The Israelites cause major destruction among the Egyptian people. At least, that’s how most of the people of Egypt must have seen it. Their God is the reason, but I think at the end of the day many of the people would have simply looked at the Israelites and laid the blame there. They caused inconvenience, discomfort, pain and ultimately death and finally they are leaving.
Pharaoh, who said they would not be allowed to go is sending them. Pharaoh, who said if he saw Moses again he would die has now called for Moses and told him to take the people and go. So they are leaving. The Israelites have been victorious—God has been victorious. And at no small cost to the Egyptian people. Exodus 12:30 states that there was not a single house where someone had not died on the night of the Passover. We’re talking total devastation here.
What’s interesting to me is that I would’nt expect to see what is said a few verses later. Honestly this is kind of a PR nightmare for the followers of God. You don’t expect to gain followers from leaving this kind of destruction in your wake. And yet, there it is.
A rabble of non-Israelites went with them, along with great flocks and herds of livestock. Exodus 12:38
A rabble. I love that word. These weren’t the elite, the pretty, the put together. These were the side-liners, the marginalized, the unnecessary in Egypt. Sounds like the kind of people Jesus hung out with. These weren’t Israelites, and yet they followed them out of Egypt. Out into the wilderness. It’s not like taking a trip today where we know that we are going to drive on well-maintained highways in our air-conditioned cars with rest stops just down the road and fast food options to get us through when we get hungry. This is the wilderness. The desert. They don’t even know where or when they’ll find water.
Why would these people go with the Israelites? They are the rabble. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They long to belong. They just want a place and a people and a God who cares about them. And this is still the way of it today.
The rabble is still out there. And they don’t need us to make our faith all prettied up. They don’t expect fanciful promises about how easy this following Jesus will make their life. They just want to see authentic living. They want to see a community that loves one another and that would love them too. They just want to belong and it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers or know how it will all work out in life, or if sometimes life still is scarred by devastation. If you believe in your God enough to follow him into the desert and to love them—the rabble of society—and let them come along, well that’s all they really are looking for. They will come. The second they realize that when you said they were welcome you actually meant them. The moment they learn that you are talking to them, spending time with them, and it’s your choice. As soon as the find out that you believe that they are loved by Jesus just as much as you are, and that you embrace this reality…the rabble will always come. They just want to be loved. They just want to belong.
So I’m wondering, who are the rabble in my life? Who are the rabble in yours?
But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:16-17