Celebration of Freedom

MEMORY SELECTION: “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” —Exodus 15:11

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Exodus 14:21-25, 30, 31; 15:1-3, 20, 21

WHEN Pharaoh decided to release the children of Israel, it was after midnight on the 14th of Nisan. During the daylight hours from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. “the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.”—Exod. 12:35,36

Then, on the 15th of Nisan, apparently at night (after 6:00 p.m., the beginning of the new day, according to Jewish reckoning), the children of Israel began their exodus from Egypt.—Exod. 12:42; Num. 33:3

The Lord led the children of Israel at the head of the very great column of people as they left Egypt. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: he took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”—Exod. 13:21,22

The route that the Lord led the children of Israel was not a direct route, but rather a circuitous way through the wilderness of the Red Sea. This encouraged Pharaoh to say in his heart, “They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” (Exod. 14:3) He felt that this circumstance opened an opportunity to recapture the Israelites, and he therefore gathered together six hundred of his best chariots and army and pursued the children of Israel.

Pharaoh and his army overtook the Israelites while they were encamped by the sea. The children of Israel could see in the distance the great cloud of dust which marked the near approach of Pharaoh and his army, “and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.” (Exod. 14:10) The people murmured against Moses and the Lord. “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”—vs. 13

The position of the Israelites was hopeless, when measured in terms of their own strength. Their deliverance again depended entirely upon the wisdom and power of God. “The pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them; and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.”—Exod. 14:19,20

Then God, acting through Moses, brought about the wonderful miracle of parting the waters of the Red Sea, and the children of Israel crossed over on dry ground. The Egyptians, in their eagerness to thwart the escape of the Israelites, rushed into the corridor of waters; but the Lord caused the wheels of the chariots to bind and thus slowed their progress. When all the Egyptians were in the corridor, the Lord said to Moses to stretch forth his hand over the sea; and the waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the hosts of Pharaoh. There remained not so much as one of them.—Exod. 14:26-28

When the Israelites saw this second mighty demonstration of the power of God working on their behalf, they joined with Moses in singing praises to God and acknowledging their dependence upon him.

The Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 10:1,2, uses this experience of the children of Israel to show the relationship of the people to God, through his representative, Moses. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

Baptism in water is a symbol of the burial, or death, of the individual’s will and the acceptance of the will of the Heavenly Father only. In this case the collective will of the nation for self-expression was pictured as being buried, or dead; and, instead, they accepted the leadership of God as expressed through Moses, God’s representative. This they did with much joy.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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