Philippe R. Sterling
EXODUS: Exodus presents the redemption of God’s covenant people out of bondage through miracles, the grant of a constitution to them, and the establishment of a theocratic center of worship. It is the record of the founding of the theocracy in which God rules over his redeemed people. Overall, God redeems, protects, and provides. In response, the people must trust, obey, and worship God.
The Israelites have been under bondage in Egypt to Egypt’s ruler, Pharaoh. Exodus describes how God delivers them from bondage into a covenant relationship with him. The title “Exodus”, which means “outgoing”, conveys the main subject of the book; but two other subjects are associated with the Exodus – the Covenant and the Tabernacle. The book structurally divides as the Exodus (1—18), the Covenant (19—24), and the Tabernacle (25—40). The Exodus brings Israel out to a new liberty. The Covenant brings them under a new government. The Tabernacle makes possible a new and sustained fellowship with God.
Literary Structure and Content
I. The Exodus: God sets his people free (Ex 1—18).
A. Preparation: God’s purposes for his people are being fulfilled though appearances may be to the contrary
1. Bondage: God’s people can prosper through adversity (1).
God had revealed to Abraham in Gen 15:13-19 that his descendants would be enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. There were several reasons for this. First, the sin of the Amorite was not yet complete (Gen 15:16). The fulfillment of the promise would involve the judgment of the Amorites at the right time (see 2 Pet 3:9). Second, in Canaan Abraham’s descendants would be moving towards assimilation with the Canaanites. The sojourn in Egypt would be partly discipline and partly preservation. Third, the deliverance from bondage would provide a great display of the power of God.
2. A Deliverer: God prepares a deliverer and reveals himself (2—4).
Moses was God’s chosen deliverer. He lived 120 years and his life evenly divides into three segments: 40 years in Pharaoh’s court, 40 years in exile as a shepherd in Midian, and 40 years leading Israel. God slowly prepared him for his role. God prepares and teaches us in barren places.
Israel was oppressed by the Egyptians. People today are chained by sin and its consequences. Israel needed a deliverer; so do we! Jesus is our deliverer. God calls us to help deliver people.
God reveals himself as “I AM WHO I AM.” God is self-existing. Everything relies on God’s power. Jesus is “I AM.”
B. Obstruction: The world opposes God’s purposes for his people but God supports them (5—11).
1. Pharaoh: The powers of this world oppose God’s purposes for his people.
In Exodus 5:1-2 Pharaoh asks, “Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.” God will answer the question in a great display of his power.
2. The Plagues: God reveals his awesome power in support of his people.
The purpose of the ten plagues is to make God known. The expression “that you may know that I am the LORD” appears in Exod. 6:2, 6, 7, 8, 28; 7:5, 17; 8:10, 22; 9:14; and 10:2. Moses, the Israelites, the Egyptians and Pharaoh have the opportunity to know the LORD in the drama of the plagues. The narrative of the plagues is an account of God’s victory over the false gods of Egypt and the satanic forces behind them (see Num. 33:4).
C. Liberation: God sets his people free and tests their faith in him (12—18).
1. Passover: God secures his people’s freedom through sacrifice (12—13)
God redeems his people from their earthly bondage. The act of redemption focuses on the ritual of the Passover. The Passover points to a greater redemption that Christ will provide for all of us (see 1 Cor. 5:7).
2. Red Sea and Journey to Sinai: Having secured his people’s freedom God tests his people’s reliance on
Exodus 14:31 states the outcome of the Red Sea crossing, "And when Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses." Israel began to understand the nature of God and trust him.
The Song of Moses reflects two facts Israel learned about God through the Red Sea crossing (Ex. 15). They recognized God’s uniqueness, “Who is like you among the gods, O LORD?” They recognized God’s rule, “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.”
God tests his people to see if they will trust him. God may lead us on a detour. God may lead us to a dead end. God may lead us to dry places and bitter waters. Tests show what is inside of us. Tests help us to grow in faith. Tests reveal the faithfulness of God.
II. The Covenant: God makes a covenant with his people (Ex 19—24).
A. Sinai: God meets with his people (19).
God is sovereign over all nations and chose Israel for a special purpose. Exodus 19:6 states that purpose: “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
God descended to Sinai in a display of his power and majesty. Moses and Aaron were permitted on the mountain while the people stood before it.
B. The Ten Commandments, Judgments & Ordinances: God gives his people commandments for life (20—23).
God did not intend for the Ten Commandments (the Law) to be used as a way of salvation (see Gal. 2:16, 21). According to Gal. 3:19-25 God had three reasons for giving the Mosaic Law: to restrain sin, to rebuke sin, and to reveal the need of a Savior.
The Law was not a way to gain salvation through obedience. The Mosaic Code was temporary. Jesus fulfilled the Law for us. The 613 commands of the Law are all part of one indivisible unit. If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the Law (Gal. 5:18).
C. Covenant Meal: God and Israel affirm the Covenant – Book & Blood (24).
1. The Book of the Covenant: Accept God’s revelation.
2. The Blood of the Covenant: Accept God’s redemption.
3. The LORD’s Table: Fellowship with God.
Moses read the Book of the Covenant and the people promised to obey it. Israel was ceremonially set apart through the blood of the covenant as the people of God. Then they ate a meal in the presence of God to symbolize the ratifying of the covenant. God invites us to a feast. Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us join the feast (1 Cor. 5:7).
Israel was a theocracy, a government under God. Now they would be instructed on the proper way to worship God.
III. The Tabernacle: God dwells with a redeemed and cleansed people (Ex 25—40).
A. Design of the Tabernacle: God wants to dwell with his people (25—31).
The principle features of the Tabernacle are the structure, the furniture, the priesthood, and the offerings. The structure was in three parts: the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. The one entrance to the Outer Court was called the “gate”. The one entrance to the Holy Place was called the “door”. The one entrance to the Holy of Holies was called the “veil”. The furniture of the Tabernacle consisted of seven carefully described articles. On passing through the gate into the Outer Court we come to the brazen altar of sacrifice. Moving on from the brazen altar, we come to the laver containing water for the cleansing of those who ministered in the things of the Tabernacle. Passing through the door, we find ourselves in the Holy Place. Here, on our right hand, we find the table of the bread of the presence speaking of sustenance for the spiritual life. On the left hand we see the seven-branched candelabrum speaking of spiritual illumination. Then, in front of us, and standing just before the veil of the Holy of Holies, is the golden altar of incense, fragrantly symbolizing prayers to God. Finally, passing through the veil into the Holy of Holies, we see the Ark of the Covenant speaking of covenant relationship between God and His people; and, above it, on the lid, the mercy seat, with two cherubim, one at each side, facing each other and touching their outstretched wings above the mercy seat and the Shekinah glory. There were seven prescribed articles of wear for the High Priest: the breastplate, the ephod, the robe, the coat, the linen shorts, and for the head there were the mitre and the crown.
God wants to dwell with his people. We can note the progression in the Scriptures: the Garden of Eden, the Tabernacle, the Temple, Immanuel/the Word, the Church, Believers, the New Jerusalem – Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and he shall dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be among them (Rev. 21:3).
B. The Golden Calf: Sin breaks fellowship with God but restoration is possible through the intercession of a mediator (32—34).
C. Construction of the Tabernacle: God’s people build the house of God and God comes to dwell among them (35—40).
God invites believers to give of their resources and to use their skills to build his dwelling. Jesus invites us to help build his church. God dwells in the midst of his people.
God rescues us. God covenants with us. God dwells with us.
God sets us free that we might worship and serve him (see Gal. 5:1, 13). Find freedom in Christ and fellowship with God.
Messianic Prophecy and Typology
Passover Lamb – Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7).
Moses – Moses is a type of Christ as deliverer and prophet (see Deut. 18:15).
Manna and Water – Both apply to Christ (see John 6:31-35, 48-51; 1 Cor. 10:3-4).
Tabernacle – The Tabernacle points to Christ.
· Tabernacle and the Incarnation – Christ tabernacled among us (Jn. 1) and his flesh veiled the glory of God among people.
· Curtain and Christ – the veil of the temple was torn in two when Christ was on the cross indicating that access to God was opened.
· Mercy Seat – Christ became the place of propitiation by his death of the cross.
· Furnishings – e.g., the candlestick represents Christ the light to the way to God (John 7, 8).