You awake, startled out of your sleep on the beach, at the Gulf of Aqaba, you thought you heard something. Surprised, you bump your head on the upside down kneading bowl you were using for a pillow.
A quick check reveals your wife with her head on your arm and 6 children all nestled around you.
All your sheep, goats, donkeys, bull and cow are standing where you left them and they look like they hardly moved the last 7 hours either.
You hear the small waves lapping at the peaceful shore and you think about going back to sleep as the sun will be down soon and you do not want to disturb your wife and little ones.
Your family had just walked 64 hours straight from somewhere in the mountains at Moses’ command and while everyone was tired, they were not hungry, after eating nothing for 7 days but unleavened bread cakes.
You remember arriving, at Nuweibaa, in late morning and Moses ordered everyone to eat quickly, bathe if you like, but get to sleep as soon as possible.
You look towards the shore and see Moses standing there gazing out across the sea to Arabia and he is in the same place you saw him almost 8 hours ago. Did he even sleep a wink? Did he even sleep once the entire 7 days?
Thinking back about the last 7 days and the weeks before them and remembering working and slaving away in Egypt you look around at this strange place thinking “What’s next? Where do we go from here? There is no beach to the North or to the South. Will we make boats?”
Quickly going back through the recent details, you smile to yourself with thoughts of freedom and yet uncertainty about the future. Glancing back West at the mountains, the cloud of YHVH behind you is gone and to the East the sun has disappeared over the mountain tops and twilight will begin soon.
But today, you are a free man and in control of your family’s destiny with all your people, over 3 million and right alongside Israel is this Gentile mixed multitude of at least a million people who saw the plagues and decided they would rather walk and follow YHVH and Moses than slave away in Egypt in bondage any longer.
You lay your head back onto the bowl and are almost asleep and suddenly 10 or more shofars sound, from many places closer to the mountain trail, almost in unison and they keep blowing fervently.
Then you hear the horses, hundreds of them in the distance high above and with the sound of a feint thunder. They get louder by the minute and fear begins to creep into your mind and the hairs on your arms and the back of your neck are electrified as you realize what the sound is and suddenly you see the first chariot round the corner still quite a distance away!
First one chariot, then another, and another, then dozens of them roaring down the mountainside at breakneck pace and what sounds like tens of thousands of riders on horseback. The sound is deafening as hundreds of thousands on the beach awake from their sleep.
And then suddenly, as if from nowhere, your view of the Egyptians is totally and completely blocked by YHVH’s pillar of fire and you breathe a sigh of relief as if your were dreaming and deep in sleep and the whole bad dream just fled away.
You hear your children saying “Daddy, daddy what’s going on…”
Your wife has a firm grip on your arm.
You turn towards the beach and Moses has not moved. He is still gazing at Arabia as if sleep walking.
You hear people murmuring against Moses and Aaron despite the massive pillar of fire between Israel, and her grafted-in Gentiles. They continue to ridicule Moses and he acts if he does not hear at all. How can anyone be so calm in the face of certain destruction?
The shofars die down now that the pillar of fire prevents the Egyptians and you wonder will Pharaoh ever let us get away to live in peace and freedom? Will we always be hounded by the Egyptians and one day killed by them or worse yet returned to Egypt to live in bondage to them as slaves?
You look down at the sand, moving it with your foot, pondering all these questions and then you hear the crowd go totally silent. You look up and Moses has turned and faced Israel looking very slowly from North to South on the beach as if he sees every single face and meets every eye. Funny thing is the animals are stone cold silent and you could hear a pebble drop on the beach.
Moses turns away to face Arabia again and then lifts both his hands, with an end of the staff in each hand and says something that echoes out across the water and the wind starts blowing.
The water starts churning and becomes very violent as if some massive leviathan sea creature has been disturbed and the fear once again enters, the hairs stand straight up, and most people’s hands are shaking with fear.
All Israel and the Gentile multitude have risen to their feet and the children are telling the parents to lift them on their shoulders so they can see.
Suddenly, the waters divide into a very deep chasm almost the entire 3 mile width of Nuweibaa beach and it is as if a choir director motioned all the people to fall to the ground in fear with their heads bowed, afraid to even look upon the site of the vast rushing water! All Egypt could be flooded with this much water!
What seems like a few minutes pass then Moses is heard saying “Do not fear, for on this Day of Firstfruits, YHVH has saved you from the Egyptians, and YHVH will now gain honor over Pharaoh and all his army so that you and the Egyptians will know He is YHVH and He is our Elohim!”
The people look up as Moses’ voice thunders throughout the beach.
“Now cross to the other side and be set apart from the Egyptians and be set apart to YHVH and serve Him with gladness and humility!” comes the command from Moses.
No one on the beach hesitates to move but no one, not anyone is disorderly or trying to get away first, at the front, as they all walk orderly and quickly into the sea on dry land while looking to the right, and to the left, at the massive wall of water, and wondering how it is possible for there to be no visible support against the water to hold it back.
Into the night we walked, everyone in our family holding hands as Moses continued to stand there watching people as they step on the sand to find it is completely dry and where much water had been only minutes, previously.
Caleb lead the front of Israel across the Red Sea floor and down into the abyss, then Moses walked in the middle of the people, and Joshua waited till every Israelite, every grafted-in Gentile, and every animal had stepped into the chasm and Joshua brought up the rear as the pillar of fire protected all Israel from the Egyptians and shown for miles into the chasm so we could see.
And into the night we went… Brothers and sisters walking quickly on what seemed a never ending adventure, escaping the sword of the Egyptians and the mental and physical anguish of bondage in slavery.
Welcome to the first, FirstFruits, and on the correct day, the 8th Day!
PS… I was taking a shower this afternoon thinking about what we would do once Unleavened bread ends at sundown and YHVH’s Spirit came upon me and I wrote this in just a few minutes. It seems there is more to follow later…