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3.8 Miracles and Presence

One notable aspect of the Deliverance aspect of Exodus is that God makes His Presence manifest to Israel through miracles (other than acts of judgment on the Egyptians).

         By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people (Ex 13:21-22).
        "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Ex 14:13-14).

         And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant (Ex 14:31).
This is important, not just "special effects."   We cannot jettison miracles without distorting the meaning of the Scriptures.  The predominant knowledge of God that Israel possessed at this time was that He was absent. They had grown up without a single trace of His existence, as had their parents, and their parents before them.  Yes, there was an ancient rumor that God had appeared to their ancestors, but Egypt was full of myths.  They needed a "revelation."  All true revelations are historical in character, they bring the divine into human experience.  They have a meaning in themselves, in that they alter historical events -- getting Israel across the Red Sea -- yet they also signify something more than those events.  What they signify is the abiding Presence of God with His people, His blessing on them, and His selection of them.  The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (and later the manna) were visible refutations of the Israelites' "God is dead" upbringing.


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