The account of the hard bondage and servitude of Israel in Egypt is set out in Exodus chapters 1-2. Yet blended into this account is the example of the faith of the parents of Moses. God blessed their faith and Moses was delivered from death that he might be the deliverer of Israel from Egypt (Hebrews 11:23-28; Acts 7:17-36). His parents’ instruction concerning God and His purpose in his early years became the basis of Moses’ faith. He, like Joseph, believed that God would deliver Israel from Egypt according to his word to Abraham (Genesis 15:13-16).In Exodus 2 we read of the birth of Moses and of the incidents that caused him to flee for his life from Pharaoh in Egypt into the wilderness of Midian near to Mt Sinai and Mt Horeb.
God Reveals His Purpose and Name to Moses (Exodus 3) This chapter commences with the impressive miracle that caused Moses to turn aside to look at the burning flame in the midst of a bush, yet the bush was not being consumed (v1-6). It was “the angel of the Lord” (v2) that spoke with Moses, yet this angel is spoken of as “the Lord”(v4), and he further declares: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (v6). From this we see that throughout the Bible the angels, who are the messengers of God, speak as if they are God Himself because they represent Him, speaking with His authority and executing miracles with the power He has given them (Psalm 103:20-21; 104:4; Hebrews 1:14).
Thus, although we read that the Lord or God was to go with Moses to deliver Israel, we now realise that it was an angel sent by God to do this work (Acts 7:30-35; Exodus 3:7-10). The angels are therefore a manifestation of God to man when they reveal themselves in this manner.
Moses listened as the angel explained God’s purpose to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt. Moses was the one chosen to perform this work on God’s behalf with the angelic assistance (Exodus 3:7-12). Moses was a very meek man (Numbers 12:3) and felt inadequate for this great task. He realised that the Israelites would ask who the God of their fathers was and what was His name. In Egypt Israel had become accustomed to the names of the many gods of Egypt whose names were associated with their supposed work and position. They would therefore ask Moses the name of the God who was to deliver them.
God sent Moses to Pharaoh with the message: “Thus saith Yahweh, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn” (Exodus 4:22-23).However Pharaoh would not hearken to Moses nor obey Yahweh. Therefore, by the hand of Moses, He brought ten dreadful plagues upon Egypt. These ten plagues were:
1.Water turned to blood
10.Death of the Firstborn
The last and most memorable plague is termed”The Lord’s Passover” (v11). This final and dramatic exhibition of destruction upon Egypt brought the deliverance of Israel from the bondage in which they were held, in fulfilment of God’s words to Abraham regarding his seed (Genesis 15:13-16).
The details are recorded in Exodus 12. Each family or group of families was to select a lamb without blemish and at the appointed time kill it (v5-6). They were then to sprinkle its blood upon the doorposts and lintel of their house (v7). During the evening they were to remain within the house and eat the roasted lamb (v8-11).
While Israel was doing this the angel of Yahweh passed through the land of Egypt. The blood on the door was a “token” or sign that the family within had slain their lamb (v12-13). The angel of Yahweh who was sent to destroy the firstborn, on seeing the blood would therefore pass by that house. The houses of Egypt that had no blood upon their doors suffered the dreadful punishment of the slaying of their firstborn.
Thus Israel were delivered through the blood of the lamb. It was to be a memorial to them from that time forward (v14). The apostle Paul states that Jesus Christ is our Passover, meaning that when we are symbolically covered by his blood in baptism, we too are delivered from the bondage of sin and death (1 Corinthians 5:6-8), as Israel were delivered from the bondage of Egypt.
As Israel remembered that dreadful night that brought their deliverance from Egypt by keeping the Passover Feast each year, so Jesus has asked all who have been delivered from sin through his blood to remember him. In the last supper with his disciples he gave them bread and wine and asked that they partake thereof regularly in memory of his sacrifice (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
The dramatic tragedy of the slaying of Egypt’s firstborn gave Israel the opportunity to depart from Egypt. There was a multitude, thought to total around two million in all, who left Egypt (Exodus 12:37-38). However it was not long before Pharaoh determined to pursue Israel and capture them again (Exodus 14). This brought forth the remarkable miracle of the opening of the Red Sea so that Israel could cross to safety. Moses dramatic words on that occasion were: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh” (v13). Yahweh opened the sea and Israel crossed to safety but when the Egyptians tried to follow them the waters closed upon them and destroyed them all (v30-31).
God had dramatically delivered Israel from Egypt. Now He was to test their faith to see whether they would believe His promise that He would bring them back to the land of their fathers (Genesis 15:13-16). They lacked food and murmured against Moses. God supplied manna to sustain them (Exodus 16). That manna was typical of the Lord Jesus Christ who was the bread of life (John 6:27-63). They lacked water and once again murmured. Again God responded by supplying water (Exodus 17).
That water symbolised Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3-4) who is the water of life (John 4:10-14). In these tests Israel failed to exhibit that faith which pleases God (Deuteronomy 8:1-6; Hebrews 11:6). There are many lessons and warnings for us in Israel’s wilderness wanderings (1 Corinthians 10:1-13). Do we trust in God and believe that He will provide us with that which is necessary to sustain us in our pilgrimage to His Kingdom? (Matthew 6:25-34).