Exodus Introduction ~ 20100411 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
4/11 Introduction to Exodus
Why study Exodus?
Where does Exodus fit in the Scriptures?
Review of Genesis
What is Exodus about?
In the coming year Lord willing, I'd like to tackle the book of Exodus. We've spent the last year and a half listening to the letters of the Apostle Peter, and before that we went through the book of Genesis together. When we ended Genesis, it was tempting to continue right into Exodus, because Exodus is really the continuation of the story that began with Genesis. I'm excited to get back to Exodus, with its message of redemption and the presence of God among his people. I'm excited to see what God will teach us as we study this important book of his word. This morning I'd like to introduce to you this second book of our Bible, look at why we would want to study it, what role it plays in the scriptures, look back a little at the contents of Genesis to review the background and forward to what Exodus has in store.
The main reason I want to study the book of exodus is to free up seats in the sanctuary. We've been a little overcrowded and I figure if we take a long Old Testament book and look at it in tedious detail, we'll weed out the weak and we should have plenty of empty seats available.
Seriously, why would we study any Old Testament book? What is the relevance for us? Doesn't Jesus make the Old Testament obsolete?Here's what Jesus says:
In other words, Jesus did not come to do away with the Old Testament, but to bring it to climax. In fact, when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, Moses and Elijah were speaking with him about his exodus, (translated in the ESV as departure):
When Jesus talked to some of his disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection it says:
According to Jesus, the books of Moses, including Exodus are all about him. All the Scriptures are all about him. So we can expect to learn about Jesus by studying Exodus. We can expect to see Jesus through a look at the Old Testament. Paul says:
So Paul expects us to receive instruction in the Old Testament Scriptures. We can expect to gain endurance and encouragement from Exodus. We can expect it to give us hope. Paul says to young pastor Timothy:
According to this, we in the New Testament Church are expected to teach out of the Old Testament. All of the Old Testament is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and training in righteousness to make us competent and equipped. We are expected to know and use this book. Not only that, but a study of Old Testament Scriptures is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. The pivotal message in all scripture is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and we should be able to see that message clearly in Exodus.
Where does Exodus fit in the Scriptures?
The Old Testament is typically divided into three main sections; Law, Prophets and Writings.
Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ״ך) an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. The acronym is based on the initial Hebrew letters of each of the text's three parts:
Torah תורה meaning "Instruction." It is also called the Chumash חומש, meaning "the five" or "the five books of Moses". In Greek, it is called the Pentateuch. Exodus is the second book in the Torah. The Torah is often referred to as the law of the Jewish people.
Nevi'im נביאים, meaning "Prophets." This term is associated with anything to do with the prophets.
Ketuvim כתובים, meaning "Writings" or "Hagiographa."
Torah – the law
Pentateuch – ‘pentateuchos biblios’ the fivefold book
Jews designated books from the opening Hebrew words
Septuagint (Greek) named books according to their contents
The Greek names were taken over by the Latin Vulgate translation
berēšît – in the beginning
Genesis - origin
šēmôt – names “these are the names of the sons of Israel”
exodus - departure
wayyigrā – and He called “the Lord called to Moses”
leuitikon – the Levitical book
bemidbar – in the wilderness “The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai”
arithmoi - numbering
debārîm – words “These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel”
deuteronomion – repetition of the law
Jesus referred to the three sections of the Tanakh, or Hebrew Scriptures:
More often this is abbreviated to ‘the law and the prophets’ or simply ‘the law’ or ‘the law of Moses’ or even just ‘Moses’
Exodus is the focal point of the Torah, which describes the founding of Israel as God's chosen nation. Genesis serves as the prologue to Exodus.
Review of Genesis
Genesis is a book of beginnings: it gives us the origin of the universe; origin of the earth; origin of man; origin of sin, guilt and punishment; the origin of death and decay; origin of family; culture; languages; agriculture; industry; the origin of the Hebrew nation as God’s chosen people; Genesis is the beginning of the revelation of God’s grace in salvation.
Genesis enlarges our view of God. He steps onto the stage of history with the affirmation that he IS. He exists. He is the uncreated creator of all things. The self-existent one who had no beginning. The omnipotent one who spoke all things into existence by the breath of his mouth. The one who is ultimately and absolutely in control of all things. He is a God who can be prayed to, believed, trusted in, because he can do things. He can change things. He can make things happen. He is a God who takes pleasure in all that he does. He approves of what he made and takes time to enjoy his creation. He is intimately involved in his creation forming, molding, shaping, breathing life, coming down to speak and act. He is a God who is trustworthy and faithful to always keep his promises. He can even bring his good purposes out of the evil actions of men.
Genesis gives us a proper view of our role in creation. We were created by him and for his pleasure, to display his glory and reflect his image. We were created in relation to God – to rule for him over creation, to walk in relationship with God and obey his commands. But we chose to disbelieve his word and rebel against his rule and exalt ourselves above him. We sinned against him and severed our relationship with him and brought toil and pain and death into his good creation. We then tried to hide, to cover up our sin with our own efforts, and to shift the blame to others, even to God himself.
But even after this, God took action to restore us and made promises to us. He promised that he would one day send one who would crush the head of the serpent.
Genesis falls into two main divisions:
Genesis 1:1-11:26 - Universal history; history of Mankind
Genesis 11:27-50:26 - Particular history; history of one family
God chose to work through one undeserving man to bring hope to the world. He spoke to an idol worshiping pagan named Abram and said:
Later God promises to Abram the bondage and subsequent deliverance of his chosen people.
The book of Genesis closes with a promise of God's presence and deliverance, and Joseph dead and in a coffin in Egypt.
Content of Exodus
That is where Exodus picks up the story. Genesis is the preface to the book of Exodus. Exodus picks up the story with the increase of Abram's descendants into a great mob in Egypt as promised, and with their slavery in Egypt as promised, and with God visiting them and rescuing them. Exodus continues with God defining the people as a nation, giving them his laws and instructing them to built the tabernacle, the place where he will once again dwell with his people. We can outline the book through these major gracious acts of God:
Outline (Longman, p.34):
Exodus 1-18 God saves Israel from Egyptian bondage
Exodus 19-24 God gives Israel His law
Exodus 25-40 God instructs Israel to build His Tabernacle
This is the outline we are given by God in Exodus 6, where he declares what he will do.
In Exodus, we see the founding of Israel as a nation, escaping its captivity in Egypt, receiving the law that defines it as a nation and serves as its constitution, and building its central worship site, the tabernacle. In Exodus, we see that all of these were a result of God's grace – given as a gift to undeserving people.
That these are gracious undeserved acts of love from God becomes evident in the narrative. The story is punctuated by the ill-deserving sins of the people. God chooses Moses, a murderer, to be the leader of his people. In the middle of God's supernatural rescue of the people out of slavery, they grumble and complain. God provides protection and food and water, and they demonstrate that their hearts long for 'the good old days' of Egypt. God initiates a covenant with them and swears to be their God, and they make a golden calf and bow down to it and claim that it was what rescued them from Egypt. God is patient and renews his broken covenant with this rebellious people. He provides a way for sinful people to have their sins covered so they can approach a holy God. God promises to be their God, to be present with them. This is a major theme of the book.
Theme: the presence of God
The book of Exodus moves us from the absence of God who is seen to be distant, with the promise that he will visit his people, then revealing himself individually to Moses, to the presence of God among the community of Israel and climaxes with the visible manifestation of the presence of God inhabiting the tabernacle. God makes a covenant with his people to explain the nature of his relationship with Israel. The Hebrew people are brought from bondage to a cruel Egyptian Pharaoh to bondage to Yahweh, a good and generous slave master.
Exodus is pivotal to all of God's revealed truth. Throughout the biblical narrative, the event of the exodus is referred to. The people of God look back on the exodus as evidence of God's faithfulness to his promises. Later in the Babylonian captivity, Israel looks to their second exodus, where God will again deliver his undeserving people by his great strength. God's character as holy, revealed in the giving of his law and in the very design of the tabernacle, saturates all of Scripture. It is through Jesus, our passover lamb and substitute, that we are redeemed. The covenant that Jesus makes in his blood is the fulfillment of the covenant that God makes with his rebellious people at Mount Sinai. God reveals himself in Jesus as a God who has come near, Immanuel, who has tabernacled with us. Jesus, who leads us, protects us, provides and cares for us. Our final exodus, accomplished by Jesus on the cross, is the deliverance out from the power of sin to gladly serve our new Master and Lord.
My prayer as we study the book of Exodus together is that we enjoy the presence of almighty God with us, that we acknowledge ourselves as undeserving recipients of his love and grace, that we embrace Jesus as our passover lamb slaughtered in our place, that we experience Jesus who shepherds us through the wilderness, that we are brought out from under the cruel bondage of sin and into the glorious freedom of joyfully serving the King of kings and Lord of lords.