Even the craziest rescue plans have their catches. Today’s passages deal with the ultimate moment of Israel’s salvation, as well as the moments right before. While we all like to think we want to be a part of God’s plan, sometimes it isn’t all peaches and sunshine. Sometimes, it’s not a quick, easy path at all. Nope, sometimes… we have to take the long way around. And on that journey, we have to find out if our faith is enough to sustain us on that journey.
What is something that you learned the “hard” way?
Exodus 13 & 14
Read Exodus 13:1-16.
- God is telling Israel to do certain practices in the future. What are they and what are their significance?
Leader’s Note: The consecration of the first born and the avoidance of yeast corresponds to the final plague in Chapter 12. Use this chance to recap the story of the plagues and Moses’ role in helping deliver Israel.
- This is the second time God outlines the feast of Passover for the Israelite community, and the first rule God gives them. Why do you think this festival is so important? What is it doing for Israel?
- Why is retelling the story of God’s redemption important? How do you retell that story?
Read Exodus 13:17-22.
- God already concerned about something in regards to Israel. What is it and why do you think that is?
- Verse 17 says God did not take them out of Egypt the most direct way. Why did God need to take them that way?
- In the final verses, God chooses to lead the people in a way he never has before. Why?
Leader’s Note: God’s presence as a pillar of cloud/fire throughout the desert wanderings was unique in Israel’s story, but the verses, and later parts of the story, indicate it’s purpose was to lead and protect a fickle people.
- Have you ever felt like God was leading you in a direction you didn’t feel like going? What did you do? How did it work out?
Read Exodus 14.
- What surprised you as we read through this well-known story?
- What is Israel’s response when Pharaoh decides to pursue them? What does God’s response reveal about Him?
Leader’s Note: God essentially complains about them complaining, but quickly steps in to rescue them. This pattern will repeat itself over and over again in the desert.
- What is God’s purpose in defeating Pharaoh’s army so completely?
Leader’s Note: Besides saving Israel, verses 17-18, God says this is to gain glory in the eyes of the Egyptians, to demonstrate His power so that all of Egypt knows that He is Lord.
- The final verses say Israel “feared” the Lord. Is this an appropriate response to God? Why/why not?
- Where do you find your self in the story? Do you feel like Moses, the Israelites, the Egyptians, God? Why?
- Nothing in this story was the usual way to deliver a people from oppression. Why do you think God go out of his way to do it this way?
- We all need help getting delivered from something. Have you ever had an Exodus experience in your life?
Diving Deeper: Hardening Hearts
- Exodus 14:4 & 14:8 talk about God “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart. This is often a troubling passage for people, as Pharaoh’s hardness of heart led his army to be drowned. What do you think it means when God “hardens” Pharaoh’s heart?
Leader’s Note: “In his copious work on biblical figures of speech, E.W. Bullinger listed several ways that the Hebrew and Greek languages used verbs to mean something other than their strict, literal usage… Bullinger’s fourth list of idiomatic verbs deals with active verbs that “were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do” … When the text says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it means that God would permit or allow Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.” See full text.
- Have you ever found yourself reacting against the inevitable? Why? What did it get you?
- In what ways do you respond to God like Pharaoh does here?