Bondage, Passover, and Exodus
The Lord calls Moses to deliver Israel from bondage.
The Lord sends plagues upon Egypt.
The Lord instructs Moses in the preparation of the Passover.
The children of Israel cross the Red Sea.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to (1) trust the Lord to fulfill his
promises, (2) increase our appreciation for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, and
(3) make the sacrament more meaningful in our lives.
Scripture references for study: Exodus
1–3; Exodus 5–6;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
notes: Click on links for expanded information.
Lesson 13 Handout (PDF
The Lord Calls Moses
Jacob to Moses.
A New King In Egypt.
As discussed in Lesson
12, the family of Jacob (Israel) went to Egypt due to the great
Even though the remains of Jacob were returned to his homeland, the family
of Israel remained in Egypt.
"And the children of Israel were fruitful, and
increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the
land was filled with them." (Exodus 1:7)
The family of Israel remained in Egypt over 400 years, from 1720 to 1290
The Birth and Preservation of Moses.
"Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which
knew not Joseph." (Exodus 1:8)
The Israelites had become a numerous people. The king of Egypt feared
that they might join with Egypt's enemies and fight against Egypt.
The king turned the Israelites into slaves.
"Therefore they did set over them taskmasters
to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure
cities, Pithom and Raamses." (Exodus 1:11)
"But the more they afflicted them, the more they
multiplied and grew." (Exodus 1:12)
WHAT MIGHT WE LEARN FROM THE AFFLICTIONS OF ISRAEL?
The time of captivity was a time for building the Israelite nation and
preparing it to assume its rightful inheritance.
Compare the captivity to the Restoration: The foundation of the modern
Church was established in the fire of adversity.
Consider the trials in Kirtland, Independence, Far West, Nauvoo, and even
after arriving in Utah.
The muscle and strength that built and carried the Church into our generation
is a result of the growth which came to the Church and its members during
those difficult times.
Our Personal Lives: Adversity is usually not an enjoyable experience,
but it is one of the ways that enables us to achieve perfection.
Again, consider the lives of Abraham and Joseph.
When times get tough, turn to
Exodus 1:12 and be grateful for the opportunity
to "multiply and grow."
The Egyptians were unable to stop the growth of the Hebrew nation through
Pharaoh then gave instructions to the Hebrew midwives that all male infants
were to be put to death (see
"But the midwives feared God, and did not as the
king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive."
Exodus 1 seems to indicate that Pharaoh destroyed
the male children to
inhibit the growth of the Hebrew nation. Ancient Hebrew tradition
indicates that there was more to it.
Jewish tradition indicates that
Pharaoh was told by one of his scribes or had a dream wherein he was shown that a man soon to be born would
deliver Israel from bondage. This prophecy motivated the royal decree
to drown the male children. (see Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus and
The Legends of the Jews, volume 2, by Louis Ginzberg)
Moses In Midian.
We all know the story of the birth of Moses, how he was saved, and raised
in the house of Pharaoh, as the son of his daughter.
Little is said of the youth of Moses. Stephen, in the New Testament
gives us this insight: "And when he was
cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own
son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was
mighty in words and in deeds" (Acts 7:21-22).
"And when he was full forty years old, it came
into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing
one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed,
and smote the Egyptian" (Acts 7:23-24).
When Pharaoh found out about this act of Moses, he sought to slay him.
"But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and
dwelt in the land of Midian." (Exodus 2:15)
If you are like me, when you read this Biblical account, pictures fill
the mind from that great movie, The Ten Commandments. The movie embellishes
this period of time, where the scripture says little.
The Reluctant Moses.
In Midian, Moses became acquainted with Reuel (Jethro).
Jethro was a descendant of Abraham.
Moses married Jethro's daughter, Zipporah, and she bore him two sons.
We suppose that it was here that Moses began to be taught the true gospel.
Robert J. Matthews: "The Bible informs us
that Moses, while in Midian for forty years, became the son-in-law of Jethro
and the keeper of the sheep; but this record is silent about any spiritual
activities of Moses during this period. In fact it says only that Jethro
was the priest of Midian. However, from modern revelation we learn that
it was Jethro (a descendant of Abraham through Abraham's wife Keturah and
thus a non-Israelite) who ordained Moses to the Melchizedek Priesthood
(D&C 84:6). This was done through a priesthood line outside of Israel.
We are accustomed to thinking of ancient priesthood holders such as Abraham,
Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, and so on, but here we learn that others
also had the holy priesthood of God." (A Bible! A Bible!, p60)
As Moses was tending the flocks of Jethro at Mt. Horeb (Sinai) he was visited
by the Lord.
"And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in
a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush." (Exodus 3:2)
The Joseph Smith Translation reads slighltly different: "And
again, the presence of the Lord appeared unto him, in a flame of fire in
the midst of a bush." (JST Exodus 3:2)
The Lord calls Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt: "Now
therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and
I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come
now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring
forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt" (Exodus
HOW DID MOSES REACT WHEN GOD CALLED HIM TO DELIVER ISRAEL FROM BONDAGE?
"And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should
go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out
of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11)
"And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come
unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers
hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what
shall I say unto them?" (Exodus 3:13)
"And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they
will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The
LORD hath not appeared unto thee." (Exodus 4:1)
"And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am
not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant:
but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." (Exodus 4:10)
HOW DO YOU ACT OR FEEL WHEN YOU RECEIVE A CALLING FROM THE LORD?
WHAT PROMISES DID THE LORD MAKE TO MOSES THAT CAN ALSO APPLY TO US IN OUR
"And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and
this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee." (Exodus
"Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth,
and teach thee what thou shalt say." (Exodus 4:12)
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PROMISE FULFILLED IN YOUR OWN CALLINGS?
Those that have faithfully served on missions or had teaching assignments
are frequently blessed in this manner.
HOW CAN WE, LIKE MOSES, DEVELOP GREATER TRUST IN THESE PROMISES?
We need to be like Nephi and "go and do the things
which the Lord hath commanded" (1 Nephi 3:7). When we
are up and doing the Lord's work, the path seems to be illuminated enough
to keep going.
I am reminded of an experience from my youth. During my teen years,
my friends and I always participated in an annual community climb up Mt. Timpanogos, a towering mountain northeast of Provo. Hundreds of people
would assemble at Aspen Grove on Friday evening to climb the mountain beginning
early Saturday morning. My friends and I were eager to get ahead
of the crowd and be among the first to reach the nearly 12,000 foot summit. We usually began the climb shortly after midnight and climbed for several
hours in the dark. We found that we didn't need to carry flashlights. After a short time on the trail, away from the lights of camp, our eyes
adjusted to the dark and we were able to see far enough along the trail
to keep climbing upward. By climbing in this manner we found ourselves
not far from the summit by sunrise and rewarded with glorious morning vistas.
Doing the work of the Lord is often like this. If we are willing to get on the path and do what we can, the Lord seems
to give us enough light to allow us to progress. Nephi was a wonderful
example. When his father sent he and his brothers back to Jerusalem
for the plates, Nephi didn't know how he was going to get the plates, but
he kept trying. Nephi wrote, "And I was
led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
Nevertheless I went forth" (1 Nephi 4:6-7). As a result
of simply going forth and depending on the spirit, his mission resulted
in success. Moses was another example. We need just enough
faith to step forward and see where the first step will take us.
The Lord Sends Plagues Upon Egypt
Moses was commanded to go to Pharaoh and request the release of the
Moses, along with his wife and family returned to Egypt.
"And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest
to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh,
which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall
not let the people go." (Exodus 4:21)
Moses is commanded to show his wonders before Pharaoh to obtain the release
of captive Israel. The Lord says that he "will harden" the heart
of Pharaoh. As I read this verse, I wondered why the Lord would command
Moses to do something and then throw an obstacle in the way. In turning
to the Joseph Smith Translation, I found a different reading:
"And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest
to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh,
which I have put in thine hand, and I will prosper thee; but Pharaoh will
harden his heart, and he will not let the people go."
(JST Exodus 4:21)
"And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told
Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they
may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the
LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD,
neither will I let Israel go." (Exodus 5:1-2)
Moses remained in Midian for about forty years. Thus, he is eighty years
old at this time. This is quite a difference in age compared to the
youthful Charlton Heston of the Ten Commandments.
Aaron was commanded by the Lord to go into the wilderness and meet Moses. What a joyful reunion this must have been after many years.
Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh and plead for the release of Israel.
As a result of Moses' and Aaron's plea, the work was increased and made
more difficult for the Hebrew slaves.
After Pharaoh increased Israel's burdens, the Lord repeated His promises
to Moses. WHAT WERE THESE PROMISES?
The Lord has established his covenant with this people (Exodus 6:4).
The Lord has given them the land of Canaan as an inheritance and he will
bring them to it (Exodus 6:4, 8).
They will be brought out of bondage in Egypt (Exodus 6:6).
HOW DID THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL RESPOND WHEN MOSES REMINDED THEM OF THESE
"...they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish
of spirit, and for cruel bondage" (Exodus 6:9).
WHY ARE THERE THOSE WHO STOP LISTENING TO THE PROPHETS AND STOP BELIEVING
GOD'S PROMISES DURING TIMES OF TRIAL?
I believe that those who stop listening to the prophets stopped doing so when times were good. When times
are good, some of us do not exercise faith and keep the commandments as
we should. Thus, when the time of testing or adversity comes, our
faith is weak and cannot withstand the refiner's fire.
HOW CAN WE MAINTAIN FAITH IN GOD DURING ADVERSITY?
Heber C. Kimball once made this statement: "The
time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed
light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself. If
you do not have it, how can you stand?" (Life of Heber C. Kimball,
We must develop faith and a testimony in God and his prophets before the
time of adversity. When we do so, then we have established the patterns
that will keep us faithful, no matter what conditions we face. If
we are filled with light and knowledge from God we will be prepared to
endure the trials ahead.
Due to Pharaoh's unwillingness to release the Israelites, the first of
the ten plagues on Egypt took place. The river was smitten for seven
days and turned to blood (Exodus 7:20).
Some lessons from Moses' encounter with Pharaoh:
To impress Pharaoh with God's power, Aaron threw down his rod and it became
a serpent. Pharaoh's magicians did the same, but their serpents were
swallowed up by Aaron's (Exodus 7:9-12).
After the river was turned to blood, eight more plagues were sent upon
The enthusiasm and righteous zeal of the Lord's servant may have little
or no impact upon one who has chosen to remain untouched by spiritual things.
Agency is an eternal principle and cannot be violated. Individuals
may choose to do what they will.
Miracles, signs and wonders confirm the faith of the faithful, but have
minimal if any effect upon the faithless. Even Pharaoh's magicians
were able to perform wonders.
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "It should
be remembered that Satan has great knowledge and thereby can exercise authority
and to some extent control the elements, when some greater power does not
intervene." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:176-78)
WHAT EFFECTS DO SIGNS USUALLY HAVE ON THE FAITHLESS?
Some time ago, I had a discussion with someone regarding research into
Noah's ark and the possibility of uncovering it on Mt. Ararat. This
person felt that if the ark was uncovered it would have a tremendous effect
on the world and increase belief in God. I expressed my belief that
there would be few, if any, who would change their beliefs by such a discovery. Faith in God does not come from signs or academic evidence. It is
my belief that there is now enough hard evidence for the Book
of Mormon to absolutely prove its validity. And yet, how many have
been moved to join the Church and live a righteous life by exposure to
WHAT EFFECTS DO SIGNS USUALLY HAVE ON THE FAITHFUL?
"But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs
follow those that believe." (D&C 63:9)
WHAT KIND OF CONVERSION OFTEN COMES THROUGH SIGNS ALONE?
"And he that seeketh signs shall see signs, but
not unto salvation." (D&C 63:7)
Consider Laman and Lemuel and the numerous signs they witnessed. In in
the end, they were lost.
Frogs, lice, flies, severe plague upon the cattle, boils, fiery hail, locusts,
and thick darkness.
After the last plague, Pharaoh said to Moses: "Get
thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day
thou seest my face thou shalt die. And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well,
I will see thy face again no more." (Exodus 10:28-29)
WHAT WAS THE TENTH PLAGUE UPON EGYPT?
WHAT INSTRUCTIONS WERE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL GIVEN TO AVOID THE GRIP OF
THE ANGEL OF DEATH UPON THE FIRSTBORN?
"And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight
will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land
of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his
throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill;
and all the firstborn of beasts." (Exodus 11:4-5)
WHAT FUTURE EVENT DID THE PASSOVER FORESHADOW?
Take a lamb without blemish, sacrifice it, and strike the blood upon the two side
posts and upper door post of the houses in which they were eating the sacrificed
lamb (Exodus 12:3-7).
They were to roast the lamb and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter
herbs (Exodus 12:8-9).
"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial;
and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye
shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever." (Exodus 12:14)
WHAT IS THE EVENT CALLED?
HOW DOES THE PASSOVER SYMBOLIZE THE ATONEMENT?
The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the firstborn of the Father.
|The children of Israel were to use a firstborn male lamb
without blemish in the Passover (Exodus 12:5).
||The Savior is the firstborn Son of God, the Lamb of God
without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19).
|The children of Israel were to sprinkle the blood of the lamb on their
doorposts to save their firstborn at death (Exodus 12:7, 22-23).
||The Savior' blood, which he shed in Gethsemane and on the cross, cleanses
the faithful and saves them from spiritual death (Mosiah 4:2).
|The children of Israel were to eat unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8, 15-20).
Leaven or yeast was seen anciently as a symbol of corruption because it
so easily spoiled and turned moldy.
||Jesus Christ was the Bread of Life, without corruption or impurity
(John 6:35). The removal of leaven also suggested repentance, or the removal
of sin from a person's life.
|The children of Israel were to eat the Passover meal in haste (Exodus
||Like the Israelites, we need to respond eagerly and immediately to
the deliverance that the Savior offers us.
The children of Israel demonstrated great faith by placing blood on the
doorposts to save the lives of their firstborn.
HOW DOES THAT FAITH COMPARE WITH THE FAITH WE MUST SHOW IN CHRIST TO SAVE
Like the children of Israel, we must do precisely what the Lord has commanded.
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "The Passover
was a law given...to remind the children of Israel of the coming of Christ
who would become the sacrificial Lamb. After he was crucified the law was
changed by the Savior himself, and from that time forth the law of the
sacrament was instituted. We now observe the law of the sacrament instead
of the Passover because the Passover was consummated in full by the death
of Jesus Christ." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:153-154)
President Howard W. Hunter: "...the bread
and wine, rather than the animals and herbs, [became] emblems of the great
Lamb's body and blood, emblems to be eaten and drunk reverently and in
remembrance of him forever.
"In this simple but impressive
manner the Savior instituted the ordinance now known as the sacrament of
the Lord's Supper. With the suffering of Gethsemane, the sacrifice of Calvary,
and the resurrection from a garden tomb, Jesus fulfilled the ancient law
and ushered in a new dispensation based on a higher, holier understanding
of the law of sacrifice. No more would men be required to offer the firstborn
lamb from their flock, because the Firstborn of God had come to offer himself
as an 'infinite and eternal sacrifice'." (Ensign, May 1985,
WHAT IS OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE SACRAMENT?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: "Do we see [the
sacrament] as our passover, this ordinance commemorating our safety and
deliverance and redemption?
"With so very much
at stake, this ordinance commemorating our escape from the angel of darkness
should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is. It should be a powerful,
reverent, reflective moment. It should encourage spiritual feelings and
impressions." (Ensign, Nov. 1995, p68)
In his instructions about the Passover, the Lord emphasized the need for
parents to teach their children its significance.
"And it shall come to pass, when your children
shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It
is the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of
the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered
our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped." (Exodus
WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT THAT ISRAELITE PARENTS TEACH THEIR CHILDREN ABOUT
THE PASSOVER? DO WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN OF THE ATONEMENT AND THE IMPORTANCE
OF REMEMBERING THAT GREAT SACRIFICE THROUGH THE SACRAMENT?
The Children of Israel Cross The Red Sea
EXODUS 12:29-33. The death of the firstborn.
Exodus 12:37 says that 600,000 men departed from Ramses.
EXODUS 13:18-21. Israel lead by pillar of cloud
Pharaoh soon changed his mind about letting Israel depart from Egypt.
This must be one of the largest, if not the largest, migration in the history
of the world. What an incredible task.
"The number of persons who went with Jacob to
the Land of Goshen was seventy (Genesis 46:26), or seventy-five (Acts 7:14).
They sojourned in the Land of the Pharaohs 400 (Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6),
or 430 years (Exodus 12:40). At the time of the Exodus, they numbered 600,000
men capable of marching (Exodus 12:37-38). It has been estimated, as pure
guesswork, that two million souls left Egypt under Moses, considering the
probable number of old men, women and children, together with a mixed multitude
of Egyptians who had joined the refugees (Exodus 12:38), glad to escape
their taskmasters." (Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6:117)
As we know Moses led the children of Israel into the Red Sea which parted
for them. They were pursued by Pharaoh's army which was drowned.
This was not a smart man.
Pharaoh took his army in pursuit of Israel.
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THE FAITH OF ISRAEL WAS LACKING AFTER HAVING SEEN THE
MIRACULOUS EVENTS PRECEDING THE EXODUS?
President Lorenzo Snow: "It appears that the
children of Israel at the time referred to in the passage I have read,
were not very well acquainted with the Lord, or with His ability to carry
out His purposes. They, however, had not the opportunities of becoming
acquainted with Him, as have the Latter-day Saints. They had seen some
of the works of the Lord wrought in the presence of the Egyptians as well
as in their own presence; but their hearts had not been touched, neither
had their understandings been enlightened by the intelligence of the Holy
Spirit, as has been the case with the Latter-day Saints; and therefore,
when they were brought to face the Red Sea, which, to all human appearance,
was impassable, and with the armies of the Egyptians pressing close upon
them, their hearts failed them." (JD, 23:150)
Reaction of the people: "And Israel saw
that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared
the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses." (Exodus
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
- Record your thoughts on the call of Moses and his willingness to serve.
How did the Lord support Moses in fulfilling his call?
- How does the Passover compare to the Sacrament? What does the Sacrament
mean to you? Are you prepared to partake of the Sacrament each week in
remembrance of the sacrifice of the firstborn Lamb of God?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Bible! A Bible! by Robert J. Matthews.
Answers to Gospel Questions, Volumes 1 & 5, by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Volume 6, by George Reynolds and Janne
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
24 February 2014