In Part 1 of the Backstory of the Tabernacle, we ended with Jacob and his family moving to Egypt. Joseph, the firstborn son of Rachel, was now the overseer of Egypt.
Now, we begin the book of Exodus. Exodus 1:6-7 it records Joseph’s death and all his brothers and their generation. But the children of Israel grew in number filling the land. (God changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Genesis 34. And you will see him called Jacob or Israel throughout the rest of his life.)
Everything was peaceful until Exodus 1:8. A new king, who didn’t know Joseph was fearful of the growing numbers of Israelites. He decided to make their lives difficult with hard labor and limited supplies. But instead of diminishing in number, they multiplied.
Then he told the midwives to kill any male children born to the Hebrew women. But the midwives feared God and didn’t follow orders. So, the Pharaoh went a step further and had all the male children two and under killed and thrown into the Nile.
It was then that Moses was born. To preserve her son, Moses’ mother put him in a basket and sent him on a miraculous float trip. Pharaoh’s daughter found the basket and decided to raise Moses as her son.
Over time, Moses saw how his people were treated. One day he observed an Egyptian taskmaster beating one of the Israelite workers. Moses’ anger got the best of him, and he killed the taskmaster.
He knew others saw what happened and fled to the wilderness for safety. He stayed there for forty years and became a shepherd. He had no intent to return to Egypt.
But God had other plans. Moses’ first encounter with God is in Exodus 3:1-12:
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
7 And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Exodus 3 is full of promises and encouragement, but Moses was still unsure. He focused on his inadequacy.
“I am slow of speech,” he said.
But God faced him with the truth: Exodus 4:11-12
So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
But Moses continued to hold back. Finally, God told him to take his brother Aaron with him and let him do the talking.
So, Moses and Aaron met with Pharaoh and told him to let the Israelites go and worship the God of Israel in the wilderness. But Pharaoh refused. Instead, he made labor harder for the Israelites.
It was then that God sent ten plagues to Egypt. The Israelites experienced the first three plagues along with the Egyptians, but they were spared the last seven. After 430 years of being surrounded by idol worship and not worshiping or hearing from God, they needed to get reacquainted. They needed to see that He still honored His covenant.
The last plague happened on the first Passover. It was the first feast that God commanded the people to celebrate with detailed instructions. [If you want to know more about this first Passover, you will find it in Exodus 12:1-28.]
In the tenth plague, the LORD sent a destroyer over Egypt and killed the firstborn males in every household. The firstborn of every animal also was killed. The Israelites were protected because they put the sign of God’s covenant on their homes with lamb’s blood over the top and on the sides of each front door.
After this devastating event, the Israelites gathered their families, belongings, and flocks, and left Egypt. The LORD went before them by day with a pillar of cloud leading them and at night there was a pillar of fire to give them light. Exodus 13:21
Days later they came to the Red Sea. The Egyptian army was charging after them. The people panicked and screamed. “Moses, what have you done? It would have been better to be slaves in Egypt than to die in the wilderness.”
“Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14
God instructed Moses. “Lift your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.” He said. Exodus 14:16
The sea divided and the Angel of God and the pillar of cloud went behind the Israelites. They became a barrier of darkness to the Egyptians but a light to Israel. The Israelites crossed on dry ground to the other side. Then Moses lifted his rod again and the sea closed over the army, the chariots, and the horses. (This entire event-Exodus 15:21-30)
Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses. Exodus 15:31
Moses burst into a song of praise in Exodus 16. And in verse 17 we hear the first mention of the coming tabernacle.
You will bring them in and plant them In the mountain of Your inheritance, In the place, O Lord, which You have made For Your own dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
We will stop here for now. Are you winded? I am. I’ve never run through all that history at such a pace. It is a doozy of a story that will build your faith. Take time to read it all. Exodus chapters 1-18.
The Israelites will travel and experience several more miracles of God’s provision. There will be food to eat and water to drink. And Joshua will lead them to victory in their first battle with the Amalekites before they settle into camp at the base of Mt. Sinai.
Next time we will witness the events at Sinai and the covenant God makes with Israel. I can’t wait to dust off the details and find all the treasure.
Thanks for hanging in there.