Saturday 08 November 2014

Bible Book:

“At the end of four hundred and thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.” (v. 41)

Exodus 12:21-42 Saturday 8 November 2014


It does not take much imagination to see beneaththis passage a modest story of escape. Opportunistic slaves inGoshen (north-east Egypt), mainly Hebrews, made a quick getaway,under cover of darkness, when a deadly plague was stalking Egypt.Carefully avoiding the heavily-guarded coast road into Gaza (Exodus13:17), they slipped across the marshy lands of the Nile delta,and in a day or so reached Succoth, the gateway to the SinaiPeninsula and the desert.

In the frequent retelling of this exploit,exaggerations have been woven into the story. That is not unusual.Now as many as 600,000 men (in verse 41 they are in militaryformation!), plus families and livestock, escape from bondage. Inaddition, a general deadly plague has become a targeted attack onthe firstborn of every Egyptian family, and similarly with thelivestock (verse 29).

From the vantage point of Israel's later faith,the (amplified) story has a clear point: The LORD is Israel'spowerful Protector and Saviour. God watches over the people ("keepsvigil", v. 42) and brings the whole people safely into an era offreedom. The mighty Pharaoh capitulates before God's power (verses31-32), thus ending 430 years of life in Egypt - most of it inslavery.

The detail of this settled theological convictionwas hotly debated for centuries to come. Was God battling against ademon-destroyer to protect the Hebrews when the firstborn werebeing killed; or using such a demon as an agent against Egypt(verse 23); or did God initiate and achieve everything withsovereign power? (That debate is given a sharp focus in Isaiah 63:9).Again: how is a God of love compatible with a deadly attack on theEgyptians? How can the God of Israel, so partisan, be the one andonly God of all creation? But these difficult questions neverdistracted Israel from their core faith: by God's grace they wereliberated and made God's people.

To Ponder

  • In Christian proclamation, Jesus is the Saviour of the world.How do you understand the positive content of that conviction foryourself?
  • In what sense, in day-to-day living, is God our Protector?
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