Learning from God's Word: Exodus 13-15
The purpose of the Passover was to build a bridge between the past, the present and the future: ‘Remember this day – the day when you left Egypt, the land of slavery. The Lord used His mighty hand to bring us out of slavery in Egypt’ (13:14). The Lord was in control. This is what we must remember when we think about these events. Once the people of Israel came out of Egypt, the Lord continued to be in control of their journey. In 13:17-18, we read that God closed one door – ‘the shortest route’ – and opened another door. God’s perfect way may not always be ‘the shortest route. It is His way. His way is always the best way.
The Exodus could be described as the Great Escape. It was the escape of the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. It should be pointed out that the word, ‘escape’, does not begin to describe what really what happened in the Exodus. This was more than the Great Escape. This was the Great Deliverance. It was not so much the escape of Israel. It was the deliverance of Israel by God. This was not about what Israel did for herself. This is a declaration of what God did for Israel. It is the action of God on behalf of His people, Israel. It is this divine work of redemption that stands at the very heart of the book of Exodus. This is not about what we can do for ourselves. It’s about what God has done for us in Christ. Our whole attention is directed away from ourselves to Christ.
There are three high-points in the book of Exodus – the Passover, the Exodus and the giving of the Ten Commandments. It is most important that we understand the order in which these events took place. This is of great importance to us if we are to understand what God is saying to us concerning salvation in Christ.
The meaning of the Passover is summed up in the words: ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you.’ The full meaning of these words is found in the death of Jesus, ‘our Passover Lamb’ – ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29).
The tremendous event of the Exodus is described thus: ‘By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the bondage … by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of bondage’ (13:14, 16). Here, we catch a glimpse of something even greater than the Exodus. God raised His Son from the dead. When God put His mighty work of deliverance into effect, Egypt could not hold His people any longer. The power of God was greater than the power of Egypt. In Christ’s resurrection, we see something greater. The power of God is greater than the power of death. Death could hold Christ no longer. God raised Him from the dead.
The Ten Commandments are not given before or apart from the Passover and the Exodus. They come after these great events. They are given on the basis of the Passover and the Exodus. The Ten Commandments are introduced with a declaration of God’s work of redemption: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage’ (20:2). It is no nameless, faceless, unknown God who addresses the people of Israel in the Ten Commandments. It is the God of the Passover. It is the God of the Exodus. This is the God whose great work of salvation finds its fulfilment in the death and resurrection of Christ. In our thinking about the Ten Commandments, we need to keep the death and resurrection of Christ at the very centre of our attention.
The people of Israel were to remember. They were to remember the Passover. They were to remember the Exodus. They were to remember the Exodus. They were to remember the giving of the Law. We too must remember. We must remember Christ crucified for us. We must remember, with thanksgiving, that we have received the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ our Saviour. We must remember that Christ has been raised from the dead for us. We must remember, with gratitude, that Christ has come to live in our hearts. We must remember that the Law of God has been given to lead us to Christ. We must remember, with rejoicing, that, alongside God’s Law which shows us God’s will, we have God’s Spirit, who enables us to do God’s will: ‘we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit’ (Romans 7:6); ‘God has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills but the Spirit gives life’ (2 Corinthians 3:6).
In 14:31, we read of ‘the great power of the Lord.’ As we consider His great power, we worship Him: ‘I will sing to the Lord. He has won a glorious victory … The Lord is my strength and my song. He is my Saviour. This is my God and I will praise Him … ’ (15:1-2). In the work of God’s redemption, we see His love and His power – ‘Lovingly, You will love the people You have saved. Powerfully, You will guide them to Your holy dwelling’ (15:13). Here, we see the greatness of God’s power. It is power which serves the purpose of His love. The Lord is King – ‘The Lord will rule as King for ever and ever’ (15:18). He is not a tyrant. He is not a dictator. He is the King of love. He loves us. We are to love Him – living for Him and looking to Him to fulfil His promises in our lives.