As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!-Exodus 14:10-12
I think many of us have a tendency to be a bit too harsh in our criticism of the Israelites for responding the way they did when they noticed the mighty Egyptian army bearing down on them.
“What a bunch of ungrateful sissies!”
“Had the Israelites not witnessed the Lord’s mighty plagues against Egypt?”
“Why were they so lacking in faith that the very Lord who had wrought such devastation in Egypt would also not be able to deliver them?”
I’m not saying the way they responded is completely justifiable but I think a little more compassion is in order here.
You have to understand these Israelites had known nothing but slavery in Egypt up until that point in time.
They didn’t know about war or military strategy.
That was one of the reasons God had them take the Way of the Wilderness route, so they wouldn’t encounter the armies of the Philistines.
This was the farthest they had ever been out of Egypt.
Obviously as slaves, they didn’t have much of a life.
So when all of a sudden, Pharaoh shows up followed by the most sophisticated military in the world hellbent on destroying them, they were obviously terrified.
I think the Scripture is too tame when it says “they were very afraid”.
Look, let me blunt.
They were freakin’ the hell out man!
And I bet you would have been quaking in your boots too, if you were in their shoes.
Of course their reaction towards Moses is going to be over the top.
They were so smitten with panic that they were even willing to return to bondage.
Listen, when we’re afraid, we say and do stupid things.
That’s just human nature.
It’s been scientifically demonstrated that the logic center of the mind becomes completely disabled when panic sets in.
All of these chemicals start rushing through the brain when one is in a “fight or flight” situation.
This is exactly where the Israelites were at when Pharaoh and his army attacked them.
Now there’s an interesting spiritual lesson that is woven into the typology of the text here.
Consider Pharaoh to be a type of Satan.
And his bondage a type of “slavery to sin”.
The point is once God delivers us from Satan (in this case, represented by Pharaoh), and the ways of the world (represented by Egypt), Satan doesn’t just let us go so easily.
Just because we’ve been saved or born again doesn’t mean our life is going to be a bed of roses thereafter.
Although we’ve been delivered out of Egypt and we’re no longer of Egypt, Satan will still come after us and try to enslave us again.
Before we come to the Lord, Satan will do everything to keep us from coming to Him.
However, once we surrender our lives to the Lord and become one of His, Satan changes his strategy.
Now Satan’s goal is to re-enslave us to sin and the ways of the world.
That is why in Scripture we will see the Lord admonishing His people over and over again to not return back to Egypt.
The Torah really is a blueprint, I would say an indispensable warrior’s manual for not only how to live a holy life AFTER being saved but also how to effectively battle with the devil as one of God’s people.
Don’t forget that during Yeshua’s wilderness temptation, it was the Words of the Torah (from the Book of Deuteronomy) He quoted when facing down the devil after 40 days and nights of fasting.