Session 13: The Exodus
The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey... Exodus 3:7-8
Exodus 1-18, key verse 3:7-10
Timeline: About 1400-1300 BC . During the time of the early Israelites, the areas were ruled by Egypt and the Pharaohs, the great ancient cities like Indo-Gangetic (Delhi) are built, and the Iron Age is in its infancy.
Key personalities: Moses, Pharaoh, Aaron
The apex tale of the Old Testament, the greatest story ever told, and it is all true. God redeems His people with extreme miracles from their harsh captivity through Moses.
Exodus means "going out" or "departure." We have the classic epic drama of God saving His people from their heinous captivity. A bigger-than-life leader with powers and wonders from heroic origins leads the people from slavery and drudgery to a land flowing with milk and honey. This epic journey lasts a generation--forty years--and runs through deserts, mountains, even walking through a parted Red Sea, confronting powerful armies, hostile regions, lack of supplies and logistics and reaches an extraordinary climax whereby Moses is meets directly with God-Moses knows the face of God-and receives His Ten Commandments and a code of law for good, righteous and prosperous living and relationship with God and others. The main theme: God is our Deliverer, our Redeemer and He dwells with His people!
Key Happenings, a Contrast between Goodness and Wickedness!
Here we have God confronting the false gods of the Egyptians and sends His deliver and lawgiver to His chosen people, while He lays waste to Egypt. This is about the Victory of God, the victory of the people, and the hope of faith all brought forth by the Hand of God.
· The Lord said. " Yahweh" has been the main name of God in the mindsets of the Jews and the Christians for the past four millennia. Yahweh is the covenant name of God, occurs 6823 times in the OT with its first use in Gen. 2:4 (Jehovah Elohim) and comes from the verb "to be", "havah", similar to "chavah" (to live). The name of God, too sacred to be uttered, is abbreviated and written down in Hebrew Scripture as written "YHWH" without vowel points. God Himself gives the spelling of this name with these four consonant letters called the 'tetragrammaton'. Jehovah is another way to write YHWH.
· Egypt . The main world power for over 3,000 years, ruled by 'godlike' leaders', and built upon the premises of magic, superstition, and technology. Associated with this time are the Pharaohs and main pyramids built in 3000 BC; also, the Hebrews were used to build cities. Initially, the Hebrews came as honored workers and architects; eventually, they were demoted in stature and degraded in slavery.
· Hardened heart . Pharaoh was not willing to let his cheap labor force go. So, his heart was hardened by himself and God. This does not mean God made him evil or caused injustice; rather God allowed Pharaoh's own evil choices to come to its full completion to teach him, Egypt, and the Jews that God is sovereign. God gave Pharaoh over to His own choices; that is what God hardened means (Ex. 14:17-28; Rom. 9:14-29).
This is about worship--pointing us to the One who is in control so those who are His can take hope and comfort in Him. These plagues of judgment are to entice Pharaoh to let God's people go. God offered peace and grace, but Pharaoh kept hardening his heart over and over, just as the recipients of the bowls of wrath do in Revelation. Just as God delivered Israel from oppression in Egypt, He will deliver His faithful. This becomes all about God's faithfulness and glory and how His plan will triumph. So, today, we can take hope in the realization that there is no reason we should not trust in His sovereignty and plan (Ex. 7-12; 40:34-38; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Dan. 7:9-10; John 3:17; Eph. 2; Rev. 4-5).
· Plagues were God's judgment poured on Egypt to directly attack each of their gods, where Pharaoh was offered an easy way out and grace, but he hardened his heart and refused to repent just as the recipients of all who reject God's grace through time and history. In the midst, God warns the Israelites to be loyal; if they are not, He will inflict them of the plagues (Deut. 28: 25-29; Rev. 16:1-11).
First, all of the waters in Egypt--the Nile River, water in pots--all became tainted. To follow this, God sent each in successive order: frogs, insects, hail, the resulting diseases and finally darkness. These plagues were punishment and to cause despondency in the Egyptians. God wanted them to know the futility in their wrong belief and to lose faith in their gods and king. Finally, when repentance was refused, th firstborn children and animals of each Egyptian household died. At last, the Egyptians cried out, and Pharaoh, briefly, relented--the Israelites were let go and fled eastward by night. Pharaoh then changed his mind, and the mighty Egyptian army pursued them. The Israelites escaped by God's Hand and left via a miraculous crossing of the Red Sea while the Egyptian chariots were stuck in the mud and drowned by the pushback of the water.
Is God right taking life? Yes. He IS Creator and Lord. He allows our own choices, pride, and free will, and warns us of sin as it is our sins that condemn us; God did not cause you to sin! God does give an opportunity to receive His grace, because once you die, it is too late for repentance, and the responsibility is yours (Ezek. 18:21-32).
· Hebrews or Israelites: which is which? Both mean children of Israel and the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Hebrews have the denotation of nomadic people who move or are in transient, as in the time of the Exodus.
During this time there may have been more than two million people of God who went out. There were even a number of Egyptians and other cultures joined them, too.
· Passover . God demonstrates His love and provision for His people encompassing not just the ritual, but all that took place to confront and confound Pharaoh and lead the people out of captivity. Knowing that God was there gave Moses unshakable confidence to the extent that God used him for the Bible's greatest signs and wonders (1 Cor. 5:7).
Still celebrated as the highest Jewish holyday--also called "The Feast of Unleavened Bread-Passover is celebrated because of God's mercy in saving them when the Angel of death took out the entire firstborn of Egypt, humans as well as animals, while He passed over the obedient Hebrews. This was and is the biggest holiday and festival, as it celebrated God's saving mercy from oppression into the promise land shown through the Exodus. All Jews, if they could, in the time of Jesus, would travel to the Temple for this as Jesus demonstrated all of his earthly life. This was and still is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Nisan (March/April) (Ex. 12: 14-20, 43-49; Lev. 23:5-8; Num. 28:16-25; Duet. 16:1-8; John 11:55; 12:1; 13:1).
This is a "type and shadow" to come of Jesus' redemptive work. It celebrates God's deliverance of His people from slavery, and now the True Redeemer is come, delivering us from our sins and giving us hope in His triumphant procession (2 Kings 13:14; Isa. 9:6; Jer. 23)!
Israel was chosen by God's grace and purpose (Ex. 9:16; 33:19; Duet. 7:6-8), as His elect.
God shows mercy. Therefore, none of us has the right to question God and say He is unfair. Since God is not obligated, we must be filled with joy, because He chose us sinners (Gratitude), so that it flows onto others (evangelism).
· Sprinkling of blood . This is deliverance and is witnessed in Moses' actions and is exemplified in what Christ does for all whose faith is in Him. On the Passover, blood was placed on the doorframes of the homes so the angel of death would "pass over" and not take the first born son as he did with the Egyptians (Ex. 12:1-13).
· Through the Red Sea . "Sea of Reeds," 'Red Sea' is a mistranslation in the KJV, which is no less of a miracle. The people panic, and God rescues His people from danger. This gave more evidence to a struggling people of the power and purpose of God, to prove they could trust in Him. They could not rely on the merit of Abraham and their ancestors; they had to take personal ownership of their faith (Ex. 14-15; Deut 34:1-7; Neh. 9:11).
· Praise . The epic story of redemption and hope. Moses sang to praise God for His deliverance and his people's triumph as God led them safely and unharmed from oppression and through danger, and then God "took out" their enemies. This was/is used in Jewish worship on Sabbath evenings to celebrate deliverance. It is also a contrast between being oppressed by evil and the oppression we bring on ourselves by seeking idols and things not of God, and how He seeks to deliver us. God accepts us; it is we who have trouble accepting Him (Ex. 15:1-18; Deut. 31:28-32:43; Psalm 86:9-10; John 4:24; Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16; Rev. 5:6).
· Manna . God miraculously provides a unique, never-been-seen food--before or since. Later on, for pious Jews, this meant spiritual food that we are to nourish ourselves on God's Word. It also means God provides and fulfills His promises (Ex. 16; Num. 11; Psalm 119).
This is the primary miracle about food in the Bible that foreshadows the work of our Lord when he feeds the 5,000 and the 4,000, like God feeding of the Israelites for 40 years with manna as they wandered in the desert (Ex. 16). The real nourishment that God gives us, which is eternity (Ex. 16:4, 15; Deut. 8:3).
· Water from the rock . Another major miracle to demonstrate God' power and resolve as well as His Sovereignty.
· Jethro. Moses' father-in-law gave wise advice on how to do organizational management; these sound principles are still applied to business and churches.
Why the venture into Egypt? The Bible talks about famine; the land they occupied was the most fertile land in the world then and now. They needed to grow as a nation in their connection to God and the numbers in order to take the land originally given to them. Also, this four hundred year period till Moses and the Law arrived gave ample time for God to work in the land of Canaan, giving them grace and prophets like Balaam, and opportunities to repent before judgment, just as He does with all of humanity.
Jethro's organizational management principles are: know who you are, your gifts, abilities and weakness. Know we are accountable to God and are to pray for wisdom, discernment, and His direction--not our own. Teach and disciple others, so they can be delegated to multiply the work and reproduce yourself. Look for character and talent, never talent without character. Raise up the leaders from discipleship who are trustworthy and faithful all honed by one vision and plan. Practice what you teach with excellence for God's glory, so others catch it, too. Demonstrate a process so you can create effective teams with effective training, clear roles, responsibilities and accountability (Ex. 18; Mark 6:30; 10:43-44; Eph. 4:15-16).
The foreshadow of Jesus Christ? God delivers His people from Bondage. Christ Redeems us from the bondage of sin. The Passover is all about pointing people to the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away sins. Each aspect of the Passover is Who and what Jesus is and does.
Key Takeaway: For us today this name Yahweh is the 'Ultimate Supreme Being', showing us the quintessential fact of the universe that God is God and we are not. We cannot be "I am", as there is only One "I am", and because we were created, we also cannot be God! Thus, we are not to live our lives as though we are gods; rather, we are to trust and obey the One True God with our full reverence ad hope and the practice of our faith!
Questions to Ponder
1. What is the greatest story-movie, novel, non-fiction, a telling, the Biblical account-- you ever heard?
2. How do you see God dealing with the Egyptians and the Israelites? Where do you see Judgment and grace?
3. How do you feel that God is committed to saving His people? Are you glad you are His?
4. How do you feel confident in your faith in Christ? How does the fact Christ is our Deliverer, our Redeemer and He dwells with you?
5. How do you think secular people today would handle these extreme miracles? What about Christians?
6. What are the parallels you see that show us Who and what Christ is and He will do?
7. How would you explain the Victory of God, the victory of His people, your victory and the hope of faith you have?
8. How and why would someone say God is cruel here--killing firstborn, hardening Pharaoh's heart?
9. How is God is empowering you today? How important is obedience to God? Do you feel Christians today understand obedience and holiness? Why or why not?
10. What can you and your church do to inspire its people to have a higher reverence to God's Holiness and our response of confidence and obedience?
11. What do you think of Jethro's organizational management? How can these sound principles help you in your personal life and church life? What about at work?
12. What do you need to be inspired for the development and then the deployment of your faith? What do you need to develop a deeper trust so you can be confident in the reliability and steadfastness of your Christian life?
© 2013 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org