Exodus

Exodus 1-18: God rescues the Israelites from slavery and confronts Pharaoh’s evil.

How does God respond when his people cry out to him? The first part of the book of Exodus recounts a powerful confrontation between God and the injustice of Pharaoh. This section is a fast-paced narrative that leads to divine justice, rescue, and deliverance.

Let My People Go

Abraham’s family has fulfilled God’s original command to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Exodus 1:7). But instead of ruling alongside God in his good world, the Israelites find themselves enslaved to a cruel leader in the land of Egypt.

In response to their cries, God raises up Moses as his representative to deliver the Israelites. Moses confronts Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt through ten plagues, culminating in the Passover. God strikes down the firstborn sons in the land but provides a way of escape through the blood of lambs.

When the Egyptians pursue the fleeing Israelites, God parts the waters of the sea for the Israelites to cross and swallows Pharaoh's army behind them. The first song of praise exalts God as their king and redeemer. However, shortly after, the Israelites begin grumbling, showing their own hardness of heart.

Exodus 19-40: God initiates a covenant with Israel and promises to dwell among them.

At Mount Sinai, God invites Israel into a covenant relationship. He calls them to be a kingdom of priests and send the blessings of Yahweh out to the nations. But Israel immediately fails to hold up their end of the agreement.

Covenant People

As the Israelites approach Mount Sinai, God’s presence covers the mountain in a dark cloud. Moses climbs the mountain as a representative for the people to receive God’s law and a plan for God’s own dwelling space, the tabernacle.

Filled with symbolic Eden imagery, the tabernacle becomes the place where God’s space overlaps with humanity’s space. Immediately after this, Israel breaks the covenant, and Moses intercedes for them by asking God to remember his promise to Abraham.

God relents and re-establishes the covenant. The tabernacle is completed and God’s glory fills it. However, Moses is unable to enter this space. How will God's people be in his presence when they continually fail to live by the covenant?

At a Glance

Overview

NIV Bible Exodus Introduction

The books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers continue the story of how God formed the nation of Israel to play a special role in his plans for the whole world. When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, God came to them and worked powerfully through Moses to deliver them. At Mount Sinai, God revealed his laws to Moses, including the Ten Commandments, and confirmed his covenant with the young nation. Israel built a “tabernacle,” or “tent of meeting,” so that God could live among them. The people then traveled through the wilderness to the land of Canaan.

The boundaries between the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers are not sharply drawn. The key structure throughout the books relates to the various places the Israelites stopped on their journey. Each location is noted, and the events at each one are described. The key location is Mount Sinai; the second half of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and the beginning of Numbers describe what took place there. Leviticus specifically contains the laws and regulations the Lord gave to Israel. Numbers reports how the people were organized into a fighting force and moved toward the promised land.

Numbers reaches back across Leviticus and Exodus and repeats the phrase that structures Genesis: This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses (Num. 3:1). Appropriately, we hear this phrase for the twelfth time as the twelve tribes are being organized into a nation. Near the end of Numbers the prophet Balaam says to Israel, May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed. This recalls God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis, I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse. These references show that together these books tell a single story of the beginning of God’s redemptive work in the world.

Bible Project

Exodus Introduction Part 1: Exodus 1-18 ... Part 2: Exodus 19-40

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The Ten Commandments

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