Last but not least, the tenth plague is unveiled in Chapter 11 of Exodus. Up to this point, we’ve witnessed a number of face to face confrontations between Moses and Pharoah. But each time Pharoah’s negotiating skills come up short, it results in yet another plague for Egypt.
Some scholars estimate the time frame from start to finish was around 9 months, bringing us to March or April on the Western calendar when God instructs Moses to prepare the people for a quick departure. Among other details, every Israelite is to cover their doorpost with the blood of a sacrificial lamb so that when the Lord passes over the door and sees the blood, death will not fall upon that household. This first Passover is a perfect illustration of how Christ shed His blood to defeat death, giving eternal life to all who accept His finished work on the cross.
At midnight, every household that was not covered by the blood experienced death, from the firstborn of Pharoah that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon (Exodus 12:29). The Scripture describes a great cry in Egypt as there was not a house where there was not one dead.
Pharoah calls for Moses and Aaron and tells them to get out of Egypt and take their flocks and herds with them. The Egyptians are so afraid of the Israelites they hand over everything they ask for: gold, silver and clothing as the Israelites decamp, bulging with overweight luggage and unleavened dough in their mixing bowls.
The masses depart into the wilderness, marking the end of 400 plus years in the land of Egypt. And as promised, Joseph’s bones accompany them en route to the Promised Land.
Instead of taking the most direct route along the Mediterranean coast, God directs the people southwest to avoid the Egyptian troops guarding the border. Also, God has not forgotten about the party He has planned at Mount Sinai to celebrate. Because the people have no GPS, God leads them with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night to give them light. How nice is that?
But just when the people think they’re safe, the eery music plays like a scene out of Friday the 13th as Pharoah and his vast army pursue with a vengeance. You can almost hear the people shaking in their boots as one by one they realize their goose is cooked.
While no one witnessed the people thanking God or Moses earlier for their successful escape, their first reaction now is to blame poor Moses and accuse him of bringing them into the wilderness to die. After all, they insist, “We were happy at our old job until you came and messed things up for us.”
Fortunately for Moses, he remains focused despite the friendly fire. Boldly, he instructs them to stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord. He may not have know how God was going to do it, but he knew or at the very least hoped that God would somehow rescue them and save the day.
Verse 14 is interesting. Moses tells the people the Lord will fight on their behalf and in the same sentence, he basically tells the people to shut up. I wonder if Moses threw that in there on his own or if it was by God’s direction. That’s one of those Biblical mysteries we’ll have to wait ’til heaven to get the answer to…
Anyway, God answers Moses back just as abruptly as he answered the people. He basically says to Moses, “Why are you asking Me? Go forward!” Moses glances at the Red Sea more than once with a puzzled look on his face, but when God tells him to lift his rod over the sea to divide it, he obeys nonetheless.
This is the famous Charlton Heston moment we’ve all been waiting for. God, in His miraculous power, parts the Red Sea as easily as you part your hair in the morning. There’s no explaining this one to the media, as more than 2 million people, complete with herds and flocks, walk through to the other side on perfectly dry ground.
Interestingly, while the people journey through the open sea, the pillar of fire switches positions from in front to behind the people. While still giving light to the Israelites, the other side of the cloud creates a blackout for Pharoah and his army. But even this doesn’t prevent their hot pursuit as the plot thickens.
Sometime between 2 am and dawn, God assesses the situation and sees the need to intervene once again. He causes the chariot wheels to jam or fall off completely, leaving the Egyptians scratching their heads in the middle of the sea. At this point, they realize that the God Himself is fighting against them and suggest the best course of action would be to turn around with their tails between their legs. But before they have a chance, God instructs Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea just as the last Israelite’s foot hits the shore. With that, the sea closes over Pharoah and his army like a lid on a pot and not one escapes with his life.
Seeing this great miracle, God’s people immediately begin to praise Him, declaring the victory over their enemy. This is the first time they’ve danced and sang for as long as they can remember as Miriam breaks out the tambourine. God has fulfilled the first part of His promise in good order and because of this, the people fear the Lord and believe both Him and Moses. For now. While it took 9 months to get the people out of Egypt, it would take the next 40 years to get Egypt out of the people.
What are some of the things God has done for you? Are you thankful, even though you might not have everything He’s promised you yet? Are you carrying anything from the past that might hinder you in the future? Please leave your comments below.