Exodus Chapters 1 to 17

Exodus is an interesting book to read. As it’s name suggests, the main focus of the first half is on the oppression and the Israelites exodus of Egypt. It then covers the ten commandments, and then almost all of the second half is focused entirely on the development of the tabernacle.

I didn’t end up writing up the interesting points I didn’t know before that I came across as I was reading it this week, so I’m going to do that now. I might end up breaking this up into a few posts.

Aaron, Moses and Miriam were Levites – Exodus Chapter 2:1 “Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman”. That would be their mum and dad, since the story of Moses birth and adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter goes on from there.

I know most of the first section of Exodus fairly well, it goes through Moses’ struggles with God before returning to Egypt and with the help of his brother Aaron and God, he approaches Pharaoh time and time again to let the Israelites go. Pharaoh refuses, and so God sends down plagues on the Egyptians, ten of them. Water to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, the plague on the livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the plague on the first born. Despite how many times I’ve read or heard this part of the Bible, I never remember just what all the plagues were. The ones that stand out to me are the first, turning the water in the Nile River to blood, and the last three. Locusts, darkness and death. I don’t really know why those are the ones that I think of first when I think about the plagues on the Egyptians.

Something that particularly jumped out to me further on, is after the final plague, after the passover, when the Israelites left Egypt, before the Israelites did anything to warrant their wandering in the desert for many years, in Exodus 13:17-18, we are told God intentionally took them the long way:

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.

So God, intentionally took them the long way to Canaan to avoid any war with the Philistines. Of course, that way ended up taking a lot longer than it needed to anyway, but for different reasons entirely.

I commented when I finished reading Genesis that I was interested to see if the Israelites did remember to take Joseph’s bones from Egypt when they left as he requested. In Exodus 13:19, Moses upheld the oath.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”

I find the next section of Exodus quite interesting. I know the story of God parting the water of the Red (Dead) Sea, that’s a fairly well known excerpt. From chapter 14 of Exodus though, it becomes pretty clear that God had their escape route well planned out ahead of time. Chapter 14:1-3

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’

Now, when the Egyptians catch up with them, the Israelites cry out to God and to Moses and fear for their lives, wishing they were back in Egypt enslaved rather than about to die in the desert. I love God’s response to them:

15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.

God knew what would happen, He had it all planned out already. He promised to take His people out of Egypt, and here they are complaining, the response “Why are you crying out to me?” seems quite appropriate!

As I came back to write this, I realised that while the first mention of Aaron and Moses’ sister Miriam is in Exodus 2:5, we aren’t told her name until Exodus 15:20 when she, and the other women take up their tambourines and praise God with the rest of Israel for their deliverance and for what has been promised.

As I was reading through the next section, I started to realise something. As the Israelites travelled through the numerous deserts, having all their needs provided for by God, drinkable water where previously there was none (chapter 17:1-7) or what was there was not drinkable (chapter 15:22-27). Food was provided as well, manna and quail, always just what they needed. When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites (chapter 17:8-15), even going back to the division of the waters in the sea, Moses has been gradually changing. When God first sent him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses needed Aaron to speak for him. Moses had “faltering lips” Exodus 6:30, or as I understand it, he lacked confidence in speaking out, and possibly had a bit of a stutter. However, Moses has grown with the task God set before him. His confidence has increased significantly, both in himself and more importantly, in God. This is something that I’ve noticed happening not just in my life, but in the lives of most of the youth I go to church with.

The youth I know at church, are in general more confident in themselves and God, they have far less self-esteem issues than many others, they are generally all round happier people, and generally healthier too. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but of the ones that I have grown up with, or known while I was growing up, it has been something that’s happened as they, we, have gotten more involved with God. That’s just the effect a close relationship with God has. Reading through the growth of Moses as a person as well, has just helped to emphasise this in my mind and life as it makes it even more clear to me the effect that God has had and is having on many of the people I know, including myself.

I don’t mean that everyone I know that goes to church is like this, but the ones that are developing a relationship with God are growing not only spiritually, but their lives are improving in every way.

I’m really enjoying getting into the Bible every morning. I’m reading for about an hour each morning, sometimes I’m up at 5:30am, sometimes 6am, but I’m getting into it for around an hour. It really is great to do, both interesting and uplifting, and every morning, I find something new and relevant to my life that I didn’t know before or that I didn’t connect the dots with. I encourage you to try it too, even if you aren’t a Christian, give it a read for an hour or so each day and just keep at it.

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