Christian Churches of God
Moses and the Exodus
(Edition 2.0 20020301-20070129)
Moses was chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt where they were enslaved. Through Moses and Aaron God used many miracles and signs to show that He was the One True God, the Almighty.
Moses and the Exodus
First it is important to know why the Israelites were in Egypt and how they came to be made slaves. It is also important to know the story of Joseph (see the paper Joseph: the Son of Jacob Part I (No. CB15).
Jacob, who was later renamed Israel, went to live in Egypt with his eleven sons and their families. There was a famine in Canaan where they lived. Joseph, Jacob’s favourite son, was ruler in Egypt and he invited them to come and live there, where food was plentiful. The descendants of Jacob (Israel) numbered seventy when they went to Egypt (Ex. 1:1-2).
After governing Egypt for many years Joseph died at the age of 110. Before he died he told his brothers that God would some day take the Israelites back to Canaan (Gen. 50:15-21).
After Joseph and all of his brothers died, the number of Israelites in Egypt increased greatly. The land was full of them (Ex. 1:6-7).
For the next two centuries the Israelites in Egypt increased to two million. Several Pharaohs ruled and died during this time and, eventually, Joseph was forgotten by the Pharaohs (Ex. 1:8). The next Pharaoh mentioned in the Bible story did not like the Israelites. He saw that they were becoming too numerous so he gave them hard work to do. But instead of decreasing, they increased in number. The Egyptians treated them very badly. Eventually the Israelites became slaves under the control of the Egyptians. They worked very hard and for long hours each day (Ex. 1:8-14).
When the Israelites still did not decrease in number, the Pharaoh ordered that all baby boys born to them should be killed by the Egyptian midwives (Ex. 1:15-16). By this terrible action the Pharaoh thought he could control the Israelites. But the midwives would not do this. They told Pharaoh that the Israelite women were strong and they did not need help giving birth to their babies. God made sure these women were not punished for this kindness (Ex. 1:17-21). There is an important lesson for us all here in the actions of the midwives. Those who obey God rather than the ruling power are protected and given inheritance (Ex. 1:21-22).
Then the Pharaoh had soldiers take the newly- born male babies and throw them in the Nile River and they drowned (Ex. 1:22). By now the Israelites felt doomed and they longed to escape from Egypt.
The life of Moses shows the Plan of Salvation
The story of Moses is not just the story of freeing a group of slaves from Egypt. It is to show us God’s Plan of Salvation for the world as seen from the Bible.
The Plan of Salvation can be seen from the circumstances of Moses’ birth and the stages of his life. His life was divided into three stages of 40 years each. He lived to 120 years of age (Deut. 34:7).
The first forty years were spent in Egypt. The second forty were spent in Midian as a shepherd (Acts 7:29), and the last forty years were spent in the wilderness. The Plan of Salvation is of six thousand years, to be followed by the reign of Jesus Christ for one thousand years (Rev. 20:2‑6).
From Moses' life we can also understand that the 6000-year sequence was to be broken into three stages of approximately forty Jubilees each. Now a Jubilee is fifty years. So one stage is 40 x 50 = 2,000 years. Therefore, three stages must be 2,000 x 3 = 6,000 years.
Moses is born
A beautiful baby boy was born to an Israelite couple of the tribe of Levi living near the Nile River. They managed to hide the baby from the authorities for three months. When they could no longer hide him they put him in a pitch-smeared basket and set him afloat in the reeds by the river’s bank. His sister stayed nearby to see what would happen to the baby (Ex. 2:1-4).
Eventually Pharaoh’s daughter came to wash at the river and she noticed the basket. She recognised the baby as an Israelite, but he was so cute she wanted to keep him and protect him (Ex. 2:5-6). Then the baby’s sister came to the princess and offered to find a nurse for the baby. Of course she ran to his real mother and the princess asked the woman to look after the baby and she would even pay her. They would not be in any danger either (Ex. 2:7-9).
When the boy grew older he was given back to Pharaoh’s daughter. She called him Moses (Ex. 2:10). Moses was educated in the knowledge and military structure of Egypt and he soon became a high-ranking officer in the Egyptian army. God was preparing him for a mighty task. Later he would have to organise and assemble Israel and lead them in the wilderness.
When he was about forty years old Moses became more concerned about the welfare of his own people and less interested in the Egyptians.
Moses flees to Midian
Moses noticed how badly the Egyptians treated the Israelites. These were his people so he was troubled. Once he intervened to try and save an Israelite who was being beaten to death by an Egyptian. Moses killed the Egyptian instead, and when no one was looking he hid his body in the sand (Ex. 2:11-12).
Moses soon learned that this incident was seen by others. When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses (Ex. 2:15). So, Moses ran away from Egypt and went to Midian. This was the end of the first forty years, or first phase of Moses’ life.
In Midian Moses met and married Zipporah who was one of seven daughters of a priest called Reuel (Ex. 2:16-22). They eventually had two sons. Moses lived and worked in Midian as a shepherd for forty years. This second part of his life is also important. The time spent tending flocks was to show us that Israel would spend forty Jubilees (2,000 years) in developing its history and biblical tradition. This represents the time-span from Abraham to Messiah.
After so many years of working as slaves for the Egyptians the Israelites cried out to God. God heard how unhappy and miserable they were. He chose a special person to lead His people out of Egypt. We will see from what follows that God chose Moses to deliver His people.
Moses and the burning bush
Moses had been in Midian about 40 years when one day he saw a strange sight on a nearby mountain (Ex. 3:1,2). The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in the flame of a burning bush, which did not burn up (Ex. 3:3).
Here it is important to talk a little about this angel. The Angel of the Lord was God’s messenger. This Angel, who represented the Presence or Glory of God, was Jesus Christ before he came to Earth as a man. He was given charge of Israel. In this story we will see how the Angel delivered them out of Egypt by Moses and took them to the Promised Land.
Now Moses was curious about this burning bush because it did not burn up. As he turned to go closer to the bush the Angel of Yahovah, talking as God the Father’s representative, called to Moses and Moses answered (Ex. 3:4).
He told Moses not to come any closer and to take off his shoes because the place where he stood was holy ground (Ex. 3:5). Moses was so scared he hid his face. The Angel went on to say, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”. This is the same Angel talking as God’s messenger. The voice also told him that he was going to deliver the suffering Israelites from the Egyptians. God revealed himself to Moses and hence Israel here, through Christ. Later, He would reveal Himself to the world through Messiah in person.
Moses was asked to go to the Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go free (Ex. 4:6-10). Moses became even more scared now. He wondered why God chose him to go to the Pharaoh with this request. He figured he could not speak the Egyptian language very well and he also had a speech problem. But the Angel told him that he would go with him (Ex. 4:11-12).
Moses argued that the people would not believe him and would ask what was the name of the messenger. The Angel answered, “I AM WHO I AM”. This actually means I am who I will become in the original Hebrew. The Angel said: “Say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14-15).
Moses was instructed to gather the elders of Israel and tell them what Messiah had told him. After that Moses was to go to Pharaoh and tell him, “The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us and now let us go, we beseech you, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God” (Ex. 3:16-22).
Moses still feared that the people would not believe him. God gave Moses three signs that would show he had spoken with God and was telling the truth (Ex. 4:1).
The first sign was that his shepherd’s rod or staff could be turned into a serpent and then back to a rod (Ex. 4:1-5). This meant that Moses was given power over the demons of Satan.
The second thing Moses was asked to do was put his hand inside his jacket (bosom). He did this and it came out leprous. This is a disease that causes one’s skin to become white and unhealthy. Then Moses was told to put his hand inside his jacket a second time and it came out healthy once again (Ex. 4:6-7). This sign meant that Moses had power over human flesh.
Then he was told that if the people didn’t believe the first two signs or listen to what he had to say, there would be another sign. Moses was told to take water out of the river and pour it on dry ground. In that process God turned the water to blood (Ex. 4:8-9). This sign indicated Moses had the powers of the Spirit of God.
Moses then complained that he could not speak very well. But the Angel told him that his brother Aaron would be his spokesman (Ex. 4:10-17). The Lord, who was the Angel, also told Moses that he would teach them both what to say when the time was right. This relationship of Moses and Aaron was like the relationship between Christ and God. Christ was said to be the ‘word’ or spokesman of God as we saw above. In like manner, Aaron was to be the spokesman for Moses.
So ended the second forty years, or second phase, of Moses’ life. By now Moses was eighty years old. From here we go on to the last forty years, or third phase of his life.
Moses goes to Egypt
Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law and took his wife Zipporah and his two sons and started to travel to Egypt. But on the way, the Lord met Moses and ‘sought to kill him’ (Ex. 4:18-23).
The reason was that Moses had not circumcised his son, as was the commandment to Abraham. So Zipporah took flint and cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it (Ex. 4:24-26). She became angry with Moses and perhaps he sent his family home at this point, as we next see him setting off to Egypt with Aaron his brother.
When Moses met up with Aaron he told him all that the Lord had said to him. Then they went to the elders and spoke all the words the Lord had spoken. They did the signs for the people to see and the people believed. They knew that the Lord had finally sent someone to deliver them out of Egypt.
Exodus chapter 5 tells us of the first visit of Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh. The Pharaoh was not prepared to let the people go. He even decided to make their work harder because he said they were lazy. He blamed Moses for distracting the people from their work. So he decided the people should now gather their own straw to make the bricks. This took a lot more time and yet they were still expected to make the same number of bricks daily. Then people were beaten because they did not produce enough bricks. Pharaoh did not want to let the people go to sacrifice to their God. So Pharaoh tried to make things very miserable for the people and even tried to make the people doubt that Moses was God’s servant.
Exodus chapter 6 tells us God and Moses talked again through the Angel. By now Moses was becoming discouraged. God told Moses that He remembered His covenant or agreement with Abraham. God heard the Israelites’ cries for help and promised to:
1) Bring them out of Egypt and out of slavery.
2) Redeem them with an outstretched arm and great judgments.
3) Take them to Him for a people.
4) Be to them a God.
5) Bring them to the land He promised their forefathers.
6) Give them this land for a heritage (Ex. 6:6-8).
Moses talked with the children of Israel but they did not listen because their spirits were broken from the cruel bondage they lived under.
Moses did not believe Pharaoh would listen to him since his own people did not listen to him. God explained He would use multiple signs and wonders in Egypt, and thereby Pharaoh and the Egyptians would know the One True God brought forth His people from Egypt.
Moses and Aaron meet Pharaoh
Moses was 80 years old when he went to talk to the Pharaoh. Aaron was 83.
Exodus chapter 7 begins to tell us of the ten plagues, which caused great pain, trouble and problems for the Egyptians. Throughout the first nine plagues Pharaoh always refused to let God’s people go.
The first sign was Aaron’s rod turning into a serpent. Then Pharaoh called his magicians and they did the same thing. Every man threw down his rod and the rods became serpents. Pharaoh thought his magicians were better than God. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. However, Pharaoh was not convinced and he did not listen to Moses and Aaron.
The Ten Plagues
First plague: water becomes blood
Pharaoh was bathing in the Nile River. Aaron’s rod touched the water and it became blood. The fish died, the river stank and there was no fresh water for the Egyptians to drink for seven days. The magicians managed to turn water into blood also (Ex. 7:22). So Pharaoh had an explanation for this and was not convinced that it was any miracle of God.
It will be the same in Last Days when modern- day scientists try to explain what is happening to the planet currently and during the trumpets and the vials of the Wrath of God.
Second plague: frogs
Aaron stretched his rod over the waters of Egypt and frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. They were in the houses, beds, and ovens of the Egyptians. However, Pharaoh’s magicians also brought up frogs. Pharaoh asked Moses to ask God to take away the frogs and he would then let the people go. Moses assured him the frogs would be gone from the land in the morning. So in the morning the frogs died out on land. Again Pharaoh had an explanation for this and broke his promise. He still would not let the people go.
The frogs represented the spirits, but not only of Egypt. This plague is also like the unclean spirits of the Last Days. They are likened to frogs, which come out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet (Rev. 16:13).
Third plague: gnats (lice)
Aaron struck his rod on the dust of the earth and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout Egypt. The Egyptian magicians attempted to do this too but failed. The magicians told Pharaoh this was the finger of God (Ex. 8:19). Moses again asked Pharaoh to let God’s people go or else the next plague would come.
From Exodus 8:20ff. the Lord sent Moses to bring a plague of flies upon man and animals of Egypt. But God put a division or separation between His people and the Egyptians. Because the Israelites lived in the land of Goshen, which was like a separate suburb of Egypt, God did not allow any flies of the plague to go there.
This was a sign to show everyone that Israel was a separate and holy people to God. Also, it is important to note that flies were the symbol of Baalzeebub, the god of Ekron, among the Canaanite peoples. These people were related to the Egyptians. Again, we see an attack on the people using symbols related to other gods to show that they have no power.
Pharaoh again promised to let the people go and sacrifice to their God (but not very far away), if Moses asked God to lift the plague. The flies left, however, and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he would not let the people go.
This involved a disease that affected the animals. Some say this may have resulted from diseases spread by the flies, but this is modern scientific thought to cause people to doubt that it was a miracle from God. All the Egyptians’ cattle got the disease and died. None of the Hebrews’ livestock got ill. Pharaoh still would not let God’s people go. The same idea of holiness was extended to the cattle. This was to show the different requirements for sacrifice. It was also to be symbolic of the sacrifice of Messiah. The bull was held sacred in Egypt to the god Apis. So the slaying of the cattle was another attack on one of their gods.
Moses took handfuls of ashes from the furnace and sprinkled it into the heavens in Pharaoh’s sight. This brought very bad boils, or sores, on man and beast. But Pharaoh still would not let God’s people go. Even the medicine of the magicians was unable to heal these boils.
This condition will apply in the Last Days, when men will again be afflicted with terrible sores, arising from the mark of the Beast (Rev. 16:11).
Moses warned Pharaoh of the next plague. He informed him that if man or beast were not brought home and under cover they would die.
This was the worst hailstorm mixed with fire that Egypt had ever seen. Moses stretched out his rod towards heaven and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. It killed man and beast that were in the open; it smashed trees and killed plants that were sprouted. Only in Goshen, where the Israelites were located, was there no hail.
Pharaoh was given twenty-four hours’ notice to get stock and people into shelter. This was given to test the magicians of Egypt who were thought to be able to control the weather. Again, we see that they could not prevent the hand of God at work.
This plague will again be used in the Last Days (Rev. 11:19; 16:21). Those who feared the Lord went into shelter. Those who did not died in the fields (Ex. 9:21). Pharaoh relented but Moses said that he knew that Pharaoh and his servants did not yet fear the Lord God (Ex. 9:30).
Pharaoh called Moses to ask God to stop the hail and thundering. Moses told Pharaoh once he left the city and spread his hands unto the Lord the hail and thundering would stop. Once again when that plague was stopped Pharaoh changed his mind and would not let God’s people go.
God continued to show forth signs and wonders so that all generations would know the One True God.
Locusts are like grasshoppers. They would eat whatever green plants or trees were not totally destroyed by the hail. Pharaoh tried to make a deal with Moses that the men could go worship and sacrifice, but the women and children had to stay in Egypt. Pharaoh was trying to keep the women and children as hostages so the men would come back to Egypt. God deals with us as families and this was not an acceptable deal. So the locusts came. There were so many locusts that the land was dark. They ate anything that remained in the land of Egypt. Again, it was obvious that their gods had no power to stop this plague.
The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh and his servants so that he could show all the people these mighty signs. Pharaoh had to be humbled and the knowledge of these events was to be passed down through the generations (Ex. 10:2). All would then know that the One True God was God over all. The locusts were used to complete the stripping of the fields that had been commenced by the hail (Ex. 10:3-6).
Pharaoh again asked Moses to remove the locusts, which Moses did. But, as with all the times before, Pharaoh refused again to let God’s people go.
Ninth plague: darkness
This darkness in the land of Egypt could even be felt. It lasted seven days. However, the Israelites had light in their dwellings. After three days Pharaoh called for Moses and said all the people could go and worship God, but that their herds of animals had to stay. The animals were part of the Israelites’ livelihood and a necessity for sacrifices to the Great God.
This action was a direct attack on the power of the supreme deity of Egypt, the Sun god Ra or Amun-Ra.
Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he said, “Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more, for in that day you see my face you shall die.” Moses agreed that he would not see Pharaoh again because it was time for the final plague.
The Angel of the Lord told Moses that the Israelites would be pushed out of Egypt. Moses was instructed to have the Israelites borrow and ask gifts of the Egyptians. The Egyptians freely gave of their jewels, silver and gold. This generosity indicated that they thought highly of Moses and remembered him from earlier days as a high-ranking Egyptian officer. Also perhaps the Egyptians were very grateful for the work the Israelites had done for them.
Moses learned the last plague would be the death of the first-born of man and beast. The first-born and firstlings are set apart and holy unto God. God instructed Moses how to prevent the death of the Israelites’ first-born.
The first Passover
Exodus chapter 12 tells us: “This month shall be the beginning of months for you. It shall be the first month of the year.” On the Tenth day of the First month a lamb is set-aside for each family. These lambs are to be kept until the Fourteenth day and slain at twilight.
None of the Israelites were to go outside of their houses till morning. The animal was roasted whole over a fire. With the lamb they ate bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Any part of the lamb that remained was to be burnt in the fire before morning. The Israelites were to eat in haste, fully ready to travel with their shoes on their feet and staff in hand.
When they killed the lamb they were to smear some of the blood on the doorposts. This was a sign of God’s protection. When the death angel passed through the land at midnight, he knew to pass over the households with the blood on the doorposts.
This event was to be kept as a memorial; as a Feast to the Lord throughout the generations (Ex. 12:14). It is kept as the Passover each year on the Fourteenth day of the First month.
From verse 15 we are told to eat unleavened bread for seven days. The 15th day and the 21st day of Abib are holy days. We are to do no work on these days except prepare food. We are to clean all leaven out of our houses before the 15th day. The Israelites were told to remove all leavened items, such as bread, cakes, and cookies from their houses before they left Egypt (Ex. 12:15).
The week we eat no leavened products is a time to be observed forever by us. There is much more we can learn about this Feast but that will be covered in the paper God’s Holy Days (No. CB22).
That night God gave judgment on all the gods of Egypt. Each plague was directed towards one of the gods the Egyptians worshipped. There is no doubt that these plagues were terrible things to witness and even more horrible to bear. However, Pharaoh had become a god to his people and all of this horror was to prove to everyone that no king, prince, or idol had any power against the One True God.
Obeying God’s direction, the Israelites ate the Passover meal in a hurry and were dressed and ready to leave.
Tenth plague: death of the first-born of Egypt
At midnight all the first-born of Egypt, of both man and beast, died – “From the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on the throne to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon and all the first-born of live-stock” (Ex. 12:29). There was a great cry in Egypt, for every family lost someone. However, the Israelites were safe in their homes having been told of the protection of the blood-stained doors (Ex. 12:27-28). Again this was to show a distinction between the two peoples.
By now Pharaoh must have realised that the powerful God of the Israelites was greater than any other god he knew. His gods had been virtually put to death. He was now in a hurry to get rid of all these Israelites.
Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron by night and told them (Ex. 12:31ff.), “Rise up, get you forth from among my people, both you and the children of Israel, and go serve the Lord, as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.”
Israel left Egypt on the same day as they had arrived in Egypt 430 years earlier (Ex. 12:40-41). God told the Israelites to tell their children about this down through the generations. He did not want them to forget how he freed them from the slavery of the Egyptians (Ex. 13:3-10). It is a “Night to be Much Observed”, a “Night of Watching” for all generations forever.
As the Angel of the Lord led Israel out of Egypt, he guided them as a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. The Angel of the Lord never left Israel. God led the Israelites to freedom through the wilderness of the Red Sea. This was a much harder route but the Israelites could only go forward and not turn back into Egypt, even if they were tempted and wanted to.
After they left, Pharaoh regretted his decision in allowing the Israelites to leave. The Egyptians had now lost their slaves. So he made ready his chariots and his soldiers to pursue the former slaves.
Soon Pharaoh and his armies were seen by the Israelites as they approached the Red Sea. Even though the Israelites saw all the miracles and signs of the One True God they complained and wanted to go back to Egypt.
Moses’ instructions to them were: “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and you will see the wonderful way the Lord will rescue you today. For the Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you will have your peace” (Ex. 14:13-14).
Moses lifted his rod and divided the Red Sea in two so there was a dry path for the Israelites to walk upon. The pillar that was ahead the Israelites then moved behind them. The pillar was now between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The pillar was darkness to the Egyptians, but it gave light to the Israelites. The strong east wind made the sea floor dry that night, and the children of Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry land.
The Egyptians continued to pursue the Israelites. When the last of the Israelites were through the Red Sea, Moses again raised his rod and the sea swallowed up the Egyptians. That is how the One True God saved Israel out of Egyptian slavery.
“And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and His servant Moses” (Ex. 14:31).
Refer also to the paper Moses and the Gods of Egypt (No. 105).