Israel's Escape From
THE children of Israel had followed the
directions given them of God; and while the angel of death was passing from house to house
among the Egyptians, they were all ready for their journey and waiting for the rebellious
king and his great men to bid them go.
"And it came to pass,
that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn
of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the
dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all
his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not
a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and
said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel;
and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have
said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that
they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
"And the people took
their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes
upon their shoulders. And the children
of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and
they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and the
Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such
things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians."
The Lord revealed this to
Abraham about four hundred years before it was fulfilled: "And He said unto Abram,
Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall
serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom
they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great
substance." Gen. 15:13, 14.
"And a mixed multitude
went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle." The children
of Israel went out of Egypt with their possessions, which did not belong to Pharaoh, for
they had never sold them to him. Jacob and his sons took their flocks and cattle with them
into Egypt. The children of Israel had become exceedingly numerous, and their flocks and
herds had greatly increased. God had judged the Egyptians by sending the plagues upon
them, and made them hasten His people out of Egypt with all that they possessed.
"And it came to pass,
when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of
the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent
when they see war, and they return to Egypt: but God led the people about, through the way
of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the
land of Egypt. And Moses took the bones of Joseph up with him: for he had straitly sworn
the children of Israel, saying, God
will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones
away hence with you.
Pillar of Fire
"And they took their
journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord
went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a
pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of
the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."
The Lord knew that the
Philistines would oppose their passing through their land. They would say of them, They
have stolen away from their masters in Egypt, and would make war with them. Thus God, by
bringing them by way of the sea, revealed Himself a compassionate God as well as a God of
judgment. The Lord informed Moses that Pharaoh would pursue them, and He directed him just
where to encamp before the sea. He told Moses that He would be honored before Pharaoh and
all his host.
After the Hebrews had been
gone from Egypt some days, the Egyptians told Pharaoh that they had fled and would never
return to serve him again. And they mourned because they had permitted them to leave
Egypt. It was a very great loss for them to be deprived of their services, and they
regretted that they had consented to let them go. Notwithstanding all they had suffered
from the judgments of God, they were so hardened by their continual rebellion that they
decided to pursue the children of Israel and bring them back by force unto Egypt. The king
took a very large army and six hundred chariots, and pursued after them, and overtook them
while encamped by the sea.
"And when Pharaoh drew
nigh, the children of
Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched
after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.
And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away
to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of
Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we
may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that
we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still,
and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom
ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for
you, and ye shall hold your peace."
How soon the Israelites
distrusted God! They had witnessed all His judgments upon Egypt to compel the king to let
Israel go, but when their confidence in God was tested, they murmured, notwithstanding
they had seen such evidences of His power in their wonderful deliverance. Instead of
trusting in God in their necessity, they murmured at faithful Moses, reminding him of
their words of unbelief which they uttered in Egypt. They accused him of being the cause
of all their distress. He encouraged them to trust in God and withhold their expressions
of unbelief, and they should see what the Lord would do for them. Moses earnestly cried to
the Lord to deliver His chosen people.
at the Red Sea
"And the Lord said unto
Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto Me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go
forward: but lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it:
and the children
of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea." God
would have Moses understand that He would work for His people--that their necessity would
be His opportunity. When they should go as far as they could, he must bid them still go
forward; that he should use the rod God had given him to divide the waters.
"And I, behold, I will
harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get Me honour
upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the
Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten Me honour upon Pharaoh, upon
his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the angel of God, which went before the camp of
Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their
face, and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of
Israel; and it was a cloud of darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so
that the one came not near the other all the night."
The Egyptians could not see
the Hebrews, for the cloud of thick darkness was before them, which cloud was all light to
the Israelites. Thus did God display His power to prove His people, whether they would
trust in Him after giving them such tokens of His care and love for them, and to rebuke
their unbelief and murmuring. "And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the
Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry
land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the
sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on
their left." The waters rose up and stood, like congealed walls, on
either side while
Israel walked in the midst of the sea on dry ground.
The Egyptian host was
triumphing through that night that the children of Israel were again in their power. They
thought there was no possibility of their escape; for before them stretched the Red Sea,
and their large armies were close behind them. In the morning, as they came up to the sea,
lo, there was a dry path, the waters were divided, and stood like a wall upon either side,
and the children of Israel were halfway through the sea, walking on dry land. They waited
awhile to decide what course they had better pursue. They were disappointed and enraged
that, as the Hebrews were almost in their power, and they were sure of them, an unexpected
way was opened for them in the sea. They decided to follow them.
"And the Egyptians
pursued, and went in after them, to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his
chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked
unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled
the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them
heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord
fighteth for them against the Egyptians."
The Egyptians dared to
venture in the path God had prepared for His people, and angels of God went through their
host and removed their chariot wheels. They were plagued. Their progress was very slow,
and they began to be troubled. They remembered the judgments that the God of the Hebrews
had brought upon them in Egypt to compel them to let Israel go, and they thought that God
might deliver them all into the hands of the Israelites. They decided that
fighting for the Israelites, and they were terribly afraid and were turning about to flee
from them, when "the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that
the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their
"And Moses stretched
forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning
appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the
midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and
all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as
one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and
the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the Lord
saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead
upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians:
and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and His servant Moses."
As the Hebrews witnessed the
marvelous work of God in the destruction of the Egyptians, they united in an inspired song
of lofty eloquence and grateful praise.
Copyright © 1974
The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.
All Rights Reserved