In the aftermath of the plagues, the children of Israel flee the land of Egypt. They are in a position now where they are subservient to God and under His direct leadership. He is caring for them, taking special precautions for their present and their future.
In verses 17 and 18 of this chapter, God leads the Israelites out of Egypt on a path that will encourage their independence and will not cause them to be afraid: “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.” God was ensuring their success and building their confidence in Him as a people. Also, we have the introduction of the pillars of cloud and fire, to specifically lead them by night and day.
By leading His children out of Egypt on the path of least resistance and showing them the literal path via the pillars, God is caring for His precious nation. God’s motivation for caring for them is His love for them, that much is obvious. It is His love for His creation. Keep that in mind as we reflect on another aspect of God’s personality: His desire to have all of the nations of the earth know of His divinity and power. God devastated Egypt and its resources for this reason. With these two insights of God’s character, we can reasonably conclude three facts:
- God sincerely loves His creation and will perform miraculous acts on their behalf
- The plagues and pillars are examples of those that mattered to Israelites
- The birth, death and resurrection of Christ are chief of these that affect us today
- God desires that all mankind have knowledge of His greatness and power
- God’s “personality” is expansive enough to encapsulate these extremes of love and death, each of which is directed towards communicating truth to His creation
The other two main items in this chapter to recognize are the Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Law of the Firstborn. This chapter lists the laws about eating the unleavened bread and killing the firstborn of animals, but there is one very powerful theme that unites these two traditions handed down from God: remembrance.
God willingly and easily completed the plagues, but He also expects a degree of reciprocity; He expects them to remember. The point of these two traditions is so that the story of God saving Israel will not be forgotten as the years stretch out in the centuries ahead. And this will not be the last instance of God commanding an act or tradition to make sure that the Israelites remember what He has done for them.
Similarly today we have the Biblical example of taking the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week to remember Jesus Christ. God’s ways are, by and large, unknown to us. However, we gather inklings here and there of His aspects that are undeniable: He is all-powerful and all-knowing and He wants us to know it, fear Him, and obey. He is loving and caring and has sacrificed that which is dear to Him so that we can be redeemed.
Is there anything more profound in life that our great Creator would consider each of us (billions upon billions) and care for and save us in such a personal and momentous way? If there is anything at all in our known experience, physical or spiritual, that deserves our love, adulation, and worship, it is HIM.