Note: This Bible study was done by me years ago before I started in-depth theology. Enjoy...but not a source of research. Thanks for your understanding!
1526 b.c.- Moses' birth
1446 b.c.- The plagues and the first Passover
1446 b.c.- The exodus
1446 b.c.- The Ten commandments & Mt. Sinai
1446-1406 b.c.- The desert wanderings
I. Preparation for Israel's Deliverance from Bondage (1-4)
II. Israel's Deliverance from Bondage (5-18)
---a. Pharaoh's Resistance and the Lord's Reassurance (5:1-6:27)
---b. Plagues on Egypt (6:28-12:36)
---c. The Exodus from Egypt to Mt. Sinai (12:37-18:27)
III. The Covenant at Sinai (19-24)
IV. The Tabernacle for Worship (25-40)
---a. Instructions for Tabernacle Construction and Furnishings (25-31)
---b. The Golden Calf (32-34)
---c. Tabernacle Construction (35-40)
Pre-Exodus Discussion Topics
Prior to starting Exodus, I have some questions for everyone to consider. Feel free, as always, to answer by commenting or just answering them on your own!
Do you think Joseph's behavior in the last book led to the Hebrew's slavery?
Did God plan for them to become slaves on purpose?
If so, why?
Moses' circumstances- becoming the deliverer of the Hebrews- was foretold. From birth, then, he was special. Do you think that God has specific things he wants us to do?
Does he plan for us from birth?
(Harder question): There is much suffering, children dying, etc.....If God has a plan, why?
It is believed that Moses wrote Exodus (which means departure) during the time of wandering. Of course, later audiences did add updates, etc. But the basics are believed to have been written by Moses.
Audience & Theme
Audience: Later Israelites would read (or have read to them, more often) Exodus for the purpose of understanding their origins, understanding their God, and understanding the laws that he placed them under. It is the equivalent of us reading the gospels in order to understand where Jesus came from and what his message was.
One of the major themes is actually God's love for the people. Many people who read this book today comment on the "wrathful God of the Old Testament"....but look how much God loved them: he provided their basic needs in the desert with manna, and then with quail when they complained about the manna.....he gave them basic laws to help them become better people....he performed miracles to save them from bondage....the list could go on and on.
It is important when reading to discard any "current" views of the books, and try to read it fresh each time, even if you've read it ten times before!
Lesson: Exodus: Chapter 1
The stage is set in these verses. The Israelites have become numerous, the fulfillment of one of the vows made to the early patriarchs. Pharaoh's futile attempts to check the population growth are useless. Even the midwives (it is commonly believed that the midwives were Egyptian midwives TO the Hebrew women, not Hebrew women who were midwives to their own) showed decency and honor by not carrying out the orders of their King. The King's final order, to throw the babies into the river, is the final puzzle piece needed for Moses' miraculous survival.
-The Pharaoh forgets the great service done in the past by a Hebrew man (Joseph) and thinks only of the situation he is currently in. Do we, as communities and nations, sometimes think only about our current situation, not thanking God for the blessings of our past or thinking about how our actions will be construed in the future?
- The midwives are disobeying an order from a man who is worshipped as a god to save the lives of innocents. Could we have been that moral or would we have buckled under the pressure? Are we sometimes in situations in which no one questions the behavior, and it somehow becomes accepted as "all right" or "moral" to do over time?
Can you give an example?
In the harsh conditions they were living in, do you think any or many of the Hebrews lost faith with the God of Abraham? What would have been good actions for them to take to help them keep faith?
These are the names of the sons of Israel who, accompanied by their households, migrated with Jacob into Egypt: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The total number of the direct defendants of Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt.
Now Joseph and all his brothers and that whole generation died. They became so numerous and strong that the land was filled with them.
Then a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt. He said to his subjects, "Look how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing, more so than we ourselves! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave our country."
Accordingly, taskmasters were set over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor. Thus they had to build for Pharaoh the supply cities of Pithom and Raamses. Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. The Egyptians, then, dreaded the Israelites and reduced them to cruel slavery, making life bitter for them with hard work in mortar and brick and all kinds of field work- the whole cruel fate of slaves.
The king of Egypt told the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was called Shiphrah and the other Puah, "When you act as midwives for the hebrew women and see them giving birth, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she may live."
The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live. So the king summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you acted thus, allowing the boys to live?" The midwives answered Pharaoh, "The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women. They are robust and give birth before the midwife arrives." Therefore God dealt well with the midwives. The people, too, increased and grew strong. And because the midwives feared God, he built up families for them. Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects, "Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews, but you may let all the girls live."
Lesson: Exodus: Chapter 2:1-10
Exodus is so beautiful because the gently guiding hand of God can be seen in almost every chapter.
Here: Of all the Hebrew male children of that age, Moses is saved from death....and it is Moses who will go on to deliver his people from slavery. Of course, that is God's guiding hand. Do you think that his mother knew he was special? Or do you think that she simply (and naturally) couldn't bear to see her son killed?
Pharaoh's daughter herself is the one who finds Moses and decides to raise him as her own. It is not explained why she would be so willing to take in an orphan and raise him as her own, but we can guess. Was she perhaps infertile? Had her husband died, leaving her with no children? Again, we see God's guiding hand leading Moses to a life that he must experience in order to fulfill what is later planned.
During this time, the Hebrews continue to be slaves...making bricks, building cities, working the fields. Hope must have been low that they would ever be free.
Sometimes we feel as if the everyday tasks that we are burdened with take time that we could spend with God (meditating, praying, studying). What tasks in our life are really NOT necessary? Is there time we bemoan the fact that we don't have more time for God, but then waste time that we could have used??
Is there fifteen minutes a day you could set aside strictly for praying, talking to God, etc. in silence? If so, will you do it?
Now a certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, who conceived and bore a son. Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank. His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him.
Pharaoh's daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her maids walked along the river bank. Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it. On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying! She was moved with pity for him and said, "It is one of the Hebrews' children."
Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?"
"Yes, do so," she answered. So the maiden went and called the child's own mother.
Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you." The woman therefore took the child and nursed it. When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, "I drew him out of the water."
Lesson: Exodus: Chapter 2:11-15
It doesn't say in the bible at which point during his upbringing that Moses became aware that he was Hebrew. We can make guesses, but they are that, only guesses. I personally think it was after he was grown- he must have seen Egyptian's striking Hebrews hundreds, if not thousands, of times, but it didn't bother him until now.
Just as a fun guess, when do you think Moses found out he was a Hebrew and not an Egyptian?
Moses kills someone. It is easy to gloss over the verse, and almost dismiss it. One of the greatest men in the bible started out as a murderer. Take a moment to think about that. Often we feel as if there couldn't possibly be an important task for us to complete- that we are not "important" enough to be special.
Can you name another important person in the bible who committed a "big" sin before they started on God's work?
This chapter ends in a completely odd way (some versions have something written here- it depends on the version of the Bible you use). We have four sentences and it ends with "..."
"God saw the Israelites and knew..." What do you think God knew?
Can you think of a reason he would wait so long before helping to deliver them?
One king changes to another and still they suffer in slavery....do current changes in leaders- in our country, other countries, out cities- really mean change?
Do you think the king of Egypt was concerned with the Israelites or do you think he thought they "deserved" slavery?
On one occasion, after Moses had grown up, when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forces labor, he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen. Looking about and seeing no one, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting! So he asked the culprit, "Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?"
But he replied, "Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?"
Then Moses became afraid and thought, "The affair most certainly be known." Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put him to death. But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian. As he was seated there by a well, seven daughters of a priest of Midian came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father's flock. But some shepherds came and drove them away.
Then Moses got up and defended them and watered their flock. When they returned to their father Reuel, he said to them, "How is it you have returned so soon today?"
They answered, "An Egyptian saved us from the interference of the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock!"
"Where is the man?" he asked his daughters. "Why did you leave him there? Invite him to have something to eat." Moses agreed to live with him, and the man gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage. She bore him a son, whom he named Gershom; for he said, "I am a stranger in a foreign land."
A long time passed, during which the king of Egypt died. Still the Israelites groaned and cried out because of their slavery. As their cry for release went up to God, he heard their groaning and was mindful of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He saw the Israelites and knew...
Lesson: Exodus: Chapter 3:1-10
When Moses goes into God's presence, he tells him to remove his sandals, for he is on holy ground.
A large issue today is what clothes to wear to church. I've heard this from so many people and they are so vehement, I really wanted to ask you.
Do you think "dressing up" is required for going to church (especially on Sundays)?
If so or if no, why?
God promises the Israelites land that other people are living in. Later we'll do a brief discussion of these people and where they came from.
Why do you think God chose that section of land? Did it have special meaning? Was it the best land around? Were the people living there ungodly?
Meanwhile, Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There an angel of the Lord appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, "I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned."
When the Lord saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
He answered, "Here I am."
God said, "Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father," he continued, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob." Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
But the Lord said, "I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good a spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the country of the Canaanites, Hittities, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. So indeed the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them. Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt."
Lesson: Exodus: Chapter 3:11-4:17
Look at the humanness of Moses when called by God.
When reading the passage, notice how many times and ways Moses tries to "get out of" what God wants him to do. This is NOT laziness on Moses part; it is a natural humility that any human would feel when given a task by God.
Imagine for a moment you're out getting groceries....out of the trees next to the store you see a light and go towards it, naturally curious. Is there a fire? Should you call someone? You see a burning bush, a wondrous green, beautiful plant that is glowing with beautiful colors that resemble flames. You hear God's voice....
At this point, what would you feel?
What do you think Moses felt?
Try to come up with an example that would be today's "equivalent" of Moses' call.
Could you fulfill it?
What is your favorite part of the passage and why?
But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"
He answered, "I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain."
"But," said Moses to God, "when I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' if they ask me, 'What is his name?' what am I to tell them?"
God replied, "I am who am." Then he added, "This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you." God spoke further to Moses, "Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. 'This is my name forever, this is my title for all generations' "Go and assemble the elders of the Israelites, and tell them: God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I am concerned about you and the way you are being treated in Egypt; so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey. Thus they will heed your message. Thus you and the elders of israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him: The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word. Permit us, then, to go a three-days' journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the Lord, our God. Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go unless he is forced. I will stretch out my hand, therefore, and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there. After that he will send you away. I will even make the Egyptians so well-disposed towards this people that, when you leave, you will not go empty-handed. Every woman shall ask her neighbor and her house guest for silver and gold articles and for clothing to put on your sons and daughters. Thus you will despoil the Egyptians."
"But," objected Moses, "suppose they will not believe me, nor listen to my plea? For they may say, 'The Lord did not appear to you.'"
The Lord therefore asked him, "What is that in your hand?"
"A staff," he answered.
The Lord then said, "Throw it on the ground." When he threw it on the ground it was changed into a serpent, and Moses shied away from it. "Now, put out your hand," the Lord said to him, "and take hold of its tail." So he put out his hand and laid hold of it, and it became a staff in his hand. "This will take place so that they may believe," he continued, "that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, did appear to you." Again the Lord said to him, "Put you hand in your bosom," He put it in his bosom, and when he withdrew it, to his surprise his hand was leprous, like snow. The Lord then said, "Now, put you hand back in your bosom." Moses put his hand back in his bosom, and when he withdrew it, to his surprise it was again like the rest of his body. "If they will not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, they should believe the message of the second. And if they will not believe even these two signs, nor heed your plea, take some water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water you take from the river will become blood on the dry land."
Moses, however, said to the Lord, "If you please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue."
The Lord said to him, "Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf and dumb? Or who gives sight to one and makes another blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Go, then! It is I who will assist you in speaking and will teach you what you are to say."
Yet he insisted, "If you please, Lord, send someone else!"
Then the Lord became angry with Moses and said, "Have you not a brother, Aaron the Levite? I know that he is eloquent speaker. Besides, he is now on his way to meet you. When he sees you, his heart will be glad. You are to speak to him, then, and put the words in his mouth. I will assist both you and him in speaking and will teach the two of you what you are to do. he shall speak to the people for you: he shall be your spokesman, and you shall be as God to him. Take this staff in your hand; with it you are to perform the signs."
Lesson: Exodus: Chapters 4-6
Moses goes and does what God tells him. He is immediately "rewarded" with seeing the situation getting worse, as Pharaoh interprets the Israelite’s desire to go worship in the desert as an attempt to shirk their duties.
Question: Do you sometimes feel that even when you are doing God's will, things get worse? If it's not too personal, can you give an example?
Now we know that later they are all freed, not just for a three-day trip to the desert, but forever rescued from Egypt. The initial situation getting worse was simply a small step towards total freedom. The Israelites become free.
Question: Have you ever felt that someone else’s prayers have helped you through a situation?
Pharaoh's initial reaction to being told things must change is total rejection of the idea. We often instinctively react to change by rejection.
Question: Is there an area in which we can/did change for the better? When someone or God first suggested it, did you reject the idea?
(4:27-31) The Lord said to Aaron, "Go into the desert to meet Moses." So he went, and when they met at the mountain of God, Aaron kissed him. Moses informed him of all the Lord had said in sending him, and of the various signs he had enjoined upon him. Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses, and he performed the signs before the people. The people believed, and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their affliction, they bowed down in worship.
(5:1-2) After that, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Let my people go, that they may celebrate a feast to me in the desert."
Pharaoh answered, "Who is the Lord, that I should heed his plea to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord; even if I did, I would not let Israel go."
(5:6-9) That very day Pharaoh gave the taskmasters and foremen of the people this order: "You shall no longer supply the people with straw for their brickmaking as you have previously done. Let them go and gather straw themselves! Yet you shall levy upon them the same quota of bricks as they have previously made. Do not reduce it. They are lazy; that is why they are crying, 'Let us go to offer sacrifice to our God.' Increase their work for the men, so that they keep their mind on it and pay to attention to lying words."
(5:19-23) The Israelite foremen knew they were in a sorry plight, having been told not to reduce the daily amount of bricks. When, therefore, they left Pharaoh and came upon Moses and Aaron, who were waiting to meet them, they said to them, "The Lord look upon you and judge! You have brought us into bad odor with Pharaoh and his servants and have put a sword in their hands to slay us."
(6:28-7:7) On the day the Lord spoke to Moses in Egypt, he said, "I am the Lord. Repeat to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, all that I tell you."
But Moses protested to the Lord, "Since I am a poor speaker, how can it be that Pharaoh will listen to me?"
The Lord answered him, "See! I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall act as your prophet. You shall tell him all that I command you. In turn, your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave his land. Yet I will make Pharaoh so obstinate that, despite the many signs and wonders that I will work in the land of Egypt, he will not listen to you. Therefore I will lay my hand on Egypt and by great acts of judgment I will bring the hosts of my people, the Israelites, out of the land of Egypt, so that the Egyptians may learn that I am the Lord, as I stretch out my hand against Egypt and lead the Israelites out of their midst."
Moses and Aaron did as the Lord had commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Lesson: Exodus: First Five Plagues
Today we're going to cover the first five plagues that came upon the Egyptians.
Moses requested permission for the Israelites to go to the desert for three days to worship their God, and Pharaoh replied by increasing their workload- aka: making bricks without straw.
The ten plagues are often debated, as is much of the Exodus story.
I'm sure most of you have heard of it, but there is a "non-God-involved" explanation in some circles for the plagues.
The basic explanation is that a volcano erupted, causing red ash to fall into the river, making it appear as if the water had turned to blood. All of the fish died from the elements in the ash poisoning them. The frogs all fled the water, making people think there was a plague of frogs. As all of the fish and frogs died, the gnats came to feast on the remains, as did the flies. I'll explain the rest of it when we read about the last five plagues.
Question: Can there be a scientific explanation for a "miraculous" event and still have it be led by God?
Or if God is involved, does that mean that there cannot possibly be an explanation that we can understand?
-or- in other words, are science and God mutually exclusive? If so, why? If not, why?
Staff into snake: Exodus 4:8-9, 12-13
(8-9) The Lord told Moses and Aaron, "If Pharaoh demands that you work a sign or wonder, you shall say to Aaron: Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, and it will be changed into a snake."
(12-13) Each one [Pharaoh's magicians] threw down his staff, and it was changed into a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed their staffs. Pharaoh, however, was obstinate and would not listen to them, just as the Lord had foretold.
First Plague: Water Turned Into Blood:
Exodus 7:15-16, 20-21
(15-16) Tomorrow morning, when he [Pharaoh] sets out for the water, go and present yourself by the river bank, holding in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. Say to him: The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you with the message: Let my people go to worship me in the desert. But as yet you have not listened.
(20-21) Moses and Aaron did as the Lord had commanded. Aaron raised his staff and struck the waters of the river in full view of Pharaoh and his servants, and all the water of the river was changed into blood. The fish in the river died, and the river itself became so polluted that the Egyptians could not drink its water. There was blood throughout the land of Egypt.
Second Plague: the Frogs
Exodus 7:25-27, 8:2, 4, 8-9, 11
(7:25-27) Seven days passed after the Lord had struck the river. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and tell him: Thus says the Lord: Let my people go to worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I warn you, I will a send a plague of frogs over all your territory.
(8:2)Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.
(4)Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Pray the Lord to remove the frogs from me and my subjects, and I will let the people go off to offer sacrifice to the Lord."
(8-9)After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh's presence, Moses implored the Lord to fulfill the promise he had made to Pharaoh about the frogs; and the Lord did as Moses had asked. The frogs in the houses and the courtyards and fields died off.
(11) But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he became obdurate and would not listen to them, just as the Lord had foretold.
Third Plague: the Gnats: Exodus 8:13, 15
(13) They [Moses and Aaron] did so. Aaron stretched out his hand, and with his staff he struck the dust of the earth, and gnats came upon man and beast. The dust of the earth was turned into gnats throughout the land of Egypt. (15) The magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." Yet Pharaoh remained obstinate and would not listen to them, just as the Lord had foretold.
Fourth Plague: the Flies: Exodus 8:18-20, 26-28
(18-20) [The Lord said:] But on that day I will make an exception of the land of Goshen: there shall be no flies where my people dwell, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. I will make this distinction between my people and your people. This sign shall take place tomorrow." This the Lord did. Thick swarms of flies entered the house of Pharaoh and houses of his servants; throughout Egypt the land was infested with flies.
(26-28) When Moses left Pharaoh's presence, he prayed to the Lord; and the Lord did as Moses had asked. He removed the flies from Pharaoh and his servants and subjects. Not one remained. But once more Pharaoh became obdurate and would not let the people go.
Fifth Plague: the Pestilence: Exodus 9:2-3, 6-7
(2-3) If you refuse to let them go and persist in holding them, I warn you, the Lord will afflict all your livestock in the field- your horses, asses, camels, herds, and flocks- with a very sever pestilence.
(6-7) And on the next day the Lord did so. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one beast belonging to the Israelites. But though Pharaoh's messengers informed him that not even one beast belonging to the Israelites had died, he still remained obdurate and would not let the people go.
Lesson: Exodus: Last Five Plagues
Many people have trouble understanding the concept that the Lord was the one making Pharaoh obstinate…aka “The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart”.
There are two common explanations for this:
1) God, obviously, is not limited by our lack of understanding of what is right and wrong. God’s actions in hardening Pharaoh’s heart in order to show God’s glory is right, we simply don’t have the understanding the morality.
2) That God was only continuing a process of hardening that Pharaoh had already initiated. In other words, it was Pharaoh’s decision to reject God.
Which of these seems more likely to you? Why?
The rest of "scientific" explanation is as follows: the pestilence that spread throughout the land caused boils to break out upon all of the Egyptians. The biting insects carried bacteria (perhaps Pseudomonas mallei). Something to do with the volcano- don't ask me what, it's been too long- changed the weather pattern and caused the horrible hail. The Locusts came to feed because the wind changed with the weather. The darkness was caused by the ash from the volcano. The death of the firstborns was caused because of a dangerous gas that was floating through the air; the firstborn was usually honored by having a bed off the floor to sleep on...the gas was lighter than normal air, so only those on beds died.
Honestly, I didn't make this up!! I’ve re-ordered “Exodus Decoded” from Netflix and will post the detailed, “scientific” explanation when I’ve re-watched it.
In your opinion, which plague is the most "miraculous"? Why?
Sixth Plague: the Boils: Exodus 9:10-12
So they [Moses & Aaron] took soot from a furnace and stood in the presence of Pharaoh. Moses scattered it toward the sky, and it caused festering boils on man and beast. The magicians could not stand in Moses' presence, for there were boils on the magicians no less than on the rest of the Egyptians. But the Lord made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had foretold to Moses.
Seventh Plague: the Hail: Exodus 9:20-26, 34-35
(20-26) Some of Pharaoh's servants feared the warning of the Lord and hurried their servants and livestock off to shelter. Others, however, did not take the warning of the Lord to heart and left their servants and livestock in the fields.
The Lord then said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall upon the entire land of Egypt, on man and beast and every growing thing in the land of Egypt." When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent forth hail and peals of thunder. Lightning flashed toward the earth, and the Lord rained down hail upon the land of Egypt; and lightening constantly flashed through the hail, such fierce hail as had never been seen in the land since Egypt became a nation. It struck down every man and beast that was in the open throughout the land of Egypt; it beat down every growing thing and splintered every tree in the fields. Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites dwelt, was their no hail.
(34-35) But Pharaoh, seeing that the rain and hail and thunder had ceased, sinned again: he with his servants became obdurate, and in his obstinacy he would not let the Israelites go, as the Lord had foretold through Moses.
Eighth Plague: the Locusts: Exodus 10:13-15, 19-20
(13-15) So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord sent an east wind blowing over the land all that day and all that night. At dawn the east wind brought the locusts. They swarmed over the whole land of Egypt and settled down on every part of it. Never before had there been such a fierce swarm of locusts, nor will there ever be. They covered the surface of the whole land, till it was black with them. They ate up all the vegetation in the land and the fruit of whatever trees the hail had spared. Nothing green was left on any tree or plant throughout the land of Egypt.
(19-20) ...and the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which took up the locusts and hurled them into the Red Sea. But though not a single locust remained within the confines of Egypt, the Lord made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the Israelites go.
Ninth Plague: the Darkness: Exodus 10:22-23, 27
(22-23) So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was dense darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days. Men could not see one another, nor could they move from where they were, for three days. But all the Israelites had light where they dwelt.
(27) But the Lord made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let them go.
Tenth Plague: the Death of the Firstborn: Exodus 11:1, 29-30
(1) Then the Lord told Moses, "one more plague will I bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. After that he will let you depart. In fact, he will not merely let you go; he will drive you away.
[Moses tells Pharaoh the warning; the Israelites prepare for the Passover as the Lord them. They also swabbed their doorposts with blood as instructed.]
(29-30) At midnight the Lord slew every first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh on the throne to the first-born of the prisoner in the dungeon, as well as all the first-born of the animals. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was loud wailing throughout Egypt, for there was not a house without its dead.
Lesson: Exodus: Chapters 12-14
The Israelites as a people make their first real appearance. We knew that they were sending up laments to the Lord before for being in bondage. And during the plagues, we often "saw" Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, and his magicians, but this is the first real glimpse we get of the Israelite people as a whole during this period of time.
And what a beginning we see! Obviously, they had to have been aware of and witnessed the plagues that struck Egypt, while leaving Goshen miraculously unharmed. One wonders what they were thinking then by complaining only days later that they wish they were back in Egypt!
Perhaps they had come up with "other" explanations for the plagues besides God?
(Ironic, isn't it, that we've been discussing this the last few days, ha-ha).
Were they simply scared and forgot God during this moment of distress?
Which of these and/or other reasons do you have for the Israelites yelling at Moses and saying they wish they were back in Egypt?
Can you see us acting the same today? Why or why not?
(31-32) During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Leave my people at once, you and the Israelites with you! Go and worship the Lord as you said. Take your flocks, too, and your herds, as you demanded, and begone; and you will be doing me a favor."
(42)This [passover] was a night of vigil for the Lord, as he led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the Israelites must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations.
(21-22) The Lord preceded them, in the daytime by means of a column of cloud to show them the way, and at night by means of a column of fire to give them light. Thus they could travel both day and night. Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire by night ever left its place in front of the people.
14:5, 10-14, 21-27, 30-31
(5) When it was reported to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants changed their minds about them. "What have we done!" they exclaimed. "Why, we have released Israel from our service!"
(10-14) Pharaoh was already near when the Israelites looked up and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them. In great fright they cried out to the Lord. And they complained to Moses, "Were there no burial places in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert? Why did you do this to us? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said, 'Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians'? Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert."
But Moses answered the people, "Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today. These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still."
(21-31) Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land. When the water was thus divided, the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left. The Egyptians followed in pursuit; all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and charioteers went after them right into the midst of the sea. In the night watch just before dawn the Lord cast through the column of the fiery cloud upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into panic; and he so clogged their chariot wheels that they could hardly drive. With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel, because the Lord was fighting for them against the Egyptians.
Then the Lord told Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their charioteers." So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth. The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea, when the Lord hurled them into its midst.
(30-31) Thus the Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power that the Lord had shown against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord and believed in him and in his servant Moses.
Lesson: Exodus: Chapters 16-17
This short section contains a vital point of importance. God cares about us. Even about insignificant things like our physical comfort. The Israelites were first given bread to eat. When they complained of the bread, they were given meat. Despite the bread and meat appearing to them, they then complained about water. (One can assume that they were not actually dying of thirst....they would have let the livestock die already!).
God works miracles for us every day, taking care of both our physical and spiritual needs.
There's a saying that has been wandering around for a few centuries now: "The age of miracles has passed." Cynics and even, sorrowfully, occasionally religious people claim that there are no more "obvious" miracles from God anymore...that we are meant to only know God through the Bible (properly translated by a certain church and/or people, of course) or through His "indirect" interventions.
What do you think about the current attitude of "healthy cynicism"?
Have you encountered a spiritual director (please do NOT name a specific church) who has tried to "explain away" the miracles of the bible and/or demeaned God's awe?
Why do you think that the wide-spread, almost universal faith, of past centuries has faded away?
Chapter 16: 1-3, 11-25
(1-3) Having set out from Elim, the whole Israelite community came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. Here is the desert the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "Would that we had died at the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!"
(11-15) The Lord spoke to Moses and said, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God."
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites ask one another, "What is this?" for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, "This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat."
Chapter 17: 1-7
(1-7) From the desert of Sin the whole Israelite community journeyed by stages, as the Lord directed, and encamped at Pehidim. Here there was no water for the people to drink. They quarreled, therefore, with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink."
Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to a test?" H
Here, then, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?"
So Moses cried out to the Lord, "What shall I do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!"
The Lord answered Moses, "Go over there in front of the people, along with some of the elders of Israel, holding in your hand, as you go, the staff with which you struck the river. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb. Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink." This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel. The place was called Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the Lord, saying "Is the Lord in our midst or not?"
Lesson: Exodus: Chapters 19-20
The most fundamental of laws and the some of the first ones we learn as children: the Ten Commandments.
I love how Jesus later put it, "to love your God and to love others" as the distillation of the law; the most pure form of the law. Because all of the Ten Commandments can be traced back to those two principles.
On the flip side, there are two very human traits that describe the breaking of these laws: pride and selfishness.
Pride is refusing to put God first, worshipping false idols (such as money, in today's terms), assuming you have the right to take the Lord's name in vain, pride in refusing the day of rest God gives us.
Selfishness in not loving your mother and father or taking another's life, spouse, or possessions. Selfishness in swearing against your neighbor, assuming that what you want is more important than the truth. Selfishness is desiring their possessions and pride in believing you know what is better for you than God does.
I'm sure many of you have heard of the capital (or deadly) sins: Pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.
Which of these- you can either tell us, if you're brave enough or just answer to yourself!- gives you the most trouble?
Which of the 10 commandments is hardest for you?
Did you know that there are seven virtues opposed to the capital sins, though:
Humility, Liberality (aka: generosity), Chastity, meekness, temperance, brotherly love, and diligence.
Okay, we were honest enough to admit to ourselves which sin gave us the worst trouble avoiding:
Be honest, which of the seven virtues are you blessed to have? (Or which ones)
What can we do every single day to follow the ten commandments, avoid the seven sins, or cultivate the seven virtues?
God later removes the rule of the law by giving Jesus to us...why did he give us the Ten Commandments in the first place?
(19:1-2) In the third month after their departure from the land of Egypt, on the first day, the Israelites came to the desert of Sinai. After the journey from Rephidim to the desert of Sanai, they pitched camp.
(20:1-17) Then God delivered all these commandments:
"I, the Lord, am your god, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For the Lord will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.
Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days your may labor and do all your work, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him."
[God also gives laws regarding slaves, personal injury, property damage, trusts & loans, social laws, religious laws; he also explains (in detail) the dwelling & furnishing of the tabernacle and the appropriate clothing & behavior for the priests. Feel free to read 20:18-Chapter 31, for further details.]
Lesson: Exodus: Chapter 32 (The Golden Calf)
The golden calf is just one of many false idols that the people will worship over the years to come in the bible. Often, the false idols are actual gold or wooden or engraved stone idols that they bow down to and offer sacrifices to. Sometimes, though, the false idols are things that take the place of the Lord in their heart. God should always be first.
What are some false idols that are worshipped today?
Why do you think people worship these things rather than God (or put them ahead of God in their hearts)?
Moses pleads with God for his mercy on behalf of the people.
After we are done with our daily prayers today, can we pause for a moment and plead for mercy on the behalf of someone we know has done wrong (or for people in general)? If you don’t already do this, will you add this to your daily routine?
If you were Moses, would you have been too angry with the people to plead for their mercy or do you believe you could have put aside your anger for compassion?
Chapter 32 (entire)
When the Lord had finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the commandments, the stone tablets inscribed by God's own finger.
When the people became aware of Moses' delay in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, "Come, make us a god who will be our leader, as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him."
Aaron replied, "Have your wives and sons and daughters take off the golden earrings they are wearing, and bring them to me." So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron, who accepted their offering, and fashioning this gold with a graving tool, make a molten calf.
Then they cried out, "This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt." On seeing this, Aaron built an altar before the calf and proclaimed, "Tomorrow is a feast of the Lord." Early the next day the people offered holocausts and brought peace offerings. Then they sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.
With that, the Lord said to Moses, "Go down at once to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved. They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, 'This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!' I see how stiff-necked this people is," continued the Lord to Moses. "Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation."
But Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying, "Why, O Lord, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand? Why should the Egyptians say, 'With evil intent he brought them out, that he might kill them in the mountains and exterminate them from the face of the earth'? Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, 'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.'"
So the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.
Moses then turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back; tablets that were made by God, having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God himself. Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "That sounds like a battle in the camp."
But Moses answered, "It does not sound like cries of victory, nor does it sound like cries of defeat; the sounds that I hear are cries of revelry." As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. With that, Moses' wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire and then ground it down to powder, which he scattered on the water and made the Israelites drink.
Moses asked Aaron, "What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so grave a sin?"
Aaron replied, "Let not my lord be angry. You know well enough how prone the people are to evil. They said to me, 'Make us a god to be our leader; as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.' So I told them, 'Let anyone who had gold jewelry take it off.' They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out."
When Moses realized that, to the scornful joy of their foes, Aaron had let the people run wild, he stood at the gate of the camp and cried, "Whoever is for the Lord, let him come to me!" All the Levites then rallied to him, and he told them, "Thus says the Lord, to God of Israel: Put your sword on your hip, every one of you! Now go up and down the camp, from gate to gate, and slay your own kinsmen, your friends and neighbors!" The Levites carried out the command of Moses, and that day there fell about three thousand of the people. Then Moses said, "Today you have been dedicated to the Lord, for you were against your own sons and kinsmen, to bring a blessing upon yourselves this day."
On the next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a grave sin. I will go up to the Lord, then; perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin." So
Moses went back to the Lord and said, "Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! If you would only forgive their sin! If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written."
The Lord answered, "Him only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book. Now, go and lead the people whither I have told you. My angel will go before you. When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin."
Thus the Lord smote the people for having had Aaron make the calf for them.
Lesson: Exodus: Chapter 34
Again and again in Exodus, we see the love and fidelity that the Lord has for us.
When the Israelites fear the Egyptians will overtake them, God delivers them.
When the Israelites want food, he delivers manna. When they want meat, he delivers quail.
When they want water & wish they were back in Egypt, he provides water from a rock.
When they lose faith, make a golden calf, and worship it, He forgives them & renews
the commandments and covenant with them.
We can use this lesson in our own lives as well. Jesus has forgiven our sins. They are as far as the east is from the west. Being human, we will lapse into sin again if we are not vigilant at all times. There are times we will be tired, or hungry, or angry (a sin in itself)...and snap at someone or harbor mean thoughts. And not love them completely and wholeheartedly.
We may suffer from depression or grief and try to pray and feel like we a talking into an empty phone. And lose faith for a little while.
The most important thing to remember that God is always faithful, even when we are not. All we must do is ask for forgiveness and join in his wonderful grace again. Yes, we might feel a slight stain for awhile on our souls...being forgiven doesn't mean that the sorrow of sin will disappear instantly. But we can feel God's grace and healing in our hearts.
Questions: When are you most likely to fall into sin (aka- when you're tired, or depressed, or angry....or at family reunions (ha-ha)?
Is there a way you've found to combat those feelings?
Do you ever feel like God isn't listening? How do you get through those times?
Another point is the physical and spiritual radiance that Moses exhibited. I'm sure you've met those people who are so in love with the Lord that you can practically see the joy in their footsteps. I'm sure you've also met those people who are smug about their "relationship" with God...and you kind of want to shake them and tell them they kind of have the idea of loving others messed up.
Are there times you feel "radiant" with God's love?
Are those moments preceded by something special (aka- a good sermon...a good prayer session...reading something)?
Exodus 34: 4-6, 27-35
(4-6) Moses then cut two stone tablets like the former, and early the next morning he went up to Mount Sinai as the Lord had commanded him, taking along the two stone tablets. Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stood with him there and proclaimed his name, "Lord." Thus the Lord passed before him and cried out, "The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."
(27-35) Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with them I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." So Moses stayed there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the Lord. When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him.
Only after Moses called to them did Aaron and all the rulers of the community come back to him. Moses then spoke to them. Later on, all the Israelites came up to him, and he enjoined on them all that the Lord had told him on Mount Sinai. When he finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses entered the presence of the Lord to converse with him, he removed the veil until he came out again. On come out, he would tell the Israelites all that had been commanded. Then the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses' face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to converse with the Lord.
Lesson: Exodus: Chapters 35-40
Two points in this reading that I find particularly interesting:
1) The Sabbath day. Moses repeats the rule about the Sabbath day twice more after the original setting down of the 10 commandments. Now, obviously, we do not put people to death these days for not properly honoring the Sabbath (and I don't think we should!).
Question: Do you think the Sabbath was more important back then? (Remember, it required the death penalty if not followed) If yes, why? If no, why not?
Do you still "work" on the Sabbath- cooking, cleaning, etc.? Do you think the Lord minds?
2) The Israelite community donates all of the materials for the ark and the dwelling. This is the phrase I love the most of this section "Everyone, AS HIS HEART PROMPTS HIM, shall bring, as a contribution to the Lord...."
I've heard multiple people say that they don't go to church because the church always asks for money.
Question: Does this ever bother you? Have you ever attended a church that put a lot of pressure on money?
During the actual construction, many people volunteered time and work to the building.
Question: Do you think more people could contribute service instead of money? Do you think if church's put more emphasize on this rather than money, more people would attend?
Chapter 35:1-9 40:34-38
(1-9) Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, "This is what the Lord has commanded to be done. On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the Sabbath of complete rest to the Lord. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death. You shall not even light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day."
Moses told the whole Israelite community, "This is what the Lord has commanded. Take up among you a collection for Lord. Everyone, as his heart prompts him, shall bring, as a contribution to the Lord, gold, silver and bronze; violet, purple and scarlet yarn, fine linen and goat hair; rams' skins dyed red, and tahash skins; acacia wood; oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; onyx stones and other gems for mounting on the ephod and on the breastplate."
All these materials were used for the ark and its dwelling place. For a description of the building of the ark, the tent, and the vestments worn by the priests, read 35:10 through 40:33.
Chapter 40: 34-38
(34-38) Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling. Whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, the Israelites would set out on their journey. But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward. In the daytime the cloud of the Lord was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey.