Someone once said, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” The Old Testament comes alive to us when we see the types and pictures of the Old explained in the New. I used to love to hear Bro. Ferrell Griswold1 preach from the Old Testament, because he made those types and pictures seem to dance with life before my mind, as few men could, as he expounded their meaning in the light of the New Testament. It was almost as if he had taken a video tape, put it into a VCR and pushed the play button. When he did, the picture seemed to jump with life. The facts and laws, ceremonies and rituals of the Mosaic economy became vibrant, bursting with life. That is exactly what I want to do, as we look at the Book of Exodus. I pray that God the Holy Spirit will cause the things set before us in this second Book of the Bible to become vibrant with life in your mind.
Exodus means “going out.” This Book is called “Exodus” because it reveals God’s great work of grace in bringing his covenant people out of Egyptian bondage. It covers a time frame of about 140 years, from the death of Joseph to the erection of the tabernacle.
The whole Book of Exodus is a message of divine deliverance. As such, it portrays the great work of our God in redeeming us from the bondage of sin and death and bringing us into what Paul calls, “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). Even as he gave Israel his law in ten commandments, God told them that his intention in his dealings with them was that they might ever be reminded of this fact, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex. 20:2).
The first six books of the Bible, Genesis through Joshua, display the works of God in the lives of chosen sinners. His wondrous method of grace is the same in your life and mine, as it was in the lives of Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. He does not change; and his method of grace does not change.
In the Book of Genesis we see our great need of redemption and grace. The last words of the book of Genesis are very significant. “So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:26). This is just about as needy as it gets. Joseph died. He was embalmed. And he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Exodus shows us God’s answer to our need, his remedy for our ruin, his deliverance from sin and death by Christ. As such, it is a tremendous picture and conveys very instructive lessons about redemption. —What it is and how it is accomplished. Here we see pictures of what our God has done for us, is doing for us, and will yet do for us in bringing us into “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Obviously, the story is not complete in Exodus. It continues in Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua.
But the thing I want you to see is this—These first Books of the Bible were written by divine inspiration to show us how that God works in providence and grace, overruling evil for good, to teach us the gospel (Acts 10:43; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11). The whole Book of Exodus revolves around six principle things. It focuses our minds on six great events.—The Birth of Moses—The Passover—The Crossing of the Red Sea—The Giving of the Law—The Making of the Tabernacle—The End of Moses’ Work.
The Birth of Moses
The book of Exodus begins with Israel in bondage in the land of Egypt. They had been in bondage for four hundred years. But the time of deliverance had come, and God raised up a deliverer.
The Lord God told Abraham that he would send Israel into a stranger’s land, where they would be afflicted for four hundred years. Then, he promised to deliver his people (Gen. 15:13-14). Now, the time of deliverance was at hand. So the Book of Exodus begins with the birth of Moses.
Moses was a type of Christ. Without question, the name “Moses” represents the law of God and is used, at times, as a synonym for the law (Acts 6:11; 15:21; 21:21; 2 Cor. 3:15). But Moses was also a type of Christ (Deut. 18:15-18; John 1:45; Acts 3:22; 7:37).
As it was with the incarnation, birth, and life of our great Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the hand of God was remarkably and undeniably manifest throughout the life of Moses. Like the Lord Jesus, that Deliverer whom he typified, Moses appeared “in the fulness of time.” When the “due time” arrived, the deliverer arrived. His birth was at a time of great darkness and great need. When he was born Pharaoh sought to kill him. But Moses was miraculously preserved until the time of his appearing as God’s deliverer.
God often uses Satan’s devices to accomplish his purposes. We have seen this before and will see it again many times as we go through the Books of the Bible. As I read the Scriptures, I can’t help thinking that our Lord must have a sense of humor. I can hardly refrain from laughter, as I read about him turning the tables on his enemies and overruling the evil ploys of men and devils to accomplish his great purpose of grace, the very thing they try to prevent. We see the ways of our God revealed in Psalm 76:10 displayed in the life of Moses and in the life of our Redeemer.
Though Pharaoh ordered the midwives to murder all the baby boys born among the children of Israel, Moses was not only saved, but Pharaoh hired his own mother to nurse him and take care of him! He grew up in Pharaoh’s house, as his own grandson. He was trained in all the learning of the Egyptians and given the best education in the world at that time. As Pharaoh’s adopted son he had every privilege and every advantage of the world.
When he became a man God revealed himself to him and showed him that he was chosen and ordained to be the deliverer of Israel. So he went out, trying to do his job, he thought, and ended up an Egyptian and fleeing into the wilderness. He left the land of Egypt and tended sheep for forty years in the wilderness.
Then he was called, sent, and equipped of God to deliver Israel. The Lord God appeared to him in the burning bush and sent him back to Egypt to deliver Israel at the time appointed (ch. 3). But Moses was totally unfit for the task before him; and he knew it. He couldn’t deliver Israel; but God could. Moses was only a typical redeemer (3:7-22). The Lord told him, “I am come down to deliver them” (v. 8).
Moses knew he was not able to articulate things, as he should, as God’s spokesman. So the Lord assured him that he would be his tongue and that he would speak through him (4:10-12). There was nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is commendable humility. God never uses anyone who thinks he is fit for the job. He always uses nothings and nobodies to do his work (Isa. 6:1-8; 66:2; 1 Cor. 1:26-31).
But then Moses said, “Lord, can’t you get someone else to do this work?” “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” (4:14). We would be wise to lay this to heart.—A sense of inability, inadequacy, and personal unworthiness is always commendable; but any lack of willingness, or even hesitancy, in doing what is clearly God’s will is abhorrent rebellion.
Moses went back to Egypt with nothing but the rod (Word) of God in his hand to deliver Israel from the most powerful king the world had ever known (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Immediately, he ran into trouble. He came into conflict with Pharaoh. The conflict between Pharaoh and Moses, the representatives of Satan and God, was tremendous. No drama ever written by a man compares to this bit of history. As you read it you can feel the intensity of it. Though the Lord God sent plague after plague upon the Egyptians, "Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people go."
There were nine plagues in all. Each one was directed against one of the gods of Egypt. By sending these plagues God not only judged Egypt, but also, as he punished the Egyptians, showed the impotence of their idols and displayed himself as God alone, sovereign, omnipotent, majestic, and holy.
Moses was typical and representative of Christ, our Savior. The second great event in the Book of Exodus, the Passover (ch. 11 and 12), was typical of our redemption by Christ. It is so obvious that the Passover represented our redemption by Christ that everyone who even claims to believe the Bible is the Word of God acknowledges it. Few understand what is taught by this great picture of redemption; but all acknowledge that it is a picture of redemption. Let me just call your attention to the highlights.
The Passover, like our redemption by Christ, was an act of God’s free, sovereign, covenant mercy alone. It was God who put a difference between Israel and Egypt (11:7). —That shows us God’s distinguishing grace (1 Cor. 4:7). The message was spoken in the ears of God’s chosen (11:1). —The call of God the Holy Spirit is a particular, distinguishing call (Rom. 8:29-30). God promised an effectual, glorious work by which all (Egyptians and Israelites) would know that he is God. —The Egyptians thrust Israel out of the land, and they went out with a high hand, spoiling the land of Egypt, taking all the good of the land. Israel was under the special protection of divine providence. — God promised, “Against the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast” (11:7). The Lord God raised up Pharaoh and hardened his heart. He specifically says, “that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt” (11:9; Rom. 9:15-18). —Satan is God’s servant, not his rival! When God gets done with him, he will dump his carcass in the sea of his fury, just as he did Pharaoh’s, and all shall know that he alone is God.
The Passover, like our redemption, was a display of how God saves sinners by blood atonement. It was accomplished at God’s appointed time (12:2). It was for Israel the beginning of months (2 Cor. 5:17). The paschal lamb portrayed Christ our Passover who is sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:7). The blood sprinkled upon the door speaks of the effectual call of grace in which the Spirit of God applies Christ’s atoning blood to the conscience, creating faith in the redeemed sinner (Heb. 9:12-14). Particular, effectual redemption is displayed in the fact that all for whom a lamb was slain went out of Egypt (12:37). And, as Israel spoiled the Egyptians (12:36), we shall have the spoils of victory in resurrection glory, inheriting the earth.
The Crossing of the Red Sea
But the story does not end there. Beginning in chapter 13, we see the third great event in Exodus —The Crossing of the Red Sea. Really, the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea are two parts of the same thing. They cannot be separated. Israel could never have crossed the Red Sea had the Passover not been kept. And the keeping of the Passover would have been a meaningless, useless thing had Israel not crossed the sea.
The crossing of the Red Sea is a picture of our conversion by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit in effectual calling. This is so closely connected with the sacrifice of Christ as our sin-atoning Substitute that the two cannot be separated. Christ’s death effectually secured our conversion. And without the conversion of God’s elect, Christ’s death would have been a useless, futile, vain, and meaningless thing. Now, watch the type. May God make it dance with life.
The Lord went before them (13:21). He led them through the way of the wilderness (13:18). Israel was brought into terror and fear; but their fear only stirred the rebellion that was in them (14:10-11). Legal conviction is not saving. It takes Holy Spirit conviction to save (John 16:8-11). Yet, it seems to be the common experience of God’s elect that a time of legal conviction (the terror of eternal death) precedes the blessed joy of faith.
When Israel was utterly terrified, Moses said, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord!” (14:13). —“The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace!” (14:14). That is exactly the place to which God brings his own. He graciously forces us to cease from our own efforts and works to save ourselves, and makes us look to Christ alone for salvation.
Israel crossed the sea by the rod of Moses. That rod represented the whole Word of God, mercy and truth, justice and grace, holiness and love. “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged.” The law of God, being satisfied by the blood and righteousness of Christ, opens the way before us to everlasting salvation, and the grace of God carries us through. Then, standing upon the shores of blessed deliverance looking back upon their slain enemies, they believed, worshipped, gave praise to God, and started on their journey (14:31-16:1).
The Scriptures (1 Cor. 10:1-2) tell us plainly that the passage of Israel through the Red Sea was a baptism unto Moses. It signified the same thing as believer’s baptism does today. It showed the distinction God put between Israel and Egypt. So does believer’s baptism. It was an act of obedience to God’s command. Both Israel’s baptism unto Moses and the believer’s baptism with reference to the finished work of Christ are acts of obedience performed to the command of God with reference to the promise of God (Ex. 14:13-16; Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16). As Israel followed Moses through the Red Sea, so believers follow Christ through the waters of baptism, symbolically declaring salvation to be the work of God alone by Christ’s fulfilling all righteousness as our Representative and Substitute.
No sooner had they crossed the Red Sea than they came to the bitter waters of Marah (15:23-26). So it is with us. From its very inception, the life of faith is a life of trial. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” The Lord showed Moses “a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” Then he revealed himself in a singular way, declaring, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Let us ever be assured that whatever trials of bitterness we must endure, as we go through this wilderness of woe, the trials and bitter experiences are but the means by which our God intends to reveal himself more fully. And those trial and bitter waters are made sweet to our souls because they flow to us as blessings of grace from the thrown of our heavenly Father, through the blood of our crucified Mediator who died upon the cursed tree for us. The cross sweetens everything. Oh, how it sweetens life’s experiences! As Pastor Scott Richardson often says, “There’s no bad news once you get the good news.”
As they made their journey through the wilderness, the Lord graciously fed the children of Israel with heavenly manna every day (ch. 16), and refreshed their bodies with water flowing from the smitten rock that followed them (ch. 17). Without question, these things were miraculous provisions for their physical sustenance. But they were much more than that. The manna that fell from heaven and the water that flowed from the smitten rock were pictures of God’s provision for our souls, for time and eternity in Christ, our crucified Savior (John 6:48-58; 1 Cor. 10:1-11).
Perhaps the most difficult experience of God’s people in this world after being converted is the constant, ever-increasing warfare between the flesh and the spirit. We see this portrayed in chapter seventeen as well. Amalek comes and fights with Israel; but God declares unending war with Amalek (Ex. 17:10) The fact is, the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that we can never do the things we would. We can never walk with our God and serve him perfectly, without sin, while we live in this world. We constantly find ourselves to be wretched sinners (Rom. 7:14-23; Gal. 5:17). This warfare will never end, or even abate, until we have dropped these bodies of flesh. We can never make peace with Amalek. Yet, Amalek will never cease to assail us. But, blessed be God our Savior, Amalek shall never prevail! Because Christ is our Banner, because the Lord our God fights for us, “we are more than conquerors,” and all our foes shall fall before us, even our sins!
The Giving of the Law
The fourth thing that stands out in the Book of Exodus is the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19-24). In chapters 19-24, we find Israel at Mt. Sinai, where the Lord God gave Israel his law in ten commandments and taught them how he must be worshipped. The law was a detailed revelation of God’s immutable, unrelenting, perfect, glorious holiness. That is why the law and the giving of the law were terrifying to Israel. Nothing is so terrifying to sinful men and women as the realization that God almighty is absolutely and unchangeably holy, that nothing can change him. He will never be talked out of anything. He can never be bought off. He will never lower his standards in any degree. The law is the absolute, irrevocable standard of God's character. It is also a declaration of the absolute sovereignty and utter solitariness of his being as God. Because he is who and what he is, the Lord our God demands perfection of all who are accepted of him.
At the very outset the law of God taught Israel and teaches us that the holy, sovereign, unalterable Lord God cannot be worshipped by fallen, sinful, sinning men and women except through a mediator he has ordained, provided, and accepted (20:18-19), upon an altar of his own making, an altar to which man contributes nothing, and can never climb by degrees (20:23-26). In other words, the law drives us away from Sinai to Calvary, away from Moses to Christ for refuge and salvation (Gal. 3:19-26).
The Erection of the Tabernacle
The fifth thing in Exodus is the erection of the tabernacle, the place of reconciliation and peace, with its altar, sacrifices, priesthood, and mercy-seat (Ex. 25-40). In chapter twenty-five the Lord began to give Moses instructions about the tabernacle and priesthood, the sacrifices and ceremonies by which the children of Israel might come to him and find acceptance with him. The whole thing speaks of Christ and the believer’s acceptance with God in him (Heb. 9:1-10:22). Here we are taught by types and pictures how that the Lord our God can be both a just God and a Savior (Isa. 45:20). Through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ the holy Lord God, in complete justice, holiness, and truth, receives redeemed sinners in total reconciliation and declares, "There is now no condemnation," none whatsoever. None whatsoever! Every believing sinner has perfect access to the Father through the Son. And God himself, by his Holy Spirit, has taken up his tabernacle in our hearts and lives. He will never leave us, and will never let us leave him! We are forever, immutably “accepted in the beloved!”
The End of Moses’ Work
The last thing we see in Exodus is the end of Moses’ work. Once the tabernacle was finished and God and his people were ceremonially reconciled, Moses’ had finished his work (Ex. 40:33). And once the chosen, redeemed sinner has been brought to faith in Christ, the law of God has finished its work (Rom. 6:14-15; 7:1-4; 8:1; 10:4). Once God’s elect are brought into the blessedness of reconciliation with him by faith in Christ, the law has nothing more to do with us. It no longer terrifies, condemns, or even frowns upon us. Rather, the law of God cries as fully as the grace of God—“JUSTIFIED!” This is beautifully portrayed in the last paragraph of Exodus (40:34-38).
"Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys."
“Free from the law—O happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission!
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.
Now are we free—There’s no condemnation!
Jesus provides a perfect salvation!
‘Come unto Me’—O hear His sweet call!
Come, and He saves us once for all.
Children of God —O glorious calling!
Surely His grace will keep us from falling!
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all!”
As we leave the Book of Exodus, seeking to worship, serve, and honor our God in this world, we would be wise to pray for the very same great boons of mercy and grace Moses sought from the Lord in chapter 32.
"Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight.” If the Lord God will be pleased to show us his way, order our steps in his way, cause us ever to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and ever give us his grace, we shall be blessed throughout our days upon the earth and forever in heavenly glory.
“Consider that this nation is thy people." Let us ever pray for the church and kingdom of God in this world. We cannot ask anything greater than that the Lord God ever consider that his people are his people.
After the Lord promised Moses’ his abiding presence, Moses sought it earnestly. "And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." It is almost as if he felt he had neglected this before, or simply made the presumption that God’s presence was his. Certainly every believer is promised the Lord’s unfailing presence. But let us never presume upon it or imagine we can function without it. Rather, let us constantly seek it. If the Lord is with us, we have no need unsupplied.
Then, Moses prayed, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory,” and the Lord God granted his request. He showed himself to be a just God and a Savior. Oh, may he be pleased ever to hold before our eyes his glory in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, that our every thought may be consumed with it, that we may in all things do all for the glory of our God.