April 20, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Exodus 13-16
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Context: The firstborn in Egypt had died. Israel was spared this horror and sanctified their firstborn to God. The Lord's salvation of Israel was to forever be remembered by the Feast of Unleavened Bread during Passover. God led the Israelites through the desert, towards the sea, instead of by land, which would have been quicker, but would also likely have meant war with Philistines. The Israelites had a constant, visible reminder that they were being protected by the Lord. The Egyptian army had followed the Israelites, intent on returning the Israelites to slavery. God spared the Israelites, allowing them to walk across the sea bed on dry land. When the Egyptian army attempted to follow, they were covered with the water held back from the Israelites. This crossing was made possible by nothing other than a miracle of God. There is nothing else to explain how the Israelites were able to walk across on completely dry land, exactly when they needed to, and then, to have the water return, exactly when the Israelites needed it to. God had promised to deliver His people out of the hands of the Egyptians and He did so in a spectacular manner. Following this miracle, the Israelite, who were complaining earlier, sang a song of joy to the Lord. Their joy did not last long, for in three days time they were grumbling again. Many Christians experience this journey sometime in their life. You experience God's joy, only to realize that there are tough days to come. Being a Christian does not make everything suddenly easier, if anything it gets harder! You are not the same person and cannot continue to live the same lifestyle of sin. Although we may feel alone, we are not. God is always with us to provide a spring in the desert, to provide food when we are hungry. For the Israelites, the water and food was literal. Another tangible demonstration that God was looking out for His people.
World History: Most locations mentioned during the Israelite's trek through the desert are unknown today. Often there are several different proposed locations for each mentioned in the Bible. This includes the sea parted by Moses. While most Bibles translate this to the Red Sea, it more likely that it was a branch of the Red Sea. Other Bibles translate the sea to the Sea of Reeds. Many of the possible locations for the crossing are protected by the Egyptian government, hindering archeological research in those areas. Additionally, violence in the Middle East also make such research extremely dangerous.