By Linda Porter Carlyle
Joseph Anderson Donetti sighed and rolled over in bed. He cracked one eye and peeked at the summer sunshine spilling around the edges of the window shades into his bedroom. He yawned and stretched mightily.
Joseph sat up and poked the pillow behind his back. He reached across to his desk for his Bible. Pastor Chuck had asked all the kids in class last Sabbath to try to study their lesson first thing in the morning every day for the coming week. He had said it would help them build the very good habit of beginning each day by spending time with God. Joseph was proud that so far he had remembered to do it. He had studied his lesson each morning before he even got out of bed.
Joseph turned the pages of his Bible to Exodus 14:5* and began to read. He had read the story several times, and now he loved to read it very slowly and think about what it would have been like if he had been an Israelite boy escaping from Egypt.
There were an awful lot of Israelites who left Egypt. Joseph thought about it. Way over a million, Pastor Chuck had said. Maybe as many as three million. Joseph shook his head. He had never, ever seen a million people in one place in his life. Even half a million! If he had been an Israelite boy leaving Egypt, he would have had to be very careful not to get lost from his family!
Joseph read on about Pharaoh’s calling out his army and chasing after the Israelites with all his horses, and all his chariots, and all his soldiers. He read about how the people of Israel began to panic when they saw the huge army marching toward them. Joseph put the Bible down on his lap. No wonder the people panicked! he thought. It would be like hundreds and hundreds of army tanks rumbling toward unarmed, unprotected, ordinary people today. It would have been scary!
He read the last sentence again. “The people began to panic, and they cried out to the Lord for help.”* That had been the right thing to do, Joseph thought. But the problem was in the next sentence. “Then they turned against Moses and complained.”
Joseph pictured Moses, covering his ears as he was mobbed by millions of desperate people. But, on second thought, that must not have been what Moses did. Joseph changed the picture in his head and imagined Moses scrambling up on a tall rock so the people could see him and hear him. He imagined Moses raising his arms to quiet them and then shouting out in his loudest voice, “Don’t be afraid! Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you!” Joseph had loved those brave words the minute he first read them. He had underlined them in his Bible, and he had memorized them. The next time anybody asked him what his favorite Bible verse was, that was the verse he would tell them. “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you!”
Joseph read on. He read the rest of Moses’ speech. “The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you. You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense!” He paused again and wondered if the people of Israel had believed Moses. He wondered if he would have.
Back to the story—he loved the next part! He read how the cloud that protected the children of Israel from the hot desert sun moved between them and Pharaoh’s enormous army. And when night came, the great cloud became fire that lighted up the Israelites’ camp and kept them warm. But the cloud became darkness to the Egyptians, and they could not even find the Israelites.
And then Joseph pictured Moses holding his shepherd’s staff out over the sea. He imagined the first breeze that began to blow, and that quickly turned into a strong, fierce wind, whipping against Moses’ beard and robes. He wondered if the wind had made a howling noise like some winter winds he had heard.
The wind blew all night long, Joseph read. Were the people able to sleep at all that night? he wondered. Probably only the babies, held tightly by their mothers. Maybe the very young children did, sitting on the ground, pressed against their parents. But Joseph was sure he would not have slept if he had been there!
And then, very early the next morning, there was a perfectly dry road right through the sea with walls of water on each side! Joseph wondered if the walls of water were solid like glass. If he had been there, he surely would have touched them to find out! Did fish swim up to the walls of water and watch the people walk through the sea on dry land?
Joseph quickly read the next part: The Egyptian army chased after the people of Israel. Right down the road through the sea! And the Lord caused the wheels to fall off the chariots so they were impossible to drive! And then the Lord told Moses to raise his hand over the sea again. And the walls of water came crashing down, and all Pharaoh’s army was drowned! What a sight that must have been!
Joseph took a deep breath. He could barely imagine how excited the people of Israel must have been! God had rescued them. Their enemies weren’t going to capture them again and take them back to be slaves. They weren’t going to be beaten and have their children taken from them and have to work for Egyptian masters. It was no wonder that they sang to the Lord!
Joseph thought about Miriam, leading the women in their joyful dance and beautiful song. That’s exactly what Mac would have done, he decided. He chuckled. He wondered if Miriam had red hair too.
Joseph carefully closed his Bible. What a great, great story! It was definitely one of his favorites! He stared across the room at the opposite wall and whispered his new favorite verse aloud. “Don’t be afraid! Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you!”
Joseph grinned and jumped out of bed.