It is finally here. In the middle of what must have been a horrific scene, the Israelites are called to move. Certainly, the Passover meal had not even settled in their stomachs before they heard the first screams of anguish from their Egyptian neighbors. It seems to me that the Israelites knew at least some of the victims. Albeit in bondage, they had lived along side of these people for over 400 years and to watch anyone lose a child, whether friend or foe, is heart wrenching. Can you imagine the chaos as the surviving Egyptians ran from house to house, realizing the magnitude of this final plague? Yet through this judgment the Israelites were spared, not by their righteousness-but by the Blood of the Lamb. And finally, it was time for the promise we read about for the first time all the way back in Genesis 15:14 to be fulfilled for the people of God.
[Pharaoh speaking]“And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get ye forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said.” Exodus 12:31 KJV
As Amy pointed out Monday, they were dressed to travel and ready to go the minute Moses gave the signal. He and Aaron had the privilege of going out and announcing that the time for deliverance was now. God had indeed heard their cry! I wonder if any of them were surprised. Were you? If you are new to studying the bible, I wish I was sitting next to you right now; able to watch as you might see for the first time the power and faithfulness of the Lord! Many of you, however, are probably familiar with this story and countless others throughout scripture where we see God grant freedom to a suffering captive. If I could sit with you, I’d love to listen as you could tell me your story of the night when God rescued you. But regardless of whether I get either of those privileges or whether this chapter in Exodus is old or new to you, we can all be encouraged as we reflect on God’s bountiful provisions for those He calls to “rise up” and “go.”
Shock was certainly the emotion that accompanied joy as the Israelites walked out of Egypt (v 37). I’m sure these professional brick makers were more than a little nervous thinking about the potential of a battle with the world’s most powerful army to earn freedom. Isn’t that the way all nations gain liberty? By fighting back the oppressors? But when it comes to deliverance, God knows our limitations. There are some battles where only He is capable of winning, where the only thing He asks us to bring to the table is faith. For the Israelites, God was their Commander in Chief, and He was the only one who would be fighting that day! God was very aware of the lack of supplies and skills of His soldiers and He did something only God could do. He had the enemy practically packing their bags for them and giving them gifts just to hurry up and leave already (vs33 and 36)! What a beautiful remind that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). He can call us anywhere, anytime and is not at all hindered by our so-called limitations. You might be sitting in a place right now that you know is not where God desires for you to be. I hope as you read these verses today you believe the promise that God is ready to escort you out in style, but first you have to “rise up” and start walking. Trust Him and watch as He abundantly provides resources for the journey.
But before you get too excited about all the silver and gold, let’s note why Pharaoh finally said they could leave. He was merely reiterating Moses request that we have read over and over thus far in Exodus. Above, the King James Version translates this phrase in verse 31 as “serve the Lord.” The NIV reads, “worship the Lord.” Either way, this raises a critical point that we must not ignore. To explain, I’m going to borrow the first line in the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren: It’s not about you. God did not bring salvation to the Israelites and ultimately to the world through Jesus so that they (we) could have fancy things and walk down easy street. His more perfect purpose is that He will be glorified, through service and worship. I realize this is not a very popular concept in the day and age where there is no shortage of evangelist telling us that if we aren’t swimming in blessing, than we are doing something wrong. Our challenge however, is to serve and worship the Living God, understanding there will be times He will choose to be glorified through our abundance, and other times through our sacrifice.
In closing, allow me to share with you just how powerfully the Lord spoke to me through this short passage we studied today. Back in December, I received a call from my husband while I was grocery shopping. As Geof and I are both kind of “cut to the chase” sort of folks, he told me over the next 60 seconds that he was considering a temporary position overseas and asked me to consider moving to Switzerland. From that moment on I have been living out a modern day example of Exodus 12:31-42. Although my family is not in a position of bondage (praise the Lord), we had been sensing a change was on the horizon. So we started praying, and much like the Israelites, God starting working in ways that we couldn’t believe. He has eliminated every obstacle we tried to create and made this transfer as easy as it could possibly be. The only thing we have been asked to do is, well, “rise up” and “go.” Yet through this study, God is reinforcing to me that this relocation is not just so our family can experience life in Europe for 18 months (although I think that part is very cool!). I’m certain He has a much grander plan in store for us, we just aren’t sure what it is yet. Please pray for us as we go; that we might quickly discover God’s perfect purpose and that He will show us how He can be glorified through our worship and service to Him in Geneva. I’ll keep you posted.
How about you? Are you being called out of a place of slavery? Or maybe, like me-out of your comfort zone? In what ways is God showing you His love and constant care for you in a call to rise up? I hope we can both be obedient to worship and serve Him wherever He leads us. And then may we, like the Israelites, “keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come (Exodus 12:42).” Let that be the Glory!
Your homework for next time is to read Exodus 13: 17-22.
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