And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek. Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field. And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean? ” Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!” So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out. When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the sound of this tumult mean? ” And the man came quickly and told Eli. Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see. Then the man said to Eli, “I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line.” And he said, “What happened, my son?” So the messenger answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured.” Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years. I Samuel 4:1-18 NKJV
Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord , and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him. So the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon. From that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel for eighteen years—all the children of Israel who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, in Gilead. Moreover the people of Ammon crossed over the Jordan to fight against Judah also, against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed. And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord , saying, “We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!” So the Lord said to the children of Israel, “ Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.” And the children of Israel said to the Lord , “We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord . And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel. Judges 10:6-16 NKJV
For the longest time, I have wondered why the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh when dealing with the Israelites in Exodus. After reading Exodus 14 today, it became clearer. The Egyptians did not worship God. They believed in their own gods and it was in them that they placed their faith. Their culture was also deeply embedded in those beliefs. Their hearts and minds belonged to that culture.
Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. Exodus 14:4 NKJV
The Lord was looking to gain honor over Pharaoh, the leader of the Egyptians. He was after the hearts of the Egyptians, that they may know who He is. When Pharaoh pursued the Isrealites, they called out to the Father of Heaven and Earth. The mightiest army was pursuing the Isrealites. It caused the children of Isreal to even question why the Lord had brought them out of Egypt – to die by the hand of the Egyptian army? They even question who they serve.
Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” Exodus 14:12 NKJV
Moses provides the answer. It is the salvation of the Lord in which he delivers us from death. It is in Him that we can have peace.
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14
One of the most popular phrases from the Bible is, “Let My people go.” Being depicted now in a major motion picture, the account of Moses and the Exodus is one of the most fascinating accounts in the scriptures. Moses and Aaron tell Pharoah to let God’s people go. God wants his people to be free and to hold a feast unto Him.
And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord , that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord , neither will I let Israel go. Exodus 5:2 KJV
The Lord was seeking rest for His people and Pharoah knew it. Moses and Aaron were worried about what the Lord would do if they did not obey God in his request to hold a feast unto Him. The Hebrews had their God, the God of the universe.
Pharoah does not recognize the God of the Hebrews and is upset that they are requesting rest from their work. He does the opposite in defiance. Pharoah gives the Hebrews more work and takes away provisions to make the work more difficult.
The Hebrews are puzzled and ask Pharoah why he is dealing with them in this way. Once they realize it was Moses and Aaron who asked Pharoah to let the have a feast unto the Lord, what was their respons?
And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. Exodus 5:2, 21 KJV
They blamed Moses and Aaron. Moses returns to the Lord to ask Him for guidance. The Lord responds with a beautiful and amazing response to His people:
Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord : And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord , and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord . Exodus 6:1-8 KJV
So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. Exodus 3:4-6 NKJV
God is so amazing! The creator of the heavens and the Earth is personal enough to speak directly to Moses that He had heard His people. At the same time, He is so powerful and Holy. Moses is told to take off His shoes because it is holy ground. God did not choose to swarm the Egyptians with an army. He chose Moses (to which Moses basically responded, “Who me?”). God chose a single man and then displayed His mighty power.