When Moses led the Isrealites out of slavery in Egypt he certainly didn't do it alone. From the account recorded in the book of Exodus, it seems he had a lot of help from above, and this help appeared in a very unordinary way.
Now remember that when the history of that journey was recorded, the author didn't have modern words like "UFO" or even "airplane" to describe what was witnessed. Think about it, how would you describe a UFO if you couldn't use any modern words? I'd imagine you'd compare it to something that people would be familiar with. Even today people refer to "cigar shaped" or "saucer shaped" UFOs.
With this in mind, let's look at the
first account of the strange object that appeared to lead the Isrealites
shortly after they left Egypt:
|Exodus 13: 21-22 (NIV)|
|By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.|
The object is described as a "pillar" - certainly a common visual picture for anyone who lived during that time. But what would we think today if we saw this object that is compared to a pillar of cloud and fire?
Looking at the event from today's perspective, I think that a large object like this that could move on its own would likely be some type of vehicle. Given the lack of roads, this vehicle probably would have had to travel off the ground - either hovering or flying - to be this mobile.
It's interesting how the object is described as a "cloud" during the day - you'll see this visualization used later in the story too. Do you think that maybe the craft actually used a smoke screen or mist to hide itself so it would appear less foreign to the people? Maybe the occupants were using this tactic to keep everyone as calm as possible as this huge group moved out of Egypt.
As far as describing the object as a pillar of fire at night, how else would you describe an object that was illuminated if you weren't familiar with electric lights?
The following event gives further evidence that this pillar was much more than just your average cloud:
|Exodus 14: 19-20 (NIV)|
|Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.|
It seems this object was very mobile and it also seemed to be under some kind of intelligent control. I also wonder what the "angel of God" that is mentioned looked like. Do you think it might have been another smaller UFO? From what is recorded in the Exodus account we don't really know for sure, but the description of its movements would make this a reasonable possibility.
|Exodus 14: 21-29 (NIV)|
|Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night
the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into
dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the
sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.
He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, "Let's get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt."
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen."
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen--the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
Image by Monarca Lynn and displayed with her kind permission
I've had people ask me: "If the UFO was doing all the work, why did Moses have to extend his arms? Why didn't it just fly over and do its thing instead of making it look like Moses was doing it?" I think this was by design. Remember that if this object was a UFO, it was there to do the will of God. Since Moses was God's chosen representative to lead the people, the UFO was probably focused on providing technical backup for Moses, not to steal the show. In fact, this is exactly what Moses is told in a later passage:
|Exodus 19: 9 (NIV)|
|The LORD said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you." Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said.|
|Exodus 16: 10-15 (NIV)|
|While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked
toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the
The LORD said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.' "
That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.
|Exodus 19:16-22 (NIV)|
|On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with
a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone
in the camp trembled.
Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish.
Even the priests, who approach the LORD, must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them."
But why all the smoke and mirrors? I think it was simply for the purpose of making an impression on the people by giving them a visual demonstration of power. God gave the Isrealites many new rules to follow, and he wanted them to know that he was serious. The following excerpt indicates that Moses also thought that this was the purpose:
|Exodus 20: 18-21 (NIV)|
|When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet
and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at
a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen.
But do not have God speak to us or we will die."
Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
Yet another example of cloud and fire being used to describe what the people saw:
|Exodus 24: 15-18 (NIV)|
|When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.|
|Exodus 31:18 (NIV)|
|When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.|
|Exodus 32: 15-16 (NIV)|
|Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.|
Now I'm sure the content was from God and the engraving was done by the direction of God, but does God really have a finger that he writes with? If you look at this incident from a modern perspective, I think it's well within the realm of possibilities that the same type of laser engraving that we see used to make very nice stone monuments could have been used to engrave the tablets.
Of course, we no longer have the actual tablets available, so there's no way to know for sure, but looking at it from this perspective can often make the incident seem more real and believable to us. If we understand a little bit about how things might have been done, it's easier for us to see the whole event as being something that actually happened instead of just a myth or a fictional story.
|Exodus 40: 33-38 (NIV)|
|Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and
put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished
Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out--until the day it lifted.
So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.
Image by Monarca Lynn