Friday, 28 May 2010

Exodus 3-15 in 1200 words!

Here's my summary (for my students) of Exodus chapters 3 to 15 - the great account of the Exodus from the calling of Moses at the burning bush, until he had led Israel over the Red Sea. In just 1237 words!

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1) Meeting God at the burning bush, 3:1-4:17

Before God sent Moses, God met Moses. He met him at Mount Sinai, also called “Mount Horeb” or “the mountain of God” (see 3:1, 31:18-32:2, Psalm 106:19, Deuteronomy 5:2). Moses met with the “angel (messenger) of the LORD” - but in verses 3 and 6 we can see clearly that it was the LORD himself. With our New Testament knowledge, we conclude that this was actually an appearance of Christ (a “Christophany”), the second person of the Trinity, the Word of God, the Son of God. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament – the same messenger appears in Judges 2:1-4. In Psalm 45:6-7, there is God – but he also relates to another called God; and yet we know there is only one God! The truth of the Trinity is in the Old Testament, even if it is not clear like in the New Testament.

When God spoke, he spoke as the God of the covenant. God only, ever, deals with men through covenants. Notice that he speaks about “my people”, and calls himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. This is all covenant language. He speaks about his promises – the covenant promises. Salvation today comes through a covenant that God gave – the New Covenant in the blood of Christ (Hebrews 8).

He also revealed his name - “I AM” or “I AM WHO I AM”. This name reveals God as sovereign – the one who depends only on himself. God's sovereignty is a major theme of Exodus: he is God over everything, even over Egypt, even over Pharaoh. This is what Moses and Israel needed to know to trust him.

Moses did not trust God like he should have done. In fact, he made five protests:

1) 3v11 - “Who am I?”. God's answer is, “I will be with you” - that is all we need.
2) 3v13, “They will ask your name!” Names are important in the Bible. God then revealed his name.
3) 4v1, “What if they don't listen?” God gave Moses 3 signs. Signs always accompany something
new. These signs were not nice; they were all signs of judgment – because God was going to judge Egypt.
4) 4v10, “I cannot speak well”. God himself made the mouth, so he can easily give Moses what he needed!
5) 4v13, “Please send someone else”; though God sent Aaron too, he was angry; after his 40 years in the wilderness, Moses was unbelieving. This shows us that though Moses was great, he was not Jesus!

2) Moses' return to Egypt and meeting the elders of Israel, 4:18-31

Moses did not tell Jethro the full reason for why he was returning to Egypt – I wonder why not? (What do you think?) Verses 24-26 are very mysterious indeed – do study the commentaries; probably there is a link with verses 22-23 with their message about the firstborn. Not even Moses could escape God's judgment if he ignored the covenant sign. Moses was a saviour – but not the great Saviour who was still future.

The people of Israel believed (v31). We know that later, they grumbled and their faith failed (5:21, 6:9). These are the first signs that Israel would be a half-hearted, double-minded people – and when Christ came he would not only be far greater than Moses, but need to create a new people too.

3) Meeting with Pharaoh and the results, 5:1-6:13 (and then the genealogy of Moses, 6:14-27)

These chapters, until the end of chapter 15, are all about the contest between Pharaoh and Jehovah. The great question is – who is God? In Egypt, Pharaoh was the recognised lord. So in verse 2 Pharaoh says – who is Jehovah? Who is the God of the (weak, enslaved) Hebrews? Why should I care about him? This is all preparing us for the great competition that is now beginning. Whose word will stand? (Compare verse 1, “Thus says the LORD, God of Israel” with verse 10, “thus says Pharaoh”). As the contest begins, life gets harder for Israel. They now must make their bricks with no straw – and they are beaten. Sometimes there is peace because Satan is not being challenged – but here in Egypt, he is now!

4) The plagues, climaxing in the death of the first-born, 6:28-11:10

The great purpose of the plagues was not only to judge Egypt, but supremely to display the great power and sovereignty of Jehovah. They show his sovereignty everywhere – over the River Nile (the source of life in Egypt), the air, in people's houses, in their fields, over their crops and animals – even over light and dark and over the lives of the first-born, even Pharaoh's son and heir. There are no limits on God. God's people should not fear; nobody can resist the LORD. Slowly we see the magicians of Egypt failing, and being defeated. (Notice too that when they were competing, they did not remove the plagues – they only made them worse! That is what Satan does). Through all the plagues, Pharaoh hardened his heart. He brought his own ruin, refusing to submit. This is what sinners who hate God do; this is what the devil does. Instead of stopping and repenting, they carry on – even if it will completely destroy them!

5) The Passover and the Exodus itself, 12:1-13:16

The Exodus comes about with an important festival: The Passover. This is a great type of Christ and his death at Calvary (as we have seen in the gospel of John, where John presents everything around Christ's death as a New Passover for a new people). In Israel there was a perfect lamb, who died in the place of the firstborn, to redeem the family. The blood was painted on the door as an act of faith. The substitution price was paid, and God purchased his people for himself. There was no leaven (yeast) in the bread, because there was no time to waste; showing that salvation is no small or easy thing, but costly as we are rescued at a great price from the flames.

Whilst there was a lamb who died for each family in Israel, there was no substitute in Egypt, and the firstborn died as the judgment on every family. When God comes to save his people, he also comes to judge his enemies. When Jesus died on the cross, Satan was cast out (John 12:31). When he will return for us in glory, the wicked will meet their final doom (Revelation 21:1-8).

6) The fall of the Egyptian army, 13:17-14:31

Egypt was totally ruined – crops, animals and people. In every family from the highest to the lowest, the firstborn had died. You might think Pharaoh would stop now – but he did not. As a hardened sinner, he pressed forward, to his complete ruin. He sent out his army for their final defeat in the Red Sea. Like many Christians, I believe that the Bible teaches that at the end of time there will be one final great rebellion of Satan (Revelation 20:7-10) which will finish with his final, complete ruin in the lake of fire.

7) The song of victory, 15:1-21

When God had saved his people, they worshipped him with the song of Moses. Redeemed people become worshippers, and before service comes thanks and praise.

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