Read the full story here (Exodus 13-14, 19-20)
Freed from slavery and crossing the Red Sea
Pharaoh finally allowed God's people to go free! They walked to Sinai towards the Red Sea. God led two million men, women and children through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night.
Yet Pharaoh hardened his heart again. He sent his army to pursue them as far as the Red Sea. The people were trapped. They cried out to God in terror.
Moses told them not to be afraid because God was with them. He lifted his staff, and the Angel of the Lord parted the water, allowing the people to walk across the sea on dry land. While Pharaoh's army pursued them, the waters then swallowed them up .
A whole new relationship with God
The purpose of this journey out of Egypt was not just being freed from slavery. It was to bring God's people back to God's promises so that God’s covenant with all nations could be fulfiled.
But God did not take them directly there because they were not yet ready in understanding this new relationship with God. The people complained about the hardships and disobeyed God. God made them wandered in the desert for 40 years where they learned to worship and trust God. This was a time when they learned about their new relationship with God. God spoke to them through Moses from the mountain.
God speaks from the mountain
Exodus 19 & Deuteronomy 18:15-19
When the people arrived at the mountain, they camped in front of it. God's holy presence was on the mountain. There was a thick cloud, thunder, lightning and earthquakes. The people were terrified and they were warned not to touch the mountain or they would die.
An unholy people cannot be near a holy God. Only Moses was allowed to go up the mountain on behalf of the people. (Exodus 33:7-11)
God said, "My people, you yourselves have seen what I did to your enemy, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Keep my covenant, and you will be my holy nation for the world to see."
God’s heart is for all nations to believe and worship him alongside His people. To help His people live and reflect all these truths, God gave them the Law and the Tabernacle.
Exodus 20, 32-34
The Lord gave Moses the Law. It included the famous Ten Commandments and 52 commandments of worship and social justice. These were instructions on how God's people should live and display God’s glory to other nations. The people should trust God as their deliverer, not just through their words but also through their righteous actions, obedience and holiness.
The Law was never a way to salvation through doing good works. This is impossible because every person has broken the Law. Our human righteousness can never erase our sin; only God can do this. But the Law gives us a glimpse of God's plan to solve the problem of evil and sin:
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. (Leviticus 17:11)
God would provide the sacrifice whose blood would be spilled for the forgiveness of sins and atonement for all our lives.
The snake on a pole
The people were in rebellion against God repeatedly, blaming God for the misery they had brought upon themselves. God sent a plague of deadly snakes (Numbers 21:4-9). The people cried out for mercy and help. God had mercy on them and told Moses to make a brass snake, put it on a pole, and lift it up in the midst of the camp. Any one who wanted to be healed only had to look up to the snake and would be healed immediately. It was as simple as that.
Why didn't God develop a new medicine? Why not require the people to work for a cure? God made it clear any solution to sin had to come from God Himself. There is no human remedy for human sin. Nothing but death awaited them unless God provided the remedy for us.
This incident in Moses' story later became a prefiguring symbol of the Messiah God had promised to all the porphets. The Messiah would be lifted up, and any one who wants to be saved only had to simply look up to the Messiah and believe in him. No human could work his way to salvation. We only have to look up to the salvation God has prepared for us and trust only in Him.
Pointing to the God's final deliverance in the future...
The story of Moses is a part of God's bigger story of deliverance of His people from slavery and bringing them into a whole new relationship with God. God taught His people many lessons in the desert about trust and obedience. They spent 40 years in the desert learning the same lessons over and over again.
But God's plan was to make them a nation from whom the ‘Anointed One' or the Messiah would come, one who would atone for the sins of the world.
Watch the whole story
1. God performed powerful signs for His people and revealed His will clearly to them. Do you think He is able to do this for you today?
2. What is God's attitude towards sin? What is your attitude?
3. What do we learn of God’s heart for the people and nations of the world?
4. According to God's Word, what would qualify me to come into the presence of God himself? What is your response?
5. Who will you share this story with?