Imagine a world in which only a certain few knew a truth that could save a life and there was no potential that truth would ever be revealed to anyone outside the original circle of knowledge keeper? Now that would be unjust.
But the God I serve, He loves His created beings, those of us who are made in His image to shine forth His Light to the world. This God is mercy itself. He leaves no missed opportunity to draw us near. Therefore He hardened Pharaoh's heart to allow MORE to come near to Him. Do you see the consequences of what would have happened if the very first time Moses went to Pharaoh, Pharaoh would have threw open his arms and said, "Go, Abraham, you and your people to serve your God in the wilderness, outside my kingdom rulership, We will see you when you all get back!"
No doubt, the Israelites would have gone, worshiped and returned. But was that the goal of the Exodus?
What my wonderful Creator, the ONE and ONLY TRUE GOD of the UNIVERSE did, was that He took out Egypt's gods (who are not really gods) one, by one. When Pharaoh finally allowed them to go; the Egyptians were a defeated people. Their gods had shown to be no match for YHVH. The result of this utter defeat was that the Egyptians gave over gold, and silver to the Israelites.
You probably wondered at some point like I have, what would Israelites wandering the desert need of jewelry? But consider now that this same jewelry was used to construct the articles used in the tabernacle for worship. What had been used by people of pagan origin, was burn to a molten liquid and utilized in a variety of ways to please God.
I see this as a depiction of ourselves, especially those of us who have those "really big" sins who think "God could never love me, nor could He use me". Firstly, let me assure you that to God all sin is abhorrent. What we don't realize is God can redeem anything. If he can redeem jewelry for use in His precious Temple and to cover His precious Ark of the Covenant--surely he can redeem His own creation. Don't you think?
Whether the Egyptians knew it or not, their offering up of these treasures is still accredited to them, even to this day.
As God defeated the Egyptian gods, the Hebrews were strengthened to know their God. By the time they left Egypt I am sure others from Egypt came with them because their hearts had been changed. The bible tells us that everyone who aligned themselves with the Hebrews and became obedient to God would receive the same blessings as the Hebrews.
The other amazing thing that I finally saw this year is that in front of everyone Pharoah declared the God of Moses to be far mightier than all the gods of Egypt. Now isn't that a wonderful declaration? It is like a true white flag of surrender by the king of the land himself. This must have made many of the Egyptians reconsider their lives and instead come to embrace the God of the Hebrews. Maybe this is why some gave their jewelry too, not only out of fear, but out of hope.
As the Hebrews headed out of Egypt they went with arms raised--they were not people of slavery any longer. Their hope was alive, their hearts were uplifted, and they came out of Egypt in a victorious pose. It was then that Pharaoh once again, became had of heart and he chased after them with his royal chariots.
I often thought of the story of the Exodus in terms of Hollywood's depiction through the Ten Commandments movie. But in reality, it was not Moses who lead these people, God's people, out of Egypt it was God Himself. He was the pillar of fire, and He was the cloud. They had one more god to crush before they would be free from Pharaoh's clutches. We seldom think of this, even during the Seder because we focus on the ten gods of Egyptian and the plagues against these gods (who are not true gods).
When the Hebrews came to the sea they were at Pi-Hahiroth and what they looked out at was Baal-Zephon. Baal-Zephon was an area where sacrifice and worship is made to the god of the wind, sea, storm. You can imagine that as Pharaoh encroached upon the Hebrews, he was elated to assume they had no way out. Before them was the sea and the god of the storm who could not possibly allow crossing to these Hebrew people. If Moses had lead them to turn around and go back, Pharaoh and his finest chariots were waiting to wage war against them.
What we see happening is amazing. God, in the pillar of cloud moved from the front to the rear standing as a wall between Pharoah and his men. Instead of trapping the Hebrews, it was Pharaoh and his fleet who stood trapped behind this impenetrable wall. God defeated too, the pagan god of storm, as the wind came up and opened the sea. Truly the wind blew in the face of their pagan god. The Hebrews crossed over coming out of the land as a newborn babe springs from the water of the womb. This was a rebirth for the Hebrews and God lead their way!
As Pharaoh and his troops crossed into the red sea the waves engulfed them and strewn some along the shoreline. Therefore the Exodus story too, tells the outcome for Pharaoh and his men who believed in gods, who are not gods, to save them. Hidden within the exodus story recounted each year is also the defeat of these foreign gods and the people who overcame them through the blood of the Lamb and being born again.