Overview of the Old Testament: Exodus
Things were difficult for Israel yet ‘the more they were oppressed the more they multiplied’ (1:12). Difficult times can be the making of God’s people! Moses sins (2:12). God graciously forgives (Micah 7:18-19) - this is salvation. His sin forgiven, Moses is called to service. He is called by the eternal God, the God who draws near to His people (3:14-15). Moses had to learn that ‘our competence comes from God’ (2 Corinthians 3:5). Part of God’s provision for Moses was Aaron (4:14-16). We are not called to go it alone. What encouragement there is in the support of our fellow-believers. Moses had to learn to wait for the fulfilment of God’s promise. God’s own people were not listening to him. How could he expect the unbelieving Pharaoh to listen to him (6:9,12)? It was not easy. Nevertheless, this ‘charge’ had been given - ‘bring the people out’. It shall be done! God’s purpose of grace moves forward according to His power and not our weakness. Moses spoke ‘with faltering lips’ (6:30). God worked miracles (7:8-24). ‘Our God is marching on’ - to glorious victory.
In the plagues, we see God’s power and Pharaoh’s pride. There is a conflict between the reality of God and Pharaoh’s fantasy. Conflict is God’s training ground for spiritual growth. We take our stand on the reality of God. Those who oppose God live in a fantasy world, imagining that they can successfully oppose the mighty God of salvation. Pharaoh was neither the first nor the last to oppose God - and fail! Put to death by men, Christ was raised by God (Acts 2:23-24) - Hallelujah! Pharaoh ‘confessed’ his sin, but didn’t really mean it. He had had ‘enough’ of God’s interference. That was his ‘reason’ for admitting his sin. This was not real repentance - only a dislike for suffering! Make your decision for Christ, and make it real! Pharaoh’s stubborn unbelief becomes his own undoing. Pharaoh doesn’t want God. God confirms him in his unbelief (10:28-29). God says, ‘You can go your own way, but you will be spiritually dead’ (Psalm 106:13-15). God says, ‘Do not harden your heart. You may be very close to the point of no return’ (Hebrews 3:8; Proverbs 29:1). Before you lose all inclination to return to the Lord, let Christ’s love touch your heart. Only His love can ‘create in you a clean heart’. Only His love can ‘put a new and right Spirit within you’ (Psalm 51:10). ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you... you must eat unleavened bread’ (12:13,20). Forgiveness of sins and holy living belong together. We are not to rejoice in God’s forgiveness and then gloss over His call to holy living: ‘justified by faith’, we are to ‘walk in newness of life’ (Romans 5:1; 6:4).
God delivered His people from their bondage (13:3,14,16). Israel’s deliverance from the land of bondage was also deliverance for a new life in ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ (13:5). We look back in grateful remembrance. We look forward in eager anticipation. We have received ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’. There is more to come - ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God... the redemption of our bodies’ (Romans 8:21-23). Sometimes, the Lord leads us ‘by way of the wilderness’ - a way of apparent fruitlessness. Why? - So that ‘equipped for battle’, we might learn to serve Him better (13:18). The Lord does not leave His people in the wilderness. He leads them on to His promised land. Worshipping this God of grace - the redeeming God (15:13) - and glory - the reigning God (15:18) - , we say, ‘You are my God, and I will praise You’ (Psalm 118:28). God allows His people to suffer difficulties. Why? - To strengthen our faith (15:25; 16:4; Deuteronomy 8:2,16; 1 Peter 1:6-7). God’s great concern is that His people move forward together. The work is not to be left to the few (18:18). God is looking to faithful servants who will ‘bear the burden’ together (18:21-22).
Before law, there is Gospel - what God has done for us (19:4). Before our love for God, there is His love for us. He is the God of redemption. He has redeemed us. We are His people. This is His doing. All the glory belongs to Him (20:1-2). We are to live as His people. He is to have first place in our lives (20:3). We do not live by an ethic of legalism. This is an ethic of redemption (20:1-2). Forget the God of redemption, and you have nothing but a lot of rules and regulations. Become obsessed with rules and regulations, and there will be no room for the Redeemer and His redemption. ‘Earmarked’ for Jesus, we are to ‘serve Him for life’ (21:6). No turning back! We are bound to Him by love - not law! What love He has for us! We travel from grace to glory - from ‘Egypt’ to ‘the promised land’. In the wilderness there are many pitfalls. We can become careless in our obedience to Christ. Do not ‘leave a pit open’ - you may cause a brother to stumble (21:33; Romans 14:13). God is love: He loves ‘the stranger’ (23:9). God is holy: He ‘will not acquit the wicked’ (23:7). He wants to reproduce His love and holiness - in us. Not holiness without love: that is self-righteous legalism. Not love without holiness: that is spineless sentimentalism.
Moses was alone with the Lord - receiving the Word of the Lord (24:1-2). Moses went to the people - speaking the Word of the Lord (24:3). There was also a written ministry of the Word (24:4). God dwells among His people (25:8). Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27). This is full of Christ! We don't ‘read into’ the Old Testament things which aren’t really there. We read this part of Scripture in the light of the full revelation of God. We see Christ as the Central Theme. Above everything else and everyone else, there is Jesus Christ our Saviour. ‘Towards the sunrise’ (27:13, New International Version): We may not always be facing the rising sun, but we should always be facing the risen Son! In Christ we are cleansed (29:4 1 John 1:7), anointed (29:7; 1 John 2:27) and robed (29:5-6,8-9; Isaiah 61:10). In Christ, we have ‘the best robe’ (28:2; Luke 15:22; Revelation 7:9-10,13-14). In Him, we are ‘consecrated’ by the Word and ‘anointed’ by the Spirit (28:3,41; John 17:17; 14:16-17, 26; 16:13-14). There is a great contrast between the many sacrifices of the Old Testament and the one sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 9:25-28; 10:1-4, 10-14). For God’s people, ‘the tent of meeting’ was a special place. God said, ‘I will meet with you, to speak there to you … it shall be sanctified by My glory’ (29:42-43). Let us pray that, in both the pulpit and the pew, there will be the glory of God.
The Word of God (‘the testimony’) declares the mercy of God, leading to our meeting with God (30:6). ‘Called’ by God and ‘filled’ with His Spirit (31:1-3), Bezalel had the support of Oholiab and ‘all able men’ (31:6). Few may be called and equipped to lead, but many are required for God’s work to be done - effectively (1 Corinthians 12:4-10). In Moses, we see the holiness and love of God: a deep hatred of sin (32:19), an intense longing for sinners to be forgiven (32:32). Filled with ‘the fear of the Lord’, Moses was fearless before men. God’s Word to sinners is clear: He warns them (Proverbs 29:1); He calls them to repent (Acts 2:38); He invites them to return to Him (Hosea 6:1). Moses’ faithful and fearless preaching emerged from his closeness to God: ‘The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend’ (33:11). God gives His promise (33:19). God keeps His promise (34:5-7). The glory of Christ is revealed to those who are learning to love Him (John 14:21). We are not yet ready for the full glory (33:20). When Christ returns, ‘we shall see Him as He is’ (1 John 3:2). God’s work is done according to (a) the Lord’s command (35:1,4,10; 36:1,5); (b) heartfelt obedience (21; 36:3,5-7); (c) the God-given abilities (24-25; 36:2,4,8). There is something for ‘everyone’ to do - everyone ‘whose heart is stirred whose spirit is moved’ (35:21). Many gifts are needed (35:31-35). Underlying them all, there is this: ‘filled with the Spirit of God’ (35:31). God is ready to bless. Are we ready to obey?
Moses could not do all the work by himself! Without ‘all the able men’ (36:8) – anonymous yet indispensable, the work of God would have been left undone! Christ is the ‘mercy seat of pure gold’ (37:6). ‘The Lord is merciful and gracious’: In mercy, He withholds His judgment from us - He is ‘slow to anger’. In grace, He pours His blessing on us - He is ‘abounding in steadfast love’ (Psalm 103:8). We deserve judgment. We receive salvation. Why? Christ took our judgment that we might receive His salvation. This is the Gospel - and it is ‘pure gold’! ‘The silver from those of the congregation’ (38:25): Among God’s people, there is ‘gold’ - but it must be ‘used for the work’ (38:24). Will you be worth your weight in gold - for God? ‘As the Lord had commanded’: (39:1): Obedience to God - this is the most important thing. ‘Moses blessed them’ (39:43): Where there is obedience, there is blessing. (a) The work of God begins with the Word of God: ‘The Lord said to Moses’ (40:1). Before we can do anything for God, we must be taught by Him. (b) The work of God must proceed in the way of God: ‘Moses did according to all that the Lord commanded him’ (40:16). If we are to accomplish anything for God, we must do God’s work in God’s way. (c) The work of God must lead to the worship of God: ‘The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle’ (40:34). If we are really seeking to work for God, we must give all the glory to Him.