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by Rosco Brong

Israel's Guidance
Exodus 11:1-8; 13:17-22

Continuing this series of lessons from the history of ancient Israel, we would emphasize God's providential guidance of His people. He still loves and cares for His own, and knows well how to guide us in His way for us, whether with bonds of love or with the scourge of chastisement.
As in our personal experience of grace, so in God's dealings with Israel, divine guidance is manifested not only in direct leading of His people but also in such overruling of the evil intentions of the wicked that His enemies and ours are made to help us on our way, though sometimes unwittingly or unwillingly.
For an outline of the lesson, we may consider the following points:

1. Preparation, Exodus 11:1-3.
a. Release by enemies, 1.
b. Recompense by enemies, 2-3
2. Passover, Exodus 11:4-8.
a. Death determined, 4-6.
b. Difference determined, 7.
c. Departure determined, 8.
3. Preservation, Exodus 13:17-19.
a. Leading of foresight, 17-18.
b. Legacy of foresight, 19.
4. Presence, Exodus 13:20-22.
a. Guidance manifested, 20-21.
b. Guidance maintained, 22.


PREPARATION, Exodus 11:1-3.
Usually we like to make some preparation before setting out on a journey, and the longer the journey the more the need for preparation. The people of Israel had a very long journey ahead of them, both in distance and in time, and God wisely prepared them before letting them start.

Longer than any journey in this world will be our journey from earth to heaven at the end of this life, if we have been prepared to go that way through faith in the Son of God. Unlike the Israelites in their pilgrimage from Egypt to Canaan, we cannot take any of this world's wealth along with us to heaven; but we can lay up for ourselves spiritual treasures in heaven more enduring than all earthly substance.

Release by Enemies, 1.
Enemies of our souls may long hold us in their bondage, but in God's time of deliverance they will hastily release us and "thrust us out altogether." The power of Pharaoh and his armies was not too strong for Almighty God to subdue; neither is the power of Satan and all his hosts.

Recompense by Enemies, 2-3.
"Borrow" in verse 2 is an unfortunate mistranslation. The Hebrew word means simply "ask." The Israelites had been serving as slaves without wages for many years, and were certainly due some recompense for their labors.

"Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians." Through the series of plagues which God had sent upon Egypt, the Egyptians were becoming convinced of the power of Israel's God, and were learning to respect the Israelites as God's people and especially Moses as God's minister.

PASSOVER, Exodus 11:4-8.
Descendants of the ancient Israelites still commemorate the Passover feast instituted in Egypt. Believers in Christ, whether Jews or Gentiles, rejoice in an infinitely greater deliverance: "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" [I Corinthians 5:7].

Death Determined, 4-6.
God had determined upon the death sentence for all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, and from that sentence there was no appeal and no escape except in the way that God provided.

Likewise the sentence of a greater death, spiritual and eternal death, is determined for the whole human race, because all have sinned, and the soul that sinneth it shall die. From this sentence likewise there is no appeal and no escape except in God's appointed Way, His Son Jesus Christ [John 14:6].

Difference Determined, 7.
Howling dogs swelled the chorus of lamentation among the Egyptians that night, but not so among the Israelites. The reason stated is simple enough: "The Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel"

Departure Determined, 8.
Moses' anger combined with his faith gave voice to a bold warning to Pharaoh. After this night's plague of the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians, Moses would not again ask for permission for the Israelites to depart. Rather the servants of Pharaoh would bow down to Moses and beg him to get out of Egypt with his people.

God had determined to lead His chosen people out of Egypt and the departure determined must be accomplished on schedule.

PRESERVATION, Exodus 13:17-19. Spiritual salvation is eternal salvation. God does not begin a salvation which He cannot finish. His saints are preserved forever [Psalms 37:28]. This fact is typified in His miraculous preservation of the nation of Israel.

Leading of Foresight, 17-18.
Knowing the end from the beginning, God always leads His people in the way that will be best for them. There are no unforeseen contingencies, no emergency situations, so far as God is concerned. Whatever the seeming difficulty that may confront us, we can be sure that God foresaw it and allowed for it in His planning long ago.

"Harnessed" in verse 18 may mean that the Israelites were armed. Another translation of the word for "harnessed" is "by five in a rank," which appears in the margin of some Bibles. Scholars disagree on the meaning of the Hebrew word.

Legacy of Foresight, 19.
Divine foresight is revealed to some extent in the prophetic word, which God uses to encourage and instruct his people. The bones of Joseph were a legacy of foresight which had served as a perpetual reminder of the prophecy that God in due time would bring Israel out of Egypt.

PRESENCE, Exodus 13:20-22. God is omnipresent, but He is present in a special sense with His people in times of trial and deliverance. He is present whether we are able to recognize His presence or not.

Guidance Manifested, 20-21.
Just as God "took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night," so we who believe in Christ enjoy the spiritual reality of His precious promise, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" [Hebrews 13:5].

CONCLUSION [Exodus 14:13]
When we are most helpless, God is most helpful. There are times, as when Israel was caught between Pharaoh's army and the Red Sea, that we know not what to do, or it seems that we are helplessly lost. Then, if our faith is in God, we can "stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord," as Moses commanded Israel.

But this does not mean that we are always to stand still. A little later [verse 15] God commanded Moses to "speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward," and opened the way for them to go. Let us be prepared either to stand still or to go forward at God's command.

[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, June 17, 1977, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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