The book of Exodus picks up where Genesis left off. By means of God’s plan and providence, Jacob’s entire family is now in Egypt due to the events occurring in Joseph’s life. We begin with a brief survey of the Book of Exodus. The name Exodus comes from the Greek word meaning “exit” or “departure”. This is a fitting title because the book of Exodus recounts God’s great deliverance of the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians and records God’s required duties of His people. The narrative of Exodus shows us how God is going to fulfill His promise made to Abraham. The events in this book are about the first generation Israelites that left Egypt. However, the audience this book (along with the other books of the Pentateuch) was first written to the second generation of Israelites that were about to enter the Promised Land (this is recorded in Joshua). The books Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy cover four major themes that we will encounter on this part of our journey through the Bible: Deliverance (the Exodus), Duty (the Law), Delight (the Tabernacle), and Disobedience (the Wanderings).
Deliverance: The Exodus
There were seventy people in the family of Jacob living in Egypt. Over the course of 430 years (Ex. 12:40) this large family has now grown to a considerable number known as the people or children of Israel. During this time the people were slaves and were afflicted by the Egyptians. This duration of affliction in the land of Egypt ought not to be a surprise. When God made His covenant with Abraham, He stated that the people would experience this (Genesis 15:13). The time has now come when God will deliver His people, and prepare them for life as a nation, and lead them to the Promised Land. In this section, God raises up a leader (Moses) who will confront Pharaoh. There will be great conflict as Pharaoh refuses. Despite the hostility, the Lord reveals His power and crushes His enemies and takes His people out of Egypt. This is a dramatic part of the journey through the Bible. The reader must not lose sight of the fact that God does all this to display the glory of His name. This great section teaches us that God is powerful and He alone is able to save.
The Preparation of Moses (Exodus 1-6)
The opening chapters of Exodus set the stage for a spectacular deliverance. If the nation of Israel is going receive the land God promised their forefathers, it is essential that they be delivered from their bondage in Egypt. In this section the reader learns about three key events that help set the stage for the spectacular deliverance: the Crisis in Egypt (1:1-22), the Calling of Moses (2:1-4:31), and the Confrontation with Pharaoh (5:1-6:30).
The Plagues on Egypt (Exodus 7-11)
Over a period of about nine months, God sent ten plagues upon the people of Egypt. These ten plagues directly affected areas of life that the Egyptians believed were overseen and ruled by their gods. So this is a display of the Lord’s power over the gods of Egypt. The Ten Plagues are as follows: Blood (7:14-25), Frogs (8:1-15), Lice (8:16-19), Flies (8:20-32), Diseased Livestock (9:1-7), Boils (9:8-12), Hail (9:13-33), Locusts (10:1-20), Darkness (10:21-29), and Death of the firstborn (12:29). In the process of these plagues being unleashed on Egypt, Pharaoh stubbornly hardens his heart. After the tenth plague, Pharaoh relents and then releases the people. The purpose of these plagues was to reveal that God is powerful, God punishes sin, and that God protects His people (7:3-5).
The Passover – Exodus 12-13
The plague was the worst of all. God had promised to sweep through Egypt at night and slaughter all the firstborn who were not protected by the following of God’s commanded procedure. The procedure was simple. A spotless lamb or goat was to be slaughtered, and then its blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the doorways to their house. If this was done, the Lord would Passover their house sparing their firstborn. This carefully followed procedure provided salvation that night. Later in our journey through the Bible, we will read about the moment Jesus arrived on the scene to commence His public ministry. That day as he approached John the Baptist, John declared, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus will become the Passover lamb that deals with sin once and for all. All who take refuge in Christ receive complete salvation from God’s eternal wrath.
The Parting of the Red Sea – Exodus 14-15:21
Pharaoh relented and let the people go. Following the command of God, Moses led the people to the Red Sea. Just as God had told Moses, Pharaoh had a change of mind and perused the people of Israel (Ex. 14:5-9). Faced with water on one side, and wrathful soldiers on another, the people complained and feared their deaths (Ex. 14:10-12). Moses called for the people to not fear, and trust in the power and salvation of the Lord (Ex. 14:13-14). Then in obedience to the Lord’s instruction, Moses raised his staff over the sea, and the waters divided so the people could go through on dry ground. The Lord blocked the Egyptian soldiers with the pillar of cloud allowing the people of Israel to make it to the other side (Ex. 14:15-20). The Lord removed the pillar of cloud, and the solders continued their pursuit. Again, in obedience to God’s command, Moses stretched out his hand and the walls of waters collapsed onto the soldiers and they drowned. The Lord fought for His people and they were delivered (Ex. 14:21-30).
In response to what had just happened, Moses and the people of Israel sang and praised God for His mighty deliverance (Ex. 15:1-18). It is interesting that in the book of revelation, John receives revelation of a future scene where the saints sing “the song of Moses” and “the song of the lamb” (Rev. 15:3). Though it does not directly quote from either of those songs (Exodus 15 and Revelation 5), it combines the themes by giving testimony to both the works and the ways of God and ends with a call to worship. This is the ultimate song of deliverance.
The Provision and Protection for Israel – Exodus 15:22-17:16
The people of Israel now begin their journey, which will last 40 years. Early on they encounter some difficulties. These difficulties included the need for water and food (15:22-17:7), and the need for protection against the Amalekites (17:8-16). In all these events, despite the grumbling of many of the people, God showed kindness and care as He provided for and protected His people. God guides and provides for His people.