This instruction came from one of the greatest of all time leaders, Moses. As I was reading about him today I thought about the true impossibility of what he did with the Israelites. It also dawned on me that despite his hard work in leading, he never stepped foot where he led. I questioned if I would have followed him. Consider his back story and then the things that happened as he came on scene as a leader.
Moses was not raised as an Israelite, but as an Egyptian, the son of Pharoh’s daughter. Yes, he was an Israelite, but probably most people didn’t see him as one. He was an outsider. People might have saw him as a wannabe or a spy for the enemy, even knowing who his siblings were.
Think about it, Moses disappeared for 40 years, after killing someone. When he returns, he comes bringing a message that even though the Israelites have been in slavery in Egypt, God was going to deliver them. Also, it is not Moses, but Aaron who tells them and does the miracles.
“Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.” Exodus 4:29-31
Then as soon as Moses goes to Pharaoh, bad things start happening. “The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.” So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”” Exodus 5:6-14
The people knew it was Moses and Aaron that caused the problems for them. They were rightly upset by the new plight they faced. “They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”” Exodus 5:20-21
If that was not enough, the Egyptians then walk through 10 plagues. Not much is said about the Israelites during the first nine plagues. Still you know they were aware of what was happening. They were slaves in the land, they had to be able to see most of not all of it happening.
Then at the 10th plague, we see they were given favor in the sight of the Egyptians. “And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.”Exodus 11:3 . We See Moses had favor also in the sight of the Egyptians.
Still, the Israelites followed him. Moses then addresses the Israelites with instructions for the Passover. Moses did not have an e-mail account where he could quickly disperse instructions. He didn’t have a microphone or even a megaphone to make sure everyone could hear him. Still the people obeyed, and pretty detailed instructions I might add.
“Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.”Exodus 12:3-13
Once they left Egypt, the people followed Moses and then God provided a pillar of cloud and fire. This was something they could easily see and follow.
Then God let Moses know Pharaoh’s army was coming for them. “For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.” Exodus 14:3-4
The people again turned on Moses; even though, they were the ones that followed him. “They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”” Exodus 14:11-12
Only after Moses said “God will fight, just be silent.” did God give Moses instructions. He lifted the staff and all the Israelites walked through the Red Sea on dry land. Then Moses stretched his hand back out and the sea covered and killed all the Egyptian soldiers.
Moses led the people 40 years. They had food, clothing, water, shelter and safety. He handledthe problems that came up. He trained up the leader that would finish the job. There was a quick problem in the ranks that Moses let God take care of pretty quickly. I pondered if the journey might have ended in eleven days if they headed Moses’ advice? Stay silent.
All of the questions lead me back to if I would have followed him. What do you think? Would you choose to follow him?
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