Exodus to the Unknown
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The Exodus

This book can be presented as a drama of Redemption's Plan - where not only Salvation is taught, but the walk of Faith by the believers graphically presents for our benefit.  Let me hasten to point out that God had not asked Israel to cross the Red Sea without promising them that He was going to bless them in the land that He had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But it was a step of faith.  Yes, they were leaving circumstances of persecution but for many this was going to be a trial  to, by faith, follow the course the Jehovah has set out for their lives.  That course was one of faith - not sight.  It was not a course where each step was foreknown to the Israelite.  No.  There were a lot of unknowns in this course.  But Jehovah was leading them.  It had to be a step of faith to deliver them out of the bondage of Egyptian slavery.  But the steps of faith did not stop there.  The wilderness was full of circumstances where the Israelite had to rely completely on Jehovah.   They, for the most part failed miserably.  But we can benefit from their failure in that we can heed the warning of the writer of Hebrews:

And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. [4:1] Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.    Hebrews 3:19-4:1, NAS.

Follow me on this walk out of Egypt into the unknown for God's people - I'm confident that we will learn many lessons for our own lives, in Christ.  First, let us take a look at an outline of Exodus.

An Outline of Exodus: Section 1
Redemption's Plan introduced.

1.  Prelude: Prosperity and Persecution in Egypt (1:1-22)

2.  The Preparation of Moses, the deliverer of Israel (2:1-25)

3.  The call of Moses (3:1-4:31)

4.  The Contest of Moses and Pharaoh (5:1-11:10)

5.  (Interlude)  Redemption's Plan: The Passover introduced (12:1-28)

6.  The Conquest of Pharaoh Part 1; Redemption's Plan:  The Passover  explained ( 12:29 - 13:19)

7.  The Conquest of Pharaoh Part 2; Redemption's Power: Deliverance through the Red Sea (13:20 - 14:31).

8.  Redemption's Completion:  The song of Moses , Israel steps into the unknown.  (15:1 - 19)


Prelude, the Prosperity of Israel in Egypt.  Israel had enjoyed a life of prosperity and prominence in Egypt.  It seemed to them that this was their place as a small nation..  They had grown from a family of about 70 to a people of over 2 million.  But over the centuries [1] Israel had grown self-sufficient forgetting that it was Jehovah who had provided for their good - in spite of their plan of killing their brother Joseph and then instead selling him as a slave to get rid him as a hated brother, the sons of Israel had received goodness from the hand of Jehovah.

But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? [20] You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. [21] So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.   Genesis 50:19-21, NIV.

The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt. [6] Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, [7] but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.    Exodus 1:5-7, NIV.

Israel was, indeed taken care of.  Although the citizens of Egypt had become vassals of the Pharaoh, Israel acquired property in Goshen  and became prosperous.[2]   They had become quite comfortable with their life in Egypt but had also become distant from Jehovah. 

Prelude, the Persecution of Israel. 

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. [9] "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. [10] Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country." [11] So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. [12] But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites [13] and worked them ruthlessly. [14] They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.    Exodus 1:8-14, NIV

This new king may not have been an Egyptian.  Some biblical historians believe that during this period Egypt was ruled by an outsider who maintained rule by military force alone.  This would explain the passage in Ex 1:10 where it was feared by the new king that  Israel would join with his enemies  - by inference, the Egyptians, rather than an outside enemy who would conquer from outside with the help of an uprising of Israel from within.  At any rate, conditions of prosperity rapidly changed into persecution as the Hand of God began to direct Israel toward a new journey - a step into the unknown.  Israel's faith had all but died - it was about to be rekindled for some as God gave to them the gift of persecution (see Job 2:9, 10).

The Preparation of Moses, the Deliverer of Israel (2:1-25)

During this period of persecution things had rapidly deteriorated to the point that infanticide was attempted by the Egyptian king to slow down the accelerated population growth of Israel.  It was out of this terrible circumstance that a child of the tribe of Levi was born.  No Hebrew name was given to this child rather he was to receive an Egyptian name - Moses = water-son = son of the water.  It was quite remarkable - the rescue of this Levite child by the very hands that should have slain him.   But God moves in mysterious ways - and directs the hearts of kings much as the walls of the Grand Canyon directs the mighty waters of the Colorado river.[3]

Moses grew up in the court of the king.  He had been trained in the best schools of Egypt and had become mighty in his ability to speak and gained a reputation as a man who could act decisively (see Acts 7:22)  But in a turning point of his life, probably as a brash, self, confident prince of Egypt, tried to deliver a Hebrew who was being beaten by an Egyptian by killing the Egyptian.  Pharaoh got wind of the crime and so Moses became a fugitive  - Ex 2:11-15.  So, Moses who presumed to deliver Israel by his own hand - his own agenda, failed and it seemed that his life as Israel's deliverer had come to an abrupt end.   For the next several decades,  Moses was on Egypt's most wanted list - it was in his best interest to forget the troubles of Israel and to look after himself in his new-found life as a nomadic herder.  This  can have a great deal of instruction for today's believer as he orders his life for the Lord.  Moses presumed that his life was his own and that he could deliver Israel by the might of his own hand.  But Jehovah had a different plan for Moses and for Israel - that plan was for Moses to be  in the "middle of nowhere" but right in the middle of His will as He was about to chisel away the roughness, the self-confidence, the brashness from Moses.   At the end of these years of preparation (perhaps wasted years in the eyes of man) Moses was truly a broken man.  No longer did he look upon himself as one who was mighty in words or actions, but one who depended entirely upon Jehovah - the Great I AM.

The Call of Moses.

There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.    Exodus 3:2, NIV.

One thing we should never forget.  We are never away from the watchful eyes of the LORD - especially during our occupational efforts.  I have often wondered about the attitude of some believers who consider their "job" as only a means to earn a living.  Moses had come to this place in his life and then came another turning point in his life - the Call of God for Service.  Spontaneous incineration of bushed in this part of the desert was not all that unusual - but this one was different - it was not consumed by the flames  it just kept on burning and burning.  Moses had to take a look at this:

So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight--why the bush does not burn up." [4] When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am."   Exodus 3:3-4, NIV

This is clearly a Christophany - where Jesus Christ Himself  appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush - note that in verse 2 Jehovah is referred to as the angel of the LORD.  And so we have God's call for Moses to be the instrument of His hand to deliver Israel from the bondage of Egypt.

So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey--the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. [9] And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. [10] So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."    Exodus 3:8-10, NIV.

Jehovah had not forgotten Israel.  Neither had He forgotten Moses.   God's timing  meant the passage of decades after Moses' futile, fleshly attempt to become the advocate for suffering Israel - decades after this the He would step in and use a broken man of God - one who had had plenty of time to grow up - this man, Moses, who now considered himself not worthy to be the instrument of God to be the deliverer of Israel[4].

An important lesson is to be learned by the child of God.  I'm looking at our vocations - whatever they might be - I see no distinction between "full-time Christian Service" and the person who is gainfully employed in the secular workplace.  We are all called to be the instrument in God's Hands.   There is no room for self-envisioned importance - no room for the self-centered pursuit of wealth - a comfy life-style.  No.  We are under the purview of the Lord Himself and are stewards of whatever occupation we are in.  We must all be His stewards - we must have a positive influence in the workplace. My challenge to all of us is to view our situation wherever it might be as an opportunity to be God's servant.   To view our workplace as a place where circumstances must, at all times, be pleasant and a place where we must be pleased or we are not happy is  a self-centered viewpoint.  No.  We must view our occupation as a full-time opportunity to bring glory to God by assuming the servant's attitude as Jesus did in His occupation while He was the Master of His disciples.  Moses was a mere sheepherder, but a man who had a broken spirit ready to serve the LORD - now Jehovah was going to give him the job of being one of the greatest prophets of all time - next to Jesus Himself and John the Baptist.   Moses was in many ways to prefigure Jesus Christ in His redemptive work.

The Contest of Moses and Pharaoh (5:1-11:10).

Life has a way of producing obstacles.  For Moses and the Israelites it was a Pharaoh who was hard-hearted and  unreasonable.  He had no fear of God - he was not about to take Moses' message from Jehovah.  In fact, when Moses and Aaron brought Jehovah's message to Pharaoh he responded by increasing the burden upon the Hebrew workers - before they were to make bricks with straw that was supplied to them.   Now, they had to meet the same quota and gather the straw themselves.

Sometimes life just isn't fair.  At least that was apparent to the suffering Hebrew at the time.  Moses was really under pressure from both Pharaoh and the Israelite foremen - for it seemed that God just wasn't there when they needed Him.

Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? [23] Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all."   Exodus 5:22-23

This is the cry of a desperate man.  Here he had presented himself as the deliverer of Israel and what he had was a lot of trouble on his hand.  It does take a lot of spiritual courage to obey the Lord's commands and right now the only thing Moses could do was go to Jehovah in some very intense prayer - God then reveals Himself in a very unique way to Moses and to the Israelites.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country." [2] God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. [3] I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. [4] I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. [5] Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. [6] "Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. [7] I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. [8] And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.' "    Exodus 6:1-8, NIV - my emphasis.

God revealed Himself to Abraham as God Almighty - the God who could do the impossible - yes, He was very much a personal God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But Israel now that Moses faced was going to be a very difficult people - nevertheless Jehovah was going to reveal Himself as the God who has the outstretched arm - a figure of action.  To Abraham God was the God of promise - who could do the impossible, but that promise was yet to be fulfilled.  To Israel He was to be the God who fulfilled His promises - hence the outstretched arm - an arm that helps, delivers on the promise.

There is a lesson for you and me to learn here.  Many times I wonder if we view God's Word as an ala-carte menu from which to choose our favorite way out of our difficulties.  God's timing was over 400 years between His promise and when He took the Israelites out of Egypt.  His way was entirely different than what Israel wished (they wished to be delivered from the suffering - not Egypt).  We have our own idea of what  the timing and the way of the uplifted hand - the hand of promise and  the outstretched arm the arm that provides the deliverance should be.   God has His own sovereign will in the matter.  It was like that with Israel - it is like that with us - we must be willing to accept His sovereignty in our lives.   He did deliver Israel from oppression and out of Egypt.  He will deliver us out of our difficulties in His own way - not necessarily the way we wish.  

The contest between Moses and Pharaoh was really a contest between Jehovah and Pharaoh.  What followed were ten plagues that culminated in the death of every firstborn of the land that was not covered by the blood of the Passover lamb. 

(Interlude)  Redemption's Plan: The Passover introduced (12:1-28)

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, [2] "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. [3] Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. [4] If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. [5] The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. [6] Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. [7] Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.   Exodus 12:1-7, NIV.

This is the final plague that Jehovah pronounced upon Egypt - the plague of the death of every firstborn of Egypt.  Only the firstborn of Israel was to be spared - the then only the ones in whose household that had the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorframes of the house.  This  points to The Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ and was to be observed in remembrance of the Redemptive act of Jehovah in delivering Israel from Egypt.  The only way for anyone to be delivered from the oppression of sin is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ - He is our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7).   Redemption's plan must include the shed blood of the Lamb.  From this point on Israel would remember that night as the night their nation was born.

The Conquest of Pharaoh Part 1; Redemption's Plan:  The Passover  explained ( 12:29 - 13:19)

The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.   Exodus 12:36

The  Plunder.  Read also Exod 12:29 - 13:19.   Finally Pharaoh is vanquished.  Jehovah will have His way with the enemy.   Many Bible Students have drawn a parallel between Egypt and the bondage of sin.   Fact is, that Moses did lead Jehovah's people from Egypt's bondage - Jesus Christ will lead His people in victory from sin's bandage into a life of fellowship with Him:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.   2 Cor. 2:14, NIV.

The picture here is that of a Roman victory march through the streets of a Roman city.  Jesus Christ is the victor - we follow him in this grand procession - just as that rag - tag body of Israelites did in victory from the bondage of sin into a new life of serving Him in faith.

The Passover Explained ( Exod 12:7, 9-11; 13:46)Do this extemporaneously..

The Unleavened Bread (Exod 12:39, 13:7).  Do this extemporaneously..

The Conquest of Pharaoh Part 2; Redemption's Power: Deliverance through the Red Sea (13:20 - 14:31).

The Leading and Protection of the Lord. 

The Leading of the Lord.:  By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. [22] Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.   Exodus 13:21-22, NIV.  The Glory of the Lord was now quite visible to His People.  They had taken the step of faith, however weak, and now He is leading them to freedom.

The Protection of the Lord:  Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them,   Exodus 14:19, NIV.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. [14] The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.   Exodus 14:13-14

The enemy would not give up - (neither will Satan)  The sight must have been thrilling for those whose faith was resting entirely in the Lord - There they were ready for the great Exodus - the Glory of the Lord stood between the Israelites and the enemy - there Jehovah stood between His people and the enemy - protecting them. What imagery! The Lord always stands between us and our difficulties - we need to remember that when we are in the middle of them.  Remember this - the battle is the Lord's.   Salvation depends not on our own efforts - whether it is for the salvation of our souls or if it is the deliverance through some very difficult times - the Battle is the Lord's not ours.

The Final Conquest of the Enemy. 

And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. [28] And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.    Exodus 14:27-28, KJV.

Do this extemporaneously..

The Crossing of the Red Sea. 

But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. [30] Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. [31] And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.   Exodus 14:29-31

Do this extemporaneously..


Redemption's Completion:  The song of Moses , Israel steps into the unknown.  (15:1 - 19)

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.   Rev. 15:3, KJV.


Next time - A Journey into the Unknown continues - The Wilderness Experience.

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1.  Exodus 12:40.  "Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years." (NIV).

2.  Compare Exod 47:20 with verse 27.

3.  "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes."  Proverbs 21:1, NAS

4.  Ex 3:11