Scripture: The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. Exodus 12:40-42 ESV
Observation: For Moses, Israel’s exodus from Egypt confirms the Lord’s prophetic word to his forefather, Abraham: “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:13–14). Indeed, while Egypt provided a safe harbor during the seven-year famine and beyond under the watchful care of Joseph, subsequent Pharaohs would abuse their power, subjugating Israel to hard labor. But now, the approximate two million Israelites are free at last to hastily make their way to the Promised Land under the watchful eye of their Lord. And under this mysteriously quiet starry sky, Israel keenly focuses on their Savior, for it is a night of watching—a holy night not to be forgotten but reenacted by future generations.
Takeaway: First and foremost, Moses emphasizes the reliability of Yahweh’s unchanging promises through repetition of the years in Egypt. Granted, the Lord’s prophesy to Abraham is thirty years short of the exact count listed above. But as often found in Scripture, while numbers may vary due to rounding, the intent of the prophecy proves accurate, for our trustworthy God is a covenant keeper. Secondly, Moses highlights our Lord’s watchfulness: He is faithful to lead Israel from oppression to prosperity, from peril to Sabbath rest—foreshadowing the work of our Christ. Indeed, our watchful Savior has not only delivered us from sin’s condemnation under the law of Moses and guided us into his promised kingdom, but he continues to watch over us from his heavenly throne. As Paul contends to the Roman church, “Who is to condemn [us]? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). And as Paul adds, nothing can separate us from this watchful, attentive love of God manifested in Christ.
So how should we respond? Like Israel, when darkness encroaches, more than ever, we need to be night watchers who keep our eyes fixed on our Savior, the Light of the World, who, for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and is now seated in power with the Father (Hebrews 12:2). For he remains watchful, and so should we.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who, with you and the Holy Spirit, watches over us and is a light unto our paths. Would you please help us to be vigilant night watchers who look for the light of your Son and follow his lead? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling