Bible ClinicJ One
A journey into the life, times, and teachings of the Bible
By Gary D. Strunk
Lesson 4 - Let My People Go
At about 2000 B.C., God saw in Abram, later re-named Abraham, one who would faithfully obey Him and command his children to obey Him. Gen. 18:19. God told Abram to leave his native home in Ur of Mesopotamia, now Iraq, and go to Aa land flowing with milk and honey,@ a land which God promised to give him, thereafter called the Apromised land,@ It extended from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west; from Egypt in the south to Asia Minor (now Turkey) in the North.
God also promised Abraham a son, but Sarah, his wife was barren. Sarah tried to fulfill God=s promise through her handmaid which produced a son named Ishmael whose sons became some of the nomadic tribes of Arabia. Some years later, Abraham at the age of 100 and Sarah at the age of 90, had the Apromised@ son whom they named Isaac. Isaac and his wife Rebecca had twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Esau was the older (by a few seconds), but he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of red pottage. That earned him the name Edom (Red). He fathered the Edomites who settled in the wild lands beneath the Dead Sea. Many years later the Edomites were forcibly recruited into the Jewish nation as Idumeans (Edomeans) among whom arose the royal line of the Herods who ruled at the time of Christ.
But the bloodline leading to Jesus the Messiah was not through Esau, but was through Jacob. Jacob also had 12 sons who became the twelve tribes of Jacob. They are also called the twelve tribes of Israel or the AChildren of Israel@ because Jacob=s name was later changed to Israel from which we now get the Jewish nation Israel currently occupying the small strip of land from Egypt in the south to Lebanon and Syria in the north, and from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea except for sections like the West Bank settled by Palestinians.
One of Jacob=s favorite sons was Joseph. Out of jealousy, ten of Joseph=s brothers sold him to a caravan headed for Egypt where Joseph rose to national greatness. Because of a famine in the land of Israel, all Joseph=s bothers migrated to Egypt where in time they became slaves of the Egyptians. You can read the account in Genesis the first book of the Bible from chapters 12 to 50. Now we pick up the story as God prepares to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage under the leadership of Moses.
The God of Abraham Calls Moses
READ Exodus chapters 3 and 4 answering the following questions along the way.
1. AHoreb, the mount of God.@ Ex. 3:1, On the map below, locate Mt. Horeb and give another more familiar name for Mt. Horeb. ______________________________ Hint: In lesson six the Ten Commandments will be spoken from this mountain.
2. Moses is now about 80 years old. He has probably seen many bushes burn. Why does this one capture his attention? v.3 Answer in the words of the text which means quote the exact words from the verse that will answer the question.
3. Of the different names referring to God in verses 2-6, circle the names which He uses to identify Himself.
a. Angel of the Lord
b. The LORD
d. The God of your father
e. The God of Abraham
f. The God of Isaac
g. The God of Jacob
NOTE: Everyone served one or more gods. There were personal gods, household gods, family gods, city gods, and national gods. The God calling Moses was different. He was not only Abraham=s God, He was a family God, and He had been alive ever since Abraham as the God of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. He was also a national God, the God of the Children of Israel. Little by little, God was unveiling Himself to their minds. Eventually He would reveal Himself as the one and only God of heaven and earth.
4. By what endearing term does the Lord call the children of Israel? vs.7, 10. A__________________@
NOTE: God chose Abraham and his offspring to become a special people through whom God would demonstrate to the world that He, Abraham=s God, is the true God in contrast to the many gods of other nations and individuals. The true God is alive and intimate, and will quickly bless people in proportion to their obedience, but He will abandon them to the whimsical curses of life if they reject Him. Deuteronomy (Dt.) 28.
5. By what additional name was God to be known to the children of Israel in Egypt when they would ask Moses who had sent him? Ex. 3:14 A_______________________________________________@
NOTE: Hereafter this name was sacred, to be used only in reference to God. Jesus used this name in reference to Himself 1500 years later. John. 8:58.
6. Usually the heroes of fictitious tales are fearless, handsome, and eloquent. How is Moses pictured? Ex. 3:11; 4:10,13._________________________________________________________________________________
NOTE: Watch for these homey evidences of realism. Fables don=t admit these weaknesses in their heroes. These are real people doing real things. Moses is the writer of the first five books of the Bible called the Torah or the Law. He is writing in third person and must, if faithful to the record, tell stories on himself.
The Plagues of Egypt
Chapters 7 through 12 record the plagues upon Egypt. You would do well to read them through now, then we will drop in here and there to pick up key thoughts. As you read, it is important to observe how these plagues reveal the mercy of God at work. Plagues are harsh, but because of what they accomplish, and probably the only way some things can be accomplished, they become merciful. Here=s how.
First, the fulfillment of His promise to Israel: God had promised that Israel would one day occupy the promised land. But the children of Israel had become slaves of the Egyptians, partly because of their wrong doing in selling Joseph into slavery. It was now time to fulfill His promise, to forgive and deliver Israel from the cruelty of Egyptian bondage.
Second, people in other nations will hear of God=s mighty deeds in behalf of His people in Egypt and turn to serve the true God. Joshua 2:10f. (A small Af@ following a verse designation means read the relevant verses following; Aff@ means read to the end of the chapter.) Turning to the true God means the difference between eternal life and eternal death, plus the benefits God promises during this life.
Third, He will expose the impotence of the Egyptian idols, giving the people a chance to turn to the real God, the Creator. Superstitious minds believe that idols, or the spirits of idols, or the position of stars have power to control the destiny of individuals and nations. The Egyptians worshiped the gods of the Nile, the sun, the lice, frogs, flies, hail, locusts, the dead etc. Idol worship usually led to base, immoral practices; disfiguring the body, child sacrifices, sexual orgies, temple prostitution, and blood rituals. Now in a final effort to break the Egyptians loose from these idols and turn to the true God, God designed each of the plagues to expose the impotence, the futility, the non-existence of the gods they served. As the true God brought a swarm of flies upon Egypt, the Egyptians prayed to the god of the flies. But nothing happened. None of the gods could stop the plagues. The Egyptians should have converted to the true God, and many did, but most hardened their hearts. Still today, even though Egypt is a Moslem country, you can find individuals worshiping idols, still believing in gods of beetles, rivers, and weather.
It may be hard for us to enter into the mind of an idol worshiper. It is a superstitious mind making irrational connections. For example, if a woman is barren, she can bring offerings to a goddess of fertility and then expect to have children. If she has children the idol gets the credit. If she has no children, it is believed that she has not earned the idol=s favor, and must live with the stigma of the curse of the gods.
The Agods@ of nearly all non-biblical religions are easily provoked, so, to stay on their good side, worshipers must appease the gods, placate them with gifts, and sacrifices. Then the god(s) will bless and prosper the worshipers. So, by worshiping the Nile River or the gods of the Nile, worshipers could make sure that the Nile would overflow its banks each year (which it would have done anyway) bringing alluvial soil and moisture to grow grain for food and export.
Fourth, even though Egypt as a nation would reject the God of the Hebrews, any individual in Egypt who chose could unite with the Hebrews and be shielded from the plagues.
7. What was Pharaoh=s response to God=s command to ALet My people go@? Ex. 5:1,2 ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
NOTE: Pharaoh=s response to Moses and Aaron shows his disrespect for the God of Israel. And no wonder! The power and superiority of a nation=s god(s) was measured by how powerful and prosperous a nation was. And right then Egypt was the most powerful nation in the world, and the Hebrews were helpless slaves of the Egyptians.
But Pharaoh had no excuse for not heeding the warning from Moses. Pharaoh was well acquainted with his Hebrew slaves, and knew of the their God. For although this pharaoh had not known Joseph personally, he knew Egyptian history and the part Joseph had in preserving Egypt from disaster. But he, along with most of the Egyptians, worshiped idols.
8. What would the Israelites learn from their rescue? Ex. 6:6,7 ________________________________
9. What would the Egyptians learn from the EXODUS? Ex. 7:5 _____________________________________
10. After the third plague, what difference did God make between the Israelites and the Egyptians?
Ex. 8:22,23; 9:4, 26; 11:7 __________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________
11. What reason does God repeatedly give for the plagues? Ex. 9:14,29 _______________________________
12. Against whom or what were these plagues really directed? Ex. 12:12 _______________________________
NOTE: ADeuteronomy@ means the second (deutero) law (nomos). It is now forty years since the EXODUS. Moses recaps the history and restates many of the laws set forth in the previous four books of the ALaw,@or ATorah,@or APentateuch.@
13. What things had God done to impress upon the Israelites that He was God?
Deuteronomy (Dt.) 4:32-39