There are two different accounts of how long the children of Israel stayed in Egypt - anywhere between 200 and 400 years, but regardless, what affect did it have on their cultural and religious beliefs?
You cannot live in a country without adopting their values and beliefs to some degree – even if you attempt to separate yourselves.
The pyramids had already stood for a thousand years.
There began to be some affinity towards the Gods of Egypt – or at least the Pharoah, who has regarded as divine.
Grandeur and greatness of Egypt influenced everyone who lived there.
Did the Israelites need to get to Canaan for the Abrahamic Covenant to be made available to them?
No, like Abraham himself, they needed to get the Egypt out of them – the covenant is reliant on where the inner person is, not the physical body.
The Israelites had come to enjoy the things that would keep them separated from God - there hearts were not fully turned to Him.
But having said that, there are many examples of the Lord leading people into the actual wilderness because it was the only way for them to separate themselves, spiritually and emotionally, from the culture in which they were living – which was not conducive to them receiving the covenant.
How would you describe the nation of Egypt back in the time of Moses?
The great, global, western “superpower”.
The sophisticated center of culture and economics.
What country in the world today could be described as today’s “Egypt”?
The United States of America – the “culturally sophisticated” world economic and military leader.
And like ancient Israel, we have been “nourished” by a long dead prophet named Joseph the Seer or in our case, Joseph Smith.
How is America in bondage to false gods, as the Egyptians were?
Egypt worshipped many false gods – the Nile, the Sun, cattle, its Pharaoh.
The United States worships many false gods - materialism, military might, and celebrity.
Moses is Rejected by Israel as their Deliverer
READ Acts 7:17-34
What status and experience did Moses have, growing up in Egypt?
Unlike the rest of Israel, who had been enslaved by the Egyptian king who “knew not Joseph” the Seer, Moses grew up as a prince in the household of the Pharaoh.
He was educated in the best schools and was “mighty in words and deeds”.
He did not associate with the Israelite slaves at all until he was forty years old, although the text implies that he knew he was Israelite.
It is interesting that he never was discriminated against for not being Egyptian – perhaps it was hard to tell his ethnicity? If the Egyptians couldn’t tell that he wasn’t one of them (likely, as the others were all enslaved and he would likely have been rejected by the daughter of the Pharaoh when he was found as a baby), it makes you wonder how he found out himself; perhaps he didn’t know his own ethnicity until God revealed it to him in a vision.
Why did Moses kill the Egyptian overlord?
Because he had been told by God that he would deliver the Israelites from slavery – this was a way to identify himself to Israel as the one prophesied to deliver them – the “first blow” of the war.
Because he was incensed at their treatment by the Egyptians.
How did the Israelites react to Moses?
They rejected him.
They taunted him.
How did Moses react to this rejection by Israel?
He was frustrated that the Israelites failed to recognize him as their promised deliverer.
He fled into the desert.
He was betrayed to the Egyptians by the Israelites who witnessed the killing; now a criminal (albeit a royal one), he had to escape justice, as Israel would not follow him as the leader of a rebellion.
What lessons can be learned from this experience?
When Moses attempted to begin the mission he had been told about by God, his attempt failed.
The mission was only successful when the Lord commissioned Moses to begin it.
We control nothing and have no right to move the Lord’s hand or “hasten the work”; the timing of the Lord’s assignments are entirely His to control – even if we have been told what we should do, we may have to wait years before we get the “green light” to proceed.
As with Moses, sometimes it is us that needs the preparation – in this case, the experience of going from being a prince to being a desert vagabond; Israel was just as hard-hearted and faithless when Moses came back 40 years later than they were when Moses first tried to deliver them but it was Moses who had to change to enable the Lord’s deliverance of Israel to happen.
The Burning Bush
READ Exodus 3:1-2
Where does the Lord speak to Moses?
In a holy place – made holy by His presence.
On Mount Sinai, the Lord’s temple in the wilderness.
What is happening with this “burning bush”?
The conduit of fire from heaven has been opened right above a bush or bramble, such that the glory seemed to be lighting the bush on fire, despite it not burning.
This is a very similar scene to Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision where he originally thought that the grove was on fire.
READ Exodus 3:3-6
Who is the “angel” who appears to Moses?
It is the Lord.
He is appearing here in a similar way to how he appeared to Jacob during the “wrestling” incident (see Genesis 32:24-30) – in such glory that the mortal man is fearful for his life and shields his eyes from the glorious sight of a god of light standing in front of him.
It is interesting that the account of Moses 1 occurs after the Burning Bush (see Moses 1:17) but before the delivery of Egypt (see Moses 1:25-26); in that account, the Lord covers Moses in His glory or transfigures Him, so that He can speak with the Lord with much more comfort than He does during this initial visitation at the Burning Bush (see Moses 1:2); this is so that He can show him a vision of the eternities and the creation of the world (see Moses 2-7).
READ Exodus 3:7-10
Why is the Lord delivering Israel?
As a result of their prayers for help.
As a result of promises made to the Fathers.
Who will deliver Israel?
The Lord (v3:8).
READ Exodus 3:11-12
Due, in part, to his previous failure 40 years before, Moses worries that he is not a capable tool for the Lord; what token does the Lord give Moses?
The Lord will be with Moses (in power and actual presence).
Moses will have power to actually deliver Israel – and against all odds, he will accomplish the task.
And after they’ve left Egypt, Moses will come back to Sinai and “serve God”; he will enter into God’s presence in a way he has not experienced yet.
READ Exodus 3:13-14
When the personage says “I will go with thee” into Egypt, what name does He give Moses when asked?
I AM THAT I AM.
YHWH or Yahweh.
Why is this name significant?
It means “I exist” – not only that but it implies that He has life in Himself.
Knowing His name or who God truly is, is also knowing who you truly are.
Knowing the name of God means that you are His friend – a Son of God.
How does this set Yahweh apart from the gods of Egypt?
They don’t really exist.
Except one: Pharaoh, but he is a man, albeit the most powerful (“…interesting?”) man in the world.
In a way the Egyptian gods do exist – meaning that their magician priests were able to conjure similar “miracles” to what Moses did with his signs; so they had knowledge of the spirit realm and had the power to reach through the veil and manifest things in this physical world – likely with the assistance of entities or powers in the spirit realm. The only difference is that they were not accessing help from the “living god of light” but other spirits or “gods”.
READ Exodus 3:16 and 4:1-9
What series of signs does the Lord give to Moses, in case the Children of Israel don’t believe that he has been sent from God to deliver them?
Turns his rod into a snake and back.
Hand was made leprous and healed.
Changes the river water turned into blood.
The Main Event: Moses versus Pharaoh
READ Exodus 6:6-7
What is the key to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt?
They must “know that I am the Lord your God”.
This implies acknowledging God’s power but really requires “knowing” Him on a personal level.
It is interesting to wonder how much the “law of Lot” was in play – meaning how many righteous souls were living among the children of Israel which resulted in the Lord saving the whole group, because clearly most of them didn’t qualify on their own as they loved the culture and lifestyle available to them in Egypt, despite being slaves.
READ Exodus 4:31
This time, do the people believe that Moses is sent to deliver them?
READ Exodus 6:9-12
But how does the faith of the Children of Israel hold out?
At the first sight of trouble (Pharaoh makes them find straw to build bricks - see chapter 5) they fall apart again.
Egypt still has power over their hearts (they have more faith in the power of Egypt and Pharaoh than Jehovah and Moses).
READ Exodus 7-10
The Lord has Moses inflict Egypt with ten plagues - why does He do this?
To show Israel and Egypt that Jehovah is the only God with power to save.
In the face of the greatness of Egypt, the children of Israel need to see the Lord’s might displayed in the real world.
Pharaoh’s magicians were able to copy several of the plagues, what does that teach us?
Satan has real power in this world through his “priesthoods”.
Satan’s powers did not have the power to prevent Jehovah’s plagues, only copy some of them.
There is no reason to believe that Satan and his followers have lost any power in the last 4000 years - he has the same power to work miracles today as he ever had.
How do the plagues explicitly target the weaknesses of Egypt’s gods vis-a-vis Jehovah’s power?
River to blood = river god (Hopi).
Darkness = sun god (Ra).
Livestock = bull, cow and ram gods (Apis, Mnevis, Hathor, Khnum).
Hail = livestock gods (see above).
Boils = livestock gods and Pharaoh.
Frogs = frog god (Heqt).
Locusts = Pharaoh.
Lice/gnats = Pharaoh.
Flies = Pharaoh.
Death of the Firstborn = Pharaoh.
Why was it important to expose the “god”, Pharaoh, as powerless?
He was the only “living” god the Egyptians worshipped - but Pharaoh, despite his worldly power, was really just a man.
Christ has power over all of the dark entities that exist in the spirit realm; He has power over the man Pharaoh, too, but honors his agency as a mortal, to submit to the true and living God or to continue his charade as a “living god” himself.
READ Exodus 11:1-10
While the Israelites were spared from most of the first nine plagues, why did they have to do something to be spared the deaths of their own firstborn?
Salvation comes only through obedience to following God’s word.
The death of the first born son was symbolic of the death of Christ; to make sure the salvific outcomes of Christ’s death are not “in vain”, we must submit our whole souls to Him and be saved – the “Passover” ritual speaks to this.
READ Exodus 12:1-51
What was the outward ordinance the Lord commanded as a way to deliver Israel from death?
The sacrifice of a male lamb without defect (12:5).
Care for the lamb for five days (12:6).
No bones can be broken (12:46).
All spill the blood of the lamb together (12:6).
Apply the blood to the top and sides of the door frame (12:7).
Eat the flesh of the lamb (12:8) – his death sustains their lives.
Remove all yeast from the house (12:15).
Eat unleavened bread (12:8).
Eat bitter herbs (12:8).
Remain ready to act on a moment’s notice, on the Lord’s instructions (12:11).
Keep the Passover and teach it to your children (12:14).
Obey the ordinance with exactness (12:24,28).
The Lamb saves Israel by saving each family (12:3).
Change the calendar to always remember the sacrifice (12:2).
The symbolism of the lamb without blemish is obvious, but why were they commanded to care for the lamb for five days?
We must come to KNOW and LOVE the Lamb of God - he must become “dear” to them before the sacrifice is made.
The ordinance or killing of the Lamb alone is necessary but not sufficient.
Why does the whole congregation spill the blood of the Lamb?
His suffering was for us all.
He suffered all that a god could suffer - infinite and eternal suffering - if we had sinned less individually, He would not have suffered less.
Why was the lamb to be roasted?
Fire is a purifying agent.
We should “eat of the Lamb’s flesh” in purity.
To dwell with God is to live in “everlasting burnings”.
Why was all the Lamb’s meat to be eaten?
There is no salvation in particle truths.
Or partial acceptance of the whole truth.
Christ represents perfection or being "whole".
Why does each family unit partake of the Lamb together?
No priest stands between us/our family and God - it is us, the Father and the Lamb - no priest is present to officiate.
The family unit is central to our exaltation in the eternities - we are saved together or we are not saved.
Because of the need for an “Elohim” relationship - father and mother god.
Because of the fact that we will damn ourselves if we do not do everything we can to help save each other – we must lose our lives to find them (some are here on a rescue mission).
The “house of the Lord” can also be the “family” of the Lord - we are to be adopted in, first to Christ and then back with the Father.
What do the bitter herbs symbolize?
Sufferings in Egypt.
The fallen man that we have need to be redeemed from.
The buffetings of Satan.
The bitter dregs of the sacrifice Christ made for us.
Why did the yeast have to be removed from the house?
Yeast is a corruptible agent - we must remove all corruption from our lives.
Yeast rises and without it, we are like the unleavened bread - Christ is the “leaven” of mankind, which causes us to rise up.
Why did they eat unleavened bread?
In addition to the above…
It is “poor bread” of the slaves of Egypt - representing the natural man and our condition as slaves to sin and death.
The dough did not have sufficient time to be leavened, when the Lord revealed themselves to the House of Israel and redeemed them.
He comes “quickly to His temple” - “which temple, ye are” - like the parable of the Ten Virgins, we know not the hour of the bridegroom’s coming - we will not be fully prepared for Him; do not let the guilt of Joseph in Egypt’s brothers stop us from going to Him when He comes to us.
Why were they commanded to eat in haste, with shoes on feet and staff in hand?
They needed to be ready to leave Egypt in haste, at the Lord’s command.
We must “go where you want us to go, dear Lord”.
Shoes symbolize accepting the new upward path of light and truth - heading toward Sinai - which you never remove after you’ve first put them on… unless you turn altogether from the Lord.
Staff symbolizes power in the priesthood.
Why was the blood of the lamb applied to the door frame?
Home = temple = body (the Lord dwells not in unholy temples but in the hearts of the righteous - their garments made white through the blood of the Lamb; Alma 34:36 and Alma 13:11-12).
Door = entrance = eye (when you eye is single, your whole body will be filled with light).
The blood of the Lamb keeps out the angel of death from the opening of the home.
The blood of the Lamb overshadows the entrance and exit of a person.
Blood was sprinkled on the altar of the temple in likeness of the Passover - reminding us that the “house” is also sacred like a temple, a place where god might come and abide, a “house of the Lord” – which temple you are.
When the Feast of the Passover was celebrated in ancient Israel, the youngest male present would ask “why is this night different from all other nights?” How would you answer this?
For the children of Israel, it is the last night of their slavery, due to the sacrifice of the first born sons of Egypt and the subsequent release of the slaves by Pharaoh. It is also the last night that they will not be actively hunted (after Pharoah changes his mind).
On this night, in 33 AD, the true Lamb of God suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and was slain for the sins of the world.
If we seek after Christ and find Him ourselves, that night (that we come unto Him) will be different from all other nights because we will KNOW the living God whom we have been seeking after and our lives will never be the same – we can’t unsee that level of sure knowledge once we’ve experienced it.