The Apple Of God's Eye

March 15, 2011

Samuel: Israel’s Great Prophet

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About 1140 B.C., when God still ruled Israel through judges, there was a Levite named Elkanah who had two wives. One, Hannah, was favored of her husband, but had no children. The other was Peninnah.

Each year the family journeyed to Shiloh to worship the Eternal. This is where Joshua, about 300 years before, had placed the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant containing the Law of God. And each year Peninnah would chide Hannah for having no children.

Praying for a son

When the time came once again for the trip, Hannah was provoked to tears.

While at Shiloh, she prayed earnestly to God for a son, vowing that if God would grant her petition, she would make the child a Nazarite, dedicated to serving the Eternal all the days of his life (see Num. 6:2-8). And as she silently prayed, Eli the priest thought she was drunk, for she was moving her lips but making no sound (I Sam. 1:13).

He rebuked her, but she explained her grief. And Eli said, “May the God of Israel grant you your prayer.” That day Hannah went out from the tabernacle with complete faith that God would give her a son. And God did.

She named the child Samuel (meaning asked of God), and when he was weaned, about 3 years old, she took him to Eli. There he grew up ministering to the Eternal God (priestly duties). He wore the linen garment of a priest, and each year his mother made him a new coat.

Eli’s wicked sons

Now Eli was not a young man. He had already judged Israel nearly 30 years and had given most of the administrative duties over to his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. But they were corrupt.

Whenever the people came to make an offering, Hophni and Phinehas took the best portion of the meat for themselves. The leftovers were presented to God. They also committed fornication with the women who served at the door of the tabernacle. (more…)

June 18, 2009

Why Was Barnabas Called The Son Of Encouragement?

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The apostle Barnabas bent over the bloodied body, perplexed and distressed. At the first moan and stir of what had appeared to be a corpse, the little coterie of Christians gasped in disbelief. Then the short, stocky torso turned. Paul slowly sat up among the blood stained stones.

An ecstatic Barnabas helped Paul to his feet. Paul had survived a stoning. Astonished, the group heard Paul announce he was alright, and watched him turn back toward the city again (Acts 14:19-20).

Such was the character of the man God chose to get the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the known gentile world. But what of the character of his relieved and grateful partner? What was the role of Barnabas in the Work at that time? What value does his example hold for us today?

Some may be surprised to learn that Barnabas was the major human instrument God used to employ Paul in the ministry, and to get the gentile Work off the ground.

Barnabas’s unique qualities

Barnabas was genuinely humble. He was able to see the good in others. Because of this, he became a prime factor in the growth of the early Church. Cultivation of his qualities in our lives can enhance our impact as Christians today.
Scripture makes some unusual statements about Barnabas. One concerns the special name he was given by Church leaders — a name that seems to have characterized his ministry.

In the early weeks of the fledgling Church, the wealthier converts sold real estate and other possessions to share with the more needy brethren. Curiously, the only person named as an example of this generosity was a certain Joses. We are told that he “was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement)” (Acts 4:36).

The use of this name Encouragement is significant. The Greek word has also been translated “consolation” or “comfort.” John 14:26 uses a slightly different form of the Greek:

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things” (Authorized Version).

The name Barnabas, then, has essentially the same meaning as the word Jesus used to describe the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The personification of encouragement as the “father” of Barnabas is also significant. He must have manifested this trait in an outstanding way. This unique individual was a warm and encouraging person. He was positive and uplifting. He was able to see the best in people — to overlook the differences that could produce personal prejudice. This very virtue was used to open the possibility of membership in the early Church to converts of all nations.

Reaching the gentiles

Jesus Christ had shown His intent, just before His ascension to heaven, to ultimately reach all nations with the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God (Matthew 28:19-20). After He provided His Church with sufficient human and material resources to evangelize foreign lands, Christ had a major hurdle to overcome. Many Jews were prejudiced against non-Israelites. Many felt superior, being the chosen of God, and harbored bias that would have weakened their willingness to reach out to gentiles.

God revealed first through the leading apostle, Peter, His will for the gentiles, through the incident of the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10). Yet the Jews were still hesitant to admit that God must be dealing with gentiles (verse 28). There was some plain foot-dragging going on.

Whom would God use to get things going in the Work to the gentiles?

Enter Saul

Saul of Tarsus had been public enemy No. 1 to the Christians. He led a gestapo-like group of Jewish zealots on a crusade to completely eradicate the Christians (Acts 8:1). While on his way to Damascus, Saul was struck blind and brought to repentance by Christ Himself (Acts 9:1-22). Jesus made it clear He had chosen Saul to “bear My name before Gentiles” (verse 15).

After a narrow escape from would-be assassins at Damascus, Saul went to Jerusalem to join himself to the Christians there. But his reputation as their chief tormentor kept him on the outside looking in (verse 26). God began to use a certain man to champion the cause of suspect Saul.

Barnabas had perhaps believed Saul’s story, perceiving in him the Holy Spirit. Or he had heard of his conversion and powerful preaching in Damascus. He was able to put aside fear and bias to see the good in Saul. Barnabas stuck his neck out to help Saul win acceptance from the apostles (verse 27).

But Saul’s time had not yet come. After more threats on his life, Saul was sent home to Tarsus. God let a number of years go by while He further prepared His Church for the entrance of the gentiles. Growth continued, but no real effort was made to take the Gospel to gentile lands. Something did finally happen far up the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, in a gentile city called Antioch.

When the Church was scattered after the initial severe persecution, some of the believers journeyed as far as Antioch and took up residence in various gentile cities. These brethren witnessed to Jews only, until certain ones of them preached to some Greeks. God backed up their effort, and “a great number believed” (Acts 11:19-21).

When the Church leaders at headquarters in Jerusalem heard this news, they decided to investigate, and selected Barnabas for the trip (verse 22).  He arrived at Antioch and found that the Work of God among the Greeks was genuine. Being the positive, warm fellow he was, Barnabas was delighted. He “encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (verse 23). Unhampered by pride and preconceived notions, he could see the potential for good in gentiles. Barnabas lived up to his name, welcoming the new converts.

Another unusual statement is found in the following verse. Luke was so impressed with Barnabas that when he compiled the book of Acts, he stated, under inspiration, “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (verse 24). Barnabas was filled with the Holy Spirit, known also as the Comforter, which his name meant. He literally stands out for his special ability to see the good in others and encourage them.

Acts 11:24 ends with, “And a great many people were added to the Lord.” The growth was so rapid that Barnabas realized he was overextended. Assistance was needed to properly pastor the new brethren and allow additional growth. Barnabas was about to make a second major move that would ensure the great impact of Saul of Tarsus on the future of gentile Christians.

Remembering what had been prophecied about Saul, Barnabas realized that now was the time, and that Antioch was the place, to activate Saul’s ministry. So, “Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul” (verse 25). Together they returned to Antioch, staying there for a year. Saul probably acted as a kind of associate pastor, subject to the leadership of Barnabas. When the two are mentioned together, Barnabas is named first (verse 30).

Meanwhile, “The word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24). By the time chapter 13 opens, we find five ministers operating out of Antioch. God’s time had come to expand the Work into other parts of the world.

While the ministry there was fasting and praying about this matter, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit made it plain that God had set apart Barnabas and Saul for a special mission (Acts 13:2-3). A new phase of the preaching of the Gospel was about to unfold.

The pair took along young John Mark and set sail for Cyprus, Barnabas’ home country. It is ironic that a major change in the roles of Barnabas and Saul occurred on this very island. They preached the Word at Salamis on the eastern end, then crossed the entire island to the city of Paphos (verses 4-6). Here, the party encountered Elymas the sorcerer. It was through a confrontation with this false prophet that assistant Saul became leader Paul.

Paul emerges as leader

Elymas withstood the efforts of the missionaries to preach the word to an interested deputy of the country. “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?’ ” (verses 9-10).

Paul, perhaps remembering the impact of his own bout with blindness on the road to Damascus, used God’s power to smite Elymas with blindness. On this occasion he stood out as a dynamic spokesman. But consider Barnabas’ position. He had been in charge over Paul. He had championed the cause of Saul and helped him into the fellowship of the Church. He was the one who dug Saul out of the woodwork at Tarsus and reactivated him. He was the pastor at Antioch. He was the leader of this evangelical tour.

What if Barnabas had dwelt on all these things?

Barnabas had to decide there at Paphos whether to humble himself and submit to God’s greater purpose. All we know is that verse 13 simply records, “Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga.” Previously it had always been “Barnabas and Saul.” Now it was “Paul and his party.” Paul was the leader. The entire focus of the rest of the book of Acts is on Paul. But let’s focus on the example of Barnabas.

Perhaps he was willing to admit that Paul had certain characteristics that were better suited for the job at hand. Barnabas was a warm and encouraging sort, which is a necessary quality of leadership. But he may have been of such a temperament that he tried to avoid confrontations. On the other hand, Paul was like a seething volcano, always ready to erupt with powerful, convicting preaching or debate, and never backing down from a battle.

Perhaps Barnabas realized this once and for all at Lystra, the city on that first missionary tour where Paul was stoned. Watching beleaguered Paul struggle to his feet and head right back into the city may have convinced Barnabas of the unique qualities Paul possessed.

At least it is safe to say that he had a similar attitude to that of John the Baptist. Submitting to the new leadership of Jesus Christ, John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Barnabas practiced what Paul later preached: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

Are you like Barnabas?

Barnabas’ humility is also seen in his freedom from feelings of prejudice. Had he been biased, perhaps Paul would not have gotten anywhere with those at Jerusalem. Barnabas was willing to welcome into the Church brethren of other nationalities and cultures. He didn’t let petty differences keep him from serving God’s people.

God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). Barnabas manifested this same attitude by seeing the good in people. He dwelt on positives. He saw potential for the future. Exactly how much he had to do with Paul’s development, and therefore with the growth of the gentile Work, we don’t know at this time. We do know enough that we can benefit from his sterling example. What else, after all, would you expect from a man called the Son of Encouragement?

Source: The Good News, 1986

May 31, 2009

Is Suicide The "Unpardonable Sin?"

incredimazing.com

incredimazing.com

The Bible gives no specific command regarding suicide, nor does the word itself appear in the Bible. There are, however, references to seven people who killed themselves: Samson (Judges 16); Abimelech ( Judges 9); Saul (I Samuel 31); Saul’s armorbearer (I Samuel 31); Zimri (I Kings 16:18); Ahithophel (II Samuel 17:23); and Judas (Matthew 27:5). The earlier conduct of all seven was morally corrupt, and except for Samson their suicides were simply attempts to escape their well-deserved fates.

“Suicide means self-murder and murder is forbidden by the Sixth Commandment: “Thou shalt do no murder.”  God has not given an individual — even one who could rightly judge himself deserving of the death penalty (as could most of the above) — the right to pass such a sentence. Suicide is not an acceptable way of escaping punishment, dishonor or the like.”

In a different case, however, Samson died a hero, because his suicide was in fact a dedication of his life, at long last, wholly to the service of God in the liberation of Israel from the Philistines. His motive was not just to kill himself to escape. Christ Himself similarly gave His life for others.

Since a suicide experiencing quick death or unconsciousness has no opportunity to repent of his murder in this life, some have wondered if suicide is the unpardonable sin. The answer is no, because the unpardonable sin is only unpardonable because it is something a person refuses to repent of.

God is merciful, not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), but He simply has not called most people to repentance in this life. They will have their chance in a resurrected life after the millennium in the period known as the White Throne Judgment.

April 1, 2009

Is The Bible True?

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blog.catholic-convert.com/?m=20080416

DID the children of Israel REALLY cross the Red Sea? We are told in the Bible that Israel fled Egypt during the Days of Unleavened Bread. That they were driven out because the Egyptians had been SUPERNATURALLY PUNISHED by God. But at the last minute, Pharaoh changed his mind! It took yet another miracle to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt, says the Bible — the “miracle of the Red Sea.” DID THIS MIRACLE REALLY HAPPEN? 

Do Miracles Happen Today? 

It is time we asked ourselves if it takes a miracle TODAY for Christians to separate from this world, to come out of this world’s society, and to live as God has ordained? Those who say that the miracle of the Red Sea did not happen are, the same people who today say we do not have to rely on any supernatural power to overcome this world. 

The supreme lesson we must learn from the Days of Unleavened Bread is that, after Christ has PASSED OVER our mistakes and overlooks our past, we have to go through a period of separating from this world — and in this process we cannot extricate ourselves from this world WITHOUT A DIVINE MIRACLE. This miracle is something that God, not man, has to perform — just as God performed, according to the Scripture, THE MIRACLE OF THE RED SEA! God told the children of Israel, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” 

Now let’s look through the story of what really took place during the seven days of Unleavened Bread — from the time the children of Israel left the land where they observed the Passover to the time they crossed the Red Sea. 

Modern critics have all kinds of theories as to the directions the children of Israel took when they journeyed in Egypt from the city of Rameses, where they met at the night of the Festival, to the Red Sea. One sometimes wonders where the children of Israel would have been taken had all the modern critics instead of Moses led them from Pharaoh! 

What portion of the land of Egypt did Israel journey through upon leaving? What is the route of the Exodus? Did the crossing of the Red Sea really occur? 

The Background of the Story 

Let’s turn, for the background of the story, to Genesis 15:18, “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, FROM THE RIVER OF EGYPT unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” 

Is this “river of Egypt” the Nile? 

Some modern critics tell us “no.” They claim it is, instead, a dry river bed, which flows only in the winter, in midst of the Sinai peninsula. 

But the Bible plainly declares it is the River OF EGYPT, not the river of THE SINAI PENINSULA. It is not the river of the Philistines. It is the river of EGYPT! There is only one river of Egypt — the Nile. 

If God had not given Abraham’s descendants dominion to the river of Egypt, but had given them only a dry river bed in the middle of the Sinai desert, then what right have his descendants — the British and other Western Europeans — had to build the Suez Canal? Why was it wrong for Nasser to have taken over the Suez Canal unless it belonged to Israel in the first place? 

The very fact that God used Israel to build the Suez Canal is in itself proof that the children of Israel should possess the land of Egypt to the Nile! 

Certainly from fulfilled prophecy the river of Egypt is the Nile. 

We have this confirmed in Joshua 15:4. This Scripture tells us that the border of the land in the south passed toward Azmon, and went out unto the river of Egypt; and the goings out of that coast were at the sea: this shall be your south coast.” 

Also in verse 47, “Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border thereof.” 

When we come to I Kings 8:65, we find the same border: “And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath [near the Euphrates] unto the river of Egypt” celebrated a festival. 

Now we want to find out if God ever caused the children of Israel to possess the territory east of the Nile. Was the land east of the Nile ever possessed by the children of Israel? 

Where Is Goshen? 

Notice what the Egyptians themselves promised for the children of Israel because of what Joseph did for them. Here is what we find in Genesis 45:10, “And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen,” says Joseph to his father at Pharaoh’s command, “and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast.” 

Jacob and all of the family of Israel could dwell in the land of Goshen. But — where is the land of Goshen? 

Modern scholars tell us that it is a small, semi-desolate area east of the Nile halfway between the Nile and the Suez Canal today. This is supposed to be the land with which God blessed Jacob in the land of Egypt. 

Because critics have assumed this is the land of Goshen, they cannot believe that there were 600,000 Israelite men, beside women and children, at the time exodus occurred. 

Of course in this area which the scholars tell us is the land of Goshen, there couldn’t have even been 6,000 men, beside women and children, with all of their cattle. The fact is, scholars haven’t understood where the land of Goshen is. 

Genesis 46:28 tells us more of the story. “And he [Jacob] sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen.” Jacob was coming down from Beersheba in Palestine into Egypt. “And they came into the land of Goshen. And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up [northward] to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him.” 

Did you notice that Joseph was not in the land of Goshen? Joseph dwelt where Pharaoh was. And Pharaoh was at Memphis, the capital of lower Egypt. “Joseph made ready his chariot, AND WENT UP TO MEET Israel his father.” He went up to Goshen. He was going NORTH. Therefore, the land of Goshen was NORTH of the capital of Egypt at this time. 

Now verses 33 and 34 of Genesis 46: “And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?” — Joseph instructs his father to say this — “That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers; that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” Egyptians often hired foreigners to tend to their cattle. So the purpose was to have the children of Israel dwell in the land of Goshen to tend cattle there. 

Chapter 47, verse 5 picks up the story. “And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; IN THE BEST OF THE LAND make thy father and brethren to dwell; IN THE LAND OF GOSHEN let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.” 

Did you notice that Pharaoh said to the children of Israel, “The land of Egypt is before you, the best of the land, the land of Goshen.” This is the portion of Egypt that Pharaoh is actually turning over to the children of Israel because of what Joseph did! Remember, God told Abraham that his descendants were going to control land to the river of Egypt — the Nile. This is how God began to fulfill that promise! 

Now to verse 10: “And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, IN THE BEST OF THE LAND, IN THE LAND OF RAMESES, AS PHARAOH HAD COMMANDED.” 

The best of the land, in verse 6, is called “the land of Goshen,” while in verse 11, it is called “the land of Rameses.” Obviously, then, the land of Goshen and the land of Rameses are the same! It is the best of all the land of Egypt. 

The Land of Rameses 

One of the titles belonging to rulers of Egypt was “Rameses.” This title, one of several applied to the rulers of Egypt, existed from the beginning of Egyptian history — long before the “Pharaoh Rameses the Great” of history, who actually began to reign about 790 B.C. 

Ancient Egypt was a feudalistic world. In feudalism the king claims theoretically to own everything. He leased the land out to his princelings and lords (who lease parts of their land to others of still lower rank), but the king reserves a certain portion for himself. 

Pharaoh naturally reserved the best land for himself — the land of Goshen. It belonged personally to Pharaoh. So Pharaoh was not taking land leased to his lords. He is granting this territory to Joseph, who was next highest in the kingdom, for his service. The fee for receiving the land of Goshen or Rameses is stated in verse 6: “And if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over MY cattle.” 

Where were Pharaoh’s cattle? In the land of Goshen, the land of Rameses. Pharaoh knew that if Joseph could bless all Egypt as he had done, his family would also be bound to bless his own stock. But in so doing, the Egyptians granted the right of the children of Israel to this territory. And by command of their ruler all the land of Goshen, the land of Rameses, is given to the children of Israel — as partial fulfillment of God’s promise that Abraham’s seed should extend to the river of Egypt, to the Nile. 

Goshen During the Plagues 

Continuing the story with Exodus 8:22. Another dynasty has risen up; Moses is dealing with a new Pharaoh. One of the plagues is about to occur: “I will sever in that day,” God says, “the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou [Pharaoh] mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people: and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be.” 

And this sign did occur, “… the Lord did so” (verse 24). These flies contaminated and plagued all the land of Egypt where the Egyptians were, but the flies did not plague the land where the children of Israel dwelt. 

The land of Goshen is a particular territory where the children of Israel were dwelling. This was the land that had once belonged to the royal house. God makes a separation between that land and the rest of the land of Egypt. 

Verse 26, chapter 9 tells us almost the same thing: “Only in the land of Goshen, WHERE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WERE, was there no hail.” 

Now to Exodus 12:19, the night of the Passover. “And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt” — this was midnight on the 14th day — “from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon [or the prison-house] and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And HE CALLED FOR MOSES AND AARON BY NIGHT, AND SAID, RISE UP, AND GET YOU FORTH from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said [if they were to stay there any longer], We be all dead men.” 

In verses 34 and 35 the story continues. “The children of Israel … borrowed of the Egyptians” among whom they had been living. The next night — the 15th of Abib — having “spoiled the Egyptians” and driven their cattle, the Israelites came to the city of Rameses. 

Stop for the moment and consider these facts. God told Moses, “Go not out of your houses until the morning.” 

Moses and Aaron naturally would have remained in their house this night — all of the night of the 14th. But Pharaoh, who was not a firstborn son, came out of his house by night to find Moses and urge him and all Israel to leave. 

Modern critics tell us that Pharaoh at this time lived in the city of Thebes in upper Egypt, the land of ancient Sheba. But they are wrong! Pharaoh’s headquarters was at the city of Memphis. The ruling dynasty in Moses’ day came from Xois in the Delta, but the capital of all lower Egypt was at Memphis. This is where the government administration originated. It was at Memphis that Pharaoh that night rose up and went to Moses, and said, “Get out of the land and all your people, and he was urgent on them.” 

Pharaoh could not have been far from where Moses was. That very night, he saddled his camel and went to Moses and Aaron! Wherever the children of Israel observed the Passover was a place very NEAR THE CITY OF MEMPHIS! 

Remember, Israel dwelt in all the land of Goshen, but they had assembled in one particular area to keep the Passover. From this area they journeyed on the daylight part of the 14th of Abib to the city of Rameses, and met there the next night, the night of the 15th! 

The Night of the Exodus 

“The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle” (Ex. 12:37-38). 

From here the children of Israel left on the night of the 15th! (Deut. 16:1). 

Numbers 33:3 makes it even plainer. The children of Israel “departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the Passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand IN THE SIGHT OF ALL THE EGYPTIANS. 

Between the morning after the Passover and the next night, “the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so they lent unto them,” that is, PAID them, “such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians,” that is, they took their wages that the Egyptians withheld from them for nearly two centuries. 

Then they gathered at RAMESES. Where was this city? 

Let me read what Josephus plainly tells us. Josephus, “Antiquities Of The Jews,” Book II, Chapter XV. “So the Hebrews went out of Egypt, while the Egyptians wept, and repented that they had treated them so hardly … Now they took their journey by LETOPOLIS, a place at that time deserted, but where BABYLON was built afterwards, when Cambyses laid Egypt waste.” So Rameses was the city of Letopolis, which later under Persian rule, was called the city of Babylon. Did you know there was also a Babylon in Egypt as well as in Mesopotamia where Nimrod started his kingdom? 

What city is this today? Josephus, writing in Greek, calls this the city of Letopolis — a Greek name for Rameses. POLIS means city in Greek. A METROPOLIS is a “mother city.” So Letopolis was the city of Letona — one of the names of Semiramis or Easter, the Queen of Heaven. It is the same from which LATIN has come. So this was one of the cities dedicated anciently to the Queen of Heaven. No wonder it was also called BABYLON later! 

Smith’s Classical Dictionary Of Greek And Roman Biography” says of the city of Babylon in Egypt that it “is in later-times called Fostat OR OLD CAIRO, a fortress in lower Egypt on the right bank of the Nile exactly opposite to the pyramids of Giza, and at the beginning of the canal which connected the Nile with the Red Sea. 

The city of Rameses, built by the children of Israel in honor of the Pharaoh, was Letopolis, the very city which today the Mohammedans call Old Cairo! 

Notice the accompanying map. God gave the children of Israel the land all the way to the Nile River. The land east of the Nile toward Palestine was the land of Goshen. That’s where the cattle of Israel were grazing. 

The capital city of lower Egypt was Memphis. That is where Pharaoh had his court. 

The children of Israel, when they assembled in Kameses, were assembling at Old Cairo. Since they reached Rameses or Old Cairo on the night after the Passover, they must have assembled for the Passover a little to the south of Old Cairo — near Memphis, Pharaoh’s capital. Memphis is on the west side of the Nile. Old Cairo is a little farther north on the east of the Nile River. Old Cairo is but a suburb of modern Cairo today. It is just an old section of town. Most visitors are not even permitted today to see Old Cairo because it is such a ramshackle place — though it is not as deserted today as the children of Israel found it then. That is why they met there — because there weren’t Egyptians living in that area. 

Many Bible maps cannot be relied upon. They disagree with each other and with the Bible. The producers of these maps do not use the Bible as evidence, but their human theories instead! 

Josephus at least should know as much as the scholars today. And when you put his evidence with the Bible, it’s very clear that it had to be near the city of Memphis where they kept the Passover! As the congregation of Israel were leaving northward they gathered at the city of Rameses, which Josephus calls Letopolis — Babylon or Old Cairo in Egypt. 

Israel Builds Pyramids 

Israel naturally had their headquarters near Memphis because at Memphis, the Egyptian orders were issued. That is the region where the pyramids were built. Interestingly enough, as we go through the account of Josephus we find the following surprising facts. Josephus tells us in his “Antiquities Of The Jews” (Book II, chapter IX) that the children of Israel were forced to channel [make channels for the river], to build walls for the Egyptians and make cities and ramparts … they set them also to build pyramids after the pattern of the Great Pyramid, and by all this wore them out …” 

The majority of the pyramids start from Old Cairo and go SOUTH, not north. The children of Israel must have labored in the area centered at the region of Old Cairo and on south throughout the heart-land of Egypt. 

Notice a plain statement in the “Imperial Bible Dictionary” (published in England, Volume 5, subject, Rameses”): “Immediately south of this region of Old Cairo there is an area where there were ancient quarries in a rocky mountain, from which much of the material for the pyramids was procured, AND IN WHICH THE POOR JEWS ARE SAID BY MANETHO [an Egyptian historian] to have worked.” 

This confirms what Josephus tells us in his work entitled “Apion,” Book I, chapter 26. Near these quarries on the east of the Nile opposite Memphis is an area called “Mera-vad-Musa, or the ‘Habitation [or dwelling] of Moses.'” Moses was the leader and as he communicated back and forth with Pharaoh it is logical that opposite Memphis, where many of the lesser pyramids were build, Moses should have his headquarters — to this day bearing the name, “the Habitation of Moses.” 

Now continuing with the “Imperial Bible Dictionary:” “From thence [that is, MERA-VAD-MUSA or the Habitation of Moses”] they moved northward, passing, as Josephus says, by ancient Babylon or Old Cairo, and then by or over the site of modern Cairo, proceeding along the direct route to the land of Canaan, as far as Succoth, or BERKET EL HADJ, the ‘Pool of the Pilgrims,’ …” “Succoth” merely means booths — or an encampment. It was where Moslem pilgrims, to this day, can go from Egypt over to Mecca, the holy city of the Mohammedan religion. It is on the way that led out of Egypt to the wilderness of the Red Sea. 

But let us go on to Numbers 33 and read the rest of the account. “And they departed from Rameses [Old Cairo] in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month … and went out with a high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the Lord had smitten among them: upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments. And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth. 

“And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness. And they removed from Etham, and turned again [literally turned back] unto Pihahiroth, which is before Baalzephon: and they pitched before Migdol. And they departed from before Pihahiroth, and PASSED THROUGH THE MIDST OF THE SEA into the wilderness, and went three days journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.” 

The miracle of the Red Sea! Did it really happen? 

What Road Did Israel Take? 

Now let us pick up the story with Exodus 13:17: “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through THE WAY OF THE LAND OF THE PHILISTINES.” Here we have the first of several highways named. 

In ancient Egypt there were major roads which went out of Egypt. One was “the way of the Red Sea” which was southeast from the Delta. Another was “the way of Etham,” or “the wilderness of Shur” which went from Egypt through Beersheba. It was the road by which Jacob came down into Egypt. The third is “the way of the land of the Philistines” which went up from the coast through Gaza by the Mediterranean. See the accompanying map. 

As Israel was proceeding north through Old Cairo, they could have easily taken the way, or the highway of the Philistines — the Philistine highway. Many assume that this road must have been by the Mediterranean. They are wrong! The way of the land of the Philistines extended far into Egypt. 

While the Israelites were still in Egypt, they could have traveled by the road that led northward to the land of the Philistines. But, instead of taking that, near as it was, God said, “Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt,” GOD LED THE PEOPLE ABOUT THROUGH THE WAY OF THE WILDERNESS OF THE RED SEA. 

This is another road. This is the most southerly of the three major roads in Egypt. Instead of taking the northerly route which would have taken them through the land of the Philistines, or the middle route in an easterly direction through Beersheba, they took the road leading southeast into Sinai and Arabia. God led them, not straight north, but through the way of the Red Sea. 

This is the common road that even to this day the Moslem pilgrims take to the holy city of Mecca in Arabia. It is a road that has been used from the very beginning of time when human beings have dwelt in the land of Egypt. 

Continuing: “And the children of Israel went up harnessed [or, in ranks of five] out of the land of Egypt” marching up the road. “And Moses took the bones of Joseph [perhaps from the Great Pyramid just west of Old Cairo?] with him: for he had straightly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth,” the first stopping point on this road which went toward the Red Sea. And from there, they took their journey “and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness [of Sinai].” 

At this point, they could have gone straight out of Egypt into Sinai, and Pharaoh never could have caught them! All they had to do was to follow the road just as the Arabs do today — out of Egypt through the Sinai peninsula down through Arabia to Mecca. 

Here they were at the border of Egypt, just north of the Red Sea, not by the Mediterranean. What happened next? 

Now “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” (Ex. 13:21). It took them the seven days of Unleavened Bread to leave Egypt altogether. 

God “took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (verse 22). “And the Lord spake unto Moses (Exodus 14:1-2), saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they TURN [don’t continue, but turn sharply to the right] and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.” They now camp by the seashore. 

Where Are These Places? 

The “Imperial Bible Dictionary” tells us again. “Pihahiroth, therefore, must have been the name of some natural locality, such as a mountain, or a range of mountains, a cliff, precipice, cape or promontory. It is said of the children of Israel, when [they were] overtaken by Pharaoh at the Red Sea, that they were entangled in the land, being shut in by the ‘wilderness’ or mountains (Ex. 14:3).” 

Israel could not have gone farther in its line of march. Pharaoh had them bottled up in front of the Pihahiroth range of mountains! Did God make a mistake in leading them by the hand of Moses? 

Israel ended up on an area at the upper portion of the Red Sea by the Gulf of Suez where there is a huge mountain range that comes right down to the sea. When they got into this area, it was like entering a bag. They could not go any farther by land. The only place they could go was out into the water because the mountain range comes right down to the seashore. 

Opposite Pihahiroth was Baalzephon. This must have been a city where Baal was worshipped. Zephon means “the north.” This was “Baal of the North” — the Baal that comes down from the north pole, clad in red and white every December 25! This was the ancient seat of Santa Claus worship. 

They also camped near Migdol. Where was it? 

Trumbull, in his book called “Kadesh Barnea,” page 377, reveals something about the city of Migdol: “A short distance to the northwest of Suez … there is a station, or a pass, known as El Maktal” — the Migdol. “It is directly on the line of the Hajj route.” The HAJJ is a modern Arabic term for “the way of the Red Sea.” The modern El Maktal is “near the track noted … as the ‘Way of the Bed’ween into Ancient Egypt.'” “Wilkinson judged ‘from its name and position,’ that this represents ‘the Migdol of the Bible.'” 

As they encamped before Pihahiroth, which is a mountain range, and Baalzephon, then Baalzephon was on the north, and Pihahiroth was the mountain range on the south. Then between Migdol, in the west, and the Red Sea, in the east, there is an area large enough for the children of Israel to be bottled up. 

The Red Sea is nearly 8 miles across here! There is a very extensive area — many thousands of feet wide — which could have opened up for the children of Israel to cross. 

Crossing the Red Sea 

Let’s continue with Exodus 14:3: “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” And God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, “And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel.” Pharaoh overtook them camping by the Red Sea on what probably was the sixth day of Unleavened Bread. 

The Israelites were now frightened. They said in verse 12, “Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians. For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, THAT THEY GO FORWARD” — into the water? No! 

Notice: “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, AND DIVIDE IT: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” 

The miracle was wrought when Moses stretched his rod forth. The sea parted thousands of feet wide! Then the winds came in to drive back the waters and to build them up as a wall on either side! 

Now verse 21: “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back.” It was a miracle! Contrary to seasonal weather a strong wind blew “all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel WENT INTO THE MIDST OF THE SEA UPON THE DRY GROUND: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, EVEN ALL PHARAOH’S HORSES, HIS CHARIOTS, AND HIS HORSEMEN. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drove them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians. And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it.” 

Here was an area wide enough for 600 chosen chariots of the Egyptians to race through, beside a great many troops in order to capture the nearly 2,000,000 Israelite men, women and children. Verse 28, the waters “returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; THERE REMAINED NOT SO MUCH AS ONE OF THEM. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.” 

Egypt Left Desolate 

Pharaoh’s army was slain. There was not one left (Psalm 106:11). Read Exodus 15:4: “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are DROWNED in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 

God won the battle for the children of Israel. They were delivered out of the land of Egypt. They now rested on the peaceful shores of Sinai, where even today such names as “Ayn Musa” and “Ras Musa” testify to the Exodus. Not one of the Israelites perished, but all the Egyptians who pursued were overthrown. 

Josephus adds some vivid details to the same story! “The number that pursued after them was six hundred chariots, with fifty thousand horsemen, and two hundred thousand footmen, all armed. They also seized on the passages by which they imagined the Hebrews might fly, shutting them up between inaccessible precipices and the sea; for there was … a [ridge of] mountains that terminated at the sea, which were impassable by reason of their roughness, and obstructed their flight; wherefore they there pressed upon the Hebrews with their army” (“Antiquities Of The Jews,” Josephus, page 76). 

A few verses in Psalm 77 are worth reading at this point. “I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings” (verse 11). What were God’s doings? 

We find them in verse 16: “The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: THE LIGHTNINGS LIGHTENED THE WORLD: THE EARTH TREMBLED AND SHOOK. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leadest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” 

Thunder and rain and great lightning shook the land that night. In early morning the waters just poured in on PHARAOH AS HIS CHARIOT BECAME STUCK IN THE MUD AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA — AND HE IS THERE TO THIS DAY! 

Psalm 78 also tells us a little about it. Verse 12: “Marvelous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, IN THE FIELD OF ZOAN.” The word “field” here is properly translated elsewhere as “country” or “kingdom.” 

The “land of Egypt” is “the field,” or “the country,” or “the kingdom of Zoan.” Zoan gave its name to Egypt because it was the earliest city built in Egypt (Numbers 13:22 says that it was built 7 years after Hebron and was apparently the first city built in post-flood Egypt). 

The country of Egypt was named after Zoan just as Israel was often named after SAMARIA, or Judah was named after JERUSALEM. 

The miracles that God wrought WERE IN THE LAND OF EGYPT — in the land of Zoan. They mean the same thing! These miracles did not occur in some obscure field outside the city of Zoan near the Mediterranean! 

Egypt’s Historians Admit What Happened 

That is the story of the miracle of the Red Sea. And it is corroborated from the Egyptians’ own record of history! 

From the Exodus forward, Egypt was for almost four centuries overrun by Amalekites (or Hyksos, the Egyptian word for “shepherds”) and punished for having enslaved the Israelites. Even as late as the days of Saul and David the Amalekites dominated Egypt. 

In I Samuel 30 David meets an Egyptian slave left by his Amalekite master to die in the wilderness. “And David said to him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me …” (verse 13). 

The ancient Egyptian historian Manetho admits all this: “There was a king of ours whose name was Timaus [the Greek form of Thom, a king of the 14th dynasty]. Under him it came to pass, I know not how, that God was averse to us, and there came after a surprising manner, men of ignoble birth out of the eastern parts [the Amalekites], and had boldness enough to make an expedition into our country, and with ease subdued it by force, yet without our hazarding a battle with them …” (“Against Apion” by Josephus, Book I, Part 14). 

So the historical record of Egypt, when rightly understood, CONFIRMS THE BIBLE. There was neither Pharaoh nor army left to defend the country! They disappeared in the Red Sea without leaving a trace. Not until the days of King Saul did Egypt recover her former power (See “Ages In Chaos,” Vol I). 

The miracle of the Red Sea did happen! The Bible is true! And the same living God who delivered ancient Israel from the world will intervene miraculously for us today to deliver us from our enemies. If we trust him and wait upon him, we, too, “shall see the salvation of the Lord.” 

Source: Good News, July 1959, Vol. VIII, Number 7, Herman L. Hoeh 

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