Suggested Readings: Exodus 1:8-14; Exodus 2:1-15b; Exodus 3:1-17; Exodus 11:1-12:13, 21-36; Exodus 14:4-31; Exodus 20-24; Exodus 32; Exodus 34:1-11a
Israel (Jacob) and his family moved to Egypt, where his son, Joseph, had become a hero and a powerful man in the court of the pharaoh, the king of Egypt, after rescuing the country from famine (Genesis 41). The Israelites prospered in Egypt and became very numerous, so much so that the Egyptians became worried that the Israelites were a threat to them. The Book of Exodus opens up explaining that, “a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt” (Exodus 1:8). Out of fear, the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites (Hebrews) and plotted to kill all of their boy babies (Exodus 1:8-22).
At this time, a Hebrew woman bore a son and hid him for three months. “When she could hide him no longer,” Exodus says, “she took a papyrus basket … and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank” (Exodus 2:3). The baby was found by the daughter of Pharaoh. The young woman adopted the baby as her own and named him Moses, because, “I drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:10).
Moses grew and became a powerful man in Egypt. But, when he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body. When he learned that his deed had become known to others and that the pharaoh wanted to kill him for his crime, Moses fled to the land of Midian. There he met Jethro and joined his clan. He married Jethro’s daughter, Zipporah, and became a shepherd, thinking that his life would be lived out in peace (Exodus 2:11-22).
God had other plans. While shepherding his flock, Moses came across a bush that burned but was not consumed. God called Moses from the burning bush and gave him the mission of going back to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery. Moses said that when he goes to the Israelites and tells them that God has sent him, they will demand to know His name.
“God replied, ‘I am who am.’ Then he added, ‘This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.’ God spoke further to Moses, ‘Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever; this is my title for all generations.'” Exodus 3:14-15
When Moses presented himself to Pharaoh to demand that he allow the Hebrew slaves to travel into the desert to worship God, Pharaoh refused. God then sent nine plagues upon Egypt, but Pharaoh still refused. Finally, Moses announced the tenth plague, the death of the first-born. To protect the Hebrews from this plague, God instructed them to cover the doorposts of their homes with lamb’s blood. God told them, “Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you” (Exodus 12:13b). This is the Passover of the Lord. It is what the Jews still celebrate every year in remembrance of God saving them on that night and freeing them from slavery in Egypt.
After the death of his own first-born son, Pharaoh let the Hebrews go. He soon changed his mind, however, and chased after them. God protected the Hebrews by opening up the Red Sea for them to pass through, and closing the waters upon the Egyptians when they tried to cross (Exodus 14).
At last, after traveling through the desert where God nourished them with the manna, quail, and water from a rock, the Hebrews arrived at Mount Sinai (also called Mount Horeb), where God first called Moses. Here, Moses climbed the mountain, and God gave him the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). But, the Hebrews became restless waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain. They created for themselves a false god, a golden calf, to worship. When Moses finally came down from the mountain, he threw down the tablets on which were written the Commandments, breaking them. He called the people back to faithfulness and asked the Lord to forgive them. God promised to punish only those who had sinned against Him (Exodus 32).
God renewed His covenant with Israel. He instructed the people on how to worship Him and how to make the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark would hold the Ten Commandments, which the Lord restored to Moses, along with Aaron’s staff and the manna. As well, God taught them to set up the Tent of the Lord’s Presence. The Israelites wandered for forty years before finally arriving and settling in Canaan, the land the Lord had promised them (Genesis 50:24).
WHAT TRUTHS DOES THE BOOK OF EXODUS REVEAL ABOUT GOD?
- God frees His people from slavery.
- God protects His people.
- God remains with His people, even when they sin.
- God blesses those who are faithful.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.