2018-07-22 - Exodus Study
Introduction: Running Out of Time
Walter Wangerin writes:
"The sun rose and ruled the morning.
But directly at noon the light began to fail: a black cloud gathered over Egypt, and the wind blew. Lightening flashed. Thunder followed, and out of the cloud came hail, very heavy hail, hail such as
Egypt had never seen before. It struck down everything and everyone in the fields; it tore limbs from the trees; both cattle and servants were killed; only those who stayed under cover survived.
But then the night came, and in the morning the sun rose up as strong as ever. It turned the hail to water. Re had arisen and ruled. The king, therefore, called for an excellent supper. In the night he thanked his god with many pious expressions and slept.
And the sun rose up the next day, too.
But so did a wind. An ominous wind. An east wind blew across the land with steady intensity. Everywhere Egyptians held their breath against some new calamity. Then they began to whimper, for from the northern kingdom to the south they saw the wind was drawing a vast cloud like a blanket over the land.
Pharaoh thought it was a dust storm, but the cloud came over the city and he could hear the sound of it: dry, chewing sounds and the rattle of a million wings. He looked, and the cloud had a million hungry mouths.
Locusts! It was an endless swarm of locusts so loud that a man could not call to his neighbor, nor could he see his orchards. Locusts were eating every sweet thing, every green and living thing.
Pharaoh’s counselors burst into his chambers. “How long will you let this Moses be a snare to us?” they shouted. “Egypt is ruined. Call him! Give him what he wants. Let him go and let us live!”
Pharaoh set his jaw and nodded his head. Immediately a counselor ran out and returned with Moses and Aaron.
Pharaoh said, “This time I have sinned. The Lord your God is in the right; I and my people are in the wrong. Entreat your God only to remove this death from me!”
Without a word, the Hebrews turned and left. All at once wind was sweeping the land, tearing the locusts from their million grips and driving them into the Red Sea.
Finally the winds relaxed. In the night there was but a mild breeze.
But the king of Egypt could not sleep. He was seething with the humiliations now heaped upon him by his own people, his servants, his counselors. Therefore, his sing prayer that night was a prayer of vengeance:
“By my life,” he cried, “by Re, by my father Re who loves me, by the sun-god’s bright imperial power upon this earth, I swear: my majesty shall rise in the morning to terrify all!”
And the morning came. But the sun did nor arise.
If there was a day, none in Egypt could see it. For now there was darkness over the land, a darkness so thick it could be felt. No one could see his neighbor, no, nor his family either. The Egyptians did not stir from their houses.
Only the people of Israel had light where they dwelt.
So there passed one day and another day in sunless darkness. Three days. But who could count them without the heavenly lamp? Pharaoh paced in a rabid impotence, neither eating nor sleeping, growing more and more frenzied as the long night continued.
Finally, he called Moses to himself. “Go!” he cried. “Go! Serve the Lord. Yes, and take your children with you. Take all your people. Only leave your flocks and herds behind.”
The man named Moses showed neither triumph nor thanks at this grand capitulation His expression was the same as when Pharaoh first met him on the banks of the Nile long, long ago.
And with damnable insolence he repeated precisely what he’d said before: “We will all go. All of us and all our cattle.”
The king of Egypt leaped from his seat screaming, “Get out! Get!” He had drawn a knife. His whole body trembled to use it. “Never look on my face again,” he cried. “In the day you see my face, you shall die!”
Moses said, “So be it. Neither one of us shall see the other again.” 1
Exodus study to be continued.
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