This is always the way: God the Father sends God the Son to be with us in our suffering and to bring us out that we might worship the Father in freedom and joy.
Exodus is the story of this Figure from the bush: the Angel, the Great I AM: He leads the people out of slavery and into salvation.
Posts Tagged ‘Exodus’
Jesus… saved a people out of the land of Egypt. (Jude 5)
That’s Exodus in 10 words.
Let me give a more expanded but less inspired version. I will focus on the who of Exodus rather than the what. My attention will not be on Moses or Pharoah or the plagues or the Red Sea or the law or the tabernacle – that can be for another time. I happen to think there’s a more fundamental issue to tackle: Who is the LORD who redeems Israel? Given that this is precisely how the God of the Old Testament defines Himself – ‘the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt’ – getting this question right will be absolutely crucial.
We begin at the non-burning bush – Exodus 3.
Here the Angel of the LORD (v2) confronts Moses. This Sent One from the LORD is “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (v6). (Note that Jacob agrees – the God of His fathers is the Angel: Gen 48:15f). The Sent One calls Himself “I AM WHO I AM.” (v14)
Note: When Jesus, in His incarnate ministry, calls Himself “I AM” (for e.g. John 8:24,28,58; 13:19; 18:5-8) He is not saying that He’s closely related to the God of the Exodus. He is the God of the Exodus.
This is important to note because verse 12 may just be the book’s theme sentence:
He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Ex 3:12)
The Angel does not say “God will go with you and you will worship God.” Nor does He say “I will go with you and you will worship Me.” No, the Angel is the saving LORD (see Judges 2:1-5) and He relates the people to Another. Jesus saves a people and brings them to worship God on the mountain. The Son redeems a people for the Father. That is what Exodus is all about. And the rest of the book is the playing out of this truth.
As the people come out of Egypt – there He is in the pillar of cloud/fire. At one point He’s called the LORD (13:21,22) at another, ‘the Angel of God’ (14:19,20). The Sent One who is God is the redeeming LORD.
When He carries them on eagles wings to the mountain (as promised) He makes sure they are prepared to meet the LORD:
“The LORD [who carried Israel on eagle's wings - v4] said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.” (Ex 19:10-12)
Here the LORD is on the mountain warning the people about how dangerous it will be when the LORD meets them on the mountain. If this were some unitarian god it would be strange talk indeed but we know that the divine Angel is the LORD who is bringing them to meet God (the Father) on the mountain (Ex 3:12).
As Deuteronomy 4 and 5 underline, the encounter on Sinai was utterly unique (e.g. Deut 4:15; 5:26).
No-one had ever heard ‘the living God’ speaking out of fire on the mountain as they did on that third day. Of course Moses had heard the I AM speaking out of fire on that very mountain (Exodus 3). But this is different. This is the unseen LORD. This is the Most High God and it has taken 70 chapters of the bible – and the mighty redemption of the Angel – to make this kind of encouter possible.
And just when you thought Exodus might finish in chapter 19, the people don’t actually go up the mountain at the trumpet blast (Ex 19:13). Instead Moses goes up on their behalf (cf Deut 5:27). Everything will now be presented by intermediaries, shadows, types. For the second half of the book it’s mainly Moses on the mountain, in the cloud, receiving the law and the tabernacle blueprint from the unseen LORD.
Attention turns to the future as the unseen LORD promises Moses that the Angel will continue to deliver them (Ex 23:20-23). They can trust Him because the name of the unseen LORD is in Him (Ex 23:21). The Angel commands, leads and forgives the Israelites.
Perhaps Moses wasn’t listening at this point because in 33:12 he says:
“See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.”
The unseen LORD replies: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (v14) The word ‘Presence’ is the word for face and it recalls a very memorable phrase from the same chapter.
In Exodus 33:7-11 we hear about what used to happen. We leave the mountain-top briefly to be told how Moses used to meet with the LORD down on ground level. At that time he’d go to the tent of meeting and speak with the LORD “face to face as a man speaks with his friend.”
That was the ‘face to face’ LORD at ground level. But when Moses is on the mountain, the unseen LORD reassures Moses that the Face (Presence) would continue to go with them. Moses considers this to be absolutely essential – if the Presence doesn’t go with them he’d rather just perish in the wilderness (v15). Give me Jesus or give me death!
Having been encouraged greatly, Moses is now bold enough to ask something with echoes of Philip’s request in John 14. Now he wants to see the glory of the unseen LORD (v18)! The LORD’s reply is very telling: He would pass in front of Moses, He would proclaim His name, but, v20, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Again in v22 He emphasizes “my face must not be seen.”
Now Moses is not an idiot. He’s just recounted the incident in the tent of meeting (33:7-11) for a reason. He’s deliberately distinguishing the ground-level appearing LORD with the mountain-top unseen LORD. But distinguishing them so as to intimately relate them.
Because as soon as Moses hears the name of the Unseen LORD (Ex 34:5-7) he exclaims:
“If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us.” (Ex 34:9)
When he hears the name of the Most High God he asks Him to send the Lord in their midst. The name of the LORD is in the Angel who is in their midst (Ex 23:21). So when Moses hears this gospel character he knows he’s experienced this very name in the Angel. The seen LORD is everything that the unseen LORD proclaims when He reveals His name. And so Moses asks the Father to send the Son in their midst – the redeeming Lord-from-Lord.
Moses’ plea of 34:9 is granted and, at the end of Exodus, the Glory / Presence / LORD fills the tabernacle and directs all their travels (40:34-38).
We see throughout the Old Testament that this promise of the Presence of the LORD being in the midst of His people was kept. Numbers 9:15-23 is one example of many showing the seen LORD going in the midst of His people. Number 14 tells us that even the surrounding nations knew that the Face-to-Face LORD travelled with the Israelites and fought for them (v13ff). When Solomon finally builds a Temple for the Name of the LORD, the LORD fills it in exactly the same way as He filled the tabernacle in Exodus 40. This LORD appears to Solomon in 1 Kings 9 and to Isaiah in chapter 6. If we were in any doubt as to who this Divine Person is, the Apostle John settles all dispute: “Isaiah said this [Isaiah 6] because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.” (John 12:41)
In the fulness of time this LORD – this Angel of the covenant, this sought after and desired Redeemer - would come in a definitive judgement and salvation (Mal 3:1ff).
Jesus has always been the saving, ground-level, appearing LORD. He has always perfectly mediated the saving plan and character of His Father. Jude was speaking absolutely plainly and straightforwardly – Jesus is the LORD who brought the Israelites out of Egypt. In other words He is the God of the Old Testament. Exodus is a wonderful demonstration of this foundational truth.
… the ultimate plague (i.e. judgement) (Ex 11:1)
… judgement upon the gods (Ex 12:12)
… the defeat of the Enemy (Ex 6:1)
… liberation from slavery to overlords (Ex 13:14)
… liberation to the service of the LORD (Ex 8:1)
… the cause of unparalleled sorrow for the enemies (Ex 11:6)
… the cause of great joy for the redeemed (2 Chron 30:21)
… the distinction between the LORD’s people and the world (Ex 11:7)
… in darkness (Deut 16:6)
… a sacrifice (Ex 12:27)
… substitutionary (Ex 12:13)
… bloody (Ex 12:13)
… a sign for the LORD’s people (Ex 12:13)
… for the LORD Himself to see (Ex 12:13)
… to be memorialized in perpetuity (Ex 12:14)
… community-defining (Ex 12:47)
… open to non-covenant people (Ex 12:49) but…
… for those who enter the covenant and own its sign (Ex 12:48)
… time renewing (Ex 12:1)
… the ultimate revelation of the LORD (Ex 6:7)
What is the cross?
Exactly the same.
[this is a repost]
Recap and Thought Starter:
Last time you explained the cross to your friend by referring to Passover. Just as the Israelites sheltered under the blood of the lamb and so judgement passed over, so we trust in the blood of Jesus who saves us from the coming wrath.
Your friend understands your presentation and then asks this question:
If you’re saved by Jesus, doesn’t that just leave you to indulge your sins with immunity?
What do you reply?
This week has been a frightening week for the nation financially – unless you’re Wayne Rooney. Or his agent. But for the rest of us it seems like tightening the belt is the order of the day. So you might have thought that this Sunday was a bad week to have chosen for our church Gift Day. Well we chose it months ago, but I think, in the providence of God, Gift Day has fallen in just the right week.
Because, in the bible, financial giving is never spoken about in the context of plenty. In the bible the giving that’s highlighted is almost always in the context of scarcity. (cf 2 Cor 8!)
And nowhere is that more clear than in Exodus. In Exodus you wouldn’t reckon they had ideal conditions for fundraising.
First they’re in the desert. They’re not in wealthy Egypt and they’re not in the land of milk and honey– they’re in the desert. Secondly, they have been saved out of Egypt and for that they can be grateful. But it does mean that each and every one of these 2 million Israelites is a slave, and they have been for generations. They have no transferable skills, no social security, no family wealth, no connections. They are the biggest refugee crisis in human history. Can you imagine fundraising in a Haitian refugee camp? Or in Darfur? Moses is fundraising in the midst of a humanitarian crisis – 2 million slaves who are only ever a day away from starvation.
It puts a double-dip recession into a bit of perspective doesn’t it?!
And yet the Israelites overflowed in generosity until they had to be restrained from giving more!
How did they do it?
Read more below.
It doesn’t matter what’s on the inside, it’s what’s on the outside that counts.
It’s not the interior – it’s all about the blood on the doorposts. It’s not about the LORD inspecting your house. It’s ONLY about the blood outside.
It’s not even about how much faith you have in the blood. If the blood is applied at all, you’re saved. Strong faith in the blood and wavering faith in the blood lead to exactly the same outcome. Because it’s not faith IN the blood that saves – it’s the blood.
People say to me, “I don’t have very strong faith.” And I say “Me neither. But thank God we’re not saved by how strong our believing feelings are! Thank God we are saved, not so much by our faith in Christ’s blood, thank God we’re saved by Christ’s blood!”
…It’s not about the quality of your living, speaking, acting, praying. It’s not even about the quality of your own faith. It’s only about the blood. It’s the quality of His death, not the quality of your life. Your salvation has nothing to do with YOU – and everything to do with HIM. Nothing to do with your performance and everything to do with His performance.
People so often worry that their sins have cost them their relationship with God. Well you can’t out-sin the Blood of God can you?! Think about your sins. No matter what they are. Is your sin bigger than the blood of God?? Nonsense. You have not out-sinned the blood of Jesus. You cannot out-sin the blood of Jesus. Impossible! It’s about His blood outside – not your heart inside…
Thought Starter: If you have 90 seconds to explain the cross to a friend, what do you say?
Recap: Last time we looked at the first nine plagues on Egypt. These were judgements that revealed the LORD as Saviour of His people and Judge of His enemies. Each plague seemed to get more and more dangerous until we come to the final plague – the plague on the firstborn.
Exodus 4-7 Bible Study
In chapters 1-2, how was God at work through the suffering of the Israelites?
Every hardship was turned by the LORD into some kind of blessing:
1:1-14 – they multiplied under oppression;
1:15-22 – the midwives were blessed for helping the Israelites;
2:1-10 – Moses was saved by being cast into the Nile;
2:11-25 – Moses fled Egypt but found a wife.
In chapter 3, what was the LORD’s response to the suffering of the Israelites?
The LORD comes down to rescue them from the Egyptians with a mighty hand and bring them out to a land flowing with milk and honey.
Moses and His Calling
Moses is a reluctant leader to say the least. How does he react to God’s call and what then is God’s response?
|Moses’ reaction||God’s response|
Who am I??
I will be with you
Who are you??
I AM WHO I AM
What if they don’t listen?
I’m a poor speaker!
Who gave man his mouth? I’ll help!
Please send someone else!
Burning anger – provides brother
Thinking back over Moses’ life, why do you think he might have been reluctant to ‘take up the reins’?
He’d tried to save his people before (Ex 2:11ff; cf Acts 7:25) and it ended in total failure and 40 year exile!
How would you characterize God’s response to those who resist His call?
Patient, reassuring, equipping, but in the end our resistance deserves anger. Even so our disobedience doesn’t thwart God – He always has His own ways (eg Aaron).
Are there areas of service God has called you to and for which you feel unprepared? What do these verses say to us?
We haven’t got time to go over these verses but people may have questions, especially about vv24-26. If they are raised, here’s my best stab at those verses:
- Moses was about to lead the nation of Israel and declare God’s word
- Yet he’d not been leading his household properly nor keeping God’s word
- He should have circumcised his boys or been cut off himself. (Gen 17:10-14)
- The LORD has sacraments (external signs of His gospel) in both testaments:
- In the OT: circumcision and Passover; In the NT: baptism and Lord’s Supper
- The LORD clearly takes these outward signs seriously and so should we.
- Moses is shown yet again to be a very flawed and weak vessel!
- Verse 26 reveals the nature of circumcision: “Bridegroom of blood”
- The LORD pledges Himself to us in blood as our true Bridegroom.
- Circumcision is the sign of this and the LORD wants us to honour His signs.
- As an analogy: being careless with your wedding ring will anger your spouse!
Read Exodus 5:1-23
Any idea how old Moses and Aaron are as they address the most powerful man in the world? (Have a guess – the answer is in chapter 7:7)
80 and 83 respectively
How did their demands sound to Pharaoh’s ears?
First of all, absolutely ridiculous (v2). Then as cover for idleness (v4ff)
Later, when the Israelites were rescued and living in the wilderness with the LORD, they would reminisce about their time in Egypt: “we sat round pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted” (Ex 16:3). But what are their conditions really like as described in this chapter?
Labour, work (v4)
“don’t reduce the quota, They are lazy, that’s why they’re crying out” (v8)
“Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working” (v9)
“Your work will not be reduced at all” (v11)
The people scattered (v12)
The slave drivers kept pressing them (v13)
The Israelite foremen were beaten (v14)
“Lazy, that’s what you are, Lazy!” (v17)
They were in trouble (v19)
“We are a stench to Pharaoh” (v21)
Jesus said that we are naturally slaves to sin (John 8:34ff). How is this chapter a good description of that slavery too?
Egypt is the place where harsh taskmasters make you work harder and harder for less and less. And even as you do more and more, you are branded as idle. Our bondage to sin and Satan is just like this. We chase after moving targets and never get the verdict we’re looking for.
Under pressure, the Israelites would later re-imagine their life in Egypt as ‘a land of milk and honey’ (Num 16:3). Are you tempted to think of non-Christian life as ‘the good old days’? What should we remind ourselves of?
Let’s read about the LORD’s response…
Read Exodus 6:1-12
When someone vows “I will” over and over again, what does it bring to mind?
Find all the “I will”s in verses 6-8. What are the promises attached to these “I will”s?
I will BRING you out (v6)
I will FREE you (v6)
I will REDEEM you (v6)
I will TAKE you (v7)
I will BE your God (v7)
I will BRING you (v8)
I will GIVE it to you (v8)
Are there any conditions attached to these promises?
None! The LORD WILL do it!
How were these promises received at the time?
V9: the people are too discouraged to hear
v12: Moses is unbelieving again!
What is the point of declaring promises to discouraged and disbelieving people?
It shows us what kind of God the LORD is! The promise making God! And He will declare His marriage-like promises even over completely unresponsive people.
We know that Jesus is our LORD and Bridegroom and He has promised us salvation through His mighty redemption from sin and Satan. But sometimes we can be too weighed down with sin or suffering to really hear His word of promise.
Split up into pairs and spend a couple of minutes discussing a current struggle you have with sin or suffering. In what ways do you feel the oppression of chapter 5?
Then take it in turns to read out Ex 6:6-8 to one another – personalizing it if you like:
`I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of ________. I will free you from being slaves…, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own… and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of ________. 8 And I will bring you to the land [of promise]. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’
Pray for each other.
“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
Here is Moses full of self-doubt. So what does Moses need? Ask anyone today and they’ll tell you: the solution to self-doubt is self-confidence. That’s the modern cure-all for whatever ails you. Have more confidence in yourself.
That’s what the world says. What does the LORD say?
Verse 12: I will be with you
Do you see what the LORD is doing? Not trying to instill self-confidence, but God-confidence. “I will be with you.” The LORD doesn’t say “Moses, don’t do yourself down. You were such a beautiful baby, and a powerful prince, and you’re in my top three all-time shepherds. I think you’ve got what it takes.”
The LORD doesn’t turn Moses’ eyes back on himself.
Do you ever do that when someone’s full of self-doubt? We often say, “Have more confidence in yourself, you’re so talented, you’re brilliant…” But if someone’s fishing for compliments, how many compliments are enough? The WORLD is not enough to fill our need for affirmation. Just speaking for myself: the WORLD could not satisfy my black hole of self-obsession. If you get me started, I’ll never be satisfied.
Which is why God does something very different. He fights self-doubt with GOD-confidence. Essentially the LORD says, “Who are you?? Who are you?? That’s not the point Moses. I will be with you.”
There used to be a saying in tennis that the greatest doubles team imaginable was John McEnroe and anyone. John McEnroe and anyone could win Wimbledon.
Well imagine if you were that anyone. Imagine if you were John McEnroe’s partner going into the Wimbledon final and you spent the whole pre-match press-conference saying “Who am I to win a tennis match? Who am I to win Wimbledon? I am not a brilliant tennis player!!”
What would John McEnroe say? Apart from ‘You cannot be serious?’ He’d say, “I will be with you. I will be with you. Enough about yourself, really it’s irrelevant.”…
…In a deep sense Moses is going to be just like that staff in his hand. The staff by itself is nothing. We call it a staff, that’s just fancy name for a stick. But through that stick, miracles would be wrought. Through that stick the plagues would fall. Through that stick the Red Sea would be divided. By that stick the Rock would be struck and the waters would come out. Why, because it’s such a great stick? Because the qualities inherent in the stick can call forth the powers of heaven?? No it’s nothing to do with the stick and everything to do with the eternal I AM who uses the stick.
He can use a stick to unleash the powers of heaven, He can use an octogenarian shepherd to defeat the most powerful man in the world. Later in the bible He uses a bunch of fishermen to turn the world upside down. Because where does the great I AM really show His power? On the cross. (John 8:28) The great I AM bleeds and dies on a rugged wooden cross, and that’s the power that saves the world. Can He deal with weakness? Can He use weakness? That’s His speciality. 2 Corinthians 12 verse 9, the Lord says to a weakened Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Full script below
A non-Christian friend asks you how you square belief in God with the existence of suffering. What do you say?
Break into four groups. One group should take each of the following passages:
Answer these questions and then feed them back:
What’s going on?
How is the suffering described?
How does God redeem the suffering?
By the time we get to chapter 3, the people have been groaning for 400 years (Genesis 15:13) and Moses is 80 years old (Exodus 7:7), what does this teach us about how God works His salvation?
God is seldom mentioned in chapters 1 and 2, would it be fair to describe Him as ‘silent’ or ‘absent’ at this time?
Notice the verbs used of God in v24-25. What are they? What do they tell us about God’s relationship to His suffering people?
In chapter 3, the God who may have seemed very distant shows up in a powerful way.
Read Exodus 3:1-22
What do you think the burning bush symbolizes?
Think of the significance of plants (e.g. the vine) and of fire and furnaces (e.g. Deut 4:20). Perhaps read Psalm 80 to see how Israel, the vine, suffering, fire and the Son of God relate.
“Him who dwells in the bush” is a title for the LORD (Deuteronomy 33:16). What are the other titles for this Person? (v2,4,6,14) What do each of these titles tell us?
What does it tell us that ‘The Angel’ is found in the midst of the bush in flames of fire?
Note the verbs again in verses 7-9 and 16-17: How does the LORD relate to the suffering of His people?
How does the great I AM use His power in this chapter?
We have seen in chapters 1 and 2 how the LORD redeems/works-through/transforms the suffering of the people. In what ways do we see that here?
Compare this rescue to the great I AM’s rescue in the New Testament. What are the similarities?
What do we learn about the Lord Jesus and His Father from these chapters?
What do we learn about God and suffering?
All the Johns agree:
But let us inquire who this Angel was? since soon afterwards he not only calls himself Jehovah, but claims the glory of the eternal and only God. Now, although this is an allowable manner of speaking, because the angels transfer to themselves the person and titles of God, when they are performing the commissions entrusted to them by him; and although it is plain from many passages, and especially from the first chapter of Zechariah, that there is one head and chief of the angels who commands the others, the ancient teachers of the Church have rightly understood that the Eternal Son of God is so called in respect to his office as Mediator, which he figuratively bore from the beginning, although he really took it upon him only at his Incarnation. And Paul sufficiently expounds this mystery to us, when he plainly asserts that Christ was the leader of his people in the Desert. (1 Corinthians 10:4.) Therefore, although at that time, properly speaking, he was not yet the messenger of his Father, still his predestinated appointment to the office even then had this effect, that he manifested himself to the patriarchs, and was known in this character. Nor, indeed, had the saints ever any communication with God except through the promised Mediator. It is not then to be wondered at, if the Eternal Word of God, of one Godhead and essence with the Father, assumed the name of “the Angel” on the ground of his future mission.
He is expressly called an “Angel” Exod. 3:2 – namely, the Angel of the covenant, the great Angel of the presence of God, in whom was the name and nature of God. And He thus appeared that the Church might know and consider who it was that was to work out their spiritual and eternal salvation, whereof that deliverance which then He would effect was a type and pledge. Aben Ezra would have the Angel mentioned verse 2, to be another from him who is called “God,” v 6: but the text will not give countenance to any such distinction, but speaks of one and the same person throughout without any alteration; and this was no other but the Son of God.
This redemption was by Jesus Christ, as is evident from this, that it was wrought by him that appeared to Moses in the bush; for that was the person that sent Moses to redeem the people. But that was Christ, as is evident, because he is called ‘the angel of the LORD’ (Exodus 3:2).
Given such unanimity among our reformed forebears (who themselves appealed to ‘the ancient teachers of the Church’) our modern reluctance to identify Him who dwells in the bush is deeply concerning. Martin Downes puts it well in a recent post:
It is somewhat ironic that the championing of progressive revelation has gone hand in hand with a diminished confidence in the revelation of Christ in the Old Testament. Historically it is as if the church has regressed and not progressed in her confidence that it was “Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt” (Jude 5, ESV).
Amen! Read his whole post here.
My sermon on Exodus 1-3 is here.
…That has ALWAYS been His nature. It has always been His nature to COME DOWN, to enter in, to suffer alongside, to suffer at our Head, and to rescue!
Text below… (more…)
Previously I’ve written an overview of Exodus.
This is an introduction from another angle:
Introduction to Exodus
Exodus is not the beginning. Exodus continues the story of God’s people.
In the beginning, the promise was given to humanity that the Offspring of the woman would crush Satan’s head, even though His own heel would be struck (Genesis 3:15). This was the first prophesy of the sufferings and glory of the coming Messiah (1 Peter 1:10-11). Though it would cause Him to suffer, the Offspring would defeat the powers that Adam and Eve had unleashed on the world.
From that point onwards, offspring in general became a consuming passion for the people of God. This is because the Offspring in particular – Christ – is our one true hope (cf Galatians 3:16,29).
In Genesis 12, Abraham is told that the Offspring will come through him (Genesis 12:7; cf Galatians 3:16). Thus Abraham’s many offspring would become the nation of Israel through whom the Offspring (the Messiah) would come. The people of the Messiah would therefore be the conduit for all God’s blessings on the world:
2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3)
In Genesis 15 the Word of the LORD repeats the promises, reassuring Abraham that his childlessness will not be a problem (Genesis 15:1-6). His offspring would be innumerable. But just as the singular Offspring (Christ) would suffer and then be glorified, so the plural offspring (Abraham’s descendants) would suffer and be glorified. Abraham is told:
13 “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions.” (Genesis 15:13-14)
The story of Exodus is the fulfilment of these verses. It’s the story of the offspring of Abraham, called up out of Egypt – the land of darkness and slavery – brought through curses and judgements, through wilderness and trial, towards the land of blessings and freedom.
Exodus therefore works on many levels.
It is a grand prophesy of the work of the Offspring, Christ. Jesus is the true Son called up out of Egypt (Matt 2:15) who accomplishes His own exodus/departure by undergoing the judgement of the cross (Luke 9:31, ‘exodus’ and ‘departure’ are the same word). Reading Exodus will show us a vivid pattern for Christ’s own sufferings and glory.
Exodus is also a presentation of the sufferings and glories of God’s people in every age. For those who trust in the Messiah – whether in Old or New Testament times – the exodus is a paradigmatic experience. Paul underlines this in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, and insists that the events of the exodus “happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.” (v11) We too have had an Exodus experience – once we were in the darkness and slavery of sin but have been brought out through the bloody redemption of the LORD Jesus. Now we experience wilderness times of hardship and testing before we enter the promised land of His presence. Exodus will teach us all about the Christian life.
But if the Exodus experience defines the people of God, it’s even more true to say that the Exodus experience defines the God of the people. From this event onwards, God would always be known as “the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt.” (e.g. Exodus 20:2; Leviticus 11:45; Judges 2:1). In Exodus we will see the promise-keeping, compassionate, rescuing, judging, providing, incomparable I AM who saves His people with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
8 He saved them for His Name’s sake, to make His mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; He led them through the depths as through a desert. 10 He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy He redeemed them. 11 The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. 12 Then they believed His promises and sang His praise. (Psalm 106:8-12)
Our experience of Exodus should be the same – to believe His promises and sing His praise!
I’m a post shy of 40 but life’s too short!
I’ve loved reading all the different contributions – 14 different authors. I’ve learned loads. Thanks
In verses 1-33, Moses’ name is mentioned 12 times. He is emphatically the one who completes the tabernacle: “Moses finished the work.” (v33) As far as the shadows of the old covenant go – Moses is the man.
Yet as the chapter concludes (v34-38), it’s clear that Moses cannot even enter into this model of heaven and earth, this dwelling place of the Divine Glory. The Cloud is too much for him. This is the Cloud of God’s Presence which accompanies the Angel (also known as the Glory) of the LORD (13:21f; 14:19f, 24; 16:10; 19:9, 16; 24:15f, 18; 33:9f; 34:5; 40:34ff).
Previously, Moses had entered into the Cloud of the Divine Glory on a few select occasions (19:20; 24:18; 33:9; 34:5) but only under certain conditions and only when invited.
Yet here verse 35 is clear – Moses cannot enter the tabernacle because the Cloud of Glory is tabernacling there. In fact the next book of the bible (Leviticus) has to be written to set out how humanly impossible it is for man to dwell with the everlasting burning (Isaiah 33:14). Men of dust cannot enter the Divine Glory. The Divine Glory must enter men of dust.
He will tabernacle with Israel in flesh (John 1:14) – in their flesh even. The Heavenly Man will take the humanity of the man of dust and transform it from within. In this way the whole world would see His Glory. And when He is torn down and rebuilt, He will be both a perfected Temple, inviting all nations in and an ascended High Priest, going into the Holy of Holies to carry us on His heart.
He ascends to fill the universe (Eph 4:11). Now that He’s on high, His word flows out, filling the earth with His glory, the nations streaming to the true Temple (Isaiah 2:1-5; Ezekiel 47).
In Exodus, only the High Priest’s breastplate was ‘Holy to the LORD.’ (39:30) But as the knowledge of the glory of the LORD fills the earth (Hab 2:14), there will be a time when even the most common articles will be ‘Holy to the LORD’ (Zech 14:20f). This is the cosmic filling to which this cloud points.
In the meantime, the Israelites (Moses included) can only follow the tabernacling Glory (v36-38). And only in the shadows of the Levitical law can they enter in vicariously through their high priest. The law comes through Moses. He sets up the shadows, he cannot establish the reality. Grace and truth – hesed we’emet (34:6), the very Name and nature of the living God – comes through the LORD Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
And so at the end of Exodus we see the designs the LORD has on the whole of creation. He will fill it in the end. What a contrast to the book’s beginning.
In the beginning we saw an enslaved and oppressed people, helpless and hopeless. By the end we see these same helpless people laid hold of by a magnificent salvation. They are freed, enriched, guided, cared for, brought to the Father and established as a kingdom and priests. All this is through the grace and power of Christ alone and in spite of their own profound wickedness and sin.
So from the slavery and genocide of Egypt the LORD Jesus has created a people headed for the land of milk and honey, carrying with them the blueprint of the Father’s own cosmic plans for redemption. Jude was right in his summary of Exodus:
Jesus saved a people out of Egypt (Jude 5)
Tom’s the acceptable face of the All Souls Langham Place website and studying at a vicar factory in Oxford. This post is a shaft of reflected glory!
This is the second time Moses has gone up the Mountain of God and spent 40 days and forty nights with the Lord. It is the second time he has received the 10 words of God written on two stone tablets. It is the second time he has made the covenant between God and the people.
Why does it need to be done twice? What was wrong with the first time?
Please indulge me as I endeavour on a some-what allegorical journey.
The two descents of Moses represent the two descents of Christ from heaven.
The first time Christ comes, in the incarnation, he finds the people in faithlessness and sin. They are worshipping created gods [The Satanic Guardian Cherub, Ez 28:14, who has the face of a Bull], and have forgotten the Word of the Lord who gave them life, and birth as a people and nation (cf. John 1:10-11).
On seeing their faithlessness and evil, Christ burns with anger. Like Moses he smashes the covenant between the people and God. No longer can the people dwell with the living God, they must be cut off from his presence and blotted out of the book of life. Yet, moved with compassion and love for his people, Christ offers up himself to be cursed in their stead, “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Ex 32:32).
Thus, Christ dies, the people are saved from the curse of the Law, and The Golden Calf is destroyed.
We arrive at Exodus 34.
In Exodus 34:2-3, Moses ascends the Mountain of God. This time he is to ascend alone. This corresponds to the ascension of Christ to the throne room of the Father forty days after his resurrection from the dead. He is to come alone, as a representative of the human race, ready to make a new covenant between God and humankind.
When Moses reaches the top of the Mountain, two things happen. There is a great proclamation of the Lord’s greatness and character (Ex 34:6-8), and Moses, seeking acceptance and favour from God, puts in a request.
Likewise, when Christ ascended into heaven and entered through the gates of Zion, he was welcomed by songs of victory and praise, (cf. Ps 24:7-10, Rev 5:6-14). On approaching the throne of Heaven, Christ seeks the favour of his Father, and is warmly granted it. He then puts in a request with the Father, similar to that which Moses made: “O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
Why does Moses (and later Christ) request that the Lord go in the midst of the people? Two reasons: 1) The people are stiff-necked, and need to be liberated from their sinful hearts, and 2) in order that the people might become the inheritance of God.
I suggest here that this request from Moses corresponds to the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to the right-hand of the Father. In the absence of Christ from his people, he does not leave us alone, but gives us another counsellor. The Spirit brings both a softening and renewal of the heart to a “stiff necked” people, and He also possesses the Church to make her co-heirs with Christ, inheritors of all the nations and the New Creation.
In 34:10-16, the Lord promises a marvellous thing. He will drive out the wicked people and nations, and hand over the Promised Land to his people. [Note here, that it is the Lord himself, Christ, who drives out the nations from the Land. In Ex 23, it is the task of the Angel of the Lord to drive out the nations. Thus, Moses perceives no difference between Yahweh and the Angel who bears that same Name.]
This great promise of the Land and the deposit of the Holy Spirit, will surely keep the Church of Christ going as they travel through the wilderness.
Inheriting the Land is underpinned by three festivals (34:18-28, see Jackie Lam on Ex 23), reminding us again, that life in the New Creation is only made possible because of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world, and the redemption of the First Born.
The chapter ends with the second descent of Moses (Ex 34:29-35). This time he comes in glory. His face is shining as he comes in the likeness of God. Alas, it is still only Moses, and not the triumphant return of Christ in all his splendour at the consummation of all things. So he veils his face as a reminder to the people that these things are still to come and not the reality themselves. The ministry of Moses is still external, written on tablets of stone, and must not be confused with the ministry of the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3 helpfully reminds us of these things. The glory of Moses is coming to an end, and so he veils his face to prevent the Israelites from getting too excited (2 Cor 3:13). Moses shone because he communed with Christ. He saw him face to face, and so became like him (1 John 3:2, 2 Cor 3:18). Like the Moon staring full faced at the Sun, becomes just like him bearing his image, so we too who look to Christ, bear his likeness.
This kind of glory does not come through the law but through the reality of that to which it testifies. In veiling his face, Moses condemns the people, and prevents them from seeing the reality. For “their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away” (2 Cor 3:14).
Moses knew that they needed to turn to Christ for the veil to be removed. As long as they turned to him (Moses and the Law) for their hope, the veil must remain.
Let’s not be like those Israelites who trusted in the shadows rather than the realities, but turn to Christ and eagerly await his second appearing.