This is always the way: God the Father sends God the Son to be with us in our suffering and to bring us out that we might worship the Father in freedom and joy.
Exodus is the story of this Figure from the bush: the Angel, the Great I AM: He leads the people out of slavery and into salvation.
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.
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.
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).
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 - and 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 same 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, v20, "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).
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. He has always perfectly mediated the saving plan and character of His Father. Jude was speaking absolutely plainly and straightforwardly - Jesus is the LORD who brought the Israelites out of Egypt. In other words He is the God of the Old Testament. Exodus is a wonderful demonstration of this foundational truth.
... the ultimate plague (i.e. judgement) (Ex 11:1)
... judgement upon the gods (Ex 12:12)
... the defeat of the Enemy (Ex 6:1)
... liberation from slavery to overlords (Ex 13:14)
... liberation to the service of the LORD (Ex 8:1)
... the cause of unparalleled sorrow for the enemies (Ex 11:6)
... the cause of great joy for the redeemed (2 Chron 30:21)
... the distinction between the LORD's people and the world (Ex 11:7)
... in darkness (Deut 16:6)
... a sacrifice (Ex 12:27)
... substitutionary (Ex 12:13)
... bloody (Ex 12:13)
... a sign for the LORD's people (Ex 12:13)
... for the LORD Himself to see (Ex 12:13)
... to be memorialized in perpetuity (Ex 12:14)
... community-defining (Ex 12:47)
... open to non-covenant people (Ex 12:49) but...
... for those who enter the covenant and own its sign (Ex 12:48)
... time renewing (Ex 12:1)
... the ultimate revelation of the LORD (Ex 6:7)
What is the cross?
Exactly the same.
[this is a repost]
Recap and Thought Starter:
Last time you explained the cross to your friend by referring to Passover. Just as the Israelites sheltered under the blood of the lamb and so judgement passed over, so we trust in the blood of Jesus who saves us from the coming wrath.
Your friend understands your presentation and then asks this question:
If you’re saved by Jesus, doesn’t that just leave you to indulge your sins with immunity?
What do you reply?
This week has been a frightening week for the nation financially – unless you’re Wayne Rooney. Or his agent. But for the rest of us it seems like tightening the belt is the order of the day. So you might have thought that this Sunday was a bad week to have chosen for our church Gift Day. Well we chose it months ago, but I think, in the providence of God, Gift Day has fallen in just the right week.
Because, in the bible, financial giving is never spoken about in the context of plenty. In the bible the giving that’s highlighted is almost always in the context of scarcity. (cf 2 Cor 8!)
And nowhere is that more clear than in Exodus. In Exodus you wouldn’t reckon they had ideal conditions for fundraising.
First they’re in the desert. They’re not in wealthy Egypt and they’re not in the land of milk and honey– they’re in the desert. Secondly, they have been saved out of Egypt and for that they can be grateful. But it does mean that each and every one of these 2 million Israelites is a slave, and they have been for generations. They have no transferable skills, no social security, no family wealth, no connections. They are the biggest refugee crisis in human history. Can you imagine fundraising in a Haitian refugee camp? Or in Darfur? Moses is fundraising in the midst of a humanitarian crisis – 2 million slaves who are only ever a day away from starvation.
It puts a double-dip recession into a bit of perspective doesn’t it?!
And yet the Israelites overflowed in generosity until they had to be restrained from giving more!
How did they do it?
Read more below.
It doesn’t matter what’s on the inside, it’s what’s on the outside that counts.
It’s not the interior – it’s all about the blood on the doorposts. It’s not about the LORD inspecting your house. It's ONLY about the blood outside.
It’s not even about how much faith you have in the blood. If the blood is applied at all, you’re saved. Strong faith in the blood and wavering faith in the blood lead to exactly the same outcome. Because it’s not faith IN the blood that saves - it’s the blood.
People say to me, “I don’t have very strong faith.” And I say “Me neither. But thank God we’re not saved by how strong our believing feelings are! Thank God we are saved, not so much by our faith in Christ’s blood, thank God we’re saved by Christ’s blood!”
...It’s not about the quality of your living, speaking, acting, praying. It’s not even about the quality of your own faith. It’s only about the blood. It’s the quality of His death, not the quality of your life. Your salvation has nothing to do with YOU – and everything to do with HIM. Nothing to do with your performance and everything to do with His performance.
People so often worry that their sins have cost them their relationship with God. Well you can’t out-sin the Blood of God can you?! Think about your sins. No matter what they are. Is your sin bigger than the blood of God?? Nonsense. You have not out-sinned the blood of Jesus. You cannot out-sin the blood of Jesus. Impossible! It’s about His blood outside – not your heart inside...
Thought Starter: If you have 90 seconds to explain the cross to a friend, what do you say?
Recap: Last time we looked at the first nine plagues on Egypt. These were judgements that revealed the LORD as Saviour of His people and Judge of His enemies. Each plague seemed to get more and more dangerous until we come to the final plague – the plague on the firstborn.
Exodus 7-10 - The Plagues
We saw last time that the LORD is a God of Promise. Read Exodus 6:6-8 to remind yourself of His seven-fold “I will” to the people.
Exodus 4-7 Bible Study
In chapters 1-2, how was God at work through the suffering of the Israelites?
Every hardship was turned by the LORD into some kind of blessing:
1:1-14 – they multiplied under oppression;
1:15-22 – the midwives were blessed for helping the Israelites;
2:1-10 – Moses was saved by being cast into the Nile;
2:11-25 – Moses fled Egypt but found a wife.
In chapter 3, what was the LORD’s response to the suffering of the Israelites?
The LORD comes down to rescue them from the Egyptians with a mighty hand and bring them out to a land flowing with milk and honey.
Moses and His Calling
Moses is a reluctant leader to say the least. How does he react to God’s call and what then is God’s response?
|Moses’ reaction||God’s response|
Who am I??
I will be with you
Who are you??
I AM WHO I AM
What if they don’t listen?
I’m a poor speaker!
Who gave man his mouth? I’ll help!
Please send someone else!
Burning anger – provides brother
Thinking back over Moses’ life, why do you think he might have been reluctant to ‘take up the reins’?
He’d tried to save his people before (Ex 2:11ff; cf Acts 7:25) and it ended in total failure and 40 year exile!
How would you characterize God’s response to those who resist His call?
Patient, reassuring, equipping, but in the end our resistance deserves anger. Even so our disobedience doesn’t thwart God – He always has His own ways (eg Aaron).
Are there areas of service God has called you to and for which you feel unprepared? What do these verses say to us?
We haven’t got time to go over these verses but people may have questions, especially about vv24-26. If they are raised, here’s my best stab at those verses:
- Moses was about to lead the nation of Israel and declare God’s word
- Yet he’d not been leading his household properly nor keeping God’s word
- He should have circumcised his boys or been cut off himself. (Gen 17:10-14)
- The LORD has sacraments (external signs of His gospel) in both testaments:
- In the OT: circumcision and Passover; In the NT: baptism and Lord’s Supper
- The LORD clearly takes these outward signs seriously and so should we.
- Moses is shown yet again to be a very flawed and weak vessel!
- Verse 26 reveals the nature of circumcision: “Bridegroom of blood”
- The LORD pledges Himself to us in blood as our true Bridegroom.
- Circumcision is the sign of this and the LORD wants us to honour His signs.
- As an analogy: being careless with your wedding ring will anger your spouse!
Read Exodus 5:1-23
Any idea how old Moses and Aaron are as they address the most powerful man in the world? (Have a guess – the answer is in chapter 7:7)
80 and 83 respectively
How did their demands sound to Pharaoh’s ears?
First of all, absolutely ridiculous (v2). Then as cover for idleness (v4ff)
Later, when the Israelites were rescued and living in the wilderness with the LORD, they would reminisce about their time in Egypt: “we sat round pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted” (Ex 16:3). But what are their conditions really like as described in this chapter?
Labour, work (v4)
“don’t reduce the quota, They are lazy, that’s why they’re crying out” (v8)
“Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working” (v9)
“Your work will not be reduced at all” (v11)
The people scattered (v12)
The slave drivers kept pressing them (v13)
The Israelite foremen were beaten (v14)
“Lazy, that’s what you are, Lazy!” (v17)
They were in trouble (v19)
“We are a stench to Pharaoh” (v21)
Jesus said that we are naturally slaves to sin (John 8:34ff). How is this chapter a good description of that slavery too?
Egypt is the place where harsh taskmasters make you work harder and harder for less and less. And even as you do more and more, you are branded as idle. Our bondage to sin and Satan is just like this. We chase after moving targets and never get the verdict we’re looking for.
Under pressure, the Israelites would later re-imagine their life in Egypt as ‘a land of milk and honey’ (Num 16:3). Are you tempted to think of non-Christian life as ‘the good old days’? What should we remind ourselves of?
Let’s read about the LORD’s response…
Read Exodus 6:1-12
When someone vows “I will” over and over again, what does it bring to mind?
Find all the “I will”s in verses 6-8. What are the promises attached to these “I will”s?
I will BRING you out (v6)
I will FREE you (v6)
I will REDEEM you (v6)
I will TAKE you (v7)
I will BE your God (v7)
I will BRING you (v8)
I will GIVE it to you (v8)
Are there any conditions attached to these promises?
None! The LORD WILL do it!
How were these promises received at the time?
V9: the people are too discouraged to hear
v12: Moses is unbelieving again!
What is the point of declaring promises to discouraged and disbelieving people?
It shows us what kind of God the LORD is! The promise making God! And He will declare His marriage-like promises even over completely unresponsive people.
We know that Jesus is our LORD and Bridegroom and He has promised us salvation through His mighty redemption from sin and Satan. But sometimes we can be too weighed down with sin or suffering to really hear His word of promise.
Split up into pairs and spend a couple of minutes discussing a current struggle you have with sin or suffering. In what ways do you feel the oppression of chapter 5?
Then take it in turns to read out Ex 6:6-8 to one another – personalizing it if you like:
`I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of ________. I will free you from being slaves…, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own… and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of ________. 8 And I will bring you to the land [of promise]. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'
Pray for each other.