Exodus: Pharaoh, Moses, Red Sea and Ten Commandments
The Israelites are slaves in a foreign land, Egypt, ruled harshly by the Pharaoh, and forced to construct his new cities. But one member of the Egyptian Royal household, Moses, does not belong there. In a fight with Pharaoh’s son, Moses’ true origins are humiliatingly revealed to him - he is not of royal blood, but an Israelite slave. He leaves Egypt, spending years in the wilderness, until God visits him and tells him to free his people. But the new Pharaoh will not give up the slaves so God sends plague after devastating plague to persuade him otherwise. The final plague – death to all firstborn sons – is shocking. By marking their doors, the Israelites are saved, but the Pharaoh has no such reprieve. Mourning his child, he releases the Israelites. But soon questions his choice and follows them with hundreds of chariots, reaching them just as they arrive at the edge of the Red Sea. Trapped by the Egyptian army, Moses puts his faith in God and is rewarded with an awesome miracle: the Red Sea parts, allowing the Israelites to escape. Now on their way to the Promised Land and freedom, Moses delivers his final message from God – the Ten Commandments. The Israelite people have a nation, a society with rules. They just need their land. Moses asks Joshua to lead them to it.
History is filled with stories of oppression, exploitation and persecution under which the human spirit cries out for rescue and liberation. As 1 in every 160 people alive today is forcibly displaced, I have little doubt that episode 2 of ‘The Bible’ series deeply touched many hearts as they saw their story reflected in the story.
A politically oppressed people exploited for the benefit of the dominant host culture. From generation to generation an ethnic identity was forged – they were slaves, not citizens. Their longing for a better day tasted less of hope and more of a bitter ache in their souls. But God saw their pain and heard their cry. He raised up a leader, liberated them from slavery and led them to a land in which they could settle.
Millions of men, women and children today have risked everything to escape the uncontrolled chaos, danger and violence in places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, D.R. Congo, Myanmar, Colombia and Sudan. While most refugees flee to neighboring countries, I’ve met many who have crossed the Sahara desert and boarded unseaworthy boats in an attempt to reach the shores of Malta or Italy from the coast of Libya. Why? As an article in TIME Magazine once put it, “human beings have always wanted to escape misery.”i
But for the Israelites getting out of Egypt was only part of the struggle. After fleeing into the wilderness, it took several decades before they arrived at a place in which they could settle and call home.
Of the 16 million refugees in the world today, over 7 million have been in exile for more than 5 years.iiTens of thousands of children have been born into families in which the last person to have seen their country of origin was a grandparent. iii
I know a pastor from Burundi who has lived in refugee camps for 42 of his 43 years of life. His journey helps me better understand what it must have been like for the Israelites to have wandered in the wilderness as a stateless people for 40 years. He once confided in me, “We thank God because your prayers are helping us overcome many struggles in this life…but we are so very tired of refugee life. Our plea is that you would help us by praying to God that he would take us out of this place.”
May the God of the Exodus protect those who have been forcibly displaced in our generation. May he hear their cries and show them mercy and grace as he provides for them and leads them to a place they can call home.
“Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
Psalm 107:4-9 (NIV)
- TIME magazine, 16 June 2002.
- UNHCR, 2011 Global Trends
- UNHCR, “Sharing Responsibilities – Refugees need protection”, Keynote Address to the Annual Conference of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid”, Basel, Switzerlant, 23 March 2012.
Young Moses. © Joe Alblas
Batya sees Moses in the basket. Batya decides to save Moses. © Joe Alblas
Batya sees Moses in the basket. Batya decides to save Moses. © Joe Alblas
Israelite work camp in Egypt. © Joe Alblas
Moses walks through the building site. © Joe Alblas
Moses at Mt. Sinai. © Joe Alblas
Moses at Mt. Sinai. © Joe Alblas
Aaron and Moses watching Ramesses.
Moses and Aaron. © Joe Alblas
Moses tells everyone the angle of death is coming. © Joe Alblas
Moses leads the Israelites on the Exodus out of Egypt. © Joe Alblas
The Chariots are racing towards the Israelites. © Joe Alblas
The parting of the Red Sea. © Joe Alblas
Moses receives the Ten Commandments. © Joe Alblas
Behind-The-Scenes: Cast and Crew on set at the Tasselmant location. © Joe Alblas
Behind-The-Scenes: Roma Downey on set with Cast and crew at the Fint location. © Joe Alblas
Moses continues to pray, eyes closed, the thunder of hooves not intruding on his conversation with his Maker. He remembers the moment when God appeared to him and told him the specific route he must follow to the Promised Land. Moses knows that he has done just as God commanded, so even as he prays, his faith is strong that God will find a way to deliver the Hebrews from this coming evil.
The sky is growing black, and a hard wind whips at his robe, sends his long hair flailing about this shoulders. "Lord, I know You have a plan for us. And I believe in Your plan. And I believe that this is not the end You planned for us."
The strong wind whips up clouds of sand. Shelters are blown away, and children cry. Aaron gathers Miriam and her children.
But Moses sees none of it. His faith is in God, and he continues to pray. "We have watched You bring terror on our enemies…"
Ira crouches in the sand, rocking back and forth in despair.
The long line of chariots races down the road to the beach.
Moses' hand grips his staff ever tighter. "You kept death from our doors…"
Joshua stands defiantly, glaring at the coming Egyptians, ready to fight.
Then Moses' eyes suddenly open as God speaks back to him. "Lord!" Moses says in shock.
The wind is now almost at hurricane strength. A funnel could touches down on the sea before Moses, hitting the water and then exploding back up into the sky. The shock wave flattens the Hebrews, and they stumble around on hands and knees, disoriented and momentarily unable to hear.
Only Moses is left standing upright, not letting go of his staff as he raises his face to the heavens.
Before him, the sea rises to the sky, a great wall of water stretching from the earth to the clouds. All around him, the Israelites shield their eyes from the mist and spray, stunned at the vast wall of water climbing higher and higher right before their very eyes.
And then the water parts in two, forming a great canyon. The sea floor is completely exposed, with water on either side. The wind rages through that gap.
Moses knows precisely what to do next. "Follow me," he cries, thrusting his staff into the sky. "This is God's work."
A Story of God and All of us
Young Moses - Joe Forte
Moses - William Housten
Aaron - Luis Hilyer
Moses & the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-17)
Moses and the Burning Bush
3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘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,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.
16 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’
© New International Version (NIV)
10 Plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:14-11:10)
The Plague of Blood
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’”
19 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.”
20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.
The Plague on the Firstborn
11 Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. 2 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)
4 So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.
9 The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
© New International Version (NIV)
Crossing the sea (Exodus 14)
14 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.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” 6 So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7 He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. 9 The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.
10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
15Then 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. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
© New International Version (NIV)
If you've ever read through the Bible chronologically, you may have seen something that many people miss: It is not a collection of disparate pieces of a puzzle, but one unified story of God and his ways with his people. From the first pages to the last, the Bible tells a story, and though it employs many different forms to do so, one thing binds all the forms together - God's love for us, and his redemptive planes from beginning to end.
In the Garden of Eden, though they had every comfort and blessing a human being could wish for, our first parents listened to the tempter and disobeyed God's command, bringing sorrow - and death - onto themselves and all their descendants. So God sent a Second Adam, born of woman, to crush the head of the serpent and overcome death with new life.
God spoke to a man named Noah, whose ark became the means by which Noah's whole family was saved from a devastating flood and given a new beginning - foreshadowing One who would come and bring salvation by grace, through faith.
God called Abraham to leave his home for a far-off place, thus becoming the father of many nations, prefiguring a time in the future when Jesus would leave his home in heaven and travel and infinite distance to a virgin's womb in order to become the Savior of the world.
Over and over again, God made his intention clear and foreshadowed the coming of Jesus in multiple ways - in a lamb in a thicket, and blood on a lintel, for example - "in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past" (Roman 16:25). Over and over again, God made clear his power and intention of saving his people from death - in the flood, in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, on Mount Moriah, and through the Red Sea - and leading them into new and abundant life.
As you complete Week One of this experience, take a few moments to reflect on the genius and grace of God, whose power to lead us from death to life flows through so many of the Bible's stories. And take some time before beginning Week Two to reflect on the experience of this past week. Make sure you spend time in worship with others as Week Two kicks off.
The Bible 30-Day Experience Guidebook © 2013 by Outreach, Inc.
Review is From The Bible 30-Day Experience DVD Study + Guidebook
It is not by accident that Moses first meets God not in the midst of abundance and comfort, but in the midst of deep personal struggle and even despair. The sin of humanity in the Garden was seeking to be gods unto ourselves: self-worship and the delusion of human autonomy. When we discover the emptiness of these things and find ourselves confronted with our own weakness, need and sin, it is there that we will encounter God.comments powered by Disqus