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SIMPLIFIED JOURNEY (5): To Your Descendants I Will Give This Land

God not only promised Abraham He would make Abraham’s seed as many as the stars in the sky or the sand by the sea, He also promised He would give them the land of Canaan to which He had led Abraham.

Abraham’s descendants had become many in Egypt where they had gone during the famine of Joseph’s time. A change in their fortunes there came, though, when “a new king arose who knew not Joseph.” (You can read about what this means here.) This new king, actually a new dynasty, saw the Hebrews or Children of Israel as a threat. So, he made them slaves – and treated them harshly. (See Exodus 1.)

The Exodus from Egypt

At this time, God raised up Moses to deliver His people from their slavery in Egypt. Moses was born at a time when Pharaoh had commanded that all Hebrew boy babies be killed by throwing them into the Nile River. When Moses’ mother put him in the river, she put him in a basket of bulrushes and sent his older sister to watch over him. He was discovered in the river by the Pharaoh’s daughter when she went to the river to bathe. She wanted to take him home to rear as her own child. Moses’ sister offered to get one of the Hebrew women to be a nurse for the babe. This pleased the princess, so Miriam got Moses’ own mother to nurse him in the palace.

Moses was trained in all the extensive learning of the Egyptians. Yet, his heart was with his people who were still slaves. When he was about 40, he  intervened between an Egyptian task master and a Hebrew slave with the result that he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. When he realized this was known, he fled Egypt to the land of Midian, located in the desert near Mt. Sinai. There he became a shepherd for another 40 years.

At the end of this time, God called to him from a burning bush that was not consumed. The Lord sent Moses to return to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh let God’s people go. On his way, he met Aaron, whom God sent to help him in this challenging task. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh in the name of the Lord and demanded that God’s people be released. Pharaoh laughed in their faces and asked, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him?” Moses, acting as the agent of God, proceeded to show him who the LORD is and why He should be obeyed.

A series of ten different “plagues” came on the Egyptians. Each of these was a disaster of national scale. Pharaoh continued to harden his heart and to refuse to allow the Hebrews to go into the wilderness to worship their God. The last of these plagues was the death of the firstborn in each home of Egypt. Israelite homes were preserved from this last plague by the blood of a lamb over the door post and lintel of each home. When God saw this blood, He said, “I will pass over you” and will save you alive. This is the origin of the Feast of the Passover, which is still celebrated by Jews today. (The Christian observance of the Lord’s Supper dates back to the time Jesus was eating His last Passover meal with his disciples and used that as the time to give them a new feast in place of the Passover.) When the firstborn of every Egyptian family died in one night, Pharaoh sent word to Moses that he and the Israelites were to leave Egypt immediately. (See Exodus 5 – 12.)

After a short time, Pharaoh changed his mind again and decided to go bring his former slaves back into captivity. He marched after them with all his army and chariots. Israel appeared to be trapped by the wilderness around them and the Red Sea before them. God, however, made a way of escape for them by opening the waters of the Red Sea so they could pass through on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to follow, God caused the water to return to the sea bed and drown all the Egyptian hosts. This event made a great impression on the people of Israel. At important times in their later history, God would remind them of how He saved them by allowing them to pass through the sea safely. (See Exodus 13-16.)

It would be another 40 years before Moses stood with Israel on the East Bank of Jordan across from Canaan. The next post in this series will tell of those years.

NEXT (6): Giving the Law

PREVIOUS (4): I Will Make of You a Great Nation


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