If you have ever been rescued from a dangerous situation, you will be able to appreciate today’s lesson as we examine one of the most dramatic rescues that has ever occurred—the deliverance of the children of Israel from the plague of death and from Egyptian slavery. This rescue symbolizes the deliverance of man from sin and death through the Savior’s atonement.
Background: After Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, the Israelites lived there for 430 years. During that time, a Pharaoh arose who enslaved them and imposed heavy burdens upon them. As Joseph had prophesied, the Lord raised up Moses to deliver the children of Israel (2 Nephi 3:10)
In Exodus 1-2, the children of Israel multiplied and were put in bondage by the Egyptians (1:1-14). Pharaoh ordered that all sons born to the Israelites be destroyed (1:15-22). Moses was born to Levite parents; he was hidden, then found and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter (2:1-10). In defense of an Israelite, Moses killed an Egyptian and fled to Midian, where he married Zipporah (2:11-22). Israel cried out to the Lord.
Exodus 3:1-4 – Moses was called by the Lord from the burning bush.
Exodus 3:5-10 – Moses was informed that he was being sent to Pharaoh to liberate the Israelites.
In calling Moses, we see that the Lord knows his people, is merciful to them, wants to bless them, and keeps his promises to them.
If you could imagine yourself as an Israelite slave, you would have been taught all your life that you were one of the covenant people and that the promises made to father Abraham would be fulfilled. Yet, you would live daily life in oppression. Today, we should remember that when we are in adverse circumstances, the Lord has not forgotten us, but he does not often deliver us from trials immediately. While enduring the trial in patience, we should pray with faith and maintain a strong testimony of his love and concern for us. Even while enduring, we may receive comfort and assistance.
Exodus 3:11; 4:1, 10 – Moses, in essence, said “Why me? I’m nobody and beside that, they won’t believe me…and I can’t even speak eloquently!”
Exodus 3:12; 4:11-12 – The Lord promised His support and presence and then reminded Moses that as the Creator, he could control Moses’ speech and teach him what to say. As we see from this, the Lord knows our inadequacies and needs, but he provides help, comfort, and inspiration so that if we are willing, we can overcome our inadequacies and develop the skills and abilities we need to fulfill any calling the Lord so chooses to give us.
Hebrews 11:24-26 tells us what Moses sacrificed to accept his calling—“the pleasures of sin for a season” and “treasures in Egypt”. We find that he accepted the call because he had faith. With faith, we can deny ourselves worldly rewards and accept the call to serve the Lord regardless of the sacrifices involved.
Exodus 5:1-9 – When told to let the people go, the Pharaoh denied any knowledge of the Lord—“Who is the Lord?”—and, rather than comply, decided to increase the difficulty of the slaves’ work.
Exodus 5:15-23 – The officers of the Israelites were critical of Moses and Aaron during this trial and Moses became critical of and questioned the Lord’s support. From this, we should understand the need for patience in our adversities. The Lord will fulfill his promises, but not necessarily on our schedule.
Exodus 6:4-8 repeats the Lord’s promises of keeping his covenant, redeeming his people and relieving them from bondage, and giving Israel a promised land—the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Exodus 6:9 – In spite of the Lord’s promises, the people hearkened not and were mired in depression. Hopefully, we have stronger testimonies and will not refuse to listen to the prophet when we suffer adversity. We can maintain faith in God while enduring by praying, studying and pondering the scriptures and the Ensign, giving service to others, remembering our covenants and the blessings associated with those covenants, serving in our calling(s), and reviewing our own and family journals for stories of strength.
Exodus 6:10-12 – Moses asks the Lord why Pharaoh would listen when his own people won’t. While we may sometimes be reluctant to obey the Lord because of our doubts and fears, the Lord will support us.
Summarizing Exodus 7-10, Moses was appointed to give the word of the Lord to Pharaoh. The Lord multiplied signs and wonders in Egypt and magicians imitated the miracles of Moses and Aaron. Plagues sent by the Lord included frogs, lice, flies, destruction of the Egyptians’ cattle, boils and blains, hail and fire, locusts, and three days of thick darkness, but Pharaoh only hardened his heart.
Exodus 7:8-12, 17-22 demonstrate that Satan could counterfeit God’s power through Pharaoh’s sorcerers as their rods became serpents; then they seemed to turn water to blood just as Aaron did. Today, Satan also attempts to counterfeit God’s power and blessings to deceive mortals. However, we know that God has given us gifts so that we can discern between good and evil. We increase our discernment as we live righteous and faithful lives, so we can protect ourselves from being deceived if we remember our covenants and maintain the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Exodus 12:12-13, 22-27 teaches us the meaning of the first Passover and why the Lord instructed Israel to celebrate it “for ever” as an ordinance. In addition to reminding them of the Lord’s protection, the Passover was also to symbolize God’s future sacrifice of his Firstborn, which delivers us from sin and death.
Elder Howard W. Hunter taught that at the Passover meal that is now known as the Last Supper, “the bread and wine, rather than animals and herbs, [became] emblems of the great Lamb’s body and blood, emblems to be eaten and drunk reverently and in remembrance of him forever. In this simple but impressive manner the Savior instituted the ordinance now known as the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. With the suffering of Gethsemane, the sacrifice of Calvary, and the resurrection from a garden tomb, Jesus fulfilled the ancient law and ushered in a new dispensation based on a higher, holier understanding of the law of sacrifice. No more would men be required to offer the firstborn lamb from their flock, because the Firstborn of God had come to offer himself as an ‘infinite and eternal sacrifice’”(Ensign, May 1985, 19).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland asked: “Do we see [the sacrament] as our Passover, remembrance of our safety and deliverance and redemption? With so very much at stake, this ordinance commemorating our escape from the angel of darkness should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is. It should be a powerful, reverent, reflective moment. It should encourage spiritual feelings and impressions” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 68).
Like the Lord commanded ancient Israel, we should teach our children the significance of the sacrament and other ordinances that remind us of the Lord’s hand in delivering us from sin and death.
Exodus 14:5-9 – After releasing the children of Israel, Pharaoh turned against them and sent his army after them.
Exodus 14:10-12 records that the Israelites, seeing the pursuing army, lost their faith and lamented that it would have been better for them to remain as slaves in Egypt rather than die in the wilderness.
Exodus 14:13-14 – Moses tells the people not to fear and to watch the Lord fight for them. To demonstrate proper faith when we are filled with fear requires extensive prior spiritual preparation to develop an unshakable testimony that will sustain us in moments of tribulation.
Exodus 14:21-31 tells us that the Lord fulfilled his promise, sending a “strong east wind all that night” to make a dry way through the Red Sea for the Israelites, but causing the Egyptians’ chariot wheels to come off and then closing the sea back in upon their chariots and horsemen. This miraculous intervention by the Lord should help us realize that there is no trial that the Lord cannot help us through if we are following his commandments and obeying his prophets.
“All were baptized…in the cloud and in the seas” (1 Corinthians 10:2)
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 contains Paul teachings that the children of Israel were baptized in the cloud and in the sea. Explaining the significance of this, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “[Paul] is saying that even as Israel, when they passed through the Red Sea, fled from the worldliness of Egypt, so their Christian descendants, through baptism, are to forsake the lusts of the flesh and live godly lives” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966-73], 2:355).
Just as the Lord fulfilled his promise to deliver the Israelites from bondage, he will fulfill his promises to us. As we partake of the sacrament, we should think of and appreciate his sacrifice and keep the covenant to “always remember him”.
These lessons are posted on the Internet at http://www.neumanninstitute.org/