Exodus—speaks of divine mercy in choosing and delivering.

Background

Jacob was overjoyed when reunited with Joseph. His love for his favourite son had been sorely tested when all hope for Joseph appeared to be lost, but now at the end of his life, Jacob’s heart rejoiced at the hand of providence guiding and blessing their lives. Pharaoh was pleased to grant Joseph’s request and he authorised them to occupy the land of Goshen. There Jacob’s family prospered and multiplied. In the rest of Egypt, however, the famine forced people to sell their land and their lives into slavery under Pharaoh (Gen 47:14–22). Events though were soon to take a dramatic turn, to the dismay of Jacob’s family: a crisis developed, out of which Israel was delivered.

The Way Out

The Greek word ‘Exodus’ used by the Septuagint translators to name the second book of the Bible simply means “the way out”. But to leave Egypt behind truly, God’s people had to learn to turn away from “self” and depend upon their Maker. It was to teach this lesson that God brought them into the wilderness (cp Deut 8:2). It is a lesson that should not be lost upon us, for once we receive the message of the Truth, we must come into covenant relationship with the Father, through the blood of our Passover Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ (cp Exod 12:13; John 1:29; 1 Cor 5:7), and begin our journey under Yahweh’s direction and with Christ at our head. It will take us on “the way out” from sin and death and bring us in due time to an inheritance in the Kingdom of God. The “wilderness” through which we must pass is the sinful world about us, and its fleshly ways will destroy us as surely as it destroyed Israel unless we turn to Yahweh to sustain us (Num 14:29,30; cp Heb 3:17–19).

The Deliverer

Moses had been absent from the court of Pharaoh for 40 years and now, at the age of 80, he returned to deliver the message from Yahweh, “let my people go”, to the end that they might be “a people for His name”, redeemed from slavery and brought to the land of promise (Deut 6:12, 21–24). But there was more in this than merely the deliverance of a nation from bondage. Yahweh’s purpose was also to display his power over Egypt, the most powerful nation of the day, and the gods of Egypt (Exod 9:16).

Moses was given the task of conveying Yahweh’s Word to Pharaoh. It was no easy task, for Pharaoh, Egypt’s supreme ruler, was a man of flesh, arrogant, hard and idolatrous. It was not until that final terrible plague—the death of the firstborn—that he relented long enough for Israel to escape through the Red Sea. Even before they had reached the Red Sea, he again hardened his heart and pursued after them.

God’s Salvation

Later on, Yahweh was to say to Israel, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exod 19:4). The wondrous miracles God wrought for His people at this time and His continual deliverance of them were constantly brought before Israel in later years to remind them that they owed their existence to Him. The most dramatic of these was the opening of the Red Sea, which provided an escape for Israel and doom for the Egyptians.

They Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me

God visited and delivered Israel from Egypt. They were His people in every sense of the term. It was His purpose to establish them as a beacon of light to attract others to His truth (cp 2 Pet 3:9). They were intended to be a “kingdom of priests” (Exod 19:6), radiating the light of God’s truth to the world. It was to emphasize Israel’s role in the world, that God said He would “dwell among them”, enthroned in their midst (Exod 25:8; 29:45, 46). It would be no more possible, however, for God to dwell among them if they continued a sinful and idolatrous people, than it would be possible for light and darkness to coexist (cp 2 Cor 6:14–18; Eph 5:8).

The incident at Mt Sinai shows how changeable human nature is, for not long after Moses had disappeared into the mount, Israel forgot the lesson of the plagues and all of God’s wonders and turned back to idols.

God’s Guidance

With their enemies destroyed, and they themselves delivered by Yahweh’s miraculous power, Israel could never doubt that it was Yahweh, who had “made” them and preserved them. Indeed to Him their loyalty and devotion were due.

For the first time in their history, the people of Israel were beginning to feel that they had indeed become a nation. They had never experienced such feelings in Egypt. But now they had been united by their God, and given a leader, Moses. As one body, they had been led out of Egypt to commence a journey that would lead them towards the land promised to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The privileges belonging to the priestly nation, however, were conditional upon its continued loyalty to the Truth. In order to develop this loyalty the Law of Moses was given, the Tabernacle was set up, priests and Levites were appointed and a sacrificial code instituted that bound Israel to Yahweh daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.

They were to be educated so that their lives might reflect the character of Yahweh. In this way they might attain salvation. The Tabernacle and the worship associated with it were intended to provide a Divine education.

Great Events and Wonders