Reading the Old Testament – Exodus

This post is part 3 in the series about reading the Old Testament.  Here’s the introduction to the series and the book of Genesis.  We’re following this OT reading plan.

Exodus_downloadThe book of Exodus is one of the most important books in the OT.  It’s storyline is repeated over and over throughout the successive books of the OT.  God commands his people to remember his mighty works in delivering them from slavery by specifically telling the stories and holding yearly feasts of remembrance.  Below are some guidelines to help you get the most out of reading Exodus.

1. Book Layout – Exodus basically has 2 parts: Deliverance from Egypt (1-15) & Sinai Events (16-40).  I have a chart of Exodus available on the downloads page if you’d like more detail about the structural layout of the book

2. Leadership – Moses’ life makes for an excellent study on leadership.  Keep in mind this is not the intended purpose of the Bible in recording Moses’ life.  (See point 3 in previous post on Genesis about how to read a Biblical character). However, that does not mean there are not lessons for us to learn from Moses about how to be godly leader.

3. Major Events – Exodus is full of memorable events (the burning bush, plagues, parting the Red Sea, manna from heaven, water from the rock, the golden calf, 10 commandments).  However memorable those things are, the following event stands head and shoulders above the others:

  • Passover (Exodus 11-12) – The Passover is not only the 10th plague that caused Pharaoh to set Israel free, but it was an event full of typological prophecy about Christ.  Biblical prophecy falls into 3 basic categories or kinds. Typology (foreshadowing) means that an event in the OT is a precursor that foreshadows a larger or fuller event of the same kind that will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  As you read the Passover story, look for this.  As a side note, the Passover event will be memorialized by Israel through the yearly Feast of Unleavened Bread (see Exodus 12:14-17)

4. Nature and Character of God – Though Genesis records for us many of the things that God did, there is precious little information about who he is and what he is like other than what can be inferred indirectly from the narratives.  As an example, we learn from humanity’s original fall into sin, Cain killing Able, Noah and the flood that God is holy and cannot tolerate sin.

When we come to Exodus, the curtain begins to be pulled back on exactly who God is and what he is like.  This happens as we read the direct statements that God makes about himself.  Here’s a couple of things from Exodus that God says about himself…

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 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 3:13-14

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 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.” – Exodus 34:5-7

What other passages from Exodus specifically teach us about the nature and character of God?  Feel free to comment!

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