Most of us have heard the story about the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. But it wasn’t until I sat down to write a Bible study over the book of Exodus that I began to see how Exodus directly points us to the Gospel.
The stories themselves are powerful examples of God’s provision and sovereignty, but as you continue to dig deeper, you see every single thing in the book painting a picture of the Gospel and giving us practical steps in today’s world to help us understand and follow Christ.
If you’ve never looked at Exodus with these eyes before, here are 3 principles you can apply today from the book of Exodus
Remember what God has done
Throughout the book of Exodus, God is continually calling the people of Israel to remember what he has done. He begins by being an example of what he wants the people to do when he states “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob”. The entire action of Exodus begins with God remembering his covenant and then acting accordingly. Throughout the rest of the book, God is calling the Israelites to mirror God’s action and remember.
God begins this pattern in Exodus 3:15 by appealing to the Hebrew people to remember him as the God of their patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understanding and realizing he is the same God is the first step in this people group trusting God. He then goes on to command the Hebrew people to “remember this day when you came out of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, for the Lord brought you out of here by the strength of his hand”. This idea of remembering is continued throughout the book as a way for the Israelites to have the courage and energy to follow what God asks of them.
We see the importance of learning this lesson as Jesus teaches his disciples as well.
As they struggle to have faith and believe, Jesus responds, “Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand and how many baskets you collected?” Jesus’ response to his followers struggling to have faith was to call them to remember what he has already done.
I believe this would be his response to contemporary followers as well. As we seek to follow God and obey what he commands and demonstrates, life can get hard and we can quickly get weary. But when we stop and remember all God has already done for us and how we have seen him work, walking forward into obedience is so much easier. We see throughout the book of Exodus and the rest of scripture, remembering always increases our faith and helps us respond to God in an appropriate manner.
Freedom from bondage comes from God
The people of God begin the book of Exodus in bondage. They have been enslaved and held prisoner by the Egyptians for hundreds of years, and there is no hope for this situation to change. The only hope they had was for God to step in and rescue them. We see this demonstrated at the beginning of Exodus when we read, “their cry for help because of the difficult labor ascended to God”. The Israelites had no way out of their bondage. They could simply cry out and wait to be rescued.
This image of needing to be rescued paints the picture of our own need for salvation and our inability to attain it on our own.
Just like the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, each person is born as a slave to sin. And just like the Israelites needed God to step in and set them free, “...Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” We need to rely on and put our faith in Jesus in order to be free from our bondage to sin and death.
The Israelites couldn’t save themselves and neither can we. In this way, the book of Exodus becomes a picture of what salvation looks like for the current reader. We can read Exodus and clearly see what it looks like to be enslaved to sin and our only hope is to cry out to God and let him step in and rescue us.
Following God does not mean you will avoid suffering or pain
Current society often preaches and believes following God results in a life free from pain and suffering. This belief leads to God being a magic genie or a security net instead of the God of their life. But, as one reads through the book of Exodus, it is clearly seen following God does not always equal a pain-free life. In fact, following God sometimes means you will suffer more on earth.
We see this demonstrated right away in Exodus when God begins to use plagues to grab Pharaoh’s attention. The plagues were a form of suffering on the people living in Egypt in order for them to “know that I am the Lord.” However, not just the Egyptians suffered from these plagues. We see the first 4 plagues were also experienced by the Israelites. They were not exempt from suffering simply because God was rescuing them. In fact, their suffering was to help them understand and truly believe God was their only God and worthy to be followed and worshipped.
Oftentimes suffering and pain is experienced as God turns our hearts to him.
Philippians 4:12 shows us this need for us to learn contentment in God as Paul states he has learned the secret of being content “whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need”. He goes on to state that all his needs are met through Christ. He learned this lesson through his suffering and walking through hardships. As he survived and walked through suffering, he realized the sufficiency of Christ in new ways.
But pain and suffering also occur in our lives because we live in a broken world.
The Israelites didn’t do anything wrong to deserve enslavement, and often we don’t do anything wrong to deserve wrong treatment or pain either. But the fact of the matter is, once sin entered the world in Genesis 3, the world was no longer the perfect Eden that God created. Apart from God, we all walk according to the “ruler of the power of the air”. If the majority of the world is walking according to the “ruler of the power of the air”, the world as a collective whole will suffer. While following God provides peace, comfort, and joy, we would do well to remember a life free from suffering and pain is not promised.
Exodus is such a fascinating book full of encouragement for us today. If you’re interested in jumping into this book and learning more, I have a few limited copies of my Exodus bible study available in the shop.
If you’re local and want porch-pick up, enter code EXODUS to take the shipping costs off your total price. In addition, I have a short handout over Exodus you can download below to help as you jump into this book of the bible!
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