Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Reading 9: Escape Through the Red Sea

Exodus 13:17-14:31

The Egyptian oppression upon the Israelites is too much and the people are crying out for God to save them. Moses is ripped away from his upbringing in the Pharaoh's palace after killing an Egyptian and fled to Midian where God speaks to him to go back and free His people. Moses comes back and leads a fight between God and Pharaoh through 10 plagues. Pharaoh finally lets Moses and the Israelites leave and they head out into the wilderness following God's pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

But God is not done with Pharaoh yet, "And once again I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!" (Exodus 14:4). Pharaohs considered themselves gods and so all the plagues from God were to show that they were not gods but that there is only one God. It was humbling the Egyptians from setting up for themselves "gods" and showing that they cannot compete with the One True God. People often say the Ramses II was the Pharaoh of Egypt at this time but that is actually not the case. Ramses II was born in 1303 BC, 143 years after The Exodus. The Pharaoh during the plagues and the Exodus was actually Thutmose III.

Thutmose III
Thutmose realizes that he just let hundreds of thousands of free slave labourers go and decides to go after them. He knows they are in the wilderness camping at the edge of the Red Sea. He has them trapped and they have no where to go. What he does not expect is to come up against a fighting God. As they come near Israel the sky goes dark an a pillar of fire separates the Egyptians from the Israelites. The Red Sea is parted allowing Israel to walk upon dry ground to the other side. As the Egyptian army chases them into the Red Sea God twists their chariot wheels and confuses them so they find themselves trapped in the middle of the Red Sea with massive walls of water on either side.

Seeing how hopeless their case is the Egyptians try to flee but the walls close in on them and Thutmose's entire army is wiped out. This is a significant loss to Thutmose. He was a great general never losing a battle. He grew the Egyptian Empire significantly during his reign, that is until the Exodus. There are no records of any more military campaigns after the Israelites left Egypt. Why? The entire army was wiped out in the Red Sea.

Bring it Pharaoh!
Israel is free from slavery because God fought off Pharaoh and guided His people through the Red Sea. Israel still has a long way to go though. They have been slaves for generations and now need to establish a new society and a new culture. They have put their faith in God (how could they not after the display He put on) and God guides them to Sinai to help them establish their new identity.

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