Israel is finally leaving Egypt with EVERYTHING. Pharaoh and the people are pushing them from behind and they are leaving with joy!
Have you ever been lumped into a group and didn’t know if you really belonged or even wanted to be part of it? I’m imagining that this was true for some of the Israelites. Some were perfectly content to remain in Egypt. If it weren’t for Moses and Aaron calling for the release of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING, some might have chosen to “stay home” instead. But this night ALL of Egypt wanted ALL of Israel GONE! They weren’t taking any chances. They were afraid of Israel’s God. “We shall all die if they don’t all leave!”
The people of Israel are not given time to contemplate this move or to even move in stages. They are thrust out with the door being slammed behind them. ‘Don’t let the doorknob hit you where the good Lord split you.’ Let’s join our group as they walk out of captivity for the first time.
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Moses and Aaron are on their way back to Goshen. They have just heart Pharaoh issue the command for them to leave Egypt. This command was given in the presence of the guards. There is no turning back or changing their minds. Not on the Hebrews part anyway.
As Moses and Aaron make their way through the cities, Egyptians step to their doors and verbally hurry them on. “Go quickly before we ALL die!” “Get out, get out, GET OUT! You bring us nothing but trouble!”
Moses and Aaron are MORE than willing to comply with their request, but there is one task they must accomplish before reaching Goshen. They must gather the remains of Joseph. They cannot begin their journey without first completing the promise of bringing his remains with them when they leave Egypt.
As the Egyptians are MORE than eager to see them leave, no fuss is raised when Moses requests Joseph’s bones. They are quickly prepared for travel and given over to Moses and Aaron for transport. There is little weight to Joseph’s remains as the years have taken their toll on them.
It is still the middle of the night when they reach their destination. Moses sends up a shout to the people. “Gather your things, we leave tonight!” He continues to pass this message as he and Aaron make their way deeper into the region. It is still the middle of the night but doors open quickly. The people are awake and ready!
Mothers rush about waking any sleeping children, gathering their kneading bowls with the morning’s bread beginnings, and directing family members as to what to grab. The essentials had been packed the day before, including all the jewelry and clothing gathered from the Egyptians. There wasn’t time to bake and prepare meals for their journey. They weren’t certain when that journey would begin and they didn’t want to waste what little they had. Being slaves doesn’t leave one with a lot of surplus so they can afford to waste anything. They will just have to make due; something they are very familiar with.
The men are preparing the animals for the move. They wake the herding dogs, open the sheep and goat pens and round up the sleeping cattle. The animals are not used to night time travel so getting them moving takes a bit longer than usual.
Within two hours the people are all assembled and ready to go. Many of the Egyptians living nearby have come to “encourage” them on their way. “GO! Go quickly! We don’t want to die too!” Israel is all too happy to comply with their demands.
The last task before setting out on their journey was to finish the work of the sacrifice. The Lord had told the people to eat everything of the lamb and to burn anything left by morning. A fire was set in the middle of the square and ALL the remains from every house were brought to be burned. Praise and thanksgiving were on the lips of the people as they completed this one final task to the Lord in the land of their slavery.
Moses then led this large multitude out of Goshen, in the district of Rameses, to Succoth. This was not a great distance to travel for a single traveler but this group of around 2,000,000 people and animals took the rest of the night.
With morning and a little distance came the need for Israel to rest. Most of the people had been up all night. Between the feast, waiting and watching for the Lord’s judgement and this slow trek to freedom the people were ready for rest. They were also ready for food to fuel their journey.
As there were no provision packed beyond the morning’s incomplete bread, that is what Israel feasted on for their first meal as free people; unleavened bread.
Moses thought back to the Lord’s instructions for remembering and celebrating this day for future generations. It struck him as extremely poignant that the Lord called for a seven day celebration using the only food the children of Israel had available to them at their moment of freedom. “Lord, You are amazing! You KNEW this would be our meal even before we set foot on this journey. That just shows us one more way You are watching over us and keeping this great people in the palm of Your hand!”
Moses looked out over the people as they ate their first meal together as a united people. The group who came into Egypt was miniscule by comparison to that which was going out. It also included many more bloodlines introduced into the people than there were originally represented. There were many within this group who had come from unions of Hebrew and Egyptians as well as other nationalities who had sojourned with the people. They were truly a “mixed multitude” of people. After 430 years, finally, Israel was ready to embark on receiving the promise the Lord had given to Abraham in the beginning of this vast people.
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Father God, this was the first “family meeting” of the freed family of Israel. They didn’t separate those out who were not “full blooded” children of Israel. They welcomed them as part of the family. You included ALL who had any part in this “family.” That is still true of You today. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, You were able to open the door for ALL who would come. There is no stranger in Your “camp.” ALL those who come to You through Jesus are now family! THANK YOU for allowing me to be a member of Your family too!