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The Book of Exodus was written by Moses in about 1440 B.C. Moses is the central figure in this book which starts just after the death of Joseph in the Book of Genesis.
What is the Book of Exodus About?
Exodus’ primary theme is the growing nation of Hebrews, Moses’ development and leadership, Israel’s deliverance and exodus from Egypt to Mount Sinai, the giving of God’s law, His instructions on building the tabernacle, ending with the completion of the tabernacle as a place for God to dwell with His people.
It’s about the growth of a family of about 70 into a great nation and is an honest account of the strengths and weaknesses of the growing people of God. It’s the birth of a nation whose future lay in a Messiah – Jesus. It’s an account that provides us with many lessons to use today.
A new King took the throne in Egypt and he didn’t know or care very much about Joseph’s past role or the structure and power of his position. Like many new leaders, he got rid of the old and started fresh with his own hand-picked people and rules.
What he did know was that the children of Israel outnumbered and were mightier than the Egyptians. His remedy was to take them into slavery. He went so far as to order the death of every male child born to the women of Israel not knowing that the midwives didn’t obey. They told him that the women of Israel were strong and had their children before the midwives could even get there. God blessed the midwives as a result and the first deliverer was born.
In the Book of Exodus, we see the famous story of Moses’ birth and his mother hiding him. When he was 3 months old she prepared a basket to float, then put him in it and into the nearby river. As Moses’ sister watched, the King’s sister found him and took Moses as her own. At the suggestion of his sister, she unknowingly allowed his Mother to care for him until he grew older.
God Uses Imperfect people
Moses was then raised in Pharoah’s home with power and position. But, knew he was a Hebrew, and one day, as an adult, he walked out to see his brethren. One of them was being beaten by an Egyptian and when he thought no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian. He went out again the next day, learned that he had been seen, and fled to Midian. When Pharaoh heard, he sent out an order to have Moses killed.
The rise of a deliverer
While Moses’ life to this point didn’t make him seem to be a very great man, God knew his possibilities and his destiny. He was a type of Christ in that, he was a deliverer, prophet, and priest who saved his people. He brought them deliverance from slavery and set them free. But, he started out as a murderer.
While in Midian, Moses married and settled into a quiet life. Quiet until the King of Egypt died and the cries of the Hebrews rose to God because of their bondage. God had made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants that He had not forgotten.
Moses was out in the desert one day, minding his own business and tending to his Father-in-law’s sheep. He was near Horeb, the mountain of God when something frightening took place.
He Uses Us In Spite of Our Fears
An Angel suddenly appeared to him like a fire in the middle of a bush, but the bush wasn’t consumed! Out of curiosity, he drew closer as God called out to him, “Moses, Moses.” Moses answered God saying, “Here I am.” God told him not to come any closer and to take his sandals off because this was holy ground. God continued to talk to him as Moses hid his face out of fear.
God told Moses that He wanted to deliver His children from their oppression and give them a land flowing with milk and honey. Then God said, “Come on, I’m sending you back to Egypt to bring my people out.” That’s my translation of what God said.
An Unwilling Leader
Moses said no. He made excuses, lots of excuses. At last, God performed a miracle by turning Moses’ rod into a snake. Then, He had Moses grab its tail, and the snake turned back into a rod. Next, God made Moses’ hand leprous and healed it, but Moses still had another excuse, saying he couldn’t speak very well.
He might have had a tongue deformity or stuttered. Regardless, he was slow of speech, made more excuses and finally made God mad! Definitely not the picture we have of the mighty Moses standing at the Red Sea as it parts. God allowed Aaron to speak for Moses but Moses was the one who knew what to do and finally, Moses relented and decided to obey God.
The Leader Shows Up
Moses took Aaron and started toward Egypt. They were to go straight to the Hebrew people, but before they could, God said He was going to harden Pharoah’s heart. God’s purpose was to ensure that Pharaoh wouldn’t let the Hebrews leave.
Had God changed His mind, or was He just trying to make life really hard for Moses? And, worse yet, Exodus 4:24 says God sought to kill Moses. What does all of this mean?
Before Moses could go to Egypt, God had to make sure that a few things were corrected. First, God had to ensure obedience to His prior commandments, including the one about circumcision.
Circumcision was to be done on the 8th day after the birth of every male child. However, Moses had not yet had his first-born son circumcised. Moses’ wife, who was not a believer in circumcision at this age, apparently figured out the problem. She might have decided to this along with Moses who was possibly too sick to perform the rite. He was the one who knew the teaching given by God to the Hebrew nation.
It is thought that God allowed Moses to be very sick, an illness which could have killed him. Why would God have done this? The deliverer of the Hebrews could not be seen to be ignoring or disobeying the law when he approached the Elders of his people. God stopped Moses in order to make sure there was full obedience. Moses had to set an example.
God had taken Aaron out to meet Moses in the wilderness on the mountain of God. There Moses told Aaron everything and showed him the miracles God had performed. They were finally ready to gather the Elders of Israel and prepare the nation for what God wanted to do. The Elders, with Moses and Aaron, bowed their heads and worshipped.
THe Passover Lamb
From there, you probably know the story of the plagues and miracles. The Egyptians ended up wanting the Hebrews to leave. Not only did the Hebrews leave, but also the Egyptians gave them whatever they asked for to save themselves. What made them so afraid? The final plague – The death of all the firstborn children and animals of the Egyptians.
God had prepared His people prior to the last plague with specific instructions. If they obeyed, death would pass over their home and they not be affected. Passover is symbolic of the pure Lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of all mankind.
Passover is still recognized and celebrated today by Jews and Gentiles alike as they remember what happened in Egypt. They also remember what happened when the blood of the pure and spotless lamb was put upon the doorposts of their homes (our hearts). Through faith, death passed over as we gained eternal life in Christ.
You can learn more about the significance of Passover as you read – Celebrating Passover As a Messianic Believer. Please note that this was written for Messianic Jews but, as a believer in Christ who has been grafted in, the beautiful symbolism of Passover and how it is celebrated is beneficial for you as well.
God Delivered the Israelites out of Egypt
The Exodus of the children of Israel began, and so did their complaining. They even wanted to go back to Egypt. Remember, life there had once been good. They got what they had prayed for, but it didn’t look very good to them. After all, Pharaoh’s entire army was approaching, and they were stuck at the Red Sea with no escape.
We might make fun of them but that’s only because we can see what happened next but they couldn’t. Again, there are lessons here for us about faith and trust. I think we’ve probably all had times when we thought we were following what God wanted but things looked bad and our faith was tested.
Maybe we even got an “F” on that test. But the moral of the story is that God rescued them anyway, protecting and loving them and giving them another chance.
We know that God saved them with still another miracle. However, they didn’t know what was going to happen. Their faith grew weak while Moses’ faith remained strong. As he believed and acted, he truly became their deliverer.
Lessons in the Desert – MIRACULOUS JOURNEY
They complained for forty years. Regardless, God protected them from the blazing sun and kept them warm at night. Their shoes and clothing never wore out. God was with them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He never left them or forsook them. Yet, they murmured and complained constantly,
What did the Israelites Eat in the Desert?
Throughout the 40 years in the desert, the Hebrews ate a small bread called Manna. Pieces of it were spread out for them to gather each morning. It was manna from heaven. If they didn’t eat all of it that day, it spoiled. Every day, they ate Manna. Manna for breakfast and lunch and manna at night with the quail God provided. The next day it all started over.
They did what we would probably do – got sick of it and started complaining. God provided anyway.
1. Getting What You Prayed For
God’s people wanted to be set free and they were. But, none of it was like they thought it would be. It was harder, took longer, was more frightening, and they had to work hard for it. We too can take a lesson here.
Have you ever prayed for something and then when you got it, you didn’t want it anymore because it wasn’t what you thought it to be? It was harder, boring, and it tested you. God uses these times to build our faith and trust and to see where we are in our growth in Him.
God gives good things because He is good. We must learn to trust His goodness. In this way, we can have faith in Him, even when things look bad and hard.Have you every prayed for something and then when you got it, you didn't want it anymore because it wasn't what you wanted it to be? It was harder, boring, and tested you. God uses these times to build our faith and trust and to… Click To Tweet
2. Faith and Trust Matter to You and God
So many wonderful things occurred in this desert story and the Book of Exodus records them all for us. It’s a story of faulty people who managed to build up their faith and trust in God. They learned that those two things are very important to God and very beneficial to them.
- The Ten Commandments were given.
- Teaching and instruction in the way to live was given. We call it law but the true meaning of “Torah” is teaching, not law. The Torah points us to the Messiah.
- God’s glory appeared to His people.
- God provided all they needed.
- He renewed His covenant with His people.
3. God is Patient with Us
Even though they provoked God, He was still patient with them and took care of them. They were sort of like a large group of 2-year-olds – constantly whining and complaining. But, they were God’s people and He remained faithful when they were unfaithful. All along the way, He taught them. It is the same with us today.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. 2 Peter 3:9 CJB
4. Worship Of God Was Important
The Tabernacle of Moses was completed while they were still in the desert and the tabernacle itself, along with the Ark of the Covenant and everything about the Tabernacle has great symbolism in regard to the coming Messiah. It has meaning in our lives today.
Chapter after chapter gives the details of how the tabernacle was to be constructed, what it was to be made of and how everything was to be completed. The priesthood was established and the rules for sacrifices, worship, and meeting with God were set in place.
While we may find Exodus boring, there is no part of the Word of God that is wasted words. Timothy says,
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living;” 2 Timothy 3:16 CJB
All Scripture is what Timothy says, and the only ‘Scripture’ he or anyone else had was the Old Testament or the Tanakh. This is what Jesus and all the people of New Testament times read – the Teaching (Law), the Prophets, and the Writings which include the Psalms, Esther, Ruth, and more. And, Timothy tells us that ALL of it is profitable for us. Nothing has changed since then.
The people worshipped their God and He renewed His covenant with them.
The lessons in the desert had only just begun, and by the end of the Book of Exodus, we see the tabernacle completed as the glory of the Lord fills it.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle. Moshe (Moses) was unable to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud remained on it, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle.
Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Isra’el continued with all their travels. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not travel onward until the day when it was taken up. For the cloud of Adonai was above the tabernacle during the day, and fire was in [the cloud] at night, so that all the house of Isra’el could see it throughout all their travels. Exodus 40:34-38 CJB
The Journey Continues
As you read through the Book of Exodus, please study the symbolism of the tabernacle itself, the things in it, and even the laws or “teachings in the way” given to Israel. For instance:
- The Ark of the Covenant – was most sacred of all. A copy of the Ten Commandments was kept inside because it represented the sum of God’s covenant with them.
- Bronze Laver – the priests had to come here to cleanse themselves before entering into God’s presence. They had to be pure to be in His presence. By whom are we made pure?
- Altar of Burnt Offering – is where the sacrifices of unblemished animals took place. Blood had to be sprinkled on the four horns of the altar. Whose blood was poured out for us?
- Gold Lampstand – consisted of seven lamps with flat bowls at the top that each held a wick and the lighted end hung out the side. Who is the light of the world?
- Table of Showbread – 12 loaves of bread representing the 12 tribes of Israel were constantly on this table. Who is the bread of life?
- Altar of Incense – incense burned on this small altar and it was a sweet-smelling aroma. Jesus life was a sweet aroma.
The Book of Exodus may seem to contain many things that have nothing to do with us today. Yet, they do! There are two books I highly recommend and both involve the Tabernacle of Moses:
- The Tabernacle of Moses by Kevin Conner $13.99 at ChristianBook
- Principles of Worship: The Study of the Tabernacle of Moses by P. Douglas Small $13.99 at ChristianBook
Either of these will open up the book of Exodus to you as you see the beautiful symbolism in the Tabernacle of Moses and how God was already preparing for the revelation of His Son – Jesus the Messiah.
SYBN uses verses from different Bible translations. To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit this page – Scripture Citations