Exodus: Continuing the Story of Redemption

The history of the world is littered with the ruins of one kingdom after another. Those who once ruled with iron fist and shook the world with terror are now buried in the sand beneath centuries of indifference. The Bible reveals to us that unlike these temporary rulers there is only one true King and His name is Jesus. The book of Exodus evidences this truth. I realize, of course, that for some this is a bit of a shocking statement. After all Exodus is in the Old Testament and Jesus doesn’t come for many centuries after its history has long since been recorded. But the truth is that Exodus, with its discussion of the transfer of kingdoms is pointing us, unequivocally, to the story of redemption in the New Testament.  That’s what this mini-series is all about: revealing the relationship between Exodus and the redemption narrative of the whole Bible. It will begin today by highlighting the roots of this story in the book just prior to Exodus. Exodus is, in fact, a continuation of the story of redemption which began in the Book of Genesis.

I’ve spent three years now studying the book of Exodus. I am by no means an expert on the book but I believe a decent summary of the book can be found by examining it across three themes: Creation, Law, and Worship. These themes identify the three breaks in the text that most scholars identify. The first 18 chapters focus on the idea of creation. Chapters 19-24 revolve around law, and the final division, chapters 25-40, take up the issue of worship. Let’s explore each of the division briefly.

It’s important to keep in mind at this point that the author of Genesis is the same one who wrote the book of Exodus. Despite that some scholars are continuing to contest this point it is both the general consensus among Evangelical scholarship, and the proven intertextual belief of the various authors of Scripture. Exodus is carrying over the theme and the story of Genesis. We can all quickly call to memory the content of the Creation accounts in Genesis. Here God is primarily concerned with creating for himself a people, establishing for himself an ambassador to reflect his glory in a unique way. A creation of a people for himself has always been at the heart of God’s plan, and it is a theme which comes up time and again in Genesis.

Adam and Eve are the first representatives, called to be God’s special representatives to the rest of the created world. But, as we all know, Adam and Eve failed. So God chose Noah, he failed. Then God called Abraham and from Abraham’s descendants would come the very people of God called Israel. In Exodus we see their story as a nation picked up and developed further, but note that particularly there is a creation narrative happening in the beginning of Exodus. In Exodus 1:7 we find a direct grammatical parallel to the command given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28. Here the text reads:

But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Moses is telling the story of Israel, but he is also pointing out in Exodus that a new creation is happening, so to speak. The mandate that God gave to Adam and Eve is once again happening in Israel. God is finally going to create His people in this very nation. They had already been his people, of course, but the language is suggestive of something special happening. God is creating them in a renewed spiritual sense it seems. The correlation will happen again when we read of God’s deliverance of Israel through the parting of the Red Sea, which corresponds again grammatically to the parting of the sea in Genesis 1:9. Creation is happening all throughout this book.

Law is present in Genesis too. In the Garden we see God issuing the significant command to Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’s an important command because it is the establishment of a covenant with His people. At the heart of the law is man’s relationship to God. Genesis is the starting place for this equation: God and man in covenant. The law is not an act of legalism, of God’s being some sort of cosmic killjoy. Rather it is God’s design to have a people specially devoted to him. It’s the same idea we see played out in the second division of Exodus. The Law in Exodus is not just a list of rules, it is the establishment of God’s covenant with His people. The Law, in Exodus, is the means by which God’s people will be distinctly his. In fact in Exodus 19:6 God states plainly that they shall be ” a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The Law in Exodus, like the law in Genesis, is about identifying the uniqueness of God’s relationship to His people. That can refer to the uniqueness of God’s relation to man over the animals, or of God’s relating to Israel over the surrounding nations. The Law begins in Genesis and is further developed in Exodus.

Worship too is a key piece to this relationship. Worship begins in Genesis as well. Adam and Even spend their evenings walking with God in perfect fellowship and communion. Their obedience to Him is their worship played out in the Garden. But even more compelling is the idea that most scholars promulgate today: that the Garden was a sort of arboreal Temple. The Garden was more than just a nice spot to hang-out; it represented a “house of worship” so to speak. Think of the very foundational hallmark of the temple:  it is the place where God dwells and man can go to meet with Him. God dwells in the Garden with Adam, there is real tangible communion happening. It would be diminished to some degree after the Fall, but the Temple is carrying on this idea, as was the Tabernacle in Exodus. Even the descriptions of the Tabernacle in Exodus harken back to The Garden of Eden (see Exodus 26:31). Read the description of the lampstand that God tells Moses to record.  It talks about flowers, and branches. It is described as having parts “like an almond blossom.” That’s not a lamp, that’s a tree! It is calling readers back to that state of perfect communion, of the establishment of worship in the Garden of Eden. The mentions of the Sabbath in Exodus 31 and 35 do this as well. They even go so far as to repeat the very events of God’s resting from creation. Sabbath is an act of worship which connects itself to the creation process and the worship in Genesis. What we see becoming more fully developed in Exodus has its roots in Genesis.

These three themes are carried through Exodus as a summary of the story of redemption which began in Genesis. Exodus is not some isolated book about freeing oppressed people. Some Liberation Theologians  read it in isolation from the rest of the Bible, as if the story is simply a narration of Israel’s deliverance, and in the process they miss the big picture. Exodus is a story that continues the development of God’s greatest story, one greater than Israel and greater than the exodus itself: a story of greater redemption!

Comments

  1. P. Edgington says:

    Let’s get our Exodus on!!!! Be there tomorrow night!……….Ready to study Deliverance & Redemption!!!!

  2. Don Ahrens says:

    What one must understand is that Biblical History is Prophecy this is a key to unlocking propheyc as per Ecc. 1:9.

    Paul taught that there will be an exodus during the tribulation, the greater exodus. 1 Cor. 10:1-11 emphasis on verse 11. (Pretrib rapture is impossible based upon combining Revelation 20:5-6, there is only 1 rapture before the Millennial Kingdom and it occurs not at the end, but after the tribulation; Matt. 24:29-33.)

    Paul knew of the Tribulation Exodus because what is written in Jeremiah 16:14, Jeremiah 23:7-8, Ezekiel 20:35-38 and all of Isaiah 35 and all of the 23 Psalm plus many other locations.

    In fact, the tribulation will start on a future Passover when the first exodus started. Remember Messiah said, Pray that your flight not be in the Winter or on a Sabbath which is a Hebrew idiom for it will be on a winter High Sabbath; Passover.

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  1. […] Exodus: Continuing The Story of Redemption –> I was very surprised by the response to this post. It was part of a series on the book […]

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