THE JOURNEY FROM EGYPT
Date of Exodus. Exodus 12:40,
The marginal date for the Exodus from Egypt is 1491 B.C. According to
Exodus 13:4 it was the month of Abib, the first month of the
ecclesiastical year of the Hebrews; afterwards called Nisan, and
corresponding to our March, or part of April. The Passover lamb was
killed the evening of the 14th, or rather “between the two evenings.”
(Exodus 12:6, margin). On the 15th at midnight the Israelites were
delivered and left Rameses in Egypt for the promised land. (Numbers
33:3). Archeological discoveries have confirmed the Biblical chronology
regarding the date of the Exodus. See New Bible Evidence by Sir
Charles Marston, p. 151.
A Short Journey. Exodus 13:17,
It was only a short journey from Egypt to Canaan by the most direct
route. A splendid highway ran up the coast through the country of the
Philistines and the distance was not over 250 miles, or about a month’s
journey. A few years ago two men in airship traveled from the land of
Goshen in Egypt to the banks of the Jordan near Jericho in less than two
hours. Because of their lack of faith the children of Israel were not
prepared to make the journey by the shortest route. “Had they
attempted to pass through Philistia, their progress would have been
opposed; for the Philistines, regarding them as slaves escaping from
their masters, would not have hesitated to make war on them. The
Israelites were poorly prepared for an encounter with that powerful and
warlike people. They had little knowledge of God and little faith in
Him, and they would have become terrified and disheartened.” —P.P.
The Long Delay
The shortest and easiest way is not always the best way. Sometimes
the longest and most difficult journey is the safest, surest and best in
the end. But the Lord never intended that there would be such a long
delay and that the short journey should require more than forty years.
“It was not His good pleasure that they should wander so long in the
wilderness. He would have brought them immediately to the promised land,
had they submitted, and loved to be led by Him; but because they so
often grieved Him in the desert, He sware in His wrath that they should
not enter into His rest, save two who wholly followed Him.” —Vol.
1:281. This is speaking of the Lord’s plan to lead Israel into the
promised land by way of Kadesh-Barnea which would have required but a
few months time from Egypt to Canaan. There were at least four different
routes and they traveled the longest one.
The Lord’s Plan
The Lord never intended that Israel should fight their way into the
promised land or conquer it by warfare. The victory was to be theirs by
faith. He promised to fight their battles for them and to drive out the
inhabitants of the promised land with hornets, hailstones and plagues.
(Exodus 23:27, 28). “It was not God’s will to deliver His people by
warfare, as Moses thought, but by His own mighty power, that the glory
might be ascribed to Him alone.” “The Lord had never commanded them
to go up and fight. It was not His purpose that they should gain the
land by warfares, but by strict obedience to His commands.” —P.P.
The Israelites must learn the needed lessons in the school of
affliction and experience before they could be given possession of the
promised land. “The varied experience of the Hebrews was a school of
preparation for their promised home in Canaan. God would have His people
in these days review with a humble heart and teachable spirit the trials
through which ancient Israel passed, that they may be instructed in
their preparation for the heavenly Canaan.” —Ibid., p. 293.
It was to teach them the needed lessons of faith and trust in His
leadership that the Lord led them in a circuitous route by “the way of
the wilderness of the Red Sea.”
The First Lesson
The first lesson in faith was learned at the Red Sea. (Exodus
14:10-15). The deliverance from the Egyptian army and the passage
through the Red Sea was possible only by faith. “By faith they passed
through the Red Sea as by dry land; which the Egyptians assaying to do
were drowned.” (Hebrews 11:29). What is faith? (Hebrews 11:1). There
was no evidence of deliverance in sight; in fact the outlook seemed
hopeless. But the Lord said, “Go forward”, and they took Him at His
word regardless of the seemingly impassible barrier before them. All of
God’s commands are enablings. When He says “Go” it is our duty to
obey and His to open the way so we can go. (Hebrews 11:7, 8).
Test of Faith
“He might have saved them in any other way but He chose this
method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in Him.
The people were weary and terrified, yet if they had held back when
Moses bade them advance, God would never have opened the path for them.
It was “by faith” that “they passed through the Red Sea as by dry
land.” In marching down to the very water, they showed that they
believed the word of God as spoken by Moses. They did all that was in
their power to do, and then the mighty One of Israel divided the sea to
make a path for their feet.” —Ibid., p. 290. The Israelites
staked all on God’s word and were not disappointed. All nations heard
of their deliverance and of the destruction of their enemies, and the
nations of the promised land trembled.
The Advent Movement
The test of faith at the Red Sea at the beginning of the Exodus
Movement has an antitype in the 1844 experience at the beginning of the
Advent Movement. “The history of ancient Israel is a striking
illustration of the past experience of the Adventists body. God led His
people in the Advent Movement, even as He led the children of Israel
from Egypt. In the great disappointment their faith was tested as was
that of the Hebrews at the Red Sea. Had they still trusted to the
guiding hand that had been with them in their past experience, they
would have seen of the salvation of God. If all who had labored unitedly
in the work in 1844 had received the third angel’s message and
proclaimed it in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord would have
wrought mightily with their efforts. A flood of light would have been
shed upon the world. Years ago the inhabitants of the earth would have
been warned, the closing work completed, and Christ would have come for
the redemption of His people.” —G.C. 457, 458.
A Short Journey
It is evident from this statement that the Lord intended that the
journey of the Advent Movement should also be a short one. The Lord
never intended that there should be such a long delay in the coming of
Christ. “It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty
years in the wilderness. He desired to lead them directly to the land of
Canaan, and establish them there, a holy, happy people. But “they
could not enter in because of unbelief.” Because of their backsliding
and apostasy, they perished in the desert, and others were raised up to
enter the promised land. In like manner, it was not the will of God that
the coming of Christ should be so long delayed, and His people should
remain so many years in this world of sing and sorrow. But unbelief
separated them from God.” —G.C. 458.
The Lord’s Plan
If ancient Israel had maintained the same faith by which they
crossed the Red Sea the Lord would have quickly led them into the
promised land and attempted to do so. There was a highway running in a
northeasterly direction near where they crossed the Red Sea that would
have saved them scores of miles. Instead they were led south through the
great wilderness of sin and of Sinai where they must learn more lessons
which were necessary before they could enter Canaan. Likewise if the
Advent people had manifested the same faith after the disappointment as
they did before, the Lord would have given them the latter rain and the
work would soon have been finished and they would have entered the
heavenly Canaan. This was God’s plan but He was unable to carry it out
because of their lack of faith.
Cause of Failure
That there was a long delay in the triumph of the Exodus Movement
because of the unbelief of the people is certain. That there has also
been a long delay in the triumph of the Advent Movement for the same
cause is just as evident. (Hebrews 3:17, 18; 4:1; Matthew 25:1-10;
Hebrews 10:35-39). These texts clearly indicate a delay in the coming of
Christ because of a lack of faith on the part of the Advent people. This
is definitely stated in the above quotation from the spirit of prophecy
which continues as follows: “As they refused to do the work which He
had appointed them, others were raised up to proclaim the message. In
mercy to the world, Jesus delays His coming, that sinners may have an
opportunity to hear the warning, and find in Him a shelter before the
wrath of God shall be poured out.” —Ibid. The failure of the
church gives more time and opportunity to the world to hear the warning
message and repent.
Exhibitions of Faith. Hebrews
In the great faith-chapter, inspiration recognized but two exhibitions
of faith in the Exodus Movement that were worthy of record; they came at
the beginning and the end of the journey. How different would have been
the history of Israel if they had kept the faith that delivered them at
the Red Sea. Likewise the two greatest exhibitions of faith in the
Advent Movement come at the beginning and end of the journey, or during
the movement’s early and latter rains. The 1844 message and experience
was a great demonstration of faith. Those pioneer Adventists staked all
on the word of God. Because of their confidence in the 2300 year
prophecy they braved a scoffing world with an unpopular message. Many
demonstrated their faith by leaving their crops in the fields
unharvested because they expected Jesus to come at the end of the
prophetic period. Showers of spiritual blessings attended the preaching
of the message. It was the early rain of the Advent Movement and it is
evident that the Lord intended that it should swell into the loud cry
under the latter rain which will close Christ’s work in the heavenly
sanctuary and His work on earth.
Spirit of Prophecy
“Of all the great religious movements since the days of the
apostles, none have been more free from human imperfections and the
wiles of Satan than was that of the autumn of 1844. Even now, after the
lapse of many years, all who shared in that movement and who have stood
firm upon the platform of truth, still feel the holy influence of that
blessed work, and bear witness that it was of God.” —G.C. 401.
Another exhibition of great faith will bring the latter rain at the
close of the movement. “The Advent Movement of 1840-44 was a glorious
manifestation of the power of God; the first angel’s message was
carried to every mission station in the world, and in some countries
there was the greatest religious interest which has been witnessed in
any land since the Reformation of the sixteenth century; but these are
to be exceeded by the mighty movement under the last warning of the
third angel.” G.C. 611.
“The power which stirred the people
so mightily in the 1844 movement will again be revealed. The third angel’s
message will go forth, not in whispered tones, but with a loud voice.”
—Vol. 5:252. These two spiritual baptisms are doubtless symbolized by
the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan at the
beginning and end of the Exodus Movement. 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2.
Red Sea to Sinai
“In so far as the journey of the Hebrews from the Red Sea to Sinai
is concerned, little remains to be done with reference to the
geographical details. The admirable work of the Ordinance Survey has
forever settled all questions respecting the Mount of the Law and the
way tither. It has done more than this; for the accurate labors of the
scientific surveyors, while they have dissipated multitudes of theories
formed by unscientific travelers, have vindicated in the most remarkable
manner the truthfulness of the narratives in Exodus and Numbers.
Every scientific man who reads the
reports of the survey and studies its maps, must agree with the late
Professor Palmer that they “afford satisfactory evidence of the
contemporary character of the narrative.” They prove, in short, that
the narrator must have personally traversed the country and must have
been a witness of the events he narrates. More than this they show that
the narrative must have been a sort of daily journal, written from time
to time as the events proceeded.-Sir William Dawson, in “Popular and
Critical Bible Encyclopedia.”
George Stanley Faber, in his Horae Mosaicae Vol.
1:pp.186-195, 247-253, gives this historical evidence that the Exodus
Movement was a fact and not a fiction as many of the critics have
contended. Manetho, the high priest of Heliopolis during the reign of
Ptolemy Philadelphus who flourished about twelve centuries after the
Exodus, at the request of the king wrote three volumes in which he told
the story of the foreign shepherds who came to Egypt and had a territory
assigned to them on the east side of the River Nile. They increased very
rapidly from a small beginning. They neither adored the gods of the
country nor abstained from the animals which were accounted sacred.
Under the authority of Osarsiph, a priest of Osiris, the name of the
leader of these foreign shepherds was changed to Moses. Proving
dangerous to the Egyptians government because he planned a revolution,
these foreigners were all expelled from the country by Amonophis, who
pursued them with his army to the borders of Syria.
The story of the nation of the Jews in Egypt and the Exodus Movement
was also recorded by Lysimachus, the general of Alexander. He told how
Moses as the leader of the Israelites led them through the wilderness
and after much suffering and many hardships they finally emerged from
the desert and seized the land of Judea. Diodorus Siculus, a Roman
historian of the first century, also recorded the story of the Exodus.
Tacitus, another Roman historian, declared that “most authors agree,
that a cutaneous disorder spreading through Egypt, King Bocchoris
consulted with the oracles of Hammon how to obtain relief; and the
answer was, that he should purge his kingdom by expelling the Jews, who
were a race of men hateful to the gods.” —Tacitus, Hist. Liv. v.c.3.
Justin, another Roman writer, tells how the Jews fled Egypt under the
leadership of Moses and carried with them the sacred utensils of the
Egyptians who followed in pursuit and were compelled to return home
because of a violent storm. See Just. Hist. Phil. lib.xxxvi.c.2.
According to Artapanus, the Heliopolitans gave the following
account: “The King of Egypt, as soon as the Jews had departed from his
country, pursued them with an immense army, bearing along with him the
consecrated animals. But Moses having by the divine command struck the
waters with his rod, they parted asunder, and afforded a passage free to
the Israelites. The Egyptians attempted to follow them, when fire
suddenly flashed in their faces; and the sea, returning to its channel,
brought an universal destruction upon their army.” —Eusebius, Praep.
Evang. lib. ix.c.27.
The recent discoveries of archeologists have completely confirmed
almost every detail of the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt and their
Exodus to the land of Canaan. The evidence of the archeological records
is so complete that a denial of the historicity of the events would be a
demonstration of the ignorance of the most flagrant type. Melvin G. Kile
summed up the result of these discoveries in the statement: “The
substantiation of the credibility of the Biblical narrative is complete.”
—The Deciding Voice of the Monuments in Biblical Criticism.