The Exodus and Conquest

[Exodus - Joshua]

Moses’ birth, calling and return to Egypt

[Ex 1-4] The Israelites have grown greatly in numbers and prosperity when a new Pharaoh reigns who knows nothing of Joseph. Through fear of their numbers and their might, he puts the Israelites into bondage and their persecution begins. The population continues to grow and attempts are made to limit their increase by preventing birth or survival of male children. When Moses is born, his mother hides him in a basket placed by the river bank where it is discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses’ mother is paid by Pharaoh’s daughter to nurse him and then return him to her to be brought up as her own. At the age of forty, Moses witnesses a Hebrew being attacked by an Egyptian. He intervenes and kills the Egyptian, but the next day it is apparent the killing is becoming common knowledge, and so Moses flees to take refuge in Midian. There he marries Zipporah, a daughter of Jethro the priest of Midian, and has two sons by her. Moses keeps a flock for Jethro, and in time leads them to Horeb where he sees a bush burning, but not being consumed. When he approaches to investigate, the angel of the Lord speaks to him from the bush and tells him that he is to return to Egypt, along with his brother Aaron, to deliver God’s children out of bondage and to bring them to this mountain. It’s possibly about this time that Job suffers terribly at the hands of the devil. He disputes with his friends, who say his condition is the result of some sin he must have committed. Job holds fast to his innocence, but questions God’s actions. He is eventually reproved by God and graciously restored to his former state, with interest.

Pharaoh’s opposition and the ten plagues

[Ex 5-12] When Moses first approaches Pharaoh with God’s message it is rejected. Pharaoh’s response is to put a greater burden on Israel in their slavery. Moses speaks to God and expresses his concern, to which God responds by reminding Moses of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and, in doing so, promises deliverance of His people. This Moses repeats to the people but, because of their increased burden, they are not of a mind to heed Moses’ words. There then follows a series of ten plagues intended to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. The first nine plagues are: water turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, against livestock, boils, hail, locusts and darkness. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened following each plague until the most severe, the tenth plague, death of the firstborn, is announced. Instructions are given by God to make preparations to protect the Israelite households from this last plague, involving sacrifice of a lamb and the daubing of its blood on door lintels and posts. God calls this The Lord’s Passover and declares it will become a memorial. When the plague comes, all the firstborn not protected by the lamb’s blood are slain. The loss of his son is too much for Pharaoh and he finally succumbs. Israel’s exodus begins.

To Mount Sinai

[Ex 13-18] The Israelites leave Egypt with great possessions given by the Egyptians [Gen 15:13, 14; Ex 3:21, 22]. These possessions later form the source of materials for constructing the tabernacle). They go by way of the desert towards the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds), led by God with a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. Pharaoh’s heart is again hardened and he gathers his army to pursue the Israelites. God facilitates the Israelites’ escape by parting the Red Sea, enabling them to cross between the walls of water while a pillar of smoke and a cloud keep the Egyptians at a distance. When the cloud disperses and the Egyptians attempt to cross the sea, the waters return and they are all drowned. Following this deliverance, Moses composes a song to commemorate the occasion. Moses leads Israel from the Red Sea out into the Wilderness of Shur. After another three days travelling without water they arrive at Marah, only to find the water there is bitter. Through Moses, God sweetens the water and they travel on and camp at Elim, where there are twelve wells and seventy palm trees. They then travel through the Desert of Sin on their way to Sinai. The Israelites begin to complain about lack of food, suggesting they would rather have died in Egypt with full bellies. God then provides sustenance of quail and a daily supply of manna, the Sabbath’s ration being given along with the previous day’s. This manna is to be their food throughout the forty years they will be wandering in the desert. Travelling on, they arrive at Rephidim where they are again without water and complain bitterly to Moses. God instructs Moses to go ahead of the people with some of the elders and strike a rock at Horeb, from which water will be provided. The Amalekites move to attack the Israelites at Rephidim and Moses sends Joshua with some men to fight them. Victory is gained while Moses, standing on a hill overlooking the battle scene, holds his staff up high. Jethro later visits his son-in-law and witnesses the burden on Moses of ministering to all the people. He advises him to share this burden with trustworthy men, only overseeing more serious issues himself. The Israelites are now approaching the wilderness of Sinai.

Arrival at Mount Sinai and sanctification of the people

[Ex 19] During the third month of leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrive at Sinai and camp close to the mountain. God calls Moses to the mountain and directs him to remind the Israelites that it was He who brought them out of Egypt, and if they obey His voice and keep His commandments and covenant (to be given a little later) then they shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people…. and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation . When Moses repeats God’s words to the people, they agree with one voice that All that the LORD hath spoken we will do . Moses reports their response to God and is then told to sanctify [to set apart for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred] the people for two days to be ready on the third day to approach the mountain. Following their sanctification, Moses is again called to the mountain, and to only bring Aaron with him.

The Ten Commandments, and some laws

[Ex 20:1-23:19] God then speaks to Moses, giving him the Ten Commandments, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy Honour thy father and thy mother Thou shalt not murder Thou shalt not commit adultery Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house ….. followed by laws Moses is to tell the people. These are laws concerning the treatment of slaves, restitution for wrong doing and social justice, (that is, treatment of others), and laws concerning the Sabbath and three festivals: the feast of unleavened bread (connected to Passover), the feast of harvest (first-fruits) and the feast of ingathering (Pentecost).

The Mosaic Covenant

[Ex 23:20-24:18] Their follows a promise from God that Canaan will be conquered and conditions are given to ensure that conquest. A covenant is then confirmed by Moses telling the people God’s words to which all the people agree they will obey. Moses writes down God’s words, then in the morning builds an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses is again called to the mountain to receive tablets of stone with the law and commandments written by God so that Moses can teach his people. This time, Moses is on the mountain for forty days and forty nights .

Instructions for constructing the Tabernacle

[Ex 25-31] Whilst he is on the mountain, Moses is told he is to collect contributions for the Sanctuary from every man who will give with a willing heart. The tabernacle will then be built according to the pattern given by God. Instructions are given for making: the Ark of the Covenant the Table for the shewbread the Golden Lampstand the Tabernacle perimeters The Priests’ garments, along with instructions for consecration of the priests the altar of incense bronze basin for priests to wash their hands and feet. Also given are: the recipe for anointing oil and incense rules for payment of taxes to support the service of the tabernacle. People are identified as having been filled with the spirit of God, enabling them to have the skills to carry out work in construction of the tabernacle. Moses is then instructed to remind the people to keep the Sabbath. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

The Golden Calf

[Ex 32-33] Because he has been on the mountain for so long, the people lose hope in Moses and persuade Aaron to make a golden calf and an altar, which they then use for worship followed by partying. God tells Moses what is happening and suggests that He would consume the people and make a great nation from him, but Moses successfully intercedes for the people. When Moses comes down from the mountain and sees their behaviour, he breaks the stone tablets in anger and administers punishment to them. Moses then returns to the mountain to make atonement for their sin. God tells Moses that He will send an angel before them on their journey, for He would not be in the midst of these stiff necked people lest His anger prevails, and they must now cease from wearing their ornaments. Moses then pitches a tent outside the camp and calls it the Tabernacle of the congregation, for the Tabernacle within the camp had not yet been built It is from here that Moses will commune with God when the pillar of cloud descends. Moses again intercedes for the people and experiences God’s glory. He is then instructed to go and hew two new tablets and return alone in the morning when God will rewrite what was written on the tablets Moses broke.

The Covenant Renewed

[Ex 34] God now declares a covenant He will make with His people for when they reach the Promised Land, a covenant in which they are required to obey all His commandments concerning their occupation of the land and dealing with the people there. All the while they obey God’s commandments, they will prosper in the Promised Land. (This is the Mosaic Covenant, the only conditional covenant God made with His people; the other covenants being unconditional). God also reminds them concerning the feasts of unleavened bread and first fruits. Moses is then instructed to write the words of this covenant whilst God writes the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone. During this time, Moses is with God forty days and nights without bread or water. When Moses returns from the mountain, his face shines from having been in the presence of God. He relates the words of the covenant just given and reminds them of the Sabbath regulations.

Construction of the Tabernacle

[Ex 35-39] The people now make their offerings of all the things required to construct the Tabernacle. The names of those who are filled with knowledge, given by God, to construct the tabernacle is related to the people and, with more than sufficient materials having been provided, the work to construct the tabernacle begins. First the outer walls, then the ark followed by the table for shewbread, the golden lampstand, altar of incense, altar of burnt offering and the bronze basin. An inventory of all the materials for the tabernacle is listed before the priestly garments are made, according to the detailed pattern given by God.

The Tabernacle erected

[Ex 40] Everything having been made ready, the tabernacle is now erected at the time given by God and according to God’s instructions, with anointing and sanctification at the appropriate times. Aaron and his sons are dressed and anointed in preparation for service. With all the work now complete, a cloud covers the tent of the congregation and God’s glory fills the tabernacle. From this point, when the cloud is taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel would move on their journeys, but if the cloud remains over the tabernacle, then they will remain camped. The cloud is over the tabernacle by day, and the pillar of fire by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
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