Week 3: Exodus 1-15
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At the beginning of Exodus there are two groups, the Egyptians and the Hebrews, with the same problem – neither of them knew or served the one true God. Joshua 24:12 tells us that the Hebrew people served false gods while living in Egypt. God sends Moses to deliver the people from slavery and bring them to Mt. Sinai where He will give them His law and make them His nation.
In Exodus 5:2 when Moses confronts Pharaoh to let the people go Pharaoh asks the question, “Who is Yehovah, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know Yehovah and I will not let Israel go.” The common understand-ing is that God then sends plagues to punish Pharaoh until He relents and lets the people go.
But in Exodus 7:5 God states His goal is to make Himself known to the Egyptians: “And the Egyptians will know that I am Yehovah when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” Through the plagues Yehovah shows His superiority over the gods and Egypt and throughout the test we are told He did these things so that the Egyptians would know that He is the true God.
The Hebrews at the start of Exodus also did not know or serve Yehovah. God says He will make Himself known to then by delivering them from slavery (Exodus 6:7). They had been in Egypt for 400 years as a distinct ethnic group but not as a distinct religious group. They knew of God’s relationship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but did not yet experience Him for themselves.
The text tells us that God is revealing himself to the Hebrews at the same time He is to the Egyptians. The Egyptians reject God but the Hebrews embrace Him Exodus 14:31 tells us: And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of Yehovah displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared Yehovah and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
There were people amongst the Egyptians that did recognize Yehovah as God. We are told in Exodus 12:38 that when Israel left Egypt that, “a mixed multitude went up with them.” Yehovah selected the Hebrews to be His representatives on earth but He was never to be the God of only the Hebrews. He wanted all men to know Him through Israel. This mixed multitude crossed the Red Sea, heard the voice of God at Sinai and sojourned in the wilderness for 40 years with Israel.
In God’s covenant with Abraham He told Him that through Abraham that “all the nations of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 18:18). The Exodus is the beginning of that fulfillment. God teaches that when gentiles believe in Him and obey Him that they “shall be like a native of the land” (Exodus 12:48). This principle repeated in Leviticus 19:34 and Ezekiel 47:22.
Yehovah is the God of all people and wants to have a relationship with you.
Dr. Samuel Abatte is a physician practicing in Wasilla, Alaska. This column first appeared in the Frontiersman, a Wick newspaper serving the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of Alaska.