Well we’ve reached a place in the Chronological Bible where our Israelite slaves are finally released from 400 years of captivity by Egypt. They’ve been pleading with God to get them out of their lives as slaves to Pharaoh and his cruel taskmasters. God sends them Moses, with the help of his brother Aaron, to persuade Egypt into letting God’s chosen people go. Just how long it took to convince Pharaoh is not exactly known, some sources think perhaps one month, some say 50 days, some say four to five months, while others think it may have been a year. Regardless of the time, it’s sure to say that the Israelites and Egyptians saw some pretty impressive signs that God is who He says that He is through the ten plagues.
As each of these plagues take place, the intensity of the each plague and it’s resulting effects increases. And with this intensity, I am sure that the Egyptian belief system that Pharaoh was the devine son of the Egyptian god Ra, is eroded. Since the Israelites lived so long in Egypt, they too would have known of this belief of Pharoah being a deity. God delivers a mighty impressive display.
Of specific interest are the plagues in which only the Egyptians suffer:
– Plague four: flies, particularly nasty blood-sucking “dog flies,” swarm only the Egyptian people. The Israelites who reside in the land Goshen are safe.
– Plague five: Egyptian livestock out in the fields dies, while the Israelite’s livestock is untouched.
– Plague seven: Hail, thunder, and fire ran down on the earth, but once again only affected the Egyptians.
– Plague nine: Darkness engulfs the Egyptians for three days while the Israelites have light where they lived.
– Plague ten: Israel is sort-of not effected by plague ten. Death of the firstborn, the Passover – by sacrificing a unblemished lamb and putting some of it’s blood on the two doorposts and the lentel of the houses, those places are passed over and the firstborn children of the Israelites inside does not die.
Finally, the Israelites are released, and they go out of Egypt with great riches. They are led by Moses, Aaron, and also directly by God Himself in the form of a pillar of cloud by daylight, and a pillar of fire at night. God’s right there with them, and they can see a physical manifestation of His presence! God knows the nature of the Israelites, and He knows if these people face an enemy this early in the game, they will cave, and they will want to go back to slavery in Egypt. So God takes them to camp by the Red Sea. Then what happens? Well, Pharaoh has yet another hardening of his heart – I swear that man’s heart had to be stone by now – and sends his army chasing after them. The Israelites are trapped, there’s no place to go, and what do they do? They panic, even with God right there in their midst, they panic, they blame Moses, and they are sure they are going to die right then and there. Did they forget all that God has done for them? Did they forget all of those plagues which demonstrated God’s glory and power? After all they’ve been through, do they really think that God is going to let them be slaughtered by Pharaoh’s army?
As if God hasn’t done enough for the Israelites already, He now uses Moses and parts the Red Sea! Can you imagine the wall of water on each side of the Israelites as they walked through on dry land? I can imagine it fairly well because I’ve seen the movie The Ten Commandments several times. And, for all the times that I’ve read the Bible account, I missed that the Israelites crossed through the Red Sea at night – well, I’ll be, Cecil B. DeMille, you got that part wrong! Then when dawn comes, the Egyptians try to chase after the Israelites, and God drowns all the Egyptians.
The miracles that these Israelites saw are nothing short of amazing and awesome. Yet, only one month later after being released from bondage and these very same people are longing to go back to slavery in Egypt because they miss meat and bread. *“and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”* (Exodus 16:3, ESV) Really? Did they forget how much they wanted to be free from being slaves under Pharaoh? Now as far as I know, God is still guiding them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, He’s still there. The Israelites are beginning to get a bit on my nerves, they sound like ungrateful whiney babies to me. I mean every single time they face some inconvenience or threat, they want to run back to Egypt! Really? Come on! Why, oh why did they behave that way? Couldn’t they trust God whom they knew? Didn’t they think that God could be trusted with their future?
Have you ever had an extraordinary experience with God? The kind of experience that when it was all said and done, you knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God orchestrated everything? I know that I have. And after some time has expired, when I experience my next bout of big difficulty, have I too doubted God, doubted God’s provision, cried out to Him as a whiny baby? Yup, I have, holy moly! I’m just as bad as those Israelites that I was complaining about above.
Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian, helped Jews escape the Nazi’s Holocaust, and as a result was imprisioned. Her life story is quite amazing, and she was a very strong woman of faith. Some of her well-known quotes include:
*“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”*
Too bad the Israelites didn’t have Corrie to impart her words of wisdom to them, however, if they didn’t listen to Moses & Aaron who spoke directly with and for God, I doubt they would have listened to Corrie either.
Over the years, those times of doubting God’s provision and plan for my life have become fewer and far between. God has proven to me time and time again that He can be trusted with my life, that His ways are best. Yet, I still wonder that if the situation is desperate enough, will I resort to whining again just like those hard-headed Israelites in the wilderness? Will I be afraid to trust my unknown future to my known God? Will I jump off of the train just because I’m in a dark tunnel? I think we all do it at some point in time, we lose our trust in God because we cannot understand our situation. It’s human nature, and God being God, knows that we’ll be this way. After all, He called it with Israelites, and He calls it with us.
We however don’t have to act this way. We know things about redemption that those Israelites in the Old Testament didn’t. We know Jesus. With Jesus’ work of redemption in the lives of believers, we are assured that no matter what we do, no matter how much we complain, no matter how much we whine, no matter how much we doubt, we still have assurance that we have a place with God. That’s very encouraging to me.
How about you? Have you ever doubted God’s provisions for your life?