Exodus: Its Message for Today
J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
Exodus is of great value as a picture book of many New Testament truths. We shall notice some lessons from the section which we may entitle
Israel in Egypt, chs. 1 to 12. Enslaved and Emancipated. The background of redemption opens with the sad picture of sin's bondage and the people's need of a deliverer. They were
Enslaved, chs. 1 to 11. The bondage of Israel in Egypt illustrates our spiritual condition before God rescued us from slavery. Peter refers to our vain manner of life from which we have been redeemed, 1 Pet. 1. 18. Paul reminds the Romans that they were the slaves of sin, and that sin had had dominion over them, Rom. 6. 14,17.
The devil, like Pharaoh and Herod his instruments, is in determined opposition to the purpose of God. He attempts to destroy the promised seed, Exod. 1. 16; cf. Matt. 2. 15-16. He is called the "prince of this world", John 12. 31, the "god of this world", 2 Cor. 4. 4, and the "prince of the power of the air", Eph. 2. 2. Despite all the efforts of the arch-enemy, we read of Israel's expansion, Exod. 1. 7, although this leads to their persecution, 1. 8-14. While the devil is bent on the destruction of the people of God, and "man proposes" to fulfil his malicious purpose, yet "God disposes". It has ever been true that if God be for us, who can be against us?
God promised a deliverer in Moses,, who was fair to God, Acts 7. 20 R.V. marg. Rejected by Israel, he turns to the Gentiles, Exod. 2. 11-15; Acts 7. 25-29; cf. Acts 18. 5-6. So our Lord identified Himself with His brethren, Heb. 2.11,16-18; He had compassion on them because of their burdens, and hence came to save them, Matt. 9. 35-36; Gal. 4. 5. Moses, like the Lord Jesus, sat by a well, Exod. 2. 15; John 4. 6, and obtained a bride, Exod. 2. 21; Eph. 5. 30-32. The angel of the Lord, Exod. 3. 2, is the pre-incarnate Christ who brings the revelation of God, and there are lessons to be learned from this as suggested by Matthew 22. 31-32. He came to deliver, to save, to redeem, and to enrich, 2 Tim. 1. 10; Titus 2. 14; Col. 1. 12-14.
The "gospel" of Moses is full of promise and power; the seven "I wills" of Jehovah, Exod, 6. 6-8, are assured of fulfilment for our God cannot lie, Titus 1. 2. How much more blessedly liberating is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In chapters 7 to 11 we see the display of divine power against the deities of Egypt, and the devices of Pharaoh are also exposed, 8. 25-28. Despite all, the judgment of God is sure, 9. 18; 2 Pet. 3. 10, severe and swift, Exod. 9. 24-25; 2 Pet. 3. 7,10. The divine comments on the history show that men fit themselves as vessels to destruction, Rom. 9. 17, 22. God does not desire the death of any; He is not willing that any should perish, 2 Pet. 3. 9. The final judgment upon the firstborn, Psa. 136. 10, may remind us that the strength, pride and glory of man will yet be judged (this will reach its climax in the Beast and False Prophet, Rev. 19. 19-21).
After the various judgments the people of Israel were
Emancipated, ch. 12. Paul in 1 Corinthians 5. 7 invites us to see our deliverance through Christ our passover in the history recorded there. The blood of the spotless lamb, v. 5, was shed, v. 6, sprinkled, v. 7, and seen, v. 13. It marked the beginning of a new life, v. 2, a new liberty, 13. 3, and a new fellowship, 12. 14; Eph. 2. 13; 1 John 1. 3; 1 Cor. 1. 9; Rom. 6. 12-23.
There are many lessons too in the section which we might entitle
Israel in the Wilderness, chs. 13 to 18. Experience and
Encouragement. We find the people now delivered from Egypt
Sanctified, ch. 13. God claims the firstborn on the ground of redemption, "it is mine", v. 2. We are to yield ourselves and our bodies a living sacrifice to God, Rom. 6. 13b; 12. 1; 1 Cor. 6. 19-20. Israel was to learn through wilderness trials what a loving, powerful and faithful God Jehovah is. There was to be no leaven seen with them, v. 7, for the leaven represents false doctrine, Matt. 16. 6, 11, 12, the old nature, and the malice and wickedness sometimes in evidence among the people of God, 1 Cor. 5. 8.
God selected their route, vv. 17,18; He gave them a stimulus along the way, v. 19, and the shadow of the cloud, w. 21} 22; Psa. 121. 6. So He leads us by His Word and by the Holy Spirit, Rom. 8. 14.
Saved, ch. 14. Pharaoh and his chariots may picture Satan and sin, the sea the wrath of God, and the pillar of cloud and fire the Holy Spirit. Crisis is met by consternation in the people, 14. 10-12, but in it the consolation and the command from God is given, vv. 13-16. May we "go forward", v. 15, with confidence in the divine power, w. 18-19, conscious of His presence, and leave the conquest to God, vv. 21-25; Rom. 8. 37-39.
Singing, ch. 15. Note the time, v. 1, its theme which is of God and is presented to God, who is strong, v. 2, holy, v. 11, and merciful, v. 13. Its testimony to the past and the present, vv. 3-10, is followed by the truths that are established through it, vv. n-17. Triumph is followed by trials, v. 23, but these can be turned into blessings, v. 25.
Sustained, ch. 16. The manna reminds us of God's gift to us (see John 6), and was to be gathered fully, vv. 16-17, daily, v. 19, and early, v. 21. In John 6 the Lord Jesus makes plain that the manna is a type of Himself. Like Him, the manna was divine in its origin, indispensable, undeserved, freely given, suitable, sufficient and satisfying.
Satisfied and Successful, ch. 17. Paul states that "that Rock was Christ", 1 Cor. 10. 4. In Him we have shelter, safety, strength and satisfaction. Water from the rock was followed by war with Amalek, w. 8-13.
Finally, we may consider some lessons suggested by the section that we entitle
Israel at Sinai, chs. 19 to 40. Educated and Enriched.
With respect to their education (see chapters 19-24) they first recognize the will of God in the moral life, chs. 19-20. There is first the preparation, ch. 19. In the declaration of God's purpose, vv. 1-8, He shows that He is seeking to meet with us and speak with us. Sanctification of the people, vv. 9-15, finds its counterpart in our being sanctified by His blood, Heb. 13. 12; 10. 10. The manifestation of His power, vv. 16-25, makes us tremble with reverence. Peter sums up our privileges in 1 Peter 2. 9.
Following the preparation come the precepts, ch. 20. The ten commandments are the spiritual basis of the covenant emphasizing lessons on religion and morality. Our worship should be reverent, our love to others real.
In their education we see further the application of God's will in our social life, chs. 21-23. ^e team something concerning its application to persons, 21. 1-36, to property, 22. 1-15, and to evil practices, 22. 16-23. 9- Then, concerning piety, we are to give liberally, walk humbly, obey fully, trust continually, and serve faithfully, 23. 10-33. Notice in chapter 24 that we should read the book, vv. 3, 4, 7; we should rely on the blood, vv. 5, 6, 8, and reach the mount, vv. 12-18.
With respect to their being enriched, we note how they were to share in the divine service. They were told what they should bring, 25. 1-7, and how they should build, 25. 8 to 27. 21. So it is with us. In the ordination of the priesthood we find many parallels with our privileged position. We too are called, cleansed, clothed, anointed and consecrated in association with our High Priest. We function in the holy place, Heb. 10. 20, and offer our gifts, Heb. 13. 15. In chapters 30-31 the regulations for service introduce the fitness for, and freedom of, worship, whilst chapter 31 shows the men that God uses in His service and the rest that He gives.
How easily we fall from spiritual privilege to sinful perversion is shown in chapters 32 to 34. Compromise destroys truth, and Paul uses these facts to admonish us in 1 Corinthians 10. In days of failure we need men like Moses, a noble practitioner of prayer. Divine displeasure makes the punishment of sin inevitable. That day Israel lost the priesthood; it was given to Levi, Deut. 33. 8. In chapter 33 we see God's concern for His own righteousness, and His glory is seen in His goodness, Psa. 84. 11. In chapter 34 we see the God of gracious countenance yet of stern demand. Fellowship is dependent upon righteousness, Exod. 34. 10-17,29~35-
What a privilege and a delight it is to be engaged in God's service, chs. 35-40. Here Israel are seen 'at their best in giving, and bringing their substance to God in gratitude and praise. They gave so lavishly that Moses had to restrain them, 36. 6. All that they brought was used in the building and service of the tabernacle which was ordained, designed, and occupied by God Himself. Concerning the tabernacle we may note
Its Construction, chs. 35-39. The materials required, 35.4-19, are willingly supplied, 35.20 to 36. 7. The people and the rulers gave individually and collectively, and their hands were diligently employed for God. The cheerful giver, and the devoted servant still delight the heart of God. The vastness of the offering, metals and materials, is followed by the variety of the operations undertaken by men specially fitted by God for the task. The various parts are assembled, and the priestly garments are made.
Its Completion, 39. 32 to 40. 16. The work is finished and the tabernacle is erected. There was work for all, and in the advancement of God's cause, whatever our gift, however humble, it can be used for Him in His service, 1 Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4. 7-13.
Its Consecration, 40.17-38. Note the expressions "he spread", "he took", "he brought", "he set", "he lighted the lamps". All was made according to the divine pattern, then filled with the divine glory. What lovely pictures of Christ as Priest, Mediator, Light, Life, Food, Saviour, and Sanctifier, are given to us here. Trace the close correspondence of order between the details given of the tabernacle with the development of Hebrews, and John's portrait of the Lord in His gospel. We rejoice in a finished work, and glory in a risen, exalted, and glorified Man in heaven. May we draw near through Him, and worship Him, John 9. 38.