I finished Exodus. It starts with an engaging but frustrating story of Moses, Pharaoh, and the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt and then ends with law and more law. Just as God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, God also delivers us from sin and death through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus who is Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. The focus of Exodus is on God, specifically His power and guidance. God repeats in Exodus, “I am the LORD.”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” –Exodus 3:14
Moses is called by God to speak to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt. God showed Moses His power through signs like his staff turned into a snake, his hand turned leprous, and water from the Nile River turned into blood, but Moses was not confident in God Almighty and only looked at his own inadequacies. The Lord’s anger burned against him, and He was about to kill him, but God gave Moses his brother Aaron to help him speak. Even then, Moses repetitively doubted God’s power to deliver the Israelites – “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?” (Ex. 5:22) and “But Moses said to the LORD, ‘If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?'” (Ex. 6:12).
Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” –Exodus 4:11-12
God hardened Pharaoh’s heart from letting the Israelites go to worship God for 3 days in the desert. Though he admitted sinned and asked Moses and Aaron to forgive him and pray to the Lord to take away the plagues, Pharaoh changed his mind again and again. God did all the plagues, acts of judgment as he foretold, in order to completely deliver the Israelites out of Egypt.
“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” –Exodus 7:3-5
Like Pharaoh, the Israelites forgot about God’s power and grace. They complained about their circumstances when they were in Egypt and wandered in the desert – “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Ex. 14:11-12). God protected the Israelites from all of the plagues on the Egyptians and delivered them out of Egypt, thus setting them apart as God’s people. God also provided their physical and spiritual needs for survival and a place to worship in the desert. But the Israelites did not believe or fear God, and instead they grumbled against the all-powerful God.
Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.” –Exodus 6:6-8
After this point, I found it a bit tedious to read about God’s law. However, studying Exodus in Sunday School at Pillar has been shedding light on God’s purpose for each and every detail of the law and the Tabernacle, which is helping me to understand the second half of Exodus. God delivered His people, and the holy God teaches His people how to be holy too. And this lesson will continue through Leviticus, which I will be reading tomorrow until mid-February!
(For previous reflections in my resolution to read the Bible in one year, see Genesis.)