Exodus: Israel becomes a nation
Exodus is one of the first 5 books of the *Old Testament. We speak about these 5 books together as ‘the Pentateuch’. The *Greek translation gave this book its name ‘Exodus’. It means ‘to go out’. God helped the *Israelites ‘to go out’ from *Egypt. The book is in two parts:
Chapters 1-18: the first part of Moses’ life; the *Israelites’ troubles in Egypt; the events and the *plagues that led the *Israelites to leave Egypt.
Chapters 19-40: how God gave the Law to Moses; how they built the special holy tent (*Tabernacle); the rules for *worship.
Moses was the most important person in all these events. He was the main person who recorded the events. Exodus 24:4 has these words. ‘Then Moses wrote down everything that the *LORD had said.’ Later, when Joshua built an *altar, he followed Moses’ instructions for it (Joshua 8:31).
Moses’ name appears 804 times in the Bible. It appears in the books of both the *Old Testament and the *New Testament. Numbers 12:3 describes Moses as ‘a very humble man. He was more humble than anyone else on the earth’. But Moses was a great leader. He had great courage and he had a very close relationship with God. Without Moses, the *Israelites might not have escaped from the country called Egypt. They might not have reached the country that God had promised to them.
God had prepared Moses. And he chose Moses to act on his behalf (Exodus 3:8-10). God does not change, and he carries out his promises. Many years before that time, God had spoken to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He had told them that the number of people in their families would increase. And they would become great nations in the future. God had told them that he would give to them the country called *Canaan (Genesis 17:3-8). God rescued his people from Egypt, because he controls history. *Pharaoh, Egypt’s ruler, was powerful, but he could not stop God’s plans. God carried out his promise to guide the *Israelites in the *desert. The *desert was a wild place where there are small bushes and not much water. It has poor soil and people cannot grow crops there. Then God brought them to the country called *Canaan.
This book, Exodus, emphasises that God is holy. He looks after his people but he is separate from them. The *Israelites had to stay away from *Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:12). Not even Moses could see God himself (Exodus 33:18-20). They used many objects when they *worshipped God. And each of those objects was special and holy. Each thing reminded the *Israelites that nobody should approach God in a careless way. God expected his people to be holy. ‘Be holy, because I, the *LORD your God, am holy’ (Leviticus 19:2). God’s 10 *commandments and the other rules are in Exodus chapters 20-23. They show what God demands from his people. He wants moral behaviour all the time in people’s ordinary lives.
God is the *LORD (in *Hebrew his name is ‘Yahweh’). His name means: ‘the Person who lives for all time’. And he called himself ‘I AM’ (Exodus 3:14). Nobody can understand his nature completely. But he shows himself to us by means of his acts and his *commandments. He loves and he forgives. Also he acts to punish *sin (Exodus 34:5-7). People gained a more complete knowledge about God when Jesus came to earth. Jesus showed us what God is like (John 1:14 and 14:9).