Summary: Exodus 7-18 Pass Over
Today we look at one of the most famous passages of the Bible. The Exodus. Sure – the whole book is called “Exodus,” but the event of the “exodus” - the exit – the departure – of the people from Israel - the Exodus - that is the central part of the passage we are looking at today from chapters 7-18. The events of the Exodus are well known to Christians, and even many non-Christians. There have been epic movies made about the Exodus. Cecil de Mille’s The 10 Commandments starring Charlton Heston, and more recently the animated “Prince of Egypt.” Both films follow the rough outline of the Exodus events, but do bear in mind that in places they do take artistic licence and add in or modify some of the details. But the point is: Exodus is famous. And throughout the rest of the Old Testament it is constantly referred to. It is seen as the turning point in Israel’s history, when God delivered Israel from bondage and slavery and brought them out of Egypt by His mighty hand to bring them through many trials to the promised land. In the Psalms and elsewhere, the events of Exodus are constantly looked back to as the defining moment in Israel’s history. And the Exodus is event is referred to in the New Testament - something that we will look at later in this Sermon.
Today we are going to look at chapters 7-18. A lot happens in these 12 chapters and we can break it down roughly as follows:
In chapters 7-10 we have the first 9 plagues.
Then in chapters 11 and 12 we have the final devastating plague, culminating in the Passover and the actual departure of the Israelites from Egypt.
The rest of the chapters from 13-18 covers the journey from Egypt to Mt Sinai. But that journey is not uneventful!
In chapter 14-15 we read of the crossing of the Red Sea and again, God’s deliverance of Israel.
In chatpers 15-17 the Israelites grumble about water and food, and God provides.
And then in chapter 18, Moses’ father-in-law gives Moses some good management advice!
So let’s have a look at these plagues first up – the first 9 plagues. But before we do – a quick recap from a fortnight ago. Remember, the book of Exodus closes with the Israelites living in Egypt. They are oppressed by the Egyptians as an underclass, a slave class, in a fairly similar way to they way Africans were treated in the US during the slavery era. They are not even second class citizens, but they are slaves. And God sees their afflictions and hears their cries for help and determines to do something about it. He calls Moses – a pretty ordinary bloke who by this time is nothing more than a sheep herder in the wilderness. God prepares Moses and tells him to go to the Pharoah – the king of Egypt - and tell the Pharoah to let the Israelite people go. But Pharoah doesn’t want to lose his free labour force, so he refuses to let the Israelites go, and so God has to do something to force Pharoah’s hand. And that something is that God sends plagues on Egypt. There are various plagues that God inflicted on the Egyptians. Here’s a list:
1. Nile River turned to blood
5. Livestock die
8. Locust plague
Any of those plagues by themselves would have been pretty bad. Now we might say: isn’t that a bit rough for God to do these terrible things to the Egyptians? Certainly in this day and age, many people have this teddy bear image of God. They see God as this big grandfatherly figure in the sky who never gets angry. Or as some sort of divine teddy bear who is cute and cuddly. And so when they read the God of the Bible, and especially of the Old Testament, and read about God sending plagues on the Egyptians, and many of the Egyptians suffered and died as a result of these plagues - that idea of what God does and who God is often doesn’t compute with our ideas of who we think God ought to be. And because we are a product of our modern Aussie culture, we can find this difficult to come to terms with. I know that I personally struggled for many years to come to terms with it. I went to catholic schools for most of my schooling, and I remember in our grade 9 Religious Education class we went through the plagues in Exodus. Our teacher would read out each plague, and then after he’d read it he would say, “Now we know that God wouldn’t do such a thing - these are only stories, fables.” Why did my religion teacher say that? Well – because he had this teddy bear image of God, that God is only nice and cute and cuddly.