Numbered Musical Chairs
Last week we learned that God used a burning bush to call Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. This week, we'll learn how that went.
God called Moses. Moses resisted. Moses said that he was "slow of speech" (Speech impediment of some kind, I assume. Maybe he stuttered.) God said "Watch what I can do" and turned a rod into a snake and Moses' hand into leprosy. Moses agreed to lead them out. I assume that he went to Pharaoh thinking that this was going to be nice and smooth since God had sent him to this job. But...no. It went something like this:
When Pharaoh had finally had enough, he sent them out of Egypt. Exodus 13:19 says that Moses carried the bones of Joseph out with them. What a momentous event. This story that had been passed down for 25 generations - that they would be freed from slavery and must take the bones of Joseph with them had arrived. I wonder if there was a ceremony or if it was done in haste?
They walked for awhile and then came to the Red Sea. At this point, Pharaoh and his army had already begun to pursue the Israelites again. The Israelites were afraid - they seemed to be stuck with their enemy pursuing them. This wasn't even their idea to leave!! Life had been sort of okay back where they were in Egypt. Life was hard, but they had made do with their situation. And now they were thrust in the middle of the desert standing at the Red Sea with their enemy coming. Thanks, Moses. He must have felt the pressure of the moment, but at this point he is finding himself with some faith. He tells them that God will deliver them. To stand still and see.
In the movie Prince of Egypt - this portion of the story is depicted as Moses walking out into the Red Sea and theatrically slamming his rod into the sea and it immediately parts. According to the scripture - the parting of the Red Sea was an hours-long process, taking all night to be blown back by an east wind. It had to have been quite a wind and quite a night. I wonder if anyone got much sleep? Or did they sit out and watch the sea part? The Bible doesn't say what they did, so I am free to imagine. In my mind - they heard the wind pick up. They were already on edge, so this probably made them even more uneasy. They probably tried to go to bed, or at least to put the children to bed. But the fathers of each family likely kept getting up to check the wind, chatting with their neighbors until they began to realize that something was moving over the sea. Then the realization that it WAS the sea moving. Then maybe moms got out of bed....followed by older children, and soon...everyone is watching the sea part. The next day, they all crossed over on dry ground. After they'd all passed, the sea folded back to normal and the Egyptians could not pursue them any longer.
There wasn't a lot of choices for food in the desert. Animals were hard to come by to feed so many, and there aren't grocery stores or restaurants in the desert. They didn't stay in one place long enough to try to plant any sort of garden. So God provided them with something called manna in the morning and he provided them with quail in the evening. They were to gather the manna each morning ONLY what their household needed. Saturday was the exception when they could gather what they also needed for Sunday. If anybody tried to save some for the next day - it would rot and worms would be in it. Even though God told them there would be no manna on Sunday - some people still got up and went out looking for it.
Sometime after crossing the Red Sea the Israelites faced war. The Amalekites were coming against them. Moses chose Joshua to lead them in battle. Joshua took some men of Israel with him and they went to war with the Amalekites. While the men were in battle - Moses went to the top of a mountain so that he could see the fighting and hold his hands up to God. The Bible says that as long as Moses held his hands up, the Israelites were overcoming. When he would put his hands down, the Amalekites would overcome. It came to be that people came to hold up the arms of Moses when he was too tired to do it alone. This is an example of holding up our Pastor. No, we don't have to physically hold his arms up. But we hold him up in prayer, by encouraging him, by being faithful, by helping around the church. This is also an example of the song we sing "God is fighting for us pushing back the darkness" God was fighting for the Israelites. Yes, they were the ones physically in the fight - but God was fighting for them as long as Moses had his arms raised. (If anyone knows how long after they left Egypt to facing the Amalekites, please comment and let me know!)
I used to feel that the Israelites were such an immature and ungrateful group of people. They were delivered out of Egypt by the obvious mighty hand of God, they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, God provided them with manna to eat in the morning and when they complained about being tired of manna, He provided them with birds. Their clothes or shoes didn't wear out. All their needs were provided. And yet they complained. This used to really really bug me.
And then when I was doing this lesson, I started thinking about it a bit more. I read about how they were led by a cloud by day and fire by night. How they might be in a place for only a day or they might be there for months. It was here that I began to imagine how difficult it would be to set up house like that. We are all such creatures of habit, and presumably the Israelites were no different. Back in Egypt - even though life was difficult, it was predictable. They knew what to expect from day-to-day. Now, they were thrust into a life were they had no control. Setting up your tent and putting kids to bed, wondering "Will we be walking again in the morning? Or will we be here for awhile?" There would never be a chance to feel settled. And after living like that for several years, you might start thinking back on the time in your life where you knew what each day would bring. And you would miss it. They weren't whiney and ungrateful...they were just thrust into a place of no comfort zone, no control, they didn't seem to be making any progress on their journey, and all of that was very very difficult to build a life around.
In my online research for Moses - I came across this interesting seminary journal offering evidence that Amenhotep II was the Exodus-Pharaoh. There is a lot of information included in the journal - but I encourage you to at least go to the bottom and read the conclusion. You can find the link here: Amenhotep II and the Historicity of the Exodus-Pharaoh.
Numbered Musical Chairs - 15 minutes
Lesson (Including video) - 20 minutes
Coloring - 10 minutes
Snack - 10 minutes
Time filler: Numbered Musical Chairs rematch