Exploring the Bible : Exodus
We left off in Genesis with the death of Joseph. The descendants of Israel entered Egypt and started growing numbers. This is where Exodus picks up. Written by Moses, as well, it’s a continuation of God’s story.
The books begins in Egypt; a strong power in the world at that time. Its boundaries were increasing and power growing. Moses was born in 1525 B.C., which gives you a rough timeframe for this book. We’ll get to know him well in this book and see his connection with Egypt, besides simply living there.
Exodus is largely an account of God’s people finding freedom from their oppressors, yes. But it’s also the beginning of the fulfillment of Go'd’s promises to the patriarchs we learned about in Genesis. Let’s get started!
MOSES’ EARLY YEARS (CH. 1-2)
After Joseph’s family moved to Egypt they grew in numbers. Years later, their numbers were so great that the Pharaoh chose to use them as slaves for the expansion of Egypt. God’s chosen people were marginalized and forced into labor. Eventually, to help with population control., the Pharaoh ordered that males born to a Hebrew (or Israelite) were to be killed at birth.
When Moses was born, his mother hid him and then set him in a basket. She placed the basket in the river and her daughter (Moses’ sister) watched it. The basket was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter and she raised Moses as her own son.
Moses was a Hebrew raised in Pharaoh’s house. He was accustomed to their culture and ways. He knew them better than any other Hebrew did, which would prove beneficial down the road. Indeed, Moses knew he was Hebrew and when he was an adult, he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. As a result, Moses fled into the desert. He marries a woman and becomes a shepherd for his father-in-law.
THE CALL OF MOSES (CH. 3-4)
Moses spent 40 years wandering the wilderness with his flock. Then, one day, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. While he was tending to the flock he saw a bush the burned but was not consumed. It was God and He had a plan for Moses. A plan that would send him back to Egypt in order to set Israel free from their oppressors. Although Moses doubted his call, God confirmed Moses was the man for the job and so he went.
MOSES RETURNS TO EGYPT (CH. 4-12)
Moses knew the Pharaoh—he had grown up in the same house as him. It wasn’t a coincidence how Moses’ life played out. Knowing Pharaoh undoubtedly gave him access to the man no other Hebrew had. And indeed, he went to Pharaoh and told him to let the Hebrews go.
Not surprisingly, Pharaoh wasn’t okay with that. And so, plagues were sent to Egypt. With each, Pharaoh continued to refuse the release of the Hebrews until after the 10th plague. The 10 plagues were:
Water Turned to Blood
Egyptian Livestock Dies
Death of the Firstborn
Pharaoh continued to hold his ground until he felt the loss that the tenth plague brought. A plague that took the life of all the firstborn in the country. Hebrews were saved from such a loss if they brushed the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. This was called the Passover and it’s a holiday Hebrews still observe today.
Pharaoh lost his son in the plague and coming to the end of himself, he finally agreed to let all the Hebrews go. With Moses at the lead and his brother Aaron serving as prophet, all of Israel exited Egypt—exactly 430 years after entering.
THE EXODUS (CH. 12-19)
As they traveled out of Egypt and towards the Promise Land (where Jacob had left to be with Joseph), God provided a pillar of fire at night and clouds by day for their journey. When they reached the Red Sea, they faced a bit of a conundrum. Pharaoh had changed his mind and send an army to and retrieve they Hebrews. As they caught up, Moses and the people were stuck between the army and the sea. Then God did a miracle. He split the sea so that the Hebrews could cross on dry land and as the Egyptians followed them, the water enveloped them alone. Israel was free!
But that wasn’t enough for them. The people began to groan and grumble, already forgetting all that God had done for them. They wanted food and so God sent bread from Heaven in the morning and meat in the evening every day but the seventh day (so they could rest). They wanted water and He brought forth water from a rock. There was no need they had that God did not provide for.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS & OTHER LAWS (CH. 20-32)
Eventually the people made it to Mount Sinai and it’s here Moses received the 10 commandments.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not create and/or bow down to false idols.
Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
Remember . the Sabbath.
Honor your mother and father.
Do not murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not bear false witness against others.
Don’t covet what other’s have.
This was the law handed down to Moses on the mountain, along with many other laws. Laws about restitution, social justice, the ark of the covenant and tabernacle, and the Sabbath. These were passed down to guide mankind in how to live their life. It gave definition to sin. It was by the law people lived until Christ came and grace entered the scene.
While God was communicating these laws to Moses, at the bottom of the mountain, the people began to wander. They became restless and made a golden calf to worship—something God was writing in the law to avoid. As a result, many died because of their sin. They had turned away from the God who had delivered him.
GOD’S FAVOR (CH. 33-34)
Chapter 33 holds a beautiful account of Moses and God. In it, Moses is asking for insight into God’s plan for the people and God assures Moses that His presence will go with them. Then, Moses asks to see God’s glory. Moses is tucked away in a cleft in the rock until God has passed and then is able to see God from behind. Its incredible access to God because Moses has sought Him. Pursued Him.
When Moses returned to the people after his experience with God, his face shown brightly and the people knew he had been with God.
CONCLUDING EXODUS (CH. 35-40)
The rest of the book details the construction of the tabernacle, where the Lord’s glory rested. It was like a cloud over the tabernacle by day and fire by night. When His glory lifted, it meant the people were to pick up and move on. While it settled they stayed put.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN
God is faithful to His people. He provides. Even when we doubt, He is good. Aren’t we like the Israelites at times? God delivered them from oppression and it didn’t take long for them to complain. To forget God’s goodness. They questioned Him and His plan. Do you do that sometimes? I do. God has been good but quickly the difficult circumstances cause you to question Him. Learn from their mistakes—from your own—and remain faithful to him.
Moses and his right arm, Joshua (who we will get to know better later), preferred to be near God. They sought after Him. It was this love for God that motivated everything they did. As a result, they were shown favor. Seek after Him. Pursue His heart. The Bible is full of people who were shown favor because they simply loved God. They weren’t perfect but they made Him central.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Exodus 20:2