Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
today’s suggested reading
Exodus 12, 15
We next meet the members of Jacob’s family — the Israelites, also known as the Hebrews — in the book of Exodus. After 30 good years in Egypt, they had become slaves to the cruel rulers of Egypt who didn’t remember Joseph. The more the people grew in number the more the Egyptians feared and persecuted them. Pharaoh heaped on the work, but that didn’t stop the babymaking. Pharaoh instructed the Hebrew midwives to kill all the baby boys they helped deliver, but these God-fearing women and the couples they supported wouldn’t do his dirty work, including one woman who hid her baby for three months before setting him afloat in a small ark made of papyrus stems, tar, and pitch.
Pharaoh’s daughter, who was bathing at the Nile River, spotted the basket and had her servant pull it from the water. Inside was a baby boy, who the princess named Moses and adopted into the royal family. He grew up knowing his lineage, and when he became a man, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:23-25). One day he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew, and when he realized his actions couldn’t be hidden, he fled into the desert.
He married a priest’s daughter and began a family with her, but God calling him back to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from slavery and give them a new life in the Promised Land. He became God’s mouthpiece before the new Pharaoh with the cry, “Let my people go.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, so God sent a series of plagues upon Egypt, attacking many of the Egyptian gods.
God turned the Nile River into blood.
A week later frogs invaded.
Next came gnats, then flies, but the difference with the flies was that the Israelites living in Goshen were spared from the swarms. God was setting the land apart.
But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard to the power of the LORD God, even when God struck down the livestock of the Egyptians and sent boils in the fifth and sixth plagues.
Scholars believe that as many as six months passed between the first six signs of God’s power and control. Then when the barley was ripening and the flax blossoming, God warned that He was going to send a destructive hail storm upon the Egyptians only. Some in the land feared the word of the LORD and hurried their slaves and livestock into the houses, but many did not and lost their lives. When the hail and flashing fire from the sky destroyed the ready-to-harvest plants of the field and every tree of the field, Pharaoh had a momentary change of heart, but that was dashed as Moses stilled the storm.
A bit later when the wheat and emmer were ripening in the fields, God sent locusts to eat everything that remained or had sprung back to life since the hail storm. Again, Pharaoh pleaded with Moses to plead with God on his behalf, but even when the pests were driven into the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s heart remained hard.
God sent a great darkness to cover the land of Egypt except for in Goshen, where the Israelites lived. Pharaoh negotiated with Moses, but the terms didn’t satisfy this power-hungry ruler. So God sent a tenth and final plague upon the entire land that the first born of all man and beast would be struck down, but He made a way for His people to be rescued. Hope was still alive so long as they held onto Him.
God instructed His people to take lambs without blemish, kill them, and then using a bunch of hyssop spread the blood on the lintels and doorposts of their homes. These homes marked in scarlet blood became arks of salvation as all inside were passed over by the hand of the Lord as He executed judgment upon the Egyptians. A great cry went up from Egypt, and finally Pharaoh relented, sending some 2 million men, women, and children and all their flocks away to worship their God.
The LORD watched over them as they hurriedly left the land of Egypt, giving them a pillar of fire by night to warm and light their way and a pillar of cloud by day to shield them from the sun. God was with them in that cloud, and while they were armed for battle, it was God who was fighting for His people.
Forever changing his mind, Pharaoh and his army pursued the Israelites, but Moses led them well through God’s plan of rescue. Using the cloud to hamper the Egyptians through the night, God split the sea for the people to walk across on dry land. Then as morning came and the Egyptians began to cross the seabed, God threw the army into a great panic, and as the sea returned to its normal course, not one of the Egyptians survived.
The 12 tribes of Israel saw the great power of the LORD and a holy fear came over them as they walked forward in hope into a new life.
Exodus 1-14 is full of rich descriptions about the Israelites enslavement, the 10 plagues, and God’s rescue of His people. Two key chapters to read today are 12 about the Passover lamb, the hope of the Israelites, and 15, the first worship song in Scripture. What words does Moses use to describe the LORD?
Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.