| Confusion about the Exodus|
“I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and ***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 met with us; and now, please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’***
Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, ***that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’”***
Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. ***Please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God,***
8 ***I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession.*** I am the Lord.’”
16 And you shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, ***“Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.”***
Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 26 But Moses said, “It would not be right to do so, for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the Lord our God are an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 ***We must go three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as he tells us.”*** 28 So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; ***only you must not go very far away. Plead for me.” 29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you and I will plead with the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow.***
So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God. But which ones are to go?” 9 Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.”
**Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.”*** 25 But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. 26 Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the Lord our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.”
Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, **“Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.*** 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”
The above verses are a progression of passages from Ex 3 to Ex 12. I have highlighted the relevant portions with ***.
A reasonable reading of the passages is that God was commanding the Israelites to go 3 days out of Egypt to sacrifice; but there is also indication he was giving them the land of the Canaanites, etc.
It also seems that Moses was telling Pharaoh to let the Israelites go 3 days into the wilderness to serve the Lord. It is apparent from the conversations that this was also Pharaoh's understanding.
So my question: if the Lord's intention was for the Israelites to permanently leave Egypt, why did He tell Moses to tell Pharaoh that they were just going out a three days journey to worship and sacrifice? There is no sense of permanency in Moses's demand to Pharaoh. At what point in the narrative does it switch from a short pilgrimage to worship to a permanent departure?
| 2018/3/3 9:38||Profile|
| Re: Confusion about the Exodus|
Todd, I believe that it has to do with God's omniscient foreknowledge and His mercy.
Back in Genesis The LORD told Abraham that his descendents would dwell in Egypt, but after 400 years they would inherit the land of Cannan. So God knew that Israel were going to go into Cannan when He told told Moses to bring them out of Egypt, but this exodus was based on Pharaoh hardening his heart and continually resisting the simple request to depart to the wilderness and also to worship the LORD their God. As it turned out they did in fact spend 40 years in the wilderness setting up the sacrificial and worship system before they actually went into Cannan! So you could say both were true, going into the wilderness to worship and also going to possess the promised land.
It was always God's will and promise to Abraham that they would inherit the land of Cannan. It was just a question of when, which was told to Abraham as 400 years after they went to Egypt. It is God's sovereign will and has never changed.
| 2018/3/3 12:53||Profile|
| Re: |
Dave- do you get the sense when reading the conversations between Moses and pharaoh that the trek into the wilderness was to be temporary? I do, and perhaps that is where I am having my difficulty.
My wife thinks initially it was supposed to be temporary and that if pharaoh had not hardened his heart ultimately they would have been allowed to leave peacefully. That’s not a bad theory but the text says that God hardened pharaoh’s heart.
| 2018/3/3 14:13||Profile|
| Re: |
Todd, yes I agree with your wife's view. That was what I meant by God's foreknowledge and grace.
Yes God did harden Pharaoh's heart, but only after he had already decided to hardened it himself. This seems consistent with the biblical position that God hands over those whose hearts are depraved to more and more depravity...Romans 1:26.
See also Revelation 22 where the Lord says "let him who is filthy be filthy still and let him who is righteous be righteous still".
| 2018/3/3 14:31||Profile|
| Re: |
Fascinating and insightful question brother Todd!
I re-read the account this morning and this passage struck me.
“5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?"
6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him,
7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.
8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly.” - Exodus 14:5-8 ESV
If I’m honest, the narrative reads as if Moses deceived Pharoah who had finally agreed to the requested three day exodus, only to learn that Israel had defiantly “left for good”.
However, a meditation on the preceding verses reveals this:
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt." - Exodus 13:17
I wonder if Moses expected this little exodus to only be a three day worship experience to a land near by, only to learn after leaving that God had bigger plans that were being revealed “moment by moment”. God of course knew, but chose to only reveal a portion of what was happening, as the events unfolded. It’s also revealing that a reason God changed their course is because he knew how little faith Israel had (they would have changed their minds and returned to Egypt when they saw war in the land of the Phillistines).
A little later we read:
3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, 'They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.'
4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD." And they did so. - Exodus 14:3-4
From here we learn more about God’s vantage point and goal. He knew what he was doing all along (even though Moses, Israel and Pharoah did not).
Knowing Pharoah’s heart would be hardened upon learning Israel was embarking on more than a three day worship trip, and that he would pursue them, God was orchestrating events for his glory, leaving the Egyptians knowing that he is Lord (and Israel’s often short-lived faith would be strengthened once again for a moment).
I believe God knew all along that this exodus, even though it was presented as a three day event, was the ultimate exodus that would lead Israel to Canaan.
Brother Todd, how did this question come up in your mind?
Thank you again for provoking a deeper study on this topic! I’m only scratching the surface, I’m sure!
Thanks brother Dave for your words too!
With much love,
| 2018/3/3 15:49||Profile|
| Re: |
You guys’ responses are very helpful.
This came up because I have been reading through the Bible like I try to do every year and even though I have read Exodus many times before, this time it struck me how it seemed at least initially the exodus was not intended to be permanent.
My wife also agreed with the “progressive revelation” given to Moses. Perhaps I should listen to her more often!
| 2018/3/3 16:08||Profile|