Moses represented God before Pharaoh and then before Israel. It was his role to listen to God, do what He said, and then help the Hebrew people follow-through on all God had spoken. Later we will view the nature and purpose of the Law – for now it is important to understand God’s intent for His people as He brings them out of Egypt. Everything is an opportunity for everyone, and some will listen – and some will not.
“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. “Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.”
To know God in His holiness is the ultimate treasure for mankind. This is the same Name (I AM) that Jesus uses in John 8 – and why the Jews picked up stones to kill him.
“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. “When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”
How does God “harden a heart”? What are your impressions of Pharaoh? Why did God do what He did? Why is the answer to this question so huge?
Moses said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. ‘Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. ‘But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’
Why was God’s judgement so severe? How would it felt to have been in your home with blood on your doorpost and to hear the intense wailing and suffering in the Egyptian homes around you? What are the things God is trying to teach here?
The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Think this through and describe the picture in your own mind. Your in the desert. No streetlights. No airplanes or satellites flying over. You are camped in a square around the tent of meeting. Millions of you. How would you feel as you looked into the night? What would you have seen?
Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.
How long into the future would you have remembered this? If you were looking on, would you focus on the dead – or on your deliverance? What this story have done in the surrounding cities?
So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, for He hears your grumblings against the LORD; and what are we, that you grumble against us?” Moses said, “This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD.”
Surely this was a huge adjustment for people used to living in one place and having things, though unpleasant, which they could count on. Travel suits some better than others. Elaborate camping has the same effects. This begins the God Story teaching on grumbling. It is huge for the heart.
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
What is God’s endgame? What does He want from us? From the nations? Has anything changed concerning this?
The relationship between God, the Jews, and Moses is complicated in some ways and yet simple in others. The rigors of life (and of faith) provide great opportunities for us to trust our Father – for everything!