During the month of August, we will examine themes found in the first five books of the Bible: the Pentateuch. These themes will tell us about God, humanity, faith, and the world. Join us each week as we discuss each book in the Pentateuch.
The story of the Exodus is the most important story to the Jewish people of the Bible. It is the foundational event that defines and describes who they are. They are a people who leave captivity and oppression in Egypt, called out by God, to go into their inheritance in the Promised Land.
Now, if you know the story, you know that the generation of people who left Egypt never enter into the Promised Land because of their lack of faith in God and their willful disobedience and stubbornness. It isn’t until the next generation is raised up some 40 years after leaving Egypt that the people of Israel finally enter into the Promised Land, and even then, the journey is a difficult one for God’s people, filled with continued lack of faith, disobedience, and stubbornness–all coming in cycles and waves generation after generation.
However, the remainder of the books of the Pentateuch will rely heavily on this story from the book of Exodus.
In short, the book of Exodus goes something like this:
- God’s people find themselves in Egypt where they are forced into hard labor.
- God raises up Moses to lead the people out of Egypt (Moses is incredibly reluctant to do God’s will, but eventually relents).
- God brings the Israelites out of Egypt by showing the Egyptians 10 signs or 10 plagues that show how God has power. Finally, Pharaoh relents and lets Israel leave.
- The people leave Egypt and begin their journey to Mount Sinai where they will worship God. Along the way, there are all kinds of problems (Egypt changes their mind and chases after them, the people grumble and complain that life would be better back in Egypt in slavery, etc.).
- When the people arrive at Mount Sinai, God joins Moses on the top of the mountain and begins to share with Moses and then the people his commandments, his desires for his people so that they can live in proximity to each other.
- And at the conclusion of the book, we receive an extended instruction manual for how to construct the Tabernacle, God’s dwelling place on their journey to the Promised Land.
Now, of course, there is much more contained in the book of Exodus worthy of attention and study, yet here I think we can see a significant theme developing for our purposes today.
The book of Exodus shows us that God rescues his people, and that God continues to want relationship with us (as we saw in the book of Genesis). God’s people find themselves in trouble at the beginning of this book (and at various stages throughout the book too), and God is right there to provide for them, to bring them out of slavery, to give them what they need to survive, and to show them how to live as his people.
And as God’s people continue to try to follow him generation after generation, this story became the foundational story for who they were. God rescued them, and God provided for them. If he did it then, he can do it again, now.
And so, as God’s people in the world today, the church, when we read this book, we ought to understand that we can have confidence in God because he is faithful and attentive to us. And I believe too that we must learn from the failures of prior generations in following God. All through Exodus and continuing on in the Old and New Testaments, we will see examples of God’s people failing to live as God’s people. Failing to live in relation to God as we have been instructed. Failing to treat others as God has asked us to treat them. And as God’s people, we must rely on God to rescue us from our sinfulness and selfishness. We must trust that God will provide for us a way as he provided or his people then.
The Exodus, it turns out, is a pretty good foundation for understanding how to live with God. God relates to us. God rescues us. And for that, we are grateful. May we live faithfully as God’s people today and this week!