Two Miracles: A Parted Sea and a Hardened Heart

June 6, 2014 at 10:52 am | Posted in Exodus | 13 Comments
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The parting of the Red Sea is one of the most awe-inspiring events in the Bible. It is a miracle that confounds Bible skeptics. Some scholars claim that, because the word translated as “red” can also mean “reed sea,” the place where the Israelites crossed was shallow enough for them to walk across without any supernatural “parting.” The Egyptian chariots, they go on to surmise, attempted to follow through this swampy muck, but got stuck in the mud, allowing the Hebrews to escape.

I once heard a joke where a little boy learned about the parting of the Red Sea in Sunday School from his very liberal, skeptical Sunday School teacher. After church, when his dad asked him what he had learned that day, the little boy replied that they had learned about the awesome miraculous power of God, Who who brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage by leading them through a stretch of six-inch-deep water. “What’s so miraculous about that?” asked the dad. His son replied, “What’s so amazing and miraculous is that God drowned the whole Egyptian army in six inches of water!” (See Exodus 14:28-30 below.)

As faithful Christians, we believe the literal truth of the Bible when it reports on miraculous events, but I can also honestly tell you that there are many serious Bible scholars and historians and archaeologists that are fully convinced based on the evidence that there is ample support for the literal Biblical account of the parting of the Red Sea.

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so. And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?

Exodus 14:4-5

After all that Pharaoh and the Egyptians had suffered because of the refusal to release the Israelites, only the extreme hardening of Pharaoh’s heart could explain his obstinate and outrageous change of mind. When they asked the question “why have we done this?” meaning “why did we let them go?” if I had been a servant in Pharaoh’s court I guess I probably would have been executed or banished for doing my Arnold Horshack impression.

“Oooh, pick me, pick me! We let them go because of the bloody Nile River, and the frogs, flies, locusts, boils, hail, darkness, and death! REMEMBER??!! I know exactly why we let Israel go from serving us!”

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. 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. And 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 horsemen. 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.

Exodus 14:21-31

Outer Darkness and Inner Darkness

February 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Exodus | 3 Comments
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And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.

Exodus 10:3

There was never any doubt about Pharaoh’s humility from Heaven’s perspective. It would come to pass. The question from Moses’s perspective was, “Would it be the easy way or the hard way?” The demand that they be allowed to “serve” was the same as a demand that they be allowed to “worship.”

Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:

Exodus 10:4-5

This locust plague would be even worse than the plague of hail: these locusts would be animated. They affected the Egyptians only, and they exposed the false goddess Isis.

And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

Exodus 10:6-7

Pharaoh’s servants asked a pretty bold question to someone who was supposed to be a supreme ruler, but times were desperate. They saw what Pharaoh could not – or would not – see.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

Exodus 10:21-23

The plague of darkness affected the Egyptians only. It exposed the false god Re – the so-called sun god. This was the worst plague yet. It was total darkness – darkness that was palpable, debilitating, and depressing. It didn’t just affect the quality of life in Egypt – it put life at a standstill. Liberal scholars will claim that it was really an eclipse or a sandstorm, but this was truly a supernatural phenomenon, and it illustrated that a hardened heart is a darkened heart.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Romans 1:21-25

Knowing that He is the LORD

December 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Posted in Exodus | 2 Comments
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When you look through the section of the Book of Exodus that deals with what are commonly called the “Ten Plagues” there are several significant themes:

1. God delivering His people. (Exodus 6:7)
2. God choosing a nation of people for Himself. (Exodus 6:2-8)
3. The story of Moses. (Exodus 6:28-30)
4. Moses vs. the Egyptians. (Exodus 8:25-26)
5. God vs. the false gods of Egypt. (seen in the way that the plagues specifically exposed the false gods of Egypt’s geography, economy, culture, and natural resources)
6. The Israelites vs. the Egyptians. (Exodus 7:16)
7. God vs. the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:31-36)

All these themes are present and relevant, although I stated last time that I believe that the theme of God punishing an unfaithful steward (Pharaoh) was the more prevalent theme in Exodus. God wanted Pharaoh and all of Egypt to know Him as “LORD” (Yahweh).

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7:5

Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.

Exodus 7:17

And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.

Exodus 8:22

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

Exodus 14:4

The Manager Who Thought He Was an Owner

November 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Exodus, Luke, parables | 14 Comments
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In the Book of Exodus there are many ways to view the role of Pharaoh, but it seems that the Holy Spirit intends for the reader to see him as a vassal or a husbandmen given stewardship over a “vineyard” known as Egypt. Jesus taught a parable about how the Jewish religious leaders had rebelled against God and His messengers, and it is interesting to note some of the parallels to the Exodus account.

Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.

Luke 20:9

God had placed the Jewish people in Egypt to survive a famine. They prospered there at first, but eventually were placed into bondage and servitude by the Egyptians.

And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.

Luke 20:10

This reminds us of God’s servants, Moses and Aaron, going to Pharaoh with God’s demand to let the people go, then being sent away “empty” again and again.

And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.

Luke 20:11-16

Egypt belonged to the one true God, but Pharaoh neither acknowledged that fact, nor did a good job managing God’s property. It was time for him to give an account, and to learn a lesson about making God’s people serve a man who saw himself as a god.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7:5

Moses as a Type of Christ

October 9, 2013 at 10:53 am | Posted in Exodus | 4 Comments
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Egypt’s kings were called “pharaohs.”

Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

Exodus 1:8-14

The Israelites had begun their sojourn in Egypt as legal resident aliens, but had now become slaves. Pharaoh planned to control their population, and keep them docile by killing the male babies.

And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

Exodus 1:22

Exodus Chapter 2 introduces Moses. His birth and his providential rescue were arranged by God. Moses would be a man devoted to God (born Jewish) with influence in the “world” (typified by his upbringing in Pharaoh’s court). Moses was cared for in his childhood by a Jewish mother so that he could understand his own heritage and have some understanding of the true God. In this way he was a prophetic type of Jesus Christ: dwelling in the world; dedicated to God; destined to deliver his people.

When Moses was grown he killed an Egyptian slavemaster and fled from Egypt.

And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?

Exodus 2:11-18

We can see that, even prior to his calling by God, Moses had a sense of fairness, and was courageous in standing up for those who were being abused and oppressed.

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