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by Jacky Lam

Jacky blogs at The Sent One - an awesome Christological commentary on the whole bible.  He has collected together his pentateuch comentary (including Exodus) here.  A real treasure trove.

And do read Exodus 1 first...

From Genesis to Exodus

In Genesis we saw promises.  They reach back from the promise made through Joseph - the mediator of peace with Pharoah on behalf of his brothers.  We trace it back further through his forefathers Israel, Isaac, Abraham, Noah, Enoch, Seth, and back to the head, Adam.  He received the first promise (Genesis 3:15) - the good news to be founded upon his Seed.  There was never any confusion as to the object of these promises – the Christian saints of Genesis looked squarely at the Promise of the Redeemer God-man.

The continuation of this great Promise is borne in the title of the second book of Moses -"ex-hodus" - referring to the exit.  This is the 'going-out' of the Israelites from Egypt after they had settled there at the end of Genesis.  The Hebrew title of this book also brings out the theme of continuation in the name "we’elleh shemoth" – which literally means “And these are the names of.”  This is a repetition of the phrase appearing in Genesis 46:8.  This commenced the genealogy of those who came into Egypt just the same way Exodus 1 begins.  Moses' adoption of this phrase reminds us of the Promise carried forward in each generation.

Joseph was confident in Genesis 50:24-25:

"…God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob… God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here"

As Exodus begins (v1-5), each Israelite is named in the lineage of Abraham.  And so we see the book Exodus as a fulfillment of the LORD bringing the Israelites out of this land and into the land of those born in the name of Abraham as forefather.

Chapter 1 explains how awesome Israel has become.  From a mere seventy persons to an exceedingly strong and fruitful congregation united by the Promise. Where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died without seeing the promise come to fruition (1 Peter 1:10-12), Exodus immediately introduces us to the fulfilling of the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12, 15).

Verse 6 says that the land "was filled with them" – and though it would seem that the Israelites and the Egyptians are to co-exist (with the Egyptians learning of this Promised Seed of Adam); the Hebrew men and women are waiting for God to visit them.  They await their exodus out of the land of Egypt where the Promise is neither fulfilled nor found.

Yet, not all people stood under the great Promise, and v.8 immediately opens with Pharoah, the new king "who did not know Joseph".  He is the head, and the very representation of those who stand against the coming One by his very denial of Joseph's mediatory role.  Unlike the previous Pharoahs, this king comes in the name of oppression, a faint type of Herod's oppression of the Jews after 400 years of silence.

Pharoah's fear is that the Israelites would "join [their] enemies and fight against [them] and escape from the land".  Indeed, this fear is a nearly accurate diagnosis of the prophecy of Joseph in Genesis 50.  The Israelites are either the Pharoah's people, or belonging to another.  They will either fight for Pharoah, or fight against him.  They will either stay in the land or escape from the land.

It is therefore clear that the Promised One will effect the latter on behalf of the Israelites.  Therefore those cryptic words of v.22 – that "every son that is born to the Hebrews… shall [be] cast into the Nile" - are words aimed at extinguishing the coming Redeemer.

Yet, this threat is empty in the face of the Promise.  It is only through the resurrection of Israel from Egypt; only through the ascension, the revival of Israel from Egypt can we see the grander picture of Christ’s ascension from affliction.  This is all within the Father’s ordination - think of Genesis 15:3 when He knew that Abram’s sons would be afflicted in Egypt; or Genesis 3:15 when He knew the Promised Son would have His heel bruised; or Genesis 2 when Adam’s bride would be raised up through a pierced side and a death-like sleep.

Therefore v. 8-14 is but a microscopic picture of the cosmic battle between the Satan and the Christ.  It is the serpent, typified by Pharoah the serpent worshipper (c.f. the swallowing up of the serpents in Exodus 7), against the Promised Seed, the serpent-crusher (Genesis 3:15) - typified in part by Joseph, and in part, by Moses.  It would be a mistake to assume that the Israelites are to solely rely on these shadows.  Their faith is not in mere men whose bones remind them of their death (Genesis 50:25).  Their faith is defined by the greater Object - the Redeeming God who will visit them and bring them into life.

The way in which Israel is made fruitful is a lesson for us all.  The more we are afflicted for the purpose of Christ, the more it fulfils God’s prophecies, and the more we are assured of being part of the Promised One (1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Peter 4:13).

Actually the rapid expansion of Israel (repeated in v.7 and v.20), her persecution, and Joseph's promise reveal to us that the battle between Satan and Christ is not one of equal opposites.  In fact Christ entirely overwhelms.  Christ uses the Pharoah's oppression and works salvation from it.  Pharoah is the proverbial Roman soldier, Pharoah is the angry and prideful cherub (Ezekiel 28/ Isaiah 16) who wishes to remain on a lonely self-exalted (and self-made) throne, attempting to cut Christ on the cross.  Yet, it is the Father's will that new life is born from dead seed; that Israel is "brought up" out of Egyptian captivity; and that Christ is resurrected from the pit to the right hand of the Father.

We are the midwives of other new-born

And it is in the context of such slavery that we are brought to the scrutiny of both the beautiful and the splendid – of both Shiphrah and Puah, the two Hebrew midwives.  They are but one of many stories of the struggles of the Israelites – and it is in their faithfulness that we see His kingdom being advanced.  It is in the lives of the Israelites, in the lives of Shiphrah and Puah, that we see God's preservation of this remnant.  The Seed is not destroyed.  In these two women we see a faint glimpse of Elizabeth and Mary, preserving Elijah and the coming Son.

Who you are

Exodus 1 poses a number of crucial questions which will shape our understanding of how the rest of Exodus plays out.  Are you the:

  • Pharoah, who denies Joseph, Moses and above all the true King of Kings, and rather pledge allegiance to the Father of liars (John 8:44) and schemers (Psalm 1:1, 2:2; Proverbs 24:8)?
  • Mid-wife, who denies the false authority of the evil one in favour of bringing to life more souls, as coheirs and workers of the kingdom greater than Egypt?
  • Hebrew, who is bitterly enslaved in the world thirsting for the return of the Promised One?

There is no clear-cut distinction amongst the three parties.  At times we are more one than the other; at times we are all three, a living contradiction.  Yet, the identities of all three revolve around the "God who will surely visit".  The God who will surely bring us salvation:  He will surely bring in a new creation of a fortress where Gentiles and Israelites co-exist (Pithom v.11), where we stand before him as true children of the Son (Raamses v.11).

To conclude, the Promise-centric nature of Genesis and the Christocentric focus of the Old Testament is our framework for Exodus.  Let us then understand the challenge which the Spirit of God poses in the written word of Exodus.   Let us not accommodate to the daily death of slavery.  Let us be daily captivated by the coming One, who brings new life in the redemption from Satan's slavery, who will resurrect us from the death of Egypt into the life of Canaan.  Let us walk in the blood of Christ through the refiner's fire of the wilderness and into the loving arms of the Father in heaven.  Finally, let us recognise that we are his beloved sons and daughters because of the Promised One, and are co-heirs of a glory far greater than the riches of the edenic Garden.

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by Glen Scrivener

Jesus... saved a people out of the land of Egypt. (Jude 5)

Here's where we begin our Lenten blog through Exodus - Jude's 10 word overview.  At its heart is the truth: Jesus saves from slavery.  That's what Exodus is all about.

In today's introduction to the book, I'll try to expand on this one thought just a little.  I will focus on the who of Exodus rather than the what.  Today the focus is not on Moses or Pharoah or the plagues or the Red Sea or the law or the tabernacle - that's for another time.  First we'll tackle the crucial issue: Who is the LORD who redeems Israel?

Given that this is precisely how the God of the Old Testament defines Himself  - 'the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt' - getting this question right is absolutely vital.

We begin at the non-burning bush - Exodus 3.

burning bush

Here the Angel of the LORD (v2) confronts Moses. This Sent One from the LORD is Himself "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (v6).  He is God from God and He calls Himself “I AM WHO I AM.” (v14)

This is important to note because verse 12 may just be the book's theme sentence:

"But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." (Ex 3:12)

The Angel does not say “God will go with you and you will worship God.” Nor does He say “I will go with you and you will worship Me.”  No, the Angel is the saving LORD (see Judges 2:1-5) and He relates the people to Another.

Jesus saves a people and brings them to worship God on the mountain.  The Son redeems a people for the Father.  That is what Exodus is all about.  And the rest of the book is the playing out of this truth.

pillar cloudAs the people come out of Egypt - there He is in the pillar of cloud/fire.  At one point He's called the LORD (13:21,22) at another, 'the Angel of God' (14:19,20).  The Sent One who is God is the redeeming LORD.

When He brings them to the mountain (as promised) He makes sure they are prepared to meet the LORD:

The LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, 'Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.  (Ex 19:10-12)

Here the LORD who has carried them on eagle's wings is on the mountain.  And he's warning the people about how dangerous it will be when the LORD meets them on the mountain.  If this were some unitarian god it would be strange talk indeed but we know that the divine Angel is the LORD who is bringing them to meet God (the Father) on the mountain (Ex 3:12).

As Deuteronomy 4 and 5 underline, the encounter on Sinai was utterly unique (e.g. Deut 4:15; 5:26).

giving law

No-one had ever heard 'the living God' speaking out of fire on the mountain as they did on that third day.

Now of course Moses had heard the I AM speaking out of fire on that very mountain (Exodus 3).  But this is different.  This is the unseen LORD.  This is the Most High God and it has taken 70 chapters of the bible - it has taken the mighty redemption of the Angel - to make this kind of encouter possible.

And just when you thought Exodus might finish in chapter 19, the people don't actually go up the mountain at the trumpet blast (Ex 19:13).  Instead Moses goes up on their behalf (cf Deut 5:27; 18:15,16).

Everything will now be presented by intermediaries, shadows, types - such is the very essence of the old covenant introduced on Sinai.

The second half of Exodus is mainly Moses on the mountain, in the cloud, receiving the law and the tabernacle blueprint from the unseen LORD.

Attention turns to the future as the unseen LORD promises Moses that the Angel will continue to deliver them (Ex 23:20-23).  They can trust Him because the name of the unseen LORD is in Him (Ex 23:21).  It is the Angel who commands, leads and forgives the Israelites.

But perhaps Moses wasn't listening in chapter 23 because in 33:12 he says:

"See, you say to me, 'Bring up this people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me."

The Angel had brought them thus far.  Who would continue to lead them?

The unseen LORD replies:

"My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (33:14)

Who is this 'Presence'?

The word 'Presence' is the word for face and it recalls a very memorable phrase from the previous chapter.

In Exodus 33:7-11 we hear about what used to happen.  We leave the mountain-top briefly to be told how Moses used to meet with the LORD down on ground level.  At that time he'd go to the tent of meeting and speak with the LORD "face to face as a man speaks with his friend."

That was the 'face to face' LORD at ground level.  But when Moses is on the mountain, the unseen LORD reassures Moses that the Face (Presence) would continue to go with them.  Moses considers this to be absolutely essential - if the Presence doesn't go with them he'd rather just perish in the wilderness (33:15).  Give me Jesus or give me death!

Having been encouraged greatly, Moses is now bold enough to ask something with echoes of Philip's request in John 14.  Now he wants to see the glory of the unseen LORD (v18)!

The LORD’s reply is very telling: He would pass in front of Moses, He would proclaim His name, but, 33:20,

"you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

Again in v22 He emphasizes

my face must not be seen.”

Now Moses is not an idiot.  He's just recounted the incident in the tent of meeting (33:7-11) for a reason.  He's deliberately distinguishing the ground-level appearing LORD with the mountain-top unseen LORD.  But he distinguishes them so as to intimately relate them.

Because as soon as Moses hears the name of the Unseen LORD (Ex 34:5-7) he exclaims:

"If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us." (Ex 34:9)

When he hears the name of the Most High God he asks Him to send the Lord in their midst.  The name of the LORD is in the Angel who is in their midst (Ex 23:21).  So when Moses hears this gospel character he knows he's experienced this very name in the Angel.

The seen LORD who has accompanied them is everything that the unseen LORD proclaims when He reveals His name.  And so Moses asks the Father to send the Son in their midst - the redeeming Lord-from-Lord.

Moses’ plea of 34:9 is granted and, at the end of Exodus, the Glory / Presence / LORD fills the tabernacle and directs all their travels (40:34-38).

pillar cloud tabernacle

We see throughout the Old Testament that the Presence of the LORD did indeed remain with the people.

Numbers 9:15-23 is one example out of many showing the seen LORD going in the midst of His people.  Number 14 says that even the surrounding nations knew that the Face-to-Face / Eye-to-Eye LORD travelled with the Israelites and fought for them (Num14:13f).

When Solomon finally builds a Temple for the Name of the LORD, the LORD fills it in exactly the same way as He filled the tabernacle in Exodus 40.  This LORD appears to Solomon in 1 Kings 9 and to Isaiah in chapter 6.

If we were in any doubt as to who this Divine Person is, the Apostle John settles all dispute: “Isaiah said this [referring to Isaiah 6] because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.” (John 12:41)

In the fulness of time this LORD - this Angel of the covenant, this sought after and desired Redeemer - would come in a definitive judgement and salvation (Mal 3:1ff).

Jesus has always been the saving, ground-level, appearing LORD, mediating perfectly the saving plan and character of His Father.

Jude was speaking absolutely plainly and straightforwardly - Jesus is the LORD who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt.  In other words He is the God of the Old Testament.  Exodus is a wonderful demonstration of this foundational truth.

We'll look at chapter 1 tomorrow...

All Exodus posts here

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I'm going to try something different for Lent.

We're going to work our way through Exodus.

And we'll have guest contributors along the way.

Might be a giggle.

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Here's the plan if you want to read ahead:

17 Feb: Overview

18 Feb: Ex 1:1-22

19 Feb: Ex 2:1-25

20 Feb: Ex 3:1-22

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22 Feb: Ex 4:1-17

23 Feb: Ex 4:18-31

24 Feb: Ex 5:1-21

25 Feb: Ex 5:22-6:27

26 Feb: Ex 6:28-7:13

27 Feb: Plagues (overview)

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1 March: Ex 7:14-8:15

2 March: Ex 8:16-32

3 March: Ex 9:1-35

4 March: Ex 10:1-29

5 March: Ex 11:1-10

6 March: Ex 12:1-30

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8 March: Ex 12:31-51

9 March: Ex 13:1-16

10 March: Ex 13:17-14:31

11 March: Ex 15:1-21

12 March: Ex 15:22-16:36

13 March: Ex 17:1-16

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15 March: Ex 18:1-27

16 March: Ex 19:1-25

17 March: Ex 20:1-21

18 March: Ex 20:22-21:11

19 March: Ex 21:12-22:15

20 March: Ex 22:16-23:9

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22 March: Ex 23:10-33

23 March: Ex 24:1-18

24 March: Tabernacle 1

25 March: Tabernacle 2

26 March: Furniture

27 March: Bezalel & Oholiab

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29 March: Priests 1

30 March: Priests 2

31 March: Ex 32-33:6

1 April: Ex 33:7-23

2 April: Ex 34:1-35

3 April: Ex 40:1-38

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Then get a load of this:

David Field on Genesis 16-20 - The Promised Seed.

More David Field sermons here.

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What controls you more - the firstfruits of your future hope, or the giants?

The seventh sermon in our Church in the Wilderness series.  On Numbers 13-14.

Excerpt:

Joshua goes into the promised land with a man after his heart (Caleb) and those are the only ones who survive this wicked generation - the One called Jesus and the one after His heart. And chapter 14 is all about whether Israel would trust the one whose name is Jesus as he brings back the firstfruits of the promised land.

From v7 it’s his speech that is make or break for the Israelites – will they trust their forerunner?  He comes to them with proof of the goodness of the future hope but they fail to trust Him and bring judgement on themselves.

Jesus Christ is the true Joshua who has gone into the promised hope ahead of us.  And after His death, He came back from that future glory bearing the firstfruits of the new creation – that’s how 1 Corinthians 15 describes the resurrection.  And we are in the position of Israel, assessing Jesus the Forerunner.  Can we trust Him?  Does He know what He’s talking about?  Do His firstfruits look worth pursuing?

Audio here.

Text below...

...continue reading "Trusting our Forerunner Joshua and His Firstfruits"

Leon Sim (sometime commenter here) has written a cracker of an essay on Irenaeus's understanding of the Old Testament.  Of course that understanding is explicitly christocentric and Trinitarian.

Here are a couple of great quotes from the essay:

Not only does Irenaeus see Christ and the Trinitarian God to be the object of revelation, but he also sees Christ to be the subject or agent of God’s revelation. For Irenaeus, it is not merely incidental, but crucial, that it is the Word who spoke to the patriarchs and prophets, and “preach[ed] both Himself and the Father alike,” (Against Heresies 4.6.6.)...

...In one sense, Irenaeus reads the Old Testament Christologically and Trinitarianly because He sees that the Father does everything through the Son by the Holy Spirit. In another sense, he also does so because he holds creation, salvation and revelation together, that is, it is the Father’s purpose in creation to save and bring men to Himself through the revelation of His Word by the Spirit. Hence if there is to be salvation for humanity in the Old Testament, it must be through the revelation of the Spirit-anointed Son...

...According to Irenaeus, therefore, anyone who follows in the non-Christological interpretation of the Old Testament – assuming that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were unknown or unrecognisable through the Old Testament itself – have followed unbelieving Jews in departing from the true God and any knowledge of Him: "Therefore have the Jews departed from God in not receiving His Word, but imagining that they could know the Father [apart] by Himself, without the Word, that is, without the Son; they being ignorant of that God who spake in human shape to Abraham, and again to Moses." (Against Heresies 4.7.4.)

Read the whole thing here.

Download an easier to read format here.

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Church in the WildernessOver the past 6 weeks I've been preaching on the Church in the Wilderness.

We are just like the Israelites - saved from the kingdom of darkness, saved through the waters of baptism, headed for our promised hope.  But in between we are in a time of testing, hardship and discipline.

Church in the Wilderness2

We're no longer in Egypt.  But we're not yet in the promised land either.  Instead we must go through many troubles to enter the kingdom of God.

In the meantime we have the assurance of His blood, empowerment by His Spirit, provision for every need, guidance for the day and a Leader who, unlike Moses, has made it into the promised hope as our Fore-runner, Champion and Priest.

It's not an attempt to plumb the depths of Exodus and Numbers.  It's really just trying to get our expectations for the Christian life straight.  We are in the Wilderness.  Christ is in the Promised Land.  We are in Him.

Co-ordinating those truths in our hearts and minds is a large part of living wisely in this overlap of the ages.

Here are the sermons:

Introduction: What's the wilderness all about? (1 Cor 10; Deut 8).

TextAudio.

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Passover:  The LORD's salvation through judgement (Exodus 12-13).

TextAudio.

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Red Sea:  Not just sheltered - brought out (Exodus 14-15).

TextAudio.

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Provision:  He gives us today our daily bread  (Exodus 16-17).

TextAudio (first half of sermon audio missing).

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Presence:  The LORD is with us (Numbers 9; Genesis 15).

TextAudio.

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Leaders:  Moses falls short but Jesus is our great Joshua  (Num 27; Heb 3-4).

TextAudio.

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For thawed-out Thursdays.  First posted in Jan 2008...

How should we attain humility?  Determine to think low thoughts of yourself?  You'd be defeated before you began.  Self-deprecation is still self-deprecation.  No, to be humble we need to be humbled

Daniel 4 gives us a great picture of this.  Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man in the world, is humbled by the triune God who is 'able to humble' 'those who walk in pride.'  (Dan 4:37).

As a young(ish) Australian male I know a little something about walking in pride.  What can I learn from Daniel 4 about humility?

 First, the hero of the piece, Daniel, accomplishes his work only in the power of the Holy Spirit.

"I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you." Dan 4:9 (LXX has 'Holy Spirit of God' - translating the plural 'gods' as elsewhere in Scripture)

"None of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you." Dan 4:18.  See also 5:11,14 (LXX translates them all as Holy Spirit of God)

Without the Spirit, Daniel has nothing to offer.  With the Spirit, Daniel is wiser than the wisest men on earth. 

Second, the promised King of God's Kingdom is described as the Lowliest of Men.

"the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes and sets over them the Lowliest of men." (Dan 4:17)

In the great inversion of all our human expectations, God's choice for King is not simply a lowly man, but the Lowliest of men.  The King of all kings is the One who says "I am gentle and humble in heart." (Matt 11:29)  How can Nebuchadnezzar exalt himself when the Chosen One of the Most High is the Servant of all? 

Third, Nebuchadnezzar learns humility when he worships the Most High God:

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towards heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honoured and glorified Him Who lives for ever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No-one can hold back His hand or say to him: "What have you done?" 36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honour and splendour were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom.

With his eyes turned upwards, Nebuchadnezzar praises Him Who lives forever.  The sovereign glory of the Omnipotent Father draws out of him awed worship.  I'm told (and I can believe it) that the Grand Canyon will take your breath away - no-one stands on the rim with high thoughts of themselves.  And no-one can confess the majesty of our Father and not be correspondingly humbled in the process.

So how do I fight pride?  The doctrine of the trinity of course. I need to know that anything I have of worth in God's service is a gift of the Spirit - "What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Cor 4:7). 

I need to know that the Lord of Glory is Himself the Lowliest of men.  His glory is His service.  So how can I exalt myself above Christ?

I need to know that the Most High Father is awe-inspiring in His heavenly power.  As I worship Him I find a grateful 'nothingness' by comparison which is, at that very moment, my restoration to honour.

To be enfolded in the life of these Three is to be well and truly humbled. 

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8

Jesus... saved a people out of the land of Egypt. (Jude 5)

That's Exodus in 10 words.

Let me give a more expanded but less inspired version.  I will focus on the who of Exodus rather than the what.  My attention will not be on Moses or Pharoah or the plagues or the Red Sea or the law or the tabernacle - that can be for another time.  I happen to think there's a more fundamental issue to tackle: Who is the LORD who redeems Israel?  Given that this is precisely how the God of the Old Testament defines Himself  - 'the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt' - getting this question right will be absolutely crucial.

We begin at the non-burning bush - Exodus 3.

burning bush

Here the Angel of the LORD (v2) confronts Moses. This Sent One from the LORD is "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (v6).  (Note that Jacob agrees - the God of His fathers is the Angel: Gen 48:15f).  The Sent One calls Himself “I AM WHO I AM.” (v14)

Note: When Jesus, in His incarnate ministry, calls Himself “I AM” (for e.g. John 8:24,28,58; 13:19; 18:5-8) He is not saying that He's closely related to the God of the Exodus.  He is the God of the Exodus.

This is important to note because verse 12 may just be the book's theme sentence:

He said, "But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." (Ex 3:12)

The Angel does not say “God will go with you and you will worship God.” Nor does He say “I will go with you and you will worship Me.”  No, the Angel is the saving LORD (see Judges 2:1-5) and He relates the people to Another.  Jesus saves a people and brings them to worship God on the mountain.  The Son redeems a people for the Father.  That is what Exodus is all about.  And the rest of the book is the playing out of this truth.

pillar cloud

As the people come out of Egypt - there He is in the pillar of cloud/fire.  At one point He's called the LORD (13:21,22) at another, 'the Angel of God' (14:19,20).  The Sent One who is God is the redeeming LORD.

When He carries them on eagles wings to the mountain (as promised) He makes sure they are prepared to meet the LORD:

The LORD [who carried Israel on eagle's wings - v4] said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, 'Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.  (Ex 19:10-12)

Here the LORD is on the mountain warning the people about how dangerous it will be when the LORD meets them on the mountain.  If this were some unitarian god it would be strange talk indeed but we know that the divine Angel is the LORD who is bringing them to meet God (the Father) on the mountain (Ex 3:12).

As Deuteronomy 4 and 5 underline, the encounter on Sinai was utterly unique (e.g. Deut 4:15; 5:26).

giving law

No-one had ever heard 'the living God' speaking out of fire on the mountain as they did on that third day.  Of course Moses had heard the I AM speaking out of fire on that very mountain (Exodus 3).  But this is different.  This is the unseen LORD.  This is the Most High God and it has taken 70 chapters of the bible - it has taken the mighty redemption of the Angel - to make this kind of encouter possible.

And just when you thought Exodus might finish in chapter 19, the people don't actually go up the mountain at the trumpet blast (Ex 19:13).  Instead Moses goes up on their behalf (cf Deut 5:27).  Everything will now be presented by intermediaries, shadows, types.  For the second half of the book it's mainly Moses on the mountain, in the cloud, receiving the law and the tabernacle blueprint from the unseen LORD.

Attention turns to the future as the unseen LORD promises Moses that the Angel will continue to deliver them (Ex 23:20-23).  They can trust Him because the name of the unseen LORD is in Him (Ex 23:21).  The Angel commands, leads and forgives the Israelites.

Perhaps Moses wasn't listening at this point because in 33:12 he says:

"See, you say to me, 'Bring up this people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me."

The unseen LORD replies: "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (v14)  The word 'Presence' is the word for face and it recalls a very memorable phrase from the previous chapter.

In Exodus 33:7-11 we hear about what used to happen.  We leave the mountain-top briefly to be told how Moses used to meet with the LORD down on ground level.  At that time he'd go to the tent of meeting and speak with the LORD "face to face as a man speaks with his friend."

That was the 'face to face' LORD at ground level.  But when Moses is on the mountain, the unseen LORD reassures Moses that the Face (Presence) would continue to go with them.  Moses considers this to be absolutely essential - if the Presence doesn't go with them he'd rather just perish in the wilderness (v15).  Give me Jesus or give me death!

Having been encouraged greatly, Moses is now bold enough to ask something with echoes of Philip's request in John 14.  Now he wants to see the glory of the unseen LORD (v18)!  The LORD’s reply is very telling: He would pass in front of Moses, He would proclaim His name, but, 33:20, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." Again in v22 He emphasizes “my face must not be seen.”

Now Moses is not an idiot.  He's just recounted the incident in the tent of meeting (33:7-11) for a reason.  He's deliberately distinguishing the ground-level appearing LORD with the mountain-top unseen LORD.  But distinguishing them so as to intimately relate them.

Because as soon as Moses hears the name of the Unseen LORD (Ex 34:5-7) he exclaims:

"If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us." (Ex 34:9)

When he hears the name of the Most High God he asks Him to send the Lord in their midst.  The name of the LORD is in the Angel who is in their midst (Ex 23:21).  So when Moses hears this gospel character he knows he's experienced this very name in the Angel.  The seen LORD is everything that the unseen LORD proclaims when He reveals His name.  And so Moses asks the Father to send the Son in their midst - the redeeming Lord-from-Lord.

Moses’ plea of 34:9 is granted and, at the end of Exodus, the Glory / Presence / LORD fills the tabernacle and directs all their travels (40:34-38).

pillar cloud tabernacle

We see throughout the Old Testament that this promise of the Presence of the LORD being in the midst of His people was kept. Numbers 9:15-23 is one example of many showing the seen LORD going in the midst of His people.  Number 14 tells us that even the surrounding nations knew that the Face-to-Face LORD travelled with the Israelites and fought for them (v13ff).  When Solomon finally builds a Temple for the Name of the LORD, the LORD fills it in exactly the same way as He filled the tabernacle in Exodus 40. This LORD appears to Solomon in 1 Kings 9 and to Isaiah in chapter 6. If we were in any doubt as to who this Divine Person is, the Apostle John settles all dispute: “Isaiah said this [Isaiah 6] because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.” (John 12:41)

In the fulness of time this LORD - this Angel of the covenant, this sought after and desired Redeemer - would come in a definitive judgement and salvation (Mal 3:1ff).

Jesus has always been the saving, ground-level, appearing LORD, mediating perfectly the saving plan and character of His Father.  Jude was speaking absolutely plainly and straightforwardly - Jesus is the LORD who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt.  In other words He is the God of the Old Testament.  Exodus is a wonderful demonstration of this foundational truth.

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By promise

By prototype

By presence

Genesis 22 is a good example of Christ being there in all three senses.

By promise, He is there in the Seed, first promised in 3:15, threatened through sacrificial death but renewed so that in Abraham's Seed all nations will be blessed (22:18).

He is also promised very strikingly in v14.  Abraham said the LORD would provide a lamb (v7-8).  On this occasion a ram is provided (v13).  And "So Abraham caled the name of that place "The LORD will provide."  As it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."   The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world will be provided on that mountain in the region of Moriah (Jerusalem - cf 2 Chron 3:1).  And everybody knew about it.  They kept saying 'On that mountain the LORD shall provide Himself the lamb.'  (It's a reflexive verb, tricky to translate but fascinating all the same!)

By prototype, there is Isaac the very first promised offspring of Abraham.  The beloved son.  The heir of the promises.  He carries the wood on his back up the hill while his father holds the tools of judgement (v6).  He is laid on the wood for sacrifice, but through divine intervention Abraham receives him back from death (cf Heb 11:19).  And all of this on the third day (v4)

By presence, the Angel of the LORD intervenes.  In v12 He sees that Abraham fears God because he didn't withhold his son from Himself (that is, from the Angel).  In verses 15-18 the Angel speaks as the LORD, swears by Himself and promises to bless Abraham as above.   He both is the LORD but He is also clearly distinct from another Person called LORD.    Interesting isn't it - this is the only time the Angel is said to speak from heaven.  Christ chose not to come down to this pre-enactment of the cross.

So Christ is present in a mixture of these three ways throughout the OT. 

And it's important to highlight all three and to relate them to one another.  The Angel is present not as a freaky apparition but as a portent of the gospel work He would do as the promised Seed, the promised Isaac etc.  Check out these quotes by John Owen that interweave Christ as actually present and Christ as promised:

"After the promise [of Gen 3:15] was given, he appeared ‘in human form’ to instruct the Church in the mystery of his future incarnation, and under the name of Angel, to shadow out his office as sent unto it and employed in it by the Father; so here, before the promise, he discovered his distinct glorious person, as the eternal Voice of the Father. (John Owen's Works, Volume 18, p220)

[On the LORD's appearance in Genesis 18]  Neither is there any ground for the late exposition of this and the like places, namely, that a created angel representing the person of God doth speak and act in his name, and is called Jehovah; an invention to evade the appearances of the Son of God under the old testament, contrary to the sense of all antiquity, nor is any reason or instance produced to make it good. (ibid, p221)

[On Genesis 32:24-30]  From what hath been spoken, it is evident that he who appeared unto Jacob, with whom he earnestly wrestled, by tears and supplications was God; and because he was sent as the angel of God, it must be some distinct person in the Deity condescending unto that office; and appearing in the form of a man, he represented his future assumption of our human nature.  And by all this did God instruct the church in the mystery of the person of the Messiah, and who it was that they were to look for in the blessing of the promised Seed. (ibid, p225)

[On Exodus 3:1-6] He is expressly called an “Angel” Exod. 3:2 – namely, the Angel of the covenant, the great Angel of the presence of God, in whom was the name and nature of God.  And he thus appeared that the Church might know and consider who it was that was to work out their spiritual and eternal salvation, whereof that deliverance which then he would effect was a type and pledge. (ibid, p225)

When we highlight the presence of Christ with the people it is not to minimize the importance of the promise nor the proto-types.  Christ is present among them that He Himself might prefigure His promised work.  So the OT is not various promises and types moving towards Christ but is Christ Himself striding towards His own incarnation.  (Blackham's phrase).

But then why specifically highlight the presence verses?

Well often when I speak about Christ in the OT I mention the promises and people say "Ah yes, but they spoke better than they knew."  Sometimes they'll bring up 2 Cor 1:20 and say 'There were lots of promises about all kinds of stuff but, unbeknown  to the OT saints, these promises ended up being about Christ.'  Of course they never quote v19 which says 'These promises have always been 'Yes' in Christ.'  But still the 'promises' route seems to slide off people's backs.

The proto-types route very readily slides off backs too.  'David was David' they say, 'No-one had to know he prefigured the divine Messiah.'  Now of course you can quote Gen 49:10, you can point to the immensely exalted ways David is spoken of in the OT, you can do what Jesus did and quote Ps 110 or what Peter did and quote Psalm 16, but still people don't want to admit that the OT saints consciously knew about the typology in which they participated.

And so we turn to the presence verses.  And here there is still resistance - "Ok so Jacob knew that the name of the God of Abraham was the Angel (the Sent One) and He was the Source of blessing (Gen 48:15-16).  So what?" 

But my hope is that banging on this particular point may just soften up an assumption that resists this teaching very strongly.  The assumption is that OT saints could not have understood that the divine Visitor who encountered them was Himself LORD and also sent from the LORD.  It is assumed that OT saints are effectively unitarian in their understanding.  It is assumed that the OT saints had no ability to conceive of 'God from God' the way we do and therefore no conceptual framework for knowing and trusting the distinct Person of the divine Mediator.

My hope is that banging on these verses may just loosen up such a tight set of assumptions, because those assumptions really do straight-jacket these discussions.

It's not by any means the only way by which we should speak of Christ in the OT but it's a significant plank in the argument.

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