Story of Hope

7/28

Chapter 5 - The Liberation

God always has a people, even when they are far outnumbered by those who rebel against Him. For instance, only eight people— Noah and his family—got into the boat God instructed Noah to build as a refuge from the Flood. Enoch walked with God during Largely godless times. God called Abraham to leave his native land and go to Canaan. His descendents, who became known as Israelites, lived there until a famine drove them to Egypt, where they were later enslaved. Here is the amazing story of how God liberated those who were living under Egyptian captivity more than a thousand years before Christ. SH 28.1

For many years the children of Israel had been in slavery to the Egyptians. Only a few families went down into Egypt, but they had become a large multitude. And being surrounded with idolatry, many of them had lost the knowledge of the true God and had forgotten His law. And they joined with the Egyptians in their worship of the sun, moon, and stars, and of animals and images, the work of men’s hands. SH 28.2

Yet among the Hebrews there were some who preserved the knowledge of the true God, the Maker of the heavens and of the earth. The faithful ones were grieved, and in their distress they cried out to the Lord for deliverance from the Egyptian slavery, that He would bring them out of Egypt, where they could be rid of idol worship and the corrupting influences that surrounded them. SH 28.3

Although many of the Israelites had become corrupted by idolatry, the faithful stood firm. They had not concealed their faith, but openly acknowledged to the Egyptians that they served the only true and living God. They repeated the SH 28.4

This chapter is based on Exodus 5-15. evidences of Gods existence and power from creation onward. The Egyptians had an opportunity to become acquainted with the faith and the God of the Hebrews. They had tried to undermine the beliefs of the faithful worshipers of the true God, and they were annoyed because they had not succeeded, either by threats, the promise of rewards, or by cruel treatment.

The last two kings who had occupied the throne of Egypt had been tyrants who had cruelly treated the Hebrews. The elders of Israel had tried to encourage the sinking faith of the Israelites by reminding them of the promise God made to Abraham and the prophetic words of Joseph just before he died, foretelling their deliverance from Egypt. Some listened and believed. Others looked at their own sad condition and would not hope. SH 29.1

Pharaoh boasted that he would like to see their God deliver them from his hands. These words destroyed the hopes of many of the Israelites. The situation appeared to be very much as the king and his counselors had said. They knew that they were treated as slaves and that they must endure whatever degree of oppression their taskmasters and rulers might put upon them. Their male children had been hunted and killed. Their own lives were a burden, and they were believing in, and worshiping, the God of heaven. SH 29.2

Then they contrasted their condition with that of the Egyptians, who did not believe at all in a living God who had power to save or to destroy. Some of them worshiped idols, images of wood and stone, while others chose to worship the sun, moon, and stars. Yet they were prosperous and wealthy And some of the Hebrews thought that if God was above all gods, He would not leave them like this as slaves to an idol-worshiping nation. SH 29.3

The time had come for God to answer the prayers of His oppressed people and to bring them out from Egypt with such mighty displays of His power that the Egyptians would have to acknowledge that the God of the Hebrews, whom they had despised, was above all gods. God would glorify His own name, so that other nations might hear of His power and tremble at His mighty acts, and so that His people, by witnessing His miraculous works, would fully turn from their idolatry to give Him pure worship. SH 29.4

In delivering Israel from Egypt, God plainly showed all the Egyptians His special mercy to His people. Since Pharaoh would not be convinced in any other way, God saw fit to execute His judgments on him, so that he might know by sad experience that Gods power was superior to all others. He would give clear and undeniable proof to all nations of His divine power and justice, so that His name might be declared throughout all the earth. God intended that these exhibitions of power would strengthen the faith of His people, and that their descendents would faithfully worship Him alone who had performed such merciful wonders for them. SH 30.1

After Pharaohs decree requiring the people to make bricks without straw, Moses declared to him that God, whom he pretended not to know, would compel him to yield to His claims and acknowledge His authority as supreme Ruler. SH 30.2

The Plagues—The miracles of turning the rod into a serpent and the river into blood did not move the hard heart of Pharaoh to let Israel go, but only increased his hatred of the Israelites. The work of his magicians led him to believe that Moses had performed these miracles by magic. However, when the plague of frogs was removed, he had abundant evidence that this was not the case. God could have caused them to disappear and return to dust in a moment, but He did not do this, so that after they would be removed, the king and the Egyptians could not say that it was the result of magic, like the work of the magicians. The frogs died, and then the people gathered them together into heaps. They could see the decaying frog bodies before them, which were corrupting the air. Here the king and all Egypt had evidences that their empty philosophy could not explain away, that this work was not magic but a judgment from the God of heaven. SH 30.3

The magicians could not produce the lice, which served as the next plague. The Lord would not allow them to make it even appear to themselves or to the Egyptian people that they could produce the plague of the lice. He would remove every excuse Pharaoh might have for unbelief. He compelled even the magicians themselves to say, “This is the finger of God.” SH 30.4

Next came the plague of the swarms of flies. They were not such flies as harmlessly annoy us in some seasons of the year. Rather, the flies God brought on Egypt were large and venomous. Their sting was very painful to both humans and animals. God separated His people from the Egyptians and allowed no flies to appear throughout their areas. SH 31.1

The Lord then sent the plague of a disease on their cattle, and at the same time preserved the cattle of the Hebrews, so that not one of them died. Next came the plague of boils on both people and animals, and the magicians could not protect even themselves from it. The Lord then sent upon Egypt the plague of the hail mingled with fire, with lightnings and thunder. The time of each plague was given before it came, so that no one could say it had happened by chance. The Lord demonstrated to the Egyptians that the whole earth was under the command of the God of the Hebrews—that thunder, hail, and storm obey His voice. Pharaoh, the proud king who once inquired, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” humbled himself and said, “I have sinned . . . : the Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked.” He begged Moses to be his intercessor with God, to bring a stop to the terrific thunder and lightning. SH 31.2

[fie Lord next sent the dreadful plague of the locusts. The king chose to receive the plagues rather than to submit to God and let the Israelites leave Egypt. Without remorse he saw his whole kingdom under the miracle of these dreadful judgments. The Lord then sent darkness on Egypt. The people were not merely deprived of light, but the atmosphere was very oppressive, so that breathing was difficult. The Hebrews, however, had a pure atmosphere and light in their homes. SH 31.3

God brought one more dreadful plague upon Egypt, more severe than any before it. It was the king and the idol- worshiping priests who were opposed to the last the request of Moses. The people wanted the Hebrews to be allowed to leave Egypt. Moses warned Pharaoh and the people of Egypt, and also the Israelites, about the nature and effect of the last plague—the firstborn of every household would die. On that night, so terrible to the Egyptians and so glorious to the people of God, the solemn ordinance of the passover was instituted. SH 31.4

It was very hard for the Egyptian king and a proud and idol-worshiping people to accept the requirements of the God of heaven. Plague after plague came upon Egypt, and the king yielded no more than he was compelled to by the dreadful inflictions of Gods wrath. SH 32.1

Every plague had come a little closer and more severe, and this one would be more dreadful than any before it. But the proud king was extremely angry, and he refused to humble himself. And when the Egyptians saw the great preparations being made among the Israelites for that dreadful night, they ridiculed the sign of blood sprinkled on the Israelite doorposts. SH 32.2

The Israelites had followed the directions God had given them, 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 tell them to go. SH 32.3

“And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, 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. SH 32.4

“Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, ‘Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.’ “And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, ‘We shall all be dead.’ So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” SH 32.5

The Lord revealed this to Abraham about four hundred years before it was fulfilled: “Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.’ ” Genesis 15:13, 14. SH 33.1

“A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.” The children of Israel went out of Egypt with their possessions, which did not belong to Pharaoh, since they had never sold them to him. Jacob and his sons had taken their flocks and cattle with them into Egypt. The Israelites had become very great in number, and their flocks and herds had greatly increased. God had judged the Egyptians by sending the plagues on them, and made them hurry His people out of Egypt with all that they possessed. SH 33.2

The Pillar of Fire—“So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” SH 33.3

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 were sorry that they had permitted them to leave Egypt. It was a very great loss for them to be deprived of the Israelites’ services, and they regretted that they had consented to let them go. In spite of SH 33.4

all they had suffered from the judgments of God, they were so hardened by their continual rebellion that they decided to go after the Israelites and bring them back to Egypt by force. The king took a very large army and six hundred chariots, and pursued after them, and overtook them while they were encamped by the sea.

“And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, “Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians”? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.’ “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’ ” SH 34.1

Deliverance at the Red Sea—“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.’ ” God wanted Moses to understand that He would work for His people—that their need would be His opportunity. When they had gone as far as they could, Moses must ask them still to go forward. He should use the rod God had given him to divide the waters. SH 34.2

” ‘And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.’ SH 34.3

“And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.” SH 35.1

The Egyptians could not see the Hebrews, because the cloud of thick darkness was in front of them—the cloud that was all light to the Israelites. In this way God displayed His power to test His people, whether they would trust in Him after he gave them such evidences of His care and love for them, and to rebuke their unbelief and complaining. “Then 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 into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” The waters rose up and stood on either side like congealed walls, while Israel walked on dry ground in the middle of the sea. SH 35.2

The Egyptian army was celebrating through that night that the Israelites were again in their power. They thought there was no possibility of escape, for in front of the Israelites stretched the Red Sea, and the large armies of Egypt were close behind them. In the morning, when they came up to the sea and looked, there was a dry path, the waters were divided, standing like a wall on either side, and the people of Israel were halfway through the sea, walking on dry land. The Egyptians waited a while to decide what to do next. They were disappointed and enraged that, when the Hebrews were almost in their power, and they were sure of capturing them, an unexpected way was opened for them in the sea. They decided to follow them. SH 35.3

“And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. SH 35.4

“Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the hgypuans. SH 36.1

The Egyptians dared to venture in the path God had prepared for His people, and angels of God went through their army and removed their chariot wheels. They were plagued. Iheir progress was very slow, and they began to worry. They remembered the judgments that the God of the Hebrews had brought on 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 God was fighting for the Israelites, and they were terribly afraid and were turning around to flee from them, when “the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.’ And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wail to them on their right hand and on their left. SH 36.2

“So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.” SH 36.3

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. SH 36.4