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Lesson Eleven: Into the Wilderness (Pastor Barbara Caesar-Stephenson)

We hold uppermost before us this fact – that it is the Covenant keeping God who is delivering His Covenant people. In the Passover He reaffirmed His Covenant. As they face the wilderness and its perils, they know that the Covenant keeping God is with them. Now the institution of this Passover rite of Jehovah’s blood friendship with Israel is to become a permanent ceremonial among them as a memorial of their miraculous deliverance from Egypt as Covenant people (Exodus 12:14-20,43;13:16).

Exodus 12:3-8 the Passover Lamb typifies Christ on the Cross. The Lamb must be a male without blemish; he must be taken on the tenth day of the first month (Jewish year) and kept until the fourteenth day when he is slain at even (three o’clock)

Christ was betrayed on the tenth day and was crucified on the fourteenth day, dying at three o’clock. surely He was the Lamb of God.

The token of this rite is described in the following”And it shall be a sign for thee upon thy hand and for a memorial between thy eyes that the law of Jehovah may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath Jehovah brought thee out of Egypt Exodus 13:16

In primitive times, often when two men cut the covenant, a blood stained record of the covenant was preserved in a small leather case to be worn upon the arm, or about the neck of him who had won a friend forever in this sacred rite of blood friendship

Down through the generations, the Jews have been accustomed to wear upon their foreheads as a crown and upon their arms as an armlet, a small leather case as a sacred amulet containing a record of the Passover covenant between Jehovah and the seed of Abraham, His friend

Favor

Before the conflict with Pharaoh began, God had said to Moses “I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians and it shall come to pass that when ye go ye shall not go empty, but every woman shall borrow of her neighbor and of her that sojourned in her house jewels of silver and jewels of gold and raiment and ye shall put them upon your sons and upon your daughters and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.” Exodus 3:21-22

Many have misunderstood this scripture and Exodus 12:35-36, because a mistake was made in the translation the Hebrew word translated “borrow” means ask. The word translated lend in Exodus 12:35-36 is a form of the same word and means to “let ask” that is, to entertain a request and graciously to give. It was not a case of theft, borrowing with no thought of return. The Israelites asked these things. The question was whether or not the request should be answered or met with angry refusal.

The Covenant God intervened. He gave His people favour in the eyes of the Egyptians. They were looked upon by their enemies in a new light; and the Egyptians gave unto them. These were the spoils of a more glorious victory than any other conquering nation had ever known. In history the conquered have been spoiled, but never willingly. But here the Egyptians find a joy in giving to those who had mastered them.

The covenant people who had simply stood and waited for salvation from their God of the Covenant, pass out adorned with the gorgeous raiment and the jewels of those who had so long spoiled them.

More than 200 years before, their Covenant God had predicted this triumph. In Genesis 15:13-14, He had said to Abraham that his seed should be a stranger and afflicted in a land that was not theirs, and that He would judge the nation whom they had served. With it He had given this promise: “Afterward they shall come out with great substance.”

Here God had looked forward to the very spoiling of the Egyptians as the end of the sore travail of His people and a compensation for their bondage and slavery.

On the second day’s journey the Israelites followed the usual route to Palestine. This must have led them to the edge of the wilderness. Across those sands and up along the Mediterranean coast lay the nearest way to Palestine. A few marches onward and they would have passed into the territory of the warlike Philistines.

But here the route was suddenly changed. we are told that God lead them not through the way of the Philistines although that was near, for God said lest peradventure the people repent when they see war , and they return to Egypt. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. Why then, we may ask , were they suffered to make a beginning which looked as if they were to take the more expeditious road to the land promised to their fathers? Why was the change made in the route so that they had on the third to retrace their steps and march southward on the Egyptian side of the sea?

We may at first be perplexed by the question. It does look as though God’s plan had been suddenly altered; but a little reflection will speedily unveil the Divine Wisdom. The whole is explained in those words,”They encamped… in the edge of the wilderness.” Exodus 13:20

God had a twofold purpose. Israel had to bend to the Divine Will. Naturally, they at the outset desired the shortest route. God suffered them to take it and went with them so far as He often does with us in our wilfulness.

They are brought “to the edge of the wilderness” Ex 13:20 and then comes reflection. There is nothing inviting in the aspect of that dreary expanse. They begin to think of dreary days of plodding, thirsting and hunger, through the treeless, waterless, habitation-less desert.

Then they think of the embattled wall of fierce, determined foemen through which a way must be forced after the desert has been traversed. There was no murmuring on the morrow when God said “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn.” Exodus 14:2 . This brought relief to them.

The Covenant God also had another purpose. The king was carefully watching their movements. God was not going to allow His Covenant people to pass with dishonor from the land of Egypt; they were not going to be allowed to run away. When the Covenant God delivers, it is not through human methods. His deliverance is glorious in its fullness and in its beauty of holiness.

Egypt will herself thrust Israel out and compel them to abandon the country, so the route is changed.

The Egyptians are left in their selfish greed and cruelty to misread the change to their own destruction. “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land; the wilderness hath shut them in.” Exodus 14:3.

To Egypt this move seemed to be a revelation of unexpected weakness. There was no longer any God among them and Egypt could now enjoy to the full the wild revenge for which it panted.

They said, “I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil. My lust shall be satisfied upon them I will draw my sword; my hand will destroy them.” Exodus 15:9

The thought which had sprung up in Pharaoh’s bosom seems to have flamed up like an answering fire in the bosoms of his people. The heart of Pharaoh and his servants were turned against the people and they said: “Why, have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”

It seems that all the troops which could be massed together took part in this pursuit. Exodus 14:6-9

The elaborately disciplined standing army of Egypt was one of the marvels of the ancient world. We can imagine the terror which must have laid hold of the hearts of the Israelites the moment they realized that this fearful engine is directed against them. Exodus 14:10

It seems that for the moment in mad and hopeless despair, they forget the God of the Covenant. They cry bitterly unto Moses for bringing them into this place of seeming death Exodus 14:11-12

Then we hear the words of faith from Moses to fear not, because the Covenant God would work on their behalf that day. Exodus 14:13-16

Let us note what the miracle working God performed. His reply to Moses is: “Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.” then he, this Covenant man, was bidden to prepare a strange pathway for them.

He was to lift that rod which had hitherto brought judgment upon Egypt; it would command the forces of nature to work salvation for the people the Covenant.

“And Moses stretched his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon dry ground; and the waters were a wall upon their right hand and left.” Exodus 14:21-22.

The forces of nature obeyed His Word. As we stand in the presence of this tremendous miracle, we catch a glimpse into the far past at the time when the first man walked into the realm of God’s ability with dominion over the works of His hands. This dominion became lost at the fall. We see glimpses of it now and then under the Old Covenant at such an instance as this, until the time comes when the second Adam walks one with the Father God, with dominion over the forces of nature.

We have seen that no man could actually be Born Again of the Spirit of God until the Father God had a legal right to impart His Life to those Covenant people

We have seen that natural man is limited in his knowledge to that which he gains through the five senses of his physical body. God must manifest Himself to Israel; His presence can be known to them only through their physical senses.

He made His presence known to them by a pillar of cloud which appeared on the second day Exodus 13:21-22

They could see the cloud, hear and feel the warmth of this fiery cloud in the night time.

This pillar of cloud was not only a visible manifestation of His presence, but it was also a means of His caring for them.

It became a strange protection from the intense desert heat of the day and at night it became a mammoth lighting and heating plant. It kept them cool during the day and warm during the cold bitter night.

When this cloud moved, they knew it was time to break camp and journey on. When it stopped, whether it was day or night, they knew that it was day or night, they knew that it was time to make camp and wait His further leading

At the time that the Egyptians had pursued them this strange cloud had moved from its position before them and stood behind them. It stood between the camp of the Egyptians and the Israelites. To the Covenant people it was light and warmth; but to the Egyptians, it was thick darkness.

Now that eventful period in Israel’s history begins, the march through the desert. The peninsula of Sinai is, to this day, a kind of no man’s land. Other regions have been coveted and fought for but no powers of either ancient or modern times have ever sought for possession of Sinai

Yet to this isolated despised district three million slaves are taken. They have a slave spirit. They are untrained and full of criticism and bitterness . In this place the Covenant God is going to reveal Himself and His glory and build from this slave nation a free people with leaders and teachers.

There separated from idolatry this nation which is to preserve the Revelation of the true God will learn to walk dependent upon Him.

We now start with Israel on this momentous journey, and as we study it, we find that there are lessons for us to learn

On the third day of the journey they arrive at Marah, where the water was bitter. They had been used to drinking the sweet water of the Nile, so famed in the East, and now in childish disappointment they burst forth in childish unrestrained complaint against Moses. Ex 15:22-24

The Covenant God ever caring for them makes the bitter waters sweet.

Then He manifest Himself to them not only as One who shall lead them care for them and protect them, but as One who will permit none of the diseases of the Egyptians to come upon them. He makes Himself known to them as the God who healeth them ex 15:26-27

In the blood covenant rights and privileges all that He was belonged to Israel His ability belonged to them, His care His protection, His healing were theirs.

It is a remarkable fact that during the wilderness period,while they walked in the Covenant, no babies, no children, nor young men and women died. No one died prematurely because of the power of disease. He was the Covenant God that healed them.

Read Exodus 12:43 TO Exodus 15:27

Study Questions

1 Tell of the Passover rite as it was to exist as a memorial among the Israelites

2 Explain Exodus 12:35-36

3 What lost authority of man was manifested at the crossing of the Red Sea

4 Why did God have to visibly manifest Himself to Israel as in the Pillar of Cloud

5 What needs did the Pillar of Cloud meet

6 Describe the land into which God led His Covenant people when they left Egypt

7 Why were the Covenant people led to this place

8 Tell of the incident that took place at Marah

9 Explain Exodus 15:26-27

10 What has the knowledge of the Blood Covenant meant to you