TiO 45 – Exodus – A God Who Draws Near
The Main Idea
Exodus is the template for our salvation story. It shows us what God is like and in it we see the story of our own freedom in Jesus.
Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)
Q1: What, if anything, did you decide to give up for Lent? How is your Lenten fast going?
Q2: What, in popular culture, makes reference to the Exodus story?
Q3: Have you encountered anything in your Lenten readings (of Exodus) that have struck you as new or meaningful?
Dig a Little Deeper
There are a lot of things going on in the first few chapters of Exodus. They are the setup for the whole story as they set the stage for what is to happen between God, Moses, the people of Israel, and the King of Egypt.
Read Exodus chapter 1
Jon’s message covered chapters 1-4 in Exodus.
Here is the outline of those chapters:
1. Review: Exodus 1:1-7
- Joseph was in Egypt and he moved his whole family there (70 people)
- Joseph died
- The people of Israel were blessed and grew in size, filling the land
2. A New King: the beginning of persecution: Exodus 1:8-22
- A new king arose in Egypt who had no knowledge of Jospeh and became concerned about the numbers of Israelites
- Egypt enslaved the people of Israel
- Ordered midwives to kill Israelite baby boys: midwives refused
- Ordered all the people to throw Israelite baby boys into the Nile River
3. The Rescue of Moses: Exodus 2:1-10
- to avoid the Pharaoh’s command, an Israelite woman put her baby boy (Moses) into a basket in the Nile
- The baby was discovered and rescued by the daughter of the Pharaoh who adopted him
- Moses’ mother (ironically) was paid to nurse the baby
- Moses grew up in the court of the Pharaoh
4. Moses flees to Exile: Exodus 2:11-25
- Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and kills him
- Moses sees two Hebrews fighting and tells them to stop … he discovers that his crime is well known
- The Pharaoh tries to capture Moses to have him killed for his crime
- Moses flees to Midean
- Moses meets the daughters of Reuel, the priest of Midean and defends their right to get water for their sheep against other shepherds in the area
- Moses is brought to Reuel’s home and marries his daughter Zipporah
- The Pharaoh dies
- God hears the cries of the Israelites
5. Moses is called by God: Exodus 3:1-22
- God appears to Moses in a burning bush
- God promises to release the people
- God sends Moses to save his people
- God reveals himself: “I AM has sent you”
6. Moses is given signs to prove he was sent by God: Exodus 4:1-9
- Staff becomes serpent
- Hand becomes leprous and then healed again
- Water turned to blood
7. Aaron (Moses’ brother) is tasked with speaking on Moses’ behalf: Exodus 4:10-20
8. Moses and Aaron convince the people that God will rescue them and set them free: Exodus 4:21-31
The Timelines of Exodus:
Exodus 1:1-7 – from the entry of the family of Joseph into Egypt, about 800 years passes.
- The people have multiplied from 70 people to about a million people
Exodus 1:8-2:25 – from the birth of Moses to his calling in the wilderness, about 80 years passes.
- This section of Exodus covers the birth of Moses, his growing up in the Egyptian court, his exile, his marriage, and his years as a shepherd
Exodus 3:1-40:38 – from Moses return to Egypt to the end of Exodus, about 1 year passes.
The Cause of the Conflict between Israel and Egypt:
- The seat of power is moved north from Upper Egypt—so-called because it is higher in elevation than Lower Egypt—to Lower Egypt
- The people of Israel have been living in relative obscurity for almost 1000 years in Lower Egypt, the Nile Delta.
- The Pharaoh is concerned for two reasons:
- There are a LOT of people living in the place he wants to build his cities.
- He has a paranoia that these people might join his enemies should a war ever break out.
- The Pharaoh uses his military might to force the people of Israel to work for him to build his enormous projects
The Characters in the Story of Exodus:
- The people of Israel: the descendants of the family of Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel), the father of Joseph.
- The Pharaoh and court of Egypt: when Exodus speaks of the Pharaoh, sometimes it means the administrative structure—like saying “The White House” to refer to the President of the USA—and sometimes it means the King of Egypt
- God: the one who reveals himself as the supreme deity and the saviour of the people of Israel—it is quite possible at this time in Israel’s history that they believed the Egyptian gods were real.
- Moses: the Israelite who was raised in the court of Egypt and is called to be the leader of his people.
The turning points in Exodus 1—which serve to set up the rest of the story:
Read Exodus 1:8
- A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph
Q1: What does “did not know Joseph” mean in this verse? After all, Joseph has been dead for 800 years.
Read Exodus 1:11-12
- BUT the more the Israelites were oppressed the more they flourished
Q2: What is the purpose of this phrase in the story? What does it tell us? What is it setting us up for?
“In every generation a person must regard himself as if he left Egypt, as it is written, ‘Because of this, [God] did all of this for me as He took me out of Egypt.’ He did not redeem our ancestors alone, but us as well.”
This comes from a Jewish text speaking of the value to each Jew of the story of the Exodus. This is no less true for us, but we have a more complete story, as Jesus reenacted his story once for all of us in his life, death, and resurrection.
Q3: What does it mean to say that “God did not redeem our ancestors alone, but us as well”?
Q4: Do you see parallels between this story and other stories that have played out or are playing out in our world? What are the dangers of connecting the stories of Exodus with modern news?
Jon concluded his teaching time by challenging us to look critically at the story of Exodus and compare it to our lives. Of course, it is clear that the role of God is still played by God: the one who has the power of the Universe but yet draws close to us. But there are three other players in this story: Israel, Moses, and Pharaoh.
Q1: In what way have you played the role of Israel, the oppressed?
Q2: In what way have you played the role of Pharaoh, the oppressor?
Q3: In what way have you played the role of Moses, the deliverer?
Discuss how one or more the roles have meaning for you.
Pray together about the connections between the Exodus story and your own journey to freedom in Jesus.
In this section we are provide the scriptures referenced in this study. Some are core to the lesson, others can optionally be read and discussed as part of your time together.
Exodus 1:1-22 (NRSV)
These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”