Sunrise on the Red Sea. Moses climbed the nearest ridge for a wide-angle vision just to take it all in. With the sun warm on his back, he studied the sea for traces of the miracle they walked through. Gentle waves crested and broke in undulating rhythm as usual. Broken chariot wheels and lifeless Egyptians littered the shore. The tide was commencing to wash away millions of sandy footprints, evidence that God’s people had indeed walked through the sea. Daybreak and dry ground. Moses saw it with his eyes but he felt it with his soul.
The moon was still making its way across the night sky when Moses came back with the news. At last, it was time to go. We don’t know how long it took for the word to reach every hut and hovel, but the people were ready and wasted no time. Families lined up by tribe, and tribes fell into step behind their leaders. Can you picture it? Hebrew migrants pouring out of Goshen in the middle of the night, leaving a ghost town where they had lived, labored and died as slaves for centuries. But now God’s people were leaving the land of their affliction behind.
On day four, the light emerges but not in Pharaoh’s heart. He summons Moses to announce that he has decided to grant their request. In a grand gesture he adds that even your children can go. But Moses refuses to negotiate God’s terms. After months of devastation and suffering that brings Egypt to the brink of collapse, Pharaoh squanders it all—and for what? Before the night is over he will lose his own son.
1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” 2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
Egypt experienced one calamity after another. The people, the land, even the animals suffered because of Pharaoh. Every time he refused to let God’s people go, Pharaoh invited disaster on his own people.
The plagues were more than a random series of catastrophes to force Pharaoh to release the Hebrew slaves. With these judgments, God demonstrates His power over creation and exposes Egypt’s powerless gods. The plagues occurred over a period of about nine months.
Exodus began with a pharaoh who feared a growing Hebrew population, so he decreed death for all baby boys. But times have changed. The pharaoh that Moses is dealing with isn’t about to let go of his Hebrew slaves. Who does Moses think he is, coming to Pharaoh with such a demand?
Moses cupped a hand over his eyes and squinted toward the mountain. From a distance at dawn, it looked like a camel’s hump jutting up from the desert floor, but now the sun was playing tricks with shadows. Shielding his eyes, Moses stared up into the craggy face of Mt. Horeb staring back down on him. He loved the solitude of this place. Mountains don’t care about time. Minutes and days and decades mean nothing to them. Mountains teach you to forget. And Moses had learned that lesson well.
Moses: Lawgiver . . . Lawbreaker . . . Liberator.
God called and Moses said, “Here I am.” Then he heard the plan and said, “Send someone else.” That’s not the kind of response we expect from an epic leader like Moses, but have we ever used a similar excuse? I can’t. I’m not qualified. It’s too soon . . . it’s too late.
We know Moses, the great hero of history, but who was the man behind the legend? He was born in poverty, raised in a palace, but the wilderness became his home. He was an outlaw, a loner, and a Lawgiver. Reluctant to lead but determined to follow God. At times he could be impulsive, impatient, explosive. He was idolized and criticized yet remained humble and forgiving. How did this man with so many complexities become a world-changer? Is the secret to his friendship with God something we can tap into? With Moses’ life and times as our script, we will explore why God chooses unlikely heroes—flaws, failures, and all—to accomplish His perfect plan.