Now we begin to EXPERIENCE EXODUS. Any one of a half dozen books could easily lay claim to being the greatest and most important in the OT. Yet, the Book of Exodus is considered by some scholars as the greatest of the OT. Undoubtedly, it holds the same importance as the Gospels in the NT.
EXODUS literally means THE WAY OUT. This book tells how the people of Israel went out from Egypt and traveled to Mt. Sinai. There Yahweh appeared to them, made a Covenant with them that He would be their God, and revealed the Law and Tabernacle. It is the telling of THE WAY OUT of Bondage to Worship. What happens to the OT Israelite in Exodus becomes a portrayal (a type) of the NT believer’s experience.
The purpose of Book of Exodus centers around the miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage and God’s establishing the theocratic nation under Moses by means of a “new constitution,” the Mosaic Covenant.
The thematic theme of the Book of Exodus is KNOWING YAHWEH THROUGH PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, especially the great experiences of redemption, consecration, and worship. In these experiences, a battle takes place between the forces of Satan and God—portrayed by Pharaoh and Moses.
Exodus is filled with TYPES, that is events, people and things that represent something else, such as Pharaoh representing Satan. Also types picture some future event, person or thing, such as the Passover, which portrays Christ’s redemptive death on the Cross.
I have put on the cover of my pamphlet, Experiencing Exodus a portrait that is in blue glass of Amenhotep II, who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, and a picture of the Tabernacle, with the Presence of Yahweh hovering over it in the Cloud. My cover is asking the underlying question of this book is, “Who shall we obey, serve and worship?” Satan or God! Notice that Pharaoh’s nose is broken—He got it during the battle of the Ten Plagues!
The Exodus Experience is used often by OT writers and prophets to stimulate faith, hope and love. It also used by NT writes to warn us against sin and apostasy.
The themes of Exodus are like the artist’s paint tray. It has many hues and shades, which can be mixed to create new colors. I have summarized the many hues and shades of Exodus under ten major headings on my pamphlet.
Who wrote the Book of Exodus? Liberal scholars, who deny the inerrancy of the Bible, attempt to isolate the literary origins of the book, assuming three sources over a lengthy time span, known as the JEPD Theory. Other books of the Bible, however, attest to Moses’ authorship of Exodus. Even Christ recognized Moses as the writer. For instance, Jesus said in Mark 12:26 with reference to Exodus “Have you not read in the Book of Moses.” Evangelicals believe that Exodus was written by Moses sometime during his stay near Mt Sinai or shortly thereafter.
AND these are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and
Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt. Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.
Literally, the Book of Exodus opens with the conjunction AND. Write the word AND in your margin for it is very important. Exodus is the continuation of the account begun in Genesis.
Egypt is the locale of the last word of Genesis as well the first verse of Exodus. The last fourteen chapters of Genesis tell the exciting story of the migration of the ancestors of the nation of Israel into Egypt at the invitation of Joseph in 1876 B.C. This date is calculated from a known and definite date of history recorded in 1 Kings 6:1—
In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the LORD.
The fourth year of Solomon’s reign is 966 B.C. Israel’s exodus is placed 480 years prior to 966 B.C. in 1446 B.C. Exodus 12:40-41 states—
Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.
Adding 430 years to 1446 B.C. calculates to Jacob and his family’s arrival in Egypt in the year 1876 B.C.
The Pyramids were a thousand years old when Jacob and his family arrived in Egypt. Its pharaohs were considered by their people and by themselves to be gods, who administered Egypt according to the overall principle of MAAT (order, justice, truth). Since by definition the king acted according to MAAT and therefore could do no wrong, he was the very embodiment of justice, making laws external to himself unnecessary.
Egypt’s empire was never more extensive than in the days of Thutmose III and his son Amenhotep II. Egypt is “the gift of the Nile.” Lacking the life-giving waters of the Nile, Egypt would never have been able to develop into one of the most powerful and sophisticated civilizations of the ancient world. The land of Egypt had been greatly blessed because God’s people were present in it, but no one recognized this truth. All the credit was given to the pharaohs and the gods of Egypt.
Almost four hundred years had passed since the seventy Hebrews made their home in Egypt. Now between two and three million Hebrews occupied the land of Egypt. Notice the impressive descriptions used to describe extraordinary numbers in Exodus 1:7—
The Israelites were FRUITFUL and MULTIPLIED GREATLY and became EXCEEDINGLY
NUMEROUS, so that the land was FILLED with them.
Remember that Exodus literally begins with the conjunction AND, which takes us back to Genesis.
Theologically, this is very important in light of verse 7. God’s creation purposes and historical promises are fulfilled among the people of God in Egypt.
AND focus on continuity with both creation and promises in mind. Very quickly, the narrator moves the story away from Genesis into a new world, form twelve sons to seventy persons to a filled land. We are to shift attention to this new reality. What is in focus is no longer Jacob and His family, but a nation about to be born.
Yet, highlighting verse 7 is FULFILLMENT of creation and promises made by God to Abraham. The point is that God’s intentions in creation are being realized in this family; what is happening is in tune with God’s purposes in creation. This verse testifies to God’s ongoing work as Creator and His faithfulness. The Creator stated His purpose for man in Genesis 1:28—
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
After the Flood, He repeated His purpose in Genesis 9:1—
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.
The first seven verses of Exodus cover a long time—350 years! God’s name is not mentioned, but he is not absent. His work of blessing has been substantial. He has been faithful to His purpose and His promise to Abraham. In Genesis 12:1-3, God makes a promise to Abraham—
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
In Genesis 15, God renews His promise by entering into what is called the Abrahamic Covenant. In this covenant, God again promises Abraham three things—LAND, SEED, and BLESSING. However, He adds an important stipulation to His promise in Genesis 12:12-16—
Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
On the surface, this plan may seem illogical. However, God’s purposes are like a mixture of several colors to get one color. He has three goals.
First, to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation
Second, to have them live in the Promised Land
Third, to judge two nations—Egypt where the Israelites will multiply exceedingly and the Amorites, the present occupants of the Promise Land
God will bless Egypt while His people are there. The Egyptians, however, will attribute His blessings to their idols and the Pharaohs. And to top it off, they will enslave His people. Therefore, God will punish the Egyptians with the Ten Plagues and cause the Israelites to carry off Egypt’s wealth when they exit the country.
Additionally, God is allowing sin among the present inhabitants of Canaan, the Promised Land, to run reach the boiling point, when His cup of wrath will overflow against them. God isn’t about to let the Israelites multiply in the Land, where He is going to wipe out all the inhabitants. Especially, since He plans to use the Israelites to destroy its inhabitants. If the Israelites lived among the Amorites for 430 years, they would have no will or desire to destroy them.
But why did God allow Egypt to enslave His people? The simple answer would be so that they would be kept pure as a race of people and be ready to leave Egypt when the time came. The answer that we tend to shy away from is that God punishes sin. Was the wicked treatment of Joseph by his brothers to pass unpunished? No, that could not be. They, like all others, must reap what they had sown; reap the bitter harvest not only themselves but in their offspring too. For the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. So it proved here, for it was the FOURTH GENERATION (Genesis 13:15) which came out of Egypt.
For just as Joseph was sold into SLAVERY and carried down into Egypt, so in the Egyptian slavery, his brothers and their children suffered! And what a foreshadowing was this of the bitter experiences of Israel during these twenty centuries past, for their wicked treatment of the that blessed One whom Joseph so strikingly typified!
Pharaoh’s reason the enslavement of God’s people is given in Exodus 1:8-14—
Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built
Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the
more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.
Here we find that God’s creation purposes and historical promises are threatened by chaotic forces of Satan that are embodied in an oppressive Pharaoh. Hence, we discover early in the Bible that God overrules Satan’s actions for His own purposes.
We would greatly error if we read the opening verses of Exodus and miss the fact that God is working out His creation purposes and Satan is trying to defeat them. That opening conjunction “AND” also takes us back to the beginning of Genesis to Paradise. God created man for relationship. But Genesis 3:8 records—
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Because of sin man lost his RELATIONAL EXPERIENCE with God. Not only did man forfeit friendship and fellowship with God, but also he lost his PLACE, his home according to Genesis 3:23-24—
Therefore, the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
In the broadest sense, the land is man’s home; it is all he needs. Yet, he has been banished from his real home, the Garden of Eden, to work the land from which he was taken. Adam and Eve also lost their access to the LORD God. Thus, man has lost his place. Man is no longer at home with God in Paradise.
I believe the Central Theme of Scripture is RELATIONSHIP EXPERIENCE, which calls upon man to stand in relationship to his God and his world. Intertwined with this theme are man’s QUEST FOR PLACE and the COVENANTS God made with man in order to restore RELATIONSHIP and PLACE.
These three themes form the MATRIX OF BIBLE:
RELATIONAL EXPERIENCE throughout the Bible is DYNAMIC—It is ACTIVE, ALIVE,
FUNCTIONING. Its BOUNDARY is GOD/OURSELVES/CREATION.
Relational Experience is MOVING, CHANGING and LIVING. God deals with man based upon the progressive knowledge of Himself that He reveals over the dispensations of time. In other words, to have a personal relationship with God, man needs to respond to what God has revealed about Himself.
This theme runs throughout Exodus and reaches its climax in Chapters 25-40 with the Tabernacle, which is also called the Tent of the Meeting. Here man is shown the way to have a relational experience with the LORD God until Christ’s comes.
The second theme of the Bible’s Matrix is QUEST FOR PLACE. Rather than being DYNAMIC, it is DIRECTION. It answers the questions, “Why Am I Here?” Where Am I Going?” “What is My DESTINY? In the Bible, Man’s QUEST FOR PLACE is always seen as moving toward a point—LAND and its CITY.
Adam was in a place and now he is separated from that place—a clear gulf is fixed. This gulf became wider with Cain. Cain fails to please God with his sacrifice taken from the land and he murders his brother. So God places Cain under a curse and drives him from the land, which had been blemished with his brother’s blood. Listen to the nature of God’s curse in Genesis 4:12-13—
When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. “
Cain lost community with both his family and God. He would no longer have a place to call home. Thus, the quest for place begins with man. Cain builds a city attempting to establish for himself a community, a place, a home in direct opposition to the curse God placed upon him. His attempt to find place for himself, independent of God, would be carried on by mankind.
By Noah’s time, man’s wickedness on the earth had become so great that the LORD was grieved that He had made man on the earth. Therefore, God wipe all creatures from earth with a flood, except for Noah, his family and each creature taken into the Ark.
With the departure from the ark, man receives a new beginning. However, the descendants of the survivors of the flood failed to respond to God’s command to fill the earth. Instead, they began to build a city, with a tower that would reach to the heavens, so they would not be scattered over the face of the earth. Again, mankind attempted to make a place for themselves, independent of God. They refused to take the land, the whole earth, which had been given to them. Therefore, God confused their language and scattered them over the whole earth.
Man’s failure to keep this trusteeship over the earth, results in the LORD narrowing His program to one man, Abraham, then his family, who eventually became the nation of Israel. Thus, the immediate destiny of God’s people becomes the Promised Land, which God will bless or curse according to the Israelites’ RELATIONAL EXPERIENCE with the LORD.
Yahweh’s plan is to establish His Temple on Mt. Zion, in the City of Jerusalem, where all the earth will come to worship Him. Thus, man’s destiny is narrowed to a City. Jerusalem foreshadows the New Jerusalem that will come down from Heaven to the New Earth, where man will dwell with God for eternity—then man’s QUEST FOR PLACE will be completed. Chapter 11 of Hebrews tells us that Patriarchs understood this truth—
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise—for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
The earthly Promised Land is only the earthly type and symbol of the heavenly Country and its City, the New Jerusalem. The people of God of all times are to recognize that they are aliens and strangers on the earth. This helps us understand the Apostle Peter’s salutation in his First Letter to the Christian Church—
“To God’s elect, strangers in the world . . .”
Without a doubt, the New Jerusalem will be the dwelling place of God. In Chapter 14 of John, Jesus announced to His disciples—
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Here Christ combined QUEST FOR PLACE and RELATIONAL EXPERIENCE. He made this announcement after instituting the Lord’s Supper, replacing the Passover, which had made possible THE WAY OUT of bondage. At the heart of the Lord’s Supper is THE NEW COVENANT made in Christ’s blood, which makes possible THE WAY OUT from the bondage of the world, the flesh and the devil.
COVENANT is the third theme of the MATRIX OF THE BIBLE. Covenants are used in the Bible to the establish relationship between God and man. In the Abrahamic Covenant, God gives the Promised Land to Abraham’s seed, not Abraham. Then the seed is narrowed to the line of Isaac, then to the line of Jacob as God renews the Abrahamic Covenant with these two patriarchs. With faith and hope focused on this Covenant, the Book Genesis closes with QUEST FOR PLACE. Genesis 50:24-26 reads—
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. After they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Joseph’s dying words to his brothers focused on QUEST FOR PLACE. God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place. Even though he was to die in Egypt, Joseph’s longing, even in death, was to have a place in the Promised Land. He made the Israelites swear to take his bones to this land. Their oath was fulfilled centuries later.
The fulfillment of the land promise starts in motion was Moses at the burning bush. God is now ready to fulfill His promise by rescuing and bringing Abraham’s descendants to Canaan, a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Exodus is Yahweh remembering His covenant with Abraham. The Israelites redemption would be the result of His mighty works in judgment. Not only would he give land to them as a possession, but also He would make them His people. The nation of Israel, the Promised Land, and God would share a unique relationship.
In THE SONG OF MOSES recorded in Exodus 15, Moses grapples with the reality of place and the presence of God. In the first portion of this song, the expected is proclaimed—God is leading His people. However, the second portion added a new perspective, a destination not spoken of before. God is not just leading them to the Promised Land, but to His Holy Dwelling, the mountain of His inheritance, the place where the LORD dwells, the sanctuary He will establish. Moses’ imagery points to Jerusalem. David identifies this imagery centuries later as he recounts Israel’s march from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion in Psalm 68.
Yahweh’s presence with His people is one of the paramount lessons that come out of the Exodus Experience. Their faith was to rest in the LORD, not the Land, not themselves—they are the least of all people of the earth—redeemed slaves.
The Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic and New Covenants each point to the presence of the King—the Lord Jesus Christ—who does what is just and right. Each covenant progressively manifests that possession and rest in the Promised Land is dependent upon the King, who is not like the kings of other nations. Of course, the pharaohs and Egypt stand in direct contrast to Christ and the His kingdom.
The focal point of Israel’s history is wrapped up in one verse, when God says to Abraham in Genesis 17:8—
The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.
With the Abrahamic Covenant, God turns hopeless history into land expectation. A sojourner will receive an eternal possession. His heirs will be brought out of slavery, life out of death. Yahweh will REDEEM His people! This promise of land rests on the power and faithfulness of the LORD. God will give man a new place to exercise trusteeship.
God’s redemptive work in Exodus does not exist in a vacuum. God’s work in creation provides the basis for His work in redemption. God’s work in redemption fulfills His work in creation. These truths are proclaimed in Chapters 43 to 45 of Isaiah. For instance, in . . .
Exodus 43:1—But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who
formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Exodus 43:15—“I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.”
Exodus 44:24—”This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.
In Exodus, God takes up His efforts of returning creation to a point where His mission can once again be taken up. God creates a people for Himself, where He can take up life-giving, life-preserving and life-blessing. The Creator shows His sovereignty to all the earth through the nation of Israel, which He creates out of the hopeless situation of bondage.
Exodus is a testimony to God’s ongoing work of creation and blessing. The Book of Exodus is a miniature, a model, a pocket edition of the Matrix of the Bible . . .
Quest for Place, Chapters 1-18
Covenant, Chapters 18-24
Relational Experience, Chapters 25-40
EXPERIENCING EXODUS is THE WAY OUT of this World INTO the Kingdom of Heaven. THE WAY OUT begins with REDEMPTION, moves to CONSECRATION, finishes with WORSHIP.