need to take all of their livestock.

    c. What was Pharaoh’s response? (27-29)

    The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart further and he refused to budge. Instead of agreeing to Moses’ terms, he screamed for Moses to leave and never show his face again. He promised to kill Moses the next time he saw him. Moses promised that the hard-hearted ruler would never see him again.

Conclusion

When will these plagues end? When will Pharaoh finally let God’s people go? You will have to read the next chapters in Exodus to find that answer. But for now, it would be good to think through what has happened so far.

First, God has been using a hard-hearted Egyptian ruler to showcase his power in a land filled with cruel, idol worshiping, slave masters. Pharaoh and the Egyptian people were slowly learning that their sins against the Israelites would be judged severely by the one true God.

Second, God has been teaching the Israelites that He is the Lord in charge of all creation. As they watched Pharaoh and the Egyptians crumble beneath the judgment of God, they must have stared wide-eyed and open mouthed. The Lord did care about them. The Lord had heard their prayers for deliverance. The Lord was at work on their behalf.

As you see both perspectives, which side do line up with? Are you one of the enemies of God who is refusing to repent of your sins and is awaiting God’s judgment? Or are you one of God’s people who have turned from your sin to believe, love, and follow Him?

Hebrews 3:15 – “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”

God’s desire for you is that you would recognize your sin against Him and turn from it to Him. He wants you to realize that your sin deserves death (Rom. 6:23) and that ultimately all those who reject Him will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity (Rev. 20:11-15). But God loved you and made a way of escape. Jesus, God’s Son, willingly died on the cross to once-and-for-all take the punishment for your sin. He died for you but rose from being dead the third day.

Now God calls on you to receive Jesus and what He did for you by faith. Put your faith in Him, believing that He died for you and rose again. What will happen after that? God will forgive you of your sin against Him and change you from the inside out. He will make you His child and lead you in the right way.

Two options: You can be like Pharaoh and harden your heart. Or you can turn from your sin to Jesus and become a child of God. Which will you do today?

Bibliography

• “Why did God use a locust swarm to punish Israel (Joel 1:4)?” as viewed at https://www.gotquestions.org/locust-swarm.html on 4/9/22.
• Mary McMahon, “What are Locusts?” as viewed at https://www.allthingsnature.org/what-are-locusts.htm on 4/9/22.
• Greg Uyeno, “What are locusts and why do they swarm?” as viewed at https://www.livescience.com/locusts.html on 4/9/22.
• “The Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 11: The Plague of Locusts” as viewed at https://www.freesundayschoollessons.org/biblical-theology/the-plagues-of-egypt-lesson-10-the-plague-of-locusts on 4/9/22.
• “The Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 12: The Plague of Darkness” as viewed at https://www.freesundayschoollessons.org/biblical-theology/the-plagues-of-egypt-lesson-11-the-plague-of-darkness/ on 4/9/22.
• George Bush, Notes on Exodus, (Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976), 121-30.
• John Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, (USA: SP Publications, 1989), 124-25.
• “How do you pronounce Ra Egyptian god?” as viewed at https://philosophy-question.com/library/lecture/read/262070-how-do-you-pronounce-ra-egyptian-god#0 on 4/9/22.