When we left Moses, he had warned the king that his refusal to let God’s people go, would mean death to his firstborn son and all of the firstborns in Egypt including their animals. Moses had also instructed the Israelites how to prepare their families and homes so the “Angel of Death” would “Pass Over” their homes! They were to brush blood from the sacrificial lamb on both sides and the top of their doorposts.
The Israelites had been busy preparing to leave by asking their Egyptian neighbors for silver, gold and clothing as they had been told. They were also preparing for the special meal God had called “the Lord’s Passover” Exodus 12:11 NKJV (I look forward to spending our time together studying every aspect of that meal!!)
Then, at midnight, the tenth and final plague struck Egypt!! “ During the night Pharaoh got up, he along with all his officials and all the Egyptians, and there was a loud wailing throughout Egypt because there wasn’t a house without someone dead. He summoned Moses and Aaron during the night and said, “Get up, leave my people, both you and the Israelites, and go, worship Yahweh as you have asked.” Exodus 12: 30-31 HCSB
Now, even though the Israelites did not know exactly the hour they would leave, they kept themselves prepared and ready at a moment’s notice. The Israelites had been in Egypt for four hundred thirty years. There were “about six hundred thousand men on foot , besides children.” And they had a great deal of livestock with them. Yet, they were well organized as if in an army! (Read Exodus 12: 37-39)
One of my favorite parts of this story (and there are MANY!) :“ And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he (Joseph) had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.” Exodus 13:19 NKJV See also Genesis 50: 24-26
So God led His chosen people out of Egypt – but not straight to the Promised Land, even though it was near by! They could have made the trip up the coastal line in a week or so; but God knew they were not prepared. He knew their faith needed to be tested and strengthened by first experiencing the power and faithfulness of God. They would find that God would be able to meet all their needs. Then when they finally arrived at the Promised Land, their faith in God would be strong enough to face any challenge that would confront them!
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” Exodus 13: 21-22
I pray you can feel the love of God towards His people as He finally is able to lead them out of their bondage and toward the land He had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He wanted them to know beyond a doubt, that He was there! So they had the cloud to lead them during the day and the fire to lead them during the night! And God was there in the cloud and in the fire!!!!