At the burning bush, the Lord told Moses to return to Egypt. He promised to “strike Egypt with all (His) miracles” (Exodus 3:20) as He emancipated the Hebrew slaves. After nine astonishing displays of God’s majesty, the Israelites lived in constant expectation while the Egyptians languished in darkness and fear. No one, including Moses, knew how many more plagues were coming.
That’s when God announced to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you out of here. Now announce to the people that both men and women should ask their neighbors for silver and gold items” (Exodus 11:1–2).
Hundreds of years earlier, Abraham, their ancient ancestor had been given a hint that this would happen. “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be resident aliens for four hundred years in a land that does not belong to them and will be enslaved and oppressed. However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions” (Genesis 15:13–14). Many possessions?
Before the first plague, while Moses stood on the holy ground before the burning bush, God proclaimed, “I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go, even under force from a strong hand. But when I stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my miracles that I will perform in it, after that, he will let you go. And I will give these people such favor with the Egyptians that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. Each woman will ask her neighbor and any woman staying in her house for silver and gold jewelry, and clothing, and you will put them on your sons and daughters. So you will plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:19–22). Silver and gold? Plunder?
After four centuries of slavery, Mr. and Mrs. Hebrew didn’t have much, certainly no silver and gold jewelry. Their clothes probably resembled the bib-overalls worn by the southern slaves in 1850... simple, functional, ratty and worn. There were no fashionistas in Goshen.
The Hebrew people were commissioned to go to their Egyptian neighbors to ask for their treasures. Tentative at first, the Jewish folks must have explained that they would be going into the wilderness to worship the Living God who had clearly demonstrated his omnipotent powers. It’s likely that the Egyptians were initially confused, but then generous. “Here,” they said, “take this, and this, and also these. Quick, go before your God punishes us again!” The Egyptians gave to the Jews their rings, necklaces, earrings along with their colorful clothing and coats.
Later, while they were camped at Mount Sinai, God instructed the people to make a Tabernacle so that His glorious presence would dwell among them. “Bring your gold and silver and present it as an offering,” God instructed (Exodus 25:1-7). The ark was overlayed with gold, while its lid, the mercy seat, was made of solid gold (Exodus 25:10-22). The table for bread was overlayed with gold (Exodus 25:23-30) and the menorah, the candlestand, was made of solid gold (Exodus 25:31-40). Where did they get all that gold? The Egyptian people gave it to them... or more correctly, God gave it to them.
Let me leave you with this reminder. Our Eternal Emancipator graciously gave us our health and our wealth. All that we have belongs to Him. As we make our way to the Promised Land, God invites us to invest in His Kingdom, to leverage our time, talents, and treasures to bring Him glory.