For a book about wandering in a desert for forty years, the Book of Exodus sure has a lot of excitement.There are plagues. There are chariot chases. There are streams of water coming out of rocks, bread falling from the sky, and pillars of cloud and smoke appearing at different times. Moses speaks to God, and the Israelites build a gold idol. And through it all, God remains faithful to His wayward people.
Years after the twelve tribes of Jacob moved to Egypt during a famine, the Israelites have been enslaved by Pharaoh. The covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob seems far off—until a leader, Moses, is raised up to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. As they wander in the wilderness for forty years, God gifts His people with food and water, guidelines for living as His people, and instructions for building a tabernacle.
Throughout the Book of Exodus, we see God fulfilling His covenant, but more important, we see God’s redemptive action toward His wayward people.
Moses is attributed as the author of Exodus, although there were theories in the early twentieth century that rejected that. Today, however, most scholars and theologians believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the Pentateuch, which includes the Book of Exodus.
After seemingly abandoning His people for hundreds of years to the bondage of harsh slavery, The Lord reintroduces Himself to Israel.
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew. (Exodus 2:24–25)
The exodus that the Israelites go on sets the stage for the Kingdom of Israel in the rest of the Old Testament and, therefore, for Jesus to come at just the right time, in just the right place.
When God makes a promise, He keeps it. God’s timing is often very different than ours, and His plan of salvation took thousands of years and generations of people to fulfill.
The Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt for over four hundred years, a surprising promise from God in Genesis 15:13. Knowing this, we can sympathize a little more with them—after that long, they probably thought God forgot His covenant to bring them to the Promised Land. In verse 14, God promises that the Israelites will be freed from slavery—but not before that time, because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (15:16).
As you read the Book of Exodus, think of all the promises God has made, fulfilled, and will fulfill. Even when circumstances seem at odds with His promises, we can be certain that they will come to pass at the appointed time.
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
The LORD is my strength and my song,
and He has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise Him,
my father's God, and I will exalt Him.
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Learn more about the Book of Exodus with these free downloadable study questions.