Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverend Joy Pople
God Delivers His People
Exodus 12:30 - 15:21
There were about 600,000 Israelite men, and many more women and children, plus all their animals and belongings. Each family had packed all their belongings, killed the lamb and put its blood around their door, and then prepared their Passover supper of roast lamb, herbs, and bread without yeast. During the night each family ate supper and waited.
After his oldest son died, Pharaoh sent a swift messenger to Moses and Aaron during the night to tell them: "Pharaoh wants all of you to leave at once. Go, worship the Lord. Take everything with you, including all your animals."
The Egyptian people begged the Israelites to go. "If you don't leave, we will all die," they said.
It was time to go, and the Israelites went.
While the angel of death went through Egypt, God kept watch over His people and kept them safe. Ever since then, Jewish people keep watch at Passover to honor the Lord and tell their children how God delivered His people. For seven days after Passover, they eat unleavened bread to remember how the people left in such a hurry that they did not have time to let the bread rise before baking it. God had struck the firstborn in every Egyptian family and spared the Israelite families, so God asked His people to dedicate their firstborn son to him and offer the firstborn of their flocks when they reached Canaan.
The Israelites left Egypt 430 years after Jacob and his family had come there to escape famine. Among the things the Israelites took with them were Joseph's bones, because Joseph had said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place."
God led His people through the desert toward the Red Sea [or Sea of Reeds]. The most direct route to Canaan went along the Mediterranean Sea and through the Philistine country, but God did not lead them there because if the people had to face war they might change their minds and return to Egypt.
During the day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud. When they camped at night, the pillar of cloud became a pillar of fire. By day or by night the Israelites could always look at the cloud and say: "Our God is going with us, and He is leading the way."
God led the Israelites first in one direction and then another. The people were puzzled, but God told Moses: "Pharaoh will think that the Israelites are wandering around in confusion, and I will harden his heart so he will chase after you. But soon the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord."
When Pharaoh was told that the Israelites had left, he changed his mind and said: "What have we done? We lost our slaves, the Israelites!" Pharaoh gathered his best soldiers and followed the Israelites. Traveling by horse and chariot, the Egyptians caught up with the Israelites while they were camped by the sea.
When the Israelites saw the army coming near they were terrified. The people said to Moses: "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? Didn't we ask you to leave us alone and let us keep serving the Egyptians? It would have been better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert."
Moses told the people: "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show you today. The Egyptians that you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you."
The Lord told Moses: "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. Then they will know that I am the Lord."
The angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel, moved behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved behind the Israelites and separated them from the Egyptians. That night the cloud became a pillar of fire that lit the Israelites' camp but kept the Egyptians in the dark.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and a strong east wind blew over the waters and separated them, leaving dry land in the middle. The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. On either side of the path the waters rose like a high wall and stayed that way until every one of the Israelites and all their animals had crossed to the other side.
The cloud lifted, and Pharaoh and his army saw the Israelites walking through the sea. The Egyptians rushed down after them. When all of Pharaoh's army was far from the shore, trouble began. God threw the Egyptian army into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off, and they could not move. Then the Egyptians said, "Let's get away from the Israelites. The Lord is fighting on their side against Egypt." But it was too late.
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, and the waters will flow back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen." Moses stretched out his hand, and at daybreak the water flowed back and covered all of Pharaoh's army. Not one of them survived.
When the Israelites saw God's great power, they feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant. Moses and the Israelites sang a song praising God for delivering them from the Egyptians. Moses' sister, Miriam, also sang:
"Sing to the Lord,
for He is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
He has hurled into the sea."
Joy Pople (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote this Bible story from the standpoint of the Divine Principle.
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