Read Exodus 12:31–42
31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6:10).
That did it! Pharaoh finally realizes that there is someone even mightier than he is! His rather pathetic plea for a blessing (32), in addition to the curses he’s been experiencing in the successive plagues, cuts him down to size. Onlookers now can see that this man is really just as human as anyone else, despite his claims to grandeur and his authority to drown baby boys and make life impossible for targeted people (Exod. 1:8–16). We may not be in Pharaoh’s position, but if we are in leadership we would do well to remember that we’re not very special compared with those we lead! Paul’s words are a timely reminder, especially for leadership, not to “think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Rom. 12:3).
Well, they’re off, and God begins to provide for their needs, be it kneading bowls, clothes or jewelry. The latter, of course, has to be held in an open palm, since later God would require it to furnish his tabernacle (Exod. 35:20–29). Perhaps that’s another important lesson we need to learn: because God already owns everything we have (Haggai 2:8), we need to live accordingly, not clinging on to what he might want us to surrender back to him!
We do not know the total number of those who left, but it was considerable—well over 600,000 (37). With all of their livestock in tow, it must have been quite a sight. As I write, we have been seeing pictures in the news of many thousands of migrants desperately attempting to flee persecution and hardship in their own countries and enter Europe. This is a modern-day version, perhaps, of the Israelites fleeing Egypt. What difference did it make that they knew God was going with them? Plenty.
Spend some time praying for those who are desperately fleeing an impossible situation, especially for those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.