One day while Moses was taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, he led the flock across the desert and came to Sinai, the holy mountain. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him as a flame coming from the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire but that it was not burning up. “This is strange,” he thought. Why isn’t the bush burning up? I will go closer and see.”
When the LORD saw that Moses was coming closer, he called to him from the middle of the bush and said, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Yes, here I am.” God said, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Then the LORD said, “I have seen how cruelly my people are being treated in Egypt: . . . Now I am sending you to the king of Egypt so that you can lead my people out of his country.” Ex 3:1-10
Moses, Window A
But as we know, “nothing is impossible for God.”
So, with the help of his brother Aaron, the power of God and a lot of persistence, Moses proceeded.
The king (Pharoah) was very stubborn, just as the LORD had predicted. So with the help of Moses and Aaron, the LORD caused ten successive plagues to fall upon the king and his people in order to convince the king to “let His people go.”
In the first plague, the water of the Nile River was turned into Blood (1). We see in the first of the Moses Triplet windows – a stream of red, representing this first disaster.
Then the king was plagued with swarms of Frogs (2), Gnats (3) and Flies (4). The Egyptian animals began to die of disease (5), the Egyptian people developed boils and open sores (6). The clouds stormed down enormous hail to destroy the crops and anything or anyone exposed to it (7).
Then, the Egyptians were inundated with swarms of locusts which ate up everything in their path (8). In our first window we also see locusts and a parched brown earth behind them, depicting this plague.
Three days of total darkness engulfed the Egyptians (9) as the ninth plague (Darkness behind the white, arched doorway). And finally, the last and worst of the plagues was the death of all the ‘first-born’ of Egypt, both man and animal alike (10).
The Israelites were immune to all of the plagues, except this last one. In order for them to survive the plague of death, they were required to sacrifice a lamb and spread it’s blood on the doorposts and lintels of their homes.
They were to share the meal of lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread, with no wastage, and be prepared for a hasty departure. For by this ritual, the angel of death would pass over their house and they would be saved. This day would be remembered forever as Passover. It was the day of their freedom!
The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in Egypt: “This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Give these instructions to the whole community of Israel: On the tenth day of this month each man must choose either a lamb or a young goat for his household. If his family is too small to eat a whole animal, he and his next-door neighbor may share an animal, in proportion to the number of people and the amount each person can eat.
You may choose either a sheep or a goat, but it must be a one-year old male without any defects. Then on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, the whole community of Israel will kill the animals. The people are to take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and above the doors of the houses in which the animals are to be eaten.
That night the meat is to be roasted, and eaten with bitter herbs and with bread made without yeast. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled, but eat it roasted whole, including the head, the legs, and the internal organs. You must not leave any of it until morning; if any is left over, it must be burned. You are to eat it quickly, for you are to be dressed for travel, with your sandals on your feet and your walking stick in your hand. It is the Passover Festival to honor me, the LORD.
On that night I will go through the land of Egypt, killing every first born male, both human and animal, and punishing all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood on the doorposts will be a sign to mark the houses in which you live. When I see the blood, I will pass over you and will not harm you when I punish the Egyptians. You must celebrate this day as a religious festival to remind you of what I the LORD, have done. Celebrate it for all time to come.” Ex 12:1-14
That same night the king sent for Moses and Aaron and said, “Get out, you and your Israelites! Leave my country: go and worship the LORD, as you asked. Gn 12:31
So the Israelites departed Egypt and camped in the desert . . .
During the day the LORD went in front of them in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and during the night he went in front of them in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel night and day. Gn 13: 21
And so it was by Fire that the LORD captured the attention of Moses at his “Calling.” It was by Fire that the LORD led his people from slavery into freedom. It was by Fire that the Lord burned cowardice from Peter after denying Jesus three times. It was by Fire that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles at Pentecost. And so it is by Fire that we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Baptism.
Moses, Window B
Exodus – Delivery and Law
When the king of Egypt was told that the people (Israelites) had escaped, he and his officials changed their minds and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites escape, and we have lost them as our slaves!” So, The Egyptian army, with all the horses, chariots and drivers, pursued them and caught up with them where they were camped by the Red Sea . . . Ex 14:5,9
And the people feared the Egyptians and they feared the unknown wilderness which they faced ahead of them and began to regret having ever left. How quickly they forgot the bondage of slavery! How comfortable they became in a hopeless existence!
But the LORD wanted them to fight for this new found freedom. He wanted them to care. He wanted them to Love and to Trust Him above ALL else.
Moses held out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind. It blew all night and turned the sea into dry land. The water was divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides.
The Egyptians pursued them and went after them into the sea with all their horses, chariots and drivers. Just before dawn the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic. He made the wheels of their chariots get stuck, so that they moved with great difficulty. The Egyptians said, “The LORD is fighting for the Israelites against us. Let’s get out of here!”
The LORD said to Moses, “Hold out your hand over the sea, and the water will come back over the Egyptians and their chariots and drivers.” So Moses held out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the water returned to its normal level. The Egyptians tried to escape from the water, but the LORD threw them into the sea. The water returned and covered the chariots, the drivers, and all the Egyptian army that had followed the Israelites into the sea; not one of them was left. Gn 14:21-28
When the Israelites saw the great power with which the LORD had defeated the Egyptians, they stood in awe of the LORD; and they had faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses. Gn 14:31
Barefoot and wrapped in the mantle of the Holy Spirit, Moses obediently followed God’s orders and delivered the Israelites from bondage into safety. It was a miracle that would never be forgotten. Though at the time – those Israelites still had a long way to go before they fully and truly embraced FAITH in the LORD. Funny, it’s kind of like our own lives. We constantly take baby steps toward Faith but frequently back-slide for the sake of our own comfort or desire for independence.
Moses returned to the mountain of Sinai to meet with the LORD again. And on that holy mountain the LORD gave Moses laws or commandments to help govern the people. These were the famous “Ten Commandments.”
With a finger pointing to God, two bolts of lightning representing the almighty power of God, two tablets of stone on which were engraved the Ten Commandments and the Breath of the Holy Spirit as the purple cloud coming from the sky, God transmitted the “Law” to the Israelites through Moses.
This new covenant, the Covenant of Law, was God’s promise to the Israelites, that he would always be with them, provided they follow that law. It was a law of responsibility, fairness, justice and LOVE. It was the roadmap of LIFE.
Moses, Window C
Moses said, “When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and move on. Go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the surrounding regions – to the Jordan Valley, to the hill country and the lowlands, to the southern region, and to the Mediterranean coast.
Go to the land of Canaan and on beyond the Lebanon Mountains as far as the great Euphrates River. All of this is the land which I, the LORD promised to give to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their descendants. Go and occupy it.'” Dt 1:6-8
But the people were wary. They would not trust in the LORD. And when they arrived at the place which God had told them to enter, they were reluctant and refused to go in. (Dt 1:19-28)
So God condemned them to a lifetime of wandering in the desert (40 years). Only their offspring would finally be allowed entrance into the Promised Land. (Nu 14:26-37)
They cried, “We have no food” – so the LORD provided bread in the form of small, whiteish-yellow flakes called manna, which fell from the sky, for them to eat. (Ex 16)
This was the “Bread from Heaven,” which the Pharisees argued about 1200 years later with Jesus, when Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he will live forever.” Jn 6:51
And the people complained again of their thirst: “We have run out of water again” – so the LORD went as far as bringing water from a rock to satisfy their thirst and to strengthen their faith in Him. (Ex 17:1-7)
And when they fell ill because they were being bitten by the desert snakes, in his ever-loving care, God had Moses set up a sign to remind them to keep their Faith in God. The sign was a bronze serpent mounted on a pole. When the stricken Israelites looked at the pole and renewed their faith in God, they were cured and did not die. (Nu 21:4-9)
It was this same symbol that Jesus referred to, in His discussion with Nicodemus, when he said, “As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.“ Jn 3:14-15
And so He was lifted – on the Cross of Crucifixion.
And so too, He was lifted – from the tomb, in His Resurrection.
And so too, He was lifted – in His Ascension, to sit at the right hand of God the Father.
And by that pole, that Cross,
we too are reminded of the ENORMOUS Love of God for all of us.
And we too are renewed in our Faith.
And we too find LIFE!
Between the Moses Triplet and the Jesus Triplet on the opposite side of our Church, some 1200 Biblical years had passed. The Israelites finally did enter that Promised Land, fulfilling God’s second promise to Abraham (They were as numerous as the stars and now had a homeland). But some of their parent’s lack of faith remained in them, as they never FULLY put their Trust and Faith in God. They never fully followed His commands. Their morals became adulterated by the pagans whose land they entered. They followed strange gods and placed a king in charge of themselves. They fought with one another, refused to listen to God’s messengers – the prophets, and were eventually exiled from that Promised Land, as slaves in foreign Babylon and Assyria.
When they finally returned to their homeland and rebuilt their temple, they found themselves puppets to the Persians, then the Greek Hellenists, the Seleucids and eventually, the Roman Empire. Yet, always lingering in the back of their thoughts, was the hope professed by the Prophets, that someday God would send a Savior, a Messiah, who would free them from their oppression – just like MOSES . . .
Delivered in a straw basket (Moses in a river, Jesus in a manger); Escaped from oppression (Moses from Egypt, Jesus from Herod); Spoke with God on a mountain (Moses and burning bush, Jesus transfiguration); Delivered God’s law (Moses and Ten Commandments, Jesus Beatitudes – Sermon on the Mount), Hands raised to conquer an enemy (Moses by Aaron and Hur against Amalek, Jesus by Romans on a Cross against Satan) – just to name a few . . . . .
4. The Jesus Triplet