THE JOURNEY FROM EGYPT
Date of Exodus. Exodus 12:40, 41
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, 18
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. 282.
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. 247, 392.
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 11:29, 30
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.
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