GET UP… leave… take off – these words are good ones for those trapped or enslaved. Some resist their marching orders, however, preferring present surroundings to a new, unknown environment. It’s not easy to trade the comfortable security of the known for the uncertain future. But what if God gives the order to move? Will we follow his lead? Exodus describes a series of God’s calls and responses of his people.
Four hundred years had passed since Joseph moved his family to Egypt. These descendants of Abraham had now grown to over two million strong. To Egypt’s new Pharaoh, these Hebrews were foreigners, and their numbers were frightening. Pharaoh decided to make them slaves so they wouldn’t upset his balance of power. As it turned out, that was his biggest mistake, for God then came to the rescue of his people.
Through a series of strange events, a Hebrew boy named Moses became a prince in Pharaoh’s palace and then an outcast in a desert land. God visited Moses in the mysterious flames of a burning bush, and after some discussion, Moses agreed to return to Egypt to lead God’s people out of slavery. Pharaoh was confronted, and, through a cycle of plagues and promises made and broken, Israel was torn from his grasp.
It was no easy task to mobilise this mass of humanity, but they marched out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the desert behind Moses and the pillars of cloud and fire. Despite continual evidence of God’s love and power, the people complained and began to yearn for their days in Egypt. God provided for their physical and spiritual needs with food and a place to worship, but he also judged their disobedience and unbelief. Then in the dramatic Sinai meeting with Moses, God gave his laws for right living.
God led Moses and the nation of Israel, and he wants to lead us as well. Is he preparing you, like Moses, for a specific task? He will be with you; obey and follow. Is he delivering you from an enemy or a temptation? Trust him, and do what he says. Have you heard his clear moral directions? Read, study, and obey his word. Is he calling you to true worship? Discover God’s presence in your life, in your home, and in the body of assembled believers. Exodus is the exciting story of God’s guidance. Read with the determination to follow God wherever he leads.
PURPOSE: To record the events of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and development as a nation
DATE WRITTEN: 1450-1410 B.C., approximately the same as Genesis
WHERE WRITTEN: In the desert during Israel’s wanderings, somewhere in the Sinai peninsula
SETTING: Egypt. God’s people, once highly favoured in the land, are now slaves. God is about to set them free.
KEY VERSES: “The LORD said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering…. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people to Israelites out of Egypt’ “ (3:7, 10).
KEY PEOPLE: Moses, Miriam, Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s daughter, Jethro, Aaron, Joshua, Bezalel
KEY PLACES: Egypt, Goshen, Nile River, Midian, Red Sea, Sinai peninsula, Mount Sinai
SPECIAL FEATURES: Exodus relates more miracles than any other Old Testament book and is noted for containing the Ten Commandments
Israel In Egypt (1:1-12:30) When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, God heard their cries and rescued them. We can be confident that God still hears the cries of his people. Just as he delivered the Israelites from their captors, he delivers us from sin, death, and evil.
- Slavery in Egypt
- God chooses Moses
- God sends Moses to Pharaoh
- Plague strike Egypt
- The Passover
Israel In The Desert (12:31-18:27) After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites became quarrelsome and discontent. Like the Israelites, we find it easy to complain and be dissatisfied. Christians still have struggles, but we should never allow difficulties and unpleasant circumstances to turn us away from trusting God.
Israel At Sinai (19:1-40:38) God revealed his law to the Israelites at Sinai. Through the law, they learned more about what God is like and how he expected his people to live. The law is still instructional for us, for it exposes our sin and shows us God’s standard for living.
- Giving the law
- Tabernacle instructions
- Breaking the law
- Tabernacle construction
EXPLANATION: The Israelites were slaves for 400 years. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, oppressed them cruelly. They prayed to God for deliverance from this system.
IMPORTANCE: Like the Israelites, we need both human and divine leadership to escape from the slavery of sin. After their escape, the memory of slavery heled the Israelites learn to treat others generously. We need to stand against those who oppress others.
EXPLANATION: God rescued Israel through the leader Moses and through mighty miracles. The Passover celebration was an annual reminder of their escape from slavery.
IMPORTANCE: God delivers us from the slavery of sin. Jesus Christ celebrated the Passover with his disciples at the Last Supper and then went on to rescue us from sin by dying in our place.
EXPLANATION: God guided Israel out of Egypt by using the plagues, Moses’ heroic courage, the miracle of the Red Sea, and the Ten Commandments. God is a trustworthy guide.
IMPORTANCE: Although God is all-powerful and can do miracles, he normally leads us by wise leadership and team effort. His words give us the wisdom to make daily decisions and govern our lives.
EXPLANATION: God’s law system had three parts. The Ten Commandments were the first part, containing the absolutes of spiritual and moral life. The civil law was the second part, giving the people rules to manage their lives. The ceremonial law was the third part, showing them patterns for building the tabernacle and regular worship.
IMPORTANCE: God was teaching Israel the importance of choice and responsibility. When they obey the conditions of the law, he blessed them; if they forgot or disobeyed, he punished them or allowed calamities to come. Many great countries of the world base their laws on the moral system set up in the book of Exodus. God’s moral law is valid today.
EXPLANATION: God founded the nation of Israel to be the source of truth and salvation to all the world. His relationship to his people was loving yet firm. The Israelites had no army, schools, governors, mayors, or police when they left Egypt. God had to instruct them in their constitutional law and daily practices. He showed them how to worship and how to have national holidays.
IMPORTANCE: Israel’s newly formed nation had all the behavioural characteristics of Christians today. We are often disorganised, sometimes rebellious, and sometimes victorious. God’s Person and word are still our only guide. If our churches reflect his leadership, they will be effective in serving him.
©Kingsway International Church, 1973.