Our blog devotions will begin a new book of the Bible this week. I publish these devotions because I believe that reading and understanding the Scriptures is one of the greatest adventures! I hope you enjoy reading the Old Testament book of Exodus and the observations from the text I have gleaned.
The 1999 movie, The Prince of Egypt used animation to retell a classic story that has
been told by countless people throughout history. The story of how God used an ordinary man in extraordinary ways to accomplish the miraculous is inspirational. Think of how God rescued Moses as a baby, developed him in the house of Pharoah, broke him when he attempted to deliver the people on his own, met him in a burning bush, and used him to deliver millions of people from slavery. Images from the story include a bush that is burning but not consumed, a mammoth sea which parts as the Israelites cross on dry ground, and Moses coming down from the mountain of God with the 10 Commandments.
Most people read the book of Exodus and think it is about Moses and about the Israelites. It is not! The book of Exodus is about God. It teaches that God has a plan, and that He will do anything to accomplish His plan. Exodus shows us that God keeps His promises. Exodus points us to the power and glory of almighty God. Exodus also opens the door into the nature and character of God as he deals with Moses and His people. While Moses, Pharoah, the Israelites, and the Egyptians are important characters in the story, the central character in the book is God Himself, the great “I AM”.
Exodus is a part of the Bible the Jews called the Pentateuch (book of the five) or Torah (books of law). The first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Dueteronomy) contain the earliest stories of God’s involvement with men. These five books teach about creation, the fall of man, the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph…), the creation of a special people for God, the Exodus, and the giving of the law of God to His people. These first five books of the Bible were the most used and most loved books of Scripture by the Jewish people.
Both the Old Testament and New Testament affirm that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. A number of Old Testament passage point to Moses as the author, including Joshua 1:7-8, I Kings 2:3, Nehemiah 13:1, and Daniel 9:11-13. Jesus Himself calls these books “The book of Moses” in Mark 12:26.
Moses life begins at the beginning of the book, during a dark time in history. Some 400 years before Moses, a Hebrew man named Joseph rose to be the second in command under the Egyptian Pharoah. But the current Pharoah and Egyptian leaders had forgotten about Joseph, and had turned his descendants into slaves. At the beginning of the book of Exodus, the Hebrews were enduring one of the hardest incidents of slavery in history. On top of this, the Pharoah became afraid that they would become too populated and overtake the Egyptians, so he ordered their male children killed. But God saved Moses life, and he ended growing up in the palace of the Pharoah. He lived there for the first 40 years of his life, but this royal existence ended abruptly when Moses killed an Egyptian who was torturing a Hebrew slave. Moses had to flee, and he spent the next 40 years tending sheep in the desert. While in the desert, Moses encountered God in a miraculous way in the burning bush. God sent Moses back to Pharoah to warn him to “Let My people go!”, but Pharoah hardened his heart. The result were ten miraculous plagues, resulting in the release of the Hebrews. But as the Hebrews fled, the Egyptians changed their minds, resulting in the parting of the Red Sea and the deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery forever. Moses led these people to the mountain of God, where they worshiped and were given the 10 commandments. Moses spent the last 40 years of his life leading the people from Egypt to the land God had promised them. During these last 40 years, Moses wrote Exodus and the rest of the Torah.
KEY THEMES OF EXODUS
The sovereignty of God – Exodus is ultimately about God and His plan. In this book we see God’s keeping His promises, and demonstrating His power in many ways. The book teaches that God is in control of history and people. Even the strongest man (Pharoah) and the strongest nation (Egypt) are ultimately pawns in God’s Hand as He accomplishes His purpose.
Deliverance – The name “Exodus” implies the idea of departure. The story tell of God’s deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery. Ultimately the book of Exodus is the first step in taking the people to the land God had promised. The horrible slavery is a picture of the slavery to sin that all people live under, and the Exodus reminds us that God still delivers people.
The character of God – In Exodus 3, Moses encounters God in the burning bush, and God reveals His name. “Tell them I AM has sent you.” This incredible name of God reveals his nature and character. Ultimately, God is whatever Moses needs Him to be, and God will be whatever we need Him to be. Furthermore, Exodus is a reminder that there is only one true God. Even the Egyptians, who worship a Pandoras box of gods and goddesses come to admit that the God of the Hebrews is the one true God.
A man yielded to God – It takes two chapters to tell about the 80 years of Moses life lived on his own ability and power. Moses ended as an utter failure. It takes five books of the Bible to tell the last 40 years where Moses lived in the power of God. God does incredible things through this man who generally could do nothing more than make excuses. Moses reminds us that faithfulness is the key, and God is more concerned with our availability than our ability.
God’s ultimate plan – The book of Exodus is the beginning of the story of a people, the Hebrews or Israelites. These people were descendants of Abraham. God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of his descendants, and that all of the nations of the world would be blessed because of them. The rest of the Old Testament tells their story. The main reason God raised up this special nation was to prepare the world for His Messiah, Jesus Christ. In many ways, Moses and the Exodus parallels the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In the end, the Exodus is a reminder that God had a plan in place to deal with our sin and slavery before man ever sinned.
The law – The 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 begin a section of the Bible where God lays out His laws and expectations to His people. The law was given to remind the people to be holy and pure. They were to remember that they were God’s people, and therefore their lives should reflect the holiness and righteousness of the true God. God wanted his people to live in such a way that if an outsider was in their midst, he or she would realize that there was something different about God’s people.
Obedience – Ultimately, this is a book about God’s call to His people and their obedience.