Unlike Genesis, written largely from existing records and oral traditions (kept intact by the guidance of God the Holy Spirit), Exodus features its author as the central character. His story is told with brutal honesty. Exodus was originally titled These-are-the-names in the Hebrew. Our English title comes from the Septuagint rendering Going Out. This is the basic theme of Exodus- the exile of Israel from the land of Egypt.

The plot is set with Pharaoh cruelly burdening the Israelites, who are now slaves to the Egyptian government. His plans backfire when the Hebrews multiply at a faster rate than the Egyptians. Pharaoh orders the mid-wives responsible for delivering Hebrew babies, to kill all new-born boys. One Hebrew baby boy slips through the system and finds himself growing up in the very palace, of Pharaoh as a prince. With a sense of divine destiny, Moses began to establish himself as the rightful deliverer of the Hebrews by killing an Egyptian and then trying to settle a dispute among two Hebrews. His hopeful intentions were dashed when Pharaoh put a warrant out for his arrest causing him to flee into the desert. After an encounter with God, Moses displays signs and wonders to a new, but hard-hearted, Pharaoh which eventually leads to a triumphant deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Pharaoh decides to pursue the Hebrews and bring them back to Egypt. The Israelites are led by Moses through the Red Sea on dry ground, which shortly after, swamped the Egyptian army. From there God brought Israel to Mt. Sinai where they made a covenant with Him. The focal point of this exchange was Israel's agreement to accept God's moral law- the Ten Commandments (often referred to as the Decalogue). Moses later receives the plans for the tabernacle in which God was to presence Himself.

1. In many ways Exodus is a love story. The tragic twist to the story is that the ones being loved show little or no regard for that love. Why did God say He redeemed Israel from Egypt? (Dt.7:6-8)



Exodus 2

Besides the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), Moses is the greatest man in all Hebrew history. One seventh of the Bible was written by him while the other six sevenths draw on his writings. His birth is shown to be a divine appointment and causes us to look at the similar pattern God has established, even up until modern times, of placing His hand on the birth of a man or woman He has fore-ordained (eg. Jeremiah, Jer. 1:5).

2. In what ways do you see the hand of God on the birth and early years of Moses?


Moses would have been in the palace of Pharaoh for forty years being trained in the ways of prince. Josephus says that Moses commanded such authority in Egypt that he was head of the Egyptian South Army. Quite possibly, he may have been rightful heir to the throne of Egypt.

3. Why does Acts 7:25 lead us to think that Moses was planning for some time to deliver his people from Egypt?


4. How might God have otherwise delivered His people if Moses hadn't taken things into his own hands?


Moses displayed tremendous leadership qualities in his early days. The danger with any gift that God gives us, is that we assume to use it as we see fit. When Moses is initially rejected by the Hebrews, he flees into the desert a broken, humiliated man. It took God forty years to re-train Moses (or perhaps that should be it took Moses forty years to learn from God...) to deliver and shepherd His people.

5. What was Moses doing for most of those forty years?


Consider the different way men value experience as the requirement for being qualified for a job, to the way God views it. We tend to think of experience in terms of life's building blocks upon which we ascend to the top of our field. For example, in a large corporation a young person might start out cleaning the toilets, then move up to making the coffee and teas for the office staff. From there they might even be promoted to the position of junior office worker. Then to senior office worker, then to an office supervisor etc., until they become the Chief Executive Officer, just before they retire. That doesn't tend to be the way with God. He puts us through experiences that seem insignificant and a terribly big waste of time. Once we have died sufficiently to self and have had character developed in our lives, He then puts us immediately onto the "world" scene. For example, how much experience did Moses have in leading a nation of possibly over three million people out of another nation and then through a desert for forty years? Perhaps you're going through what seems to be mundane, or trying circumstances. How you respond to these circumstances, will determine the type of character you develop in your life. Do you complain and grumble that life seems to be very unfair? Then apply Philippians 2:14 into your life in preparation for what God wants to do through you.


Exodus 3

While tending his father-in-law's flock, Moses has his first "face-to-face" encounter with GOD. Apart from his commissioning to deliver Israel, this chapter is one of the most significant in the Bible. It was at this point that Moses received a revelation of the Name of God.

6. What was the revealed Name of GOD to Moses? (3:14)


This Name was possibly known by the patriarchs before Moses because it is used in several places throughout Genesis (eg. Gen. 2:4, 5, 7, 9 etc., usually translated as LORD). Scholars are divided as to whether Moses simply chose to use the divine Name in writing Genesis so that there would be a continuous flow, or whether the Name was known- but not fully understood by those who knew God.

7. How might Exodus 6:3 affect the debate?


The Hebrew rendering for the Name of God is YHWH. This is usually pronounced Yahweh (Yar-way). It was revealed deliberately to Moses in the context of God being near. This is one of the names that is used for God throughout the Bible. The others include- El- the Mighty God, and Elohim- the Majestic God. While some people might be familiar with the name Jehovah, this actually a poor rendering of the Name of God .


Exodus 7-12

One of the most curious things about Pharaoh's response to Moses is the continual expression God hardened his heart...The Egyptian sorcerers challenged Moses and were also able to conjure a serpent from a rod also.

8. Jewish tradition preserved the incident of this challenge to the point that it even recited the names of the two Egyptian challengers. Who does Paul say they were in 2 Tim. 3:8?


Pharaoh would have witnessed first hand the dominance of the LORD's power as the serpent Moses produced ate the magicians' snake. From this point on Pharaoh had no excuse to reject the LORD. After the first miraculous plague, which only touched Egyptian water, Pharaoh should have let Israel go. But God hardened his heart. This needs to be understood for what it actually says. Some people have tried to cushion these statements by preferring to understand them in the sense that God allowed or that He knew Pharaoh would harden his heart.


Each one of the plagues from the LORD was a direct attack against Egypt's idolatrous gods.

Nile River turning to blood
The Nile was the focal point of Egyptian worship - it contained the lifeblood of the Egyptian way of life
Associated with the Egyptian god Hapi and the goddess Heqt, who assisted at childbirth and therefore a symbol of fertility
Gnats - possibly best translated mosquitos
Up until this point the magicians have been able to imitate Moses, not that this helped Pharaoh at all - they simply added to the problem rather than solved it. Now they can not copy what God has done and the irony is that even if they could they would have only done so to their own demise.
Swarms of flies
The symbol of the Egyptian army (Isa. 7:18). Possibly a variety known as the dog-fly which had a painful bite. With millions of dead rotting frogs everywhere, the heat of the day sponsored the rapid increase in these insects.
The beasts of Egypt
Cattle and other animals were sacred to the Egyptians. This was yet another strike at their false gods. At this point it is noted that Israel is protected from the aforementioned disasters. The expression all the cattle died is merely a literary emphasis to convey the extent of the damage because cattle are again mentioned in 9:21
Note who got them worst - 9:11
Thunder and hail
The Egyptians were used to their beloved rainy season, but this was ridiculous. Massive hailstones would have caused heavy damage.
A typical symbol of judgement
Thick darkness
The Egyptian sun god was Ra, but he/she/it was nowhere to be seen during this time.
The death of the first born
While other plaugues could be the result of natural occurences, this would be the final death blow for the gods of Egypt.



Exodus 12

The events of the Passover possibly present the clearest shadow of Christ's atoning work. It graphically draws our attention to the substitutionary method of God's only plan of salvation. Every detail of God's instructions picture an aspect of Christ's atoning work.

9. How is Jesus and His finished work pictured in the Passover? (Refer also to the Book of Hebrews)


The Lamb was prepared with bitter herbs (Ex. 12:8). which foreshadowed Christ's bitter agony in the Garden of Gethsemane as He was prepared for the Cross. None of the Lamb was to be left over, all of it was to be eaten- with unleavened bread accompanying it. We too must allow Christ to have all of our lives by taking all of Him, and not considering any part of Him as worthy to be thrown out as mere food scraps. The lamb was to be eaten in a hurry and with readiness to move instantly. There is no time to delay in accepting Jesus (Heb. 2:3), and once we partake of Him, we must be ready to instantly obey (Heb. 5:9). Paul pictures this scene in Ephesians 6, where he also draws attention to the battle that goes on around us to prevent us from doing this. His point is the same as the 'readiness to obey' aspect of the Passover meal. This is often missed by some modern charismatic commentators, who tend to see the focus of the passage on the enemy (i.e., demonic powers) rather than on the Lord, as was the case in the Passover. The event of the Passover will be constantly brought back to Israel's rememberance as the prophets to come tried to turn the people back to the God of power and might.


Exodus 14

The Passover Meal was an act of covenant-making between Israel and God . At that point they were redeemed. God had bought them back. The crossing of the Red Sea however, marked their complete physical deliverance from Egypt.

10. What happened after the crossing of the Red Sea? (14:31)


After the successful fleeing of Egypt and crossing of the Red Sea, the Israelites were about to go into a dry, arid place. This would require much trust in God and Moses as their leader. They would need food, water and heat protection. The LORD provided a cloud by day to shield them from the heat and a fire by night to keep them comfortable against the nightly desert chills. In chapter sixteen He provides them with Manna, which the Israelites called "What is it?" In chapter seventeen God told Moses to strike the rock to bring forth water for the people.

11. What significance does this have for us today? (1Cor. 10:4)


12. What was Jethro's advice to Moses? (Ex. 18)



Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments form the basis of the covenant between God and His people. God had set His love upon His people by redeeming, then delivering them. Now He was showing them how they could live in a way that would show the world they were His people. This Law was meant to set the Hebrews apart as a distinctive nation that would eventually make them the envy of and example to, the whole world. Therefore, the purpose of the Law was neither to redeem or deliver Israel- this had already happened. They were already saved. Now God was articulating what He had already put into every heart since creation (Rom. 2:14-15). The Law was to show the depth of depravity from which God had already redeemed and delivered His people. As Paul later said, it was designed to show us what exactly sin was (Rom. 7:7).

13. Consult a New King James Version Bible, and look up Matthew 24:12. What condition did Jesus say would be apparent in the last days?


14. Is there a place for a function of the Law of God today?


The first four of the Ten Commandments (often referred to as the Decalogue) deal with relationship to God, while the last six deal with relationships to each other. Surely there is a message contained in this fact that should revolutionize our evangelism- be in relationship with God as a community of God's people, and be in right relationship with each other- then the world will see the God we worship as a reality in our lives! (Jn. 13:35)


Exodus 26

An adequate study of the Tabernacle escapes us in this style of overview. Everything about the Tabernacle, its ornaments, the priestly garments, the ceremonies performed in it, all typify Christ. The basic idea of the Tabernacle is to reinforce to the Israelites the nearness and yet the holiness of God. The Ark of the Covenant which contained the two tablets of stone, manna, Aaron's rod that budded, all symbolised God's presence. The Holy of Holies shadowed the separateness of God as a pure, holy God. From the Tabernacle we learn some basic principles:

(i) It was a pattern of a Heavenly design (Heb. 8:5; 9:23). Although there are no animal sacrifices in Heaven (which could only take place within the Tabernacle), there is a clear indication that God dwells in awesome holiness (eg. Isa. 6:1-6), which is one of the main points of Tabernacle truth. For example, while the Ark of the Covenant was constructed with a Mercy Seat between two cherubim (Ex. 25:18-20; 37:8-9), we see in Isaiah six, that in Heaven God actually does sit on a throne between two cherubim.

(ii) It is a statement of God's grace, not only His justice. As well as portraying God's holiness, it shows that God is concerned about providing atonement for man. By providing a shadow of God's atonement, it pointed to the work of Christ in bringing reconciliation between God and mankind.

(iii) It shows that relationship with God is via blood cleansing (animal sacrifice, ultimately the Blood of Christ),and water cleansing (the bronze Sea from which the priests would wash themselves, typifying the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit). The unclean, unwashed, unholy cannot see God (Jn. 3:5).


Exodus 32

While Moses was up the Mountain receiving all these instructions, the people had asked Aaron to make them a golden calf to worship. The painful irony about the fact they asked for a calf, an Egyptian god, was that God had just made a complete end of all the gods of Egypt (ten plagues, where ten in the Bible stands for complete).

15. What was the response of Moses when the LORD told him He was about to destroy Israel for their idolatry? (Ex. 32:10-13)


16. What excuse did Aaron offer to Moses for the golden calf? (Ex. 32:24)


17. When Moses returned up the mountain and again received the Law, he came back down to the people but this time something had happened to him. What was it? (Ex. 34:29)


All of Israel participated in the idolatry except one tribe- the Levites. Because of their obedience and faithfulness God established them as the priestly tribe and thus turned Jacob's curse into a blessing.

Having received the instructions on how to construct the Tabernacle, Moses then carries out his vision from the LORD. Finally when the Tabernacle is completed, the glory of the LORD comes down and completely fills it. When the glory lifted, Israel would know it was time to move on. When the glory hovered, they knew it was time to set up camp (Ex. 40:34-38).

Exodus typifies the Christian experience. It would be a profitable time of personal study if you were to examine the numerous parallels that Israel and the New Testament Christian share. From being enslaved to the world system (Egypt), to redemption (the Passover and exile), the drawing back influence of the world from where we've come (the Egyptian army pursuing them), the doubting of our decision (Israel complained their conditions an said they were better back in Egypt), the early miraculous blessings (manna and water from the Rock), occasional stumblings (the golden calf), the desire to know God and get closer to Him ( the Tabernacle), the leading of the LORD into glorious times of worship.


 © Andrew Corbett 1992-2001