The burning bush
The book of Exodus begins. The old Pharaoh who knew Joseph died, and his legacy died with it. The new king of Egypt didn‟t remember Joseph or his empire-saving work, and enslaved the Israelite descendants of Jacob. They were enslaved to keep them under control , providing a plentiful workforce for government projects.
Jacob/Israel‟s descendents were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years performing hard labor. They prayed and cried out for a deliverer that entire time. God answered their prayers when a young boy named Moses was born. Moses had to be hidden from the Pharaoh, who was killing young Hebrew children as a means of population control. Moses‟ parents placed their baby in a basket and pushed him out into the Nile River, hoping that God would save him from death. Pharaoh‟s daughter found Moses and raised him in the Egyptian society until he was around forty years old. As he matured, Moses saw his people abused in slavery and decided to be their deliverer. In anger, he struck out at one of the Egyptian guards and killed him. The people rejected Moses‟ leadership, and he went on the run from the Egyptian militia.
Moses hid in fear, out in the wilderness in Midian for 40 years, where he married Zipporah. Moses learned about leadership and business in the fields of his father-in-law, Jethro. One day, while Moses was tending sheep, God appeared to him in a burning bush. God told Moses that He had heard the people's call for delivery from slavery. God wanted Moses to be His delivery man. Moses told God, “I don‟t deliver!” and "I don't even speak in public due to my stuttering problem." God showed Moses several miracles and asked the familiar refrain, “Will you trust Me?” Moses agreed and headed to the Pharaoh, demanding that he “deliver” God‟s people.
God taught His people how to trust – one miracle at a time. Moses‟ staff turned into a snake, but Pharaoh was unimpressed. God then turned up the heat, sending ten plagues (which were miraculous judgments) against Pharaoh to change his mind and free the Israelite people. Each plague was aimed at one of the Egyptian gods, to prove that there‟s only one true God. Pharaoh refused to recognize God despite the darkness, the frogs, the boils, the blood, and eventually the death of his own firstborn child.
The tenth plague required an act of trust. God told His people to take a perfect lamb, sacrifice it, and put the blood over the door so that this plague would “pass over” every house with blood on the door. God had formulated a way for his people to be rescued from pain and judgment. Many Egyptians decided to trust God, so they too painted blood on their doors, trusting God for deliverance from judgment. This blood on the door may seem primitive and gruesome and perhaps a little weird. Why would God institute such a strange ritual? He was using this as an object lesson for his people in order to teach them that something needed to die in their place. God was teaching them to depend on something besides themselves to achieve a right standing with Him.
The Pharaoh didn‟t trust God and lost his own son that night. He decided to let God‟s people go – only to chase them down soon thereafter. Pharaoh cornered the Israelites at the Red Sea. Moses trusted God, raised his staff and saw the mighty waters of the Red Sea part, opening a path for deliverance. Pharaoh chased after them and God allowed the waters to come together, drowning the army.