Exodus 1-18 Moses Delivers God’s People

Introduction

1. Summary

  • Moses’ birth, childhood, and call qualified and prepared Moses for his divine mission.
  • The miracles in Egypt, the Exodus, the Red Sea, and the miracles on the way to Sinai showed Moses’ divine authorization.

2. Structure

This structure is based upon one found in the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (p98).

Moses born to deliver (Ex.1:1-2:10)

Moses called to deliver (Ex.2:11-4:31)

Moses successful in deliverance (Ex.5:1-15:21)

Moses vindicated in deliverance (Ex.15:22-18:27)

 

I. Moses Born to Deliver (1:1-2:10)

A. General Analysis

First Oppression Fails (Ex.1:1-14)

Second Oppression Fails (Ex.1:15-21)

Third Oppression Fails (Ex.1:22-2:10)[footnote]R Pratt, Lectures on Genesis to Joshua (Orlando: RTS).[/footnote]

B. Detailed Analysis

1. Opposition and multiplication

Genesis closed with Abraham’s descendants safe and comfortable in Egypt. Exodus opened 350 years later with the patriarchal covenant promises in jeopardy. The turning-point is noted in the words: “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Ex.1:8). Abraham’s descendants had grown in such significant numbers that they have become a threat to the Egyptian population (Ex.1:10) and the Egyptian attitude towards them had changed to dislike and persecution. In order to control this threat, the Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews and attempted to control their birth rate. The birth of Moses was God’s answer to this terrible predicament.

The Israelites went into Egypt as an extended family of seventy people (Gen. 46:27); they came out as a nation of almost two million men, women and children. Once favored friends, they had now become feared foes. They entered as honored relatives of the Prime Minister of all Egypt; they left as the fugitive slaves of a despotic and oppressive government.[footnote]G Crossley, The Old Testament Explained and Applied (England; Evangelical Press, 2002), 80.[/footnote]

However, what is most noticeable about these first two chapters of Exodus is that Pharaoh’s oppression leads to more multiplication three times (Ex.1:1-14; 15-21; 22-2:10 [baby Moses rescued]). In Egypt, the people of God were multiplied from 70 into many tens’ of thousands and formed into a real identifiable people in fulfillment of the divine promise (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:5).
David Dorsey highlights this reversal of Israel’s fortunes by comparing the first section of the Exodus narrative with the last unit.

  • The Exodus story opens with a statement about the Israelite arrival in Egypt (Ex.1:1-5) and closes with their departure (Ex. 12:41, 51; 13:3-16).
  • The story begins with a statement of the Israelites population when they arrived in Egypt, 70 persons (Ex. 1:5), and ends with the statement of the population when they left 600,000 men (Ex. 12:37-38).
  • The story opens with the Egyptians attempt to kill all the male Israelite babies (“lest they escape from the land” Ex 1:10), and concludes with Yahweh is killing her all the first-born sons of the Egyptians in order to enable the Israelites to escape from the land (Ex. 12:1-13:16).
  • Joseph’s request that the Israelites take his bones with them when they leave Egypt (Gen. 50:24-25) immediately precedes the introduction to the Exodus story; the fulfillment of his request immediately follows the account of their departure (Ex. 13:19).
  • The matching of the first and last units underscore the magnitude of the reversal of Israel’s fortunes. This emphasis is designed to engender Israel’s gratitude to Yahweh.[footnote]D Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 64.[/footnote]

Moses’ Message: Israel should thank God for using my ministry to defeat oppression and to reverse their fortunes.
 

2. Moses’ name (Ex.2:10)

The Egyptian word for Moses means “son.” The Hebrew is “he drew out.” When Israel heard this name, they would remember that Moses turned his back on royal sonship to be their leader in the wilderness. They would also remember that he was the one who was drawn out of the water to eventually defeat Pharaoh’s evil plans. Interestingly, the Hebrew term for “basket” is used only one other time in the Old Testament, for Noah’s Ark in Genesis 6-9. This association would have hinted at the grand significance of Moses.
The early chapters of Exodus prove to Israel that although he was born into Egyptian privilege, this was all part of God’s plan to defeat Pharaoh. God even used Pharaoh’s own daughter to undermine Pharaoh’s control over the people of God.
Moses’ Message: My birth, and the circumstances surrounding it, were part of God’s plan for me to “draw out” Israel from the flood of Egyptian oppression.
 

3. Preparation

Due to being brought up by his mother in Pharaoh’s house, Moses did not lose his identity as one of the Hebrew children. However, at the same time he was brought up in all of the learning of Egypt, one of the most advanced and best educated empires in the ancient world (Acts 7:22). Moses would have had an excellent education denied to the vast majority of children. He would have learned about the organization and government of Egypt and of world empires. All of this was ideal preparation for him.

The narrative of the birth and call of Moses occupies Exodus 1-4. Since Moses’ experience virtually anticipates Israel’s, many episodes in these four chapters point forward to parallel events in chapters 5-14, as Israel seeks to extract herself from Egypt.[footnote]W J Dumbrell, The Faith of Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 32.[/footnote]

Moses’ Message: God prepared and equipped me to organize and lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.

C. New Testament Analysis

1. The bondage of sin

Israel’s bondage in Egypt (Ex. 1:11-14) is a symbol of the sinner’s slavery to sin (Rom. 6:17-18).
 

2. Moses parents as heroes of the faith

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment (Heb. 11:23).

 

II. Moses Called to Deliver (2:11-4:31)

A. General Analysis

a Moses Flees Egypt (Ex. 2:11-25)

b God Calls Moses (Ex. 3:1-4:17)

a’ Moses Returns to Egypt (Ex. 4:18-31)

B. Detailed Analysis

1. Moses flees Egypt

This section demonstrates that although Moses was raised as an Egyptian, he was not an Egyptian at heart for his real sympathies were with Israel. His initial attempt to defend the Israelites led to his exile from Egypt.
This incident reveals one of the major recurring problems Moses faced in leading Israel. When he tried to intervene in a dispute between two Israelites he was asked: “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?” (Ex.2:14). The rest of Exodus is the answer to this question: God Himself ordained Moses as Israel’s ruler and judge.
Moses’ Message: God Himself made me the ruler and judge of Israel.
 

2. Preparation

We have already seen how Moses’ forty years in Pharaoh’s palace prepared and qualified him to lead the nation of Israel. However, God also graciously used Moses’ time in the wilderness to prepare him for his future task. Moses needed to be toughened up. He needed to know that wilderness he fled to because he was going to lead God’s people through it. Moses learned a great deal from his father in law about survival in the wilderness, and about the trails in the wilderness, and perhaps about the best places to stop, the waterholes and so forth. Being a shepherd was undoubtedly a good preparation, it would have taught him a great deal about patience and about handling large groups. Forty years as a shepherd in Midian gave him a spiritual depth which it might have been difficult to acquire in all the worldly activity of a pagan palace.

Robert Lee summarizes the life of Moses like this: firstly, forty years thinking he was somebody; secondly, forty years learning he was a nobody; and, thirdly, forty years discovering what God can do with a nobody.[footnote]G Crossley, The Old Testament Explained and Applied (England; Evangelical Press, 2002), 81.[/footnote]

Moses’ Message: God has prepared me to shepherd His people safely through the wilderness.
 

3. The Divine Initiative (Ex. 3)

And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex.3:7-8).

Note the predominance here of the pronoun “I.” God is the one again who takes the initiative. God it is who shows his concern. God it is who has seen. God knows. God understands and God will deliver and he will bring them back into the land of Canaan.
Moses’ Message: The deliverance effected by God through me was initiated by God and not man.
 

4. The Prophetic Call (Ex. 3)

While Moses’ origins are priestly (of the tribe of Levi; see Exod. 2:1), his call in Exodus 3 is clearly prophetic, consisting of divine confrontation (Ex. 3:1-4a), introductory divine word (Ex. 3:4b-9), commission (Ex.3:10), typical objections (Ex.3:11), divine reassurance (Ex.3:12a), and the promise of a sign (Ex.3:12b). As the divine messenger whose function was to proclaim God’s will to Israel and to keep them within the covenant, Moses’ ministry was undoubtedly prophetic. As the initiator of Israel’s cultic institutions, the ministry of Moses was also priestly.
Moses’ Message: God has commissioned me as His divine messenger.
 

5. God overcomes Moses’ questions and objections

In Midian Moses settled into a new occupation, a new family and a new home. Perhaps he tried to forget about the terrible situation the Israelites were in. But God did not forget His people (Ex. 2:23-25).

God was committed to taking action to redeem his people from Egypt because of his covenant with the patriarchs. Moses and God were on a collision course. The Lord was determined to save the Israelites; Moses was determined to forget about them. The famous call of Moses at the burning bush is where the two collide. God called Moses to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of their slavery.[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 105.[/footnote]

Moses raised five objections all of which God answered.

Moses questions and objects God Answers
Who am I (Ex.3:11)? A sign: you will worship at this mountain
What is his name (Ex.3:13)? I am that I am
If they do not believe (Ex.4:1) Miracles and plagues (Ex.4:2-9)
I’ve never been eloquent (Ex.4:10) I made everything (Ex.4:11-12)
Someone else (Ex.4:13) Aaron (Ex.4:14-17)
[footnote]R Pratt, Lectures on Genesis to Joshua (Orlando: RTS).[/footnote]

Here we see the God whose voice was to shake the earth at Sinai talking, arguing, pleading even, with a mere man to undertake a great work. And who is this man? One of the conspicuous failures of history. Born of a slave people, raised to high position, well educated, capable of great things, Moses had slain an Egyptian for smiting a Hebrew, he had tried to make peace between two Hebrews. With what result? Career ruined, flight, exile, an unknown and forgotten man for forty years – forty years to repent of having assumed the role of deliverer. And suddenly to this failure of a man comes the call of God to deliver his entire people. The man who has failed in a small way is summoned to undertake in a large way! God’s ways are not our ways.[footnote]O T Allis, God Spake by Moses (Philipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1951), 62.[/footnote]

 

6. God overcomes people’s objections to Mosaic leadership

God’s call was not only intended to overcome Moses’ own objections to his assuming a leadership role. It was also designed to overcome the Israelites’ objections.

a. Moses flees Egypt (Ex. 2:11-25): this shows that Moses was concerned for Israel, and that he chose Midian isolation in preference to Egyptian privilege.

b. God calls Moses (Ex. 3:1-4:17): this shows that Moses was called by the Angel of the Lord as a result of divine promises and compassion and was always a reluctant and fearful conscript.

c. Moses returns with Aaron to Egypt: there is an emphasis on welcome by thankful Israel (Ex. 4:27-31)

Moses’ Message: God’s call answers any objections you may have to my leadership
 

7. Yahweh (Ex. 3:14)

As Dumbrell says: “Although the exact meaning of the name Yahweh is still uncertain, it includes some component of the verb ‘to be’.” Two translations are possible:

a. “He causes to be” or “He will cause to be” (i.e., creates).
b. “He is” or “He will be.”

The majority opinion and the context of chapter 3 favor the latter possibility; the meaning of the somewhat enigmatic verse 14 (“I am who I am”) may thus be “I am He who is”!

Whatever the precise meaning, the general intent of the episode in Exodus 3 is to assure Moses and Israel of Yahweh’s presence in the nation’s developing history…The significance of God’s personal name of intimacy, Yahweh, is that he is the God who is there for Moses and the Israelites. Moses had asked God what to say if the reluctant Israelites want to know who sent him to Egypt to deliver them. The request for a name is their way of asking exactly, “What kind of God is the God of our ancestors?” In response God said to tell them, “I am the God who is there for you”…The Exodus in fact marked Yahweh for ever as the God who was present with Israel to deliver them.[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 114.[/footnote]

Exodus 6:3 seems to indicate that the patriarchs did not know God as Yahweh. Liberal critics use this to argue that the name Yahweh was not known until Moses. From this they conclude that references to Yahweh in Genesis are contradictory and must be derived from different sources. However, Exodus 6:3 may simply mean that although the name was known, the full saving significance of the name was not revealed until the Exodus.

Although God revealed himself to the patriarchs as Yahweh before the days of Moses, God declared to Moses that this name had special significance in his day and for the rest of Israel’s history. Much mystery attaches to the name of Yahweh. Traditionally, this name in all its forms was understood to focus on God’s eternal, self sustaining, self determining, sovereign character – that supernatural mode of existence that the sign of the burning bush had signified. More recently, the name has been connected closely to the idea that God is a faithful covenant-keeping God. When God first spoke from the burning bush he revealed himself as the one who had made covenant promises to the patriarchs (Ex.3:6). This revelation prompted Moses to ask for his name. When God revealed his name as Yahweh, he announced that he was not merely the God of the past, but the God who remembers his covenant promises and moves on behalf of his people to keep them – as he was about to do for the Israelites in Egypt.[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 102.[/footnote]

Whether the new divine name (“Yahweh”) that God reveals to Moses at the burning bush is new in the absolute sense is a question that need not detain us. Some of the Israelite personal names (e.g., Jochebed, Moses’ mother; and Joshua) suggest that the name Yahweh is older than the event. It is probable, therefore, that Moses asks at 3:13-15, not for the name itself, but for the sig-nificance of the name (cf. 6:3). To the mind of the ancient Near Eastern person, the name of the deity opened the possibility of a relationship. Once given the name, the worshiper could “call upon the name” in prayer. The revelation of the name assured the deity’s commitment; within the name, the deity’s character was disclosed. Although the exact meaning of the name Yahweh is still uncertain, it includes some component of the verb “to be.”[footnote]W J Dumbrell, The Faith of Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 33.[/footnote]

The Exodus 3 account of Moses and the burning “bush” on Horeb, “the mountain of God,” where the character of Yahweh is revealed, closely parallels and anticipates Israel’s experience at Sinai, “the mountain of God” (24:13), where the law is revealed. The similarity of the Hebrew for bush (seneh) with the word for Sinai underscores the parallel.

Moses’ own experience at Horeb is thus a mirror image of Israel’s.[footnote]Ibid., 33[/footnote]

Moses’ Message: In accordance with His covenant promises, God has revealed Himself to me in a unique, powerful and gracious way for a unique, powerful and gracious deliverance.
 

8. Miracles (Ex. 4:2-9)

This cluster of miracles is closely associated with the revelation that God is going to give through Moses. This is the first major revelation that God gives to his church, and so the cluster of miracles gives authority to the one who is to be God’s spokesman. The second cluster of miracles that we find in the Bible centers around the time of Elijah and Elisha, two prophets who were the forerunners of the great writing prophets of the Old Testament. The third cluster of miracles of course centers around the time of Jesus and his disciples and the early church. This cluster of miracles is also associated with a time of a proclamation of a new revelation of God to his people.
Moses’ Message: God has authorized and attested me and my ministry by supernatural signs and wonders

C. New Testament Analysis

1. Moses as a hero of the faith

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible (Heb.11:24-27).

 

III. Moses Successful in Deliverance (Ex. 5:1-15:21)

A. General Analysis

a Moses’ first meeting with Pharaoh (Ex.5:1-6:12)    Difficulty and Discouragement

b Miracles, judgments and deliverance (Ex.6:13-13:16)

a’ Moses’ last meeting with Pharaoh (Ex.13:17-15:21)   Confidence and Celebration

 

B. Detailed Analysis

1. Confrontation

– Moses Confronts Pharaoh with God’s Word (Ex.5:1–6:9)
– Moses Confronts Pharaoh with God’s Miracles (Ex.6:10–7:13)
– Moses Confronts Pharaoh with God’s Plagues (Ex.7:14–11:10)

The first confrontation with Pharaoh results in an increasing oppression and enslavement, much to the discouragement of Moses (Ex. 5:15-23). At this point God reminds and encourages Moses that the basis of the planned deliverance was God’s unbreakable promises to Israel’s patriarchs (Ex. 6:2-8).
The Hebrew used in Exodus 6:4 means “cause to stand.” It always means “to give further expression to” (or establish) a covenant previously granted by God (Gen. 15:18). This is further underlined in Ex. 6:5 when, in taking action against Egypt, God is “remembering” His covenant, that is, remembering the previously given pledge of Gen 15:18.

With this statement the relationship of God to the patriarchs, described in Genesis, is reaffirmed. The triple promise of seed, land and blessing was established in a covenant given to Abraham at the age of ninety-nine (Gen. 17:1-8), reiterated to Isaac (Gen. 26:3), and to Jacob (Gen. 28:14; 35:9-12). By the time of the Exodus, the first facet of the promise, that of seed (offspring, or descendants), has been realized. The families of Israel have been exceptionally fruitful (Ex.1:7). Fulfillment of the remaining parts of the promise, land and blessing, is now to be undertaken.[footnote]G Crossley, The Old Testament Explained and Applied (England; Evangelical Press, 2002), 84.[/footnote]

Moses’ Message: Just as the patriarchs trusted in the promises, despite discouragements, so should Israel trust in God’s promised deliverance through me.
 

2. Plagues and Judgments (Ex.7:8-13:16)

First miracle of snakes  (Ex. 7:8-13)
First Series (Ex. 7:14-8:19)
Warning at the Nile (Ex.7:14-18)
Blood (Ex.7:14-24)
Frogs (Ex.7:25-8:15)
Gnats (Ex.8:16-19)
Magicians (Ex.7:22; 8:7; 8:18-19)
Second Series (Ex. 8:20-9:12)
Warning at the Nile (Ex.8:20-23)
Flies (Ex.8:20-32)
Livestock (Ex.9:1-7)
Boils (Ex.9:8-12)
Distinction (Ex.8:22-23; 9:4,7; 9:9)
Third series (Ex. 9:13-10:29)
Warning at Nile (Ex.9:13-19)
Hail (Ex.9:13-35)
Locusts (Ex.10:1-20)
Darkness (Ex.10:21-29)
Distinction (Ex.9:26; 10:15,23)
Last miracle of Passover (Ex.11:1-13:16)
[footnote]R Pratt, Lectures on Genesis to Joshua (Orlando: RTS).[/footnote]  
As the plagues occur one after another, they increase in intensity of destruction. They also more clearly distinguish between the Israelites, who are unaffected by the plagues and the Egyptians, who are struck hard. This culminates in the tenth plague with the death of the Egyptian firstborn, while the Israelites celebrate the Passover.

The initial plague of each triplet suggests the distinct motif of each sequence. In the first triplet (blood, frogs, lice), the note is the superiority of God and God’s agents over the magicians of the court (Ex. 7:12). In the second sequence (insects, pestilence, boils), God’s presence in Egypt and thus God’s control are signaled by the separation made between Israel and Egypt (Ex. 8:18-24; 9:4-7). The third triplet (hail, locusts, darkness) emphasizes the incomparability of Yahweh (see Ex. 9:14 and the unique character of the plagues, noted in Ex. 9:18, 24; 10:6,14). Pharaoh’s unreasonableness must give way before Yahweh’s manifested power.[footnote]W J Dumbrell, The Faith of Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 35.[/footnote]

It would appear that some of the plagues were directed against specific Egyptian deities to reveal their impotence and Yahweh’s sovereignty over all. The serpent, the river, the sun, the cattle, and the frogs were either deified or closely associated with one of their gods. But they were all helpless before the God of Moses.

According to Egyptian theology, Pharaoh was himself a god, but in the final plague the vulnerability of the king was clearly exposed. Israel was God’s “firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22), and since Pharaoh refused to release Israel, Pharaoh’s firstborn son would die as a consequence (Ex.4:23). In the Near East the firstborn son enjoyed special privileges, including a double share of the inheritance, so the loss of the firstborn was a tragedy that would cripple the family legally and emotionally….The death of the firstborn produced an unprecedented volume of wailing throughout Egypt, but among the Israelites there was calm and quietness (Ex.11:6–7; 12:30).[footnote]H Wolf, An Introduction to the Old Testament Pentateuch (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), Electronic Edition[/footnote]

Moses Message: The plagues demonstrated God’s support of me and my leadership.
 

3. The Passover (Ex.12-13)

The Passover was both a great judgment and a great deliverance. In the previous plagues the Israelites and their animals were automatically spared. However, special instructions were given to ensure that Israel’s firstborn sons would not be killed along with the Egyptians. Basically, they were to sacrifice a year old lamb and apply the blood to the sides and tops of the doors. After eating the lamb the Lord passed over and spared the houses with the blood.
The lamb was to be eaten with unleavened bread, because of the urgency of the situation, and with bitter herbs which in later years reminded Israel of their bitter experience in Egypt and their sudden deliverance.

According to Exodus 4:22 Israel was God’s firstborn son, so the time of the Passover with its emphasis upon the firstborn was a marvelous occasion to think about the meaning of a covenant relationship.[footnote]Ibid., Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

 

4. The Red (Reed) Sea (Ex.14)

In these chapters we have the birth of the vocabulary of redemption which God later uses to build the whole doctrine of personal salvation. In one act God delivers his people and destroys his enemies. So, the Red Sea crossing is the epitome, climax and paradigm of God’s work of salvation in the Old Testament.

Redemption refers to the recovery of something that once belonged to an individual or family but that became alienated, and thus beyond the power of the owner to reclaim. Its use suggests the return of persons or things to their normal position. As next of kin, God intervenes as Redeemer to secure the return of Israel to her rightful relationship. From Pharaoh, God demands God’s son, who has become enslaved. In the social regime of the OT, the beneficiary of such an action becomes indebted to the redeemer and relates to the redeemer in a special way. Israel was thus accustomed to describing herself as a bond-slave of Yahweh, as she had once been a bond-slave in Egypt. Thus the OT metaphors for worship often tend to be drawn from the sphere of service. By redemption, Israel passed into the service of the one whose service is perfect freedom. Thus there is an easy transition from the concept of master and servant, to king and subject, to father and son.[footnote]W J Dumbrell, The Faith of Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 36.[/footnote]

From the significance of the event itself as well as its reverberations through the canon, it is clear that the Exodus was God’s greatest act of salvation in the Old Testament…The Exodus deliverance was one that helped mould Israel’s self-understanding that they were God’s people. The significance of the event is clearly seen in the way that the Exodus theme is constantly reapplied throughout the Old Testament and into the New. Indeed, this great act of salvation becomes in essence the paradigm for future deliverances.[footnote]R Dillard and T Longman, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 65.[/footnote]

At the conclusion of this great rescue the entire exodus event is summarized:

Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses (Ex.14:30-31).

The narrative of “Phase 1” (to Red Sea) is written in such a way as to encourage the Israelites for “Phase 2” (into Canaan).
Moses’ Message: Faith in God and his messenger will lead to deliverance and celebration.
 

5. The Song of Moses (Ex.15)

The first part of the song of Moses presents Yahweh as a warrior who leads and fights for Israel. This imagery of Yahweh engaged in holy war continues through the early conquest narratives, through prophecy and apocalyptic, into the New Testament. In the second part of the song the conflict imagery gives place to more peaceful pastoral imagery. Yahweh is the divine Shepherd (v13) who leads his people into the Promised Land
C. New Testament Analysis

1. God “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom. 9:17-18).

Hardened” actually means “to set or to be set,” and what it means is that God simply allows the heart of Pharaoh to be set in its unbelief and stubbornness. In other words, God does not intervene in any way here to keep Pharaoh’s heart from its normal and natural hardness. Just as cement has the nature to harden, unless you do something about it, God refrained from doing anything about Pharaoh’s heart. He allowed it to follow its own nature, which was sinful and rebellious. What it does not mean is that Pharaoh by his own nature would have let the people go but God hardened his heart, so that he wouldn’t let them go. God let it set as it was. God did not do anything by means of “common” or “providential” goodness to make Pharaoh’s heart tender, he allowed it to be the kind of heart it was, and it was a rebellious heart and one that rejected God. So, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was God’s judgment against Pharaoh for his prior wickedness.
 

2. Plagues as eschatological forerunners

Taken as a whole the Bible has relatively few periods in which miracles are plentiful. After the time of Moses we must wait until the ninth century B.C. and the prophetic ministries of Elijah and Elisha when once again God intervened decisively through miraculous signs. In the New Testament there are, of course, numerous miracles connected with the ministry of Christ as the last days begin (cf. Heb. 1:2 ). At the culmination of the last days as recorded in the book of Revelation, it is interesting to note that the judgments described are sometimes similar to the plagues of Egypt. In chapter 8 a third of the sea is turned into blood (Rev.8:8 ), and a third of the sun becomes dark (Rev. 8:12 ). The ugly and painful sores associated with the outpouring of God’s wrath ( Rev. 16:2 ) and the falling of huge hailstones in Rev.16:21 are also reminiscent of the plagues. Perhaps in Revelation we are to think of the deliverance of the righteous as a kind of final Exodus from the bondage of a wicked world. The forces of Satan will be defeated as decisively as Pharaoh and his armies.[footnote]H Wolf, An Introduction to the Old Testament Pentateuch (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), Electronic Edition[/footnote]

 

3. Christ our Passover

This is a rich New Testament theme which sheds much light on the OT ceremony and ritual. Some verses to ponder are:

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (Jn.1:29).

For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us (1Cor.5:7).

See also (1Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 7:9-10). Christ’s death, like the Passover, was both a supreme judgment and a great deliverance.
 

4. Christ’s “Exodus”

Christ’s life was a fulfillment of the Exodus (Matt. 2:14-15). The act that initiated Jesus’ ministry was his baptism. In analogy with the Exodus experience, baptism is Jesus’ Red Sea crossing. Then Jesus moved to the wilderness where he experienced forty days (corresponding to the forty years of wilderness wandering) of temptation (Matt. 4:1-11). While Christ resisted temptation, however, Israel gave in to it. Jesus’ replies to Satan confirm the analogy since all are taken from Moses’ speech recorded in Deuteronomy (Deut. 8:3; 6:13; 6:16), in which he admonishes Israel not to behave as they did in the wilderness. Jesus thereby shows that He is obedient exactly where the Israelites were rebellious.
 

5. Redemption from bondage

The Exodus presents a major metaphor of God’s saving work. God redeemed his chosen people from the powers of evil to which they had become enslaved and he judged those powers and claimed his people as a firstborn son, a holy nation of priests among whom he dwelled by his spirit.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mat.11:28).

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom.3:24).

 
6. The Song of Moses and of the Lamb (Ex.15)
The song of Moses anticipates the song of the lamb (Rev.15:3).

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest (Rev.15:3-4).

 

IV. Moses Vindicated in Deliverance (Ex. 15:22-18:27)

A. General Analysis

Moses vindicated at Shur (Ex. 15:22-16:36)

Moses vindicated at Sin (Ex. 17:1-16)

Moses vindicated near Sinai (Ex. 18:1-27)

B. Detailed Analysis

1. Israel preserved (Ex. 15:22-18:27)

As Israel travel from Egypt to Sinai, they are preserved from thirst (Ex. 15:22–27), from hunger (Ex. 16:1–36), from thirst again (Ex. 17:1–7), from defeat (Ex. 17:8–16), and from chaos (Ex. 18:1–27).

This final unit of the historical introduction traces Israel’s journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai. A single focus ties it together: Yahweh’s guidance, care for, and protection of the Israelites as they journey to Sinai. Yahweh’s mighty power contrasts with the conspicuous weakness of those he rescues. All this is designed to accomplish the key purpose of the historical prologue: to engender a sense of gratitude respect and trust on the part of Israel toward their new suzerain, Yahweh.[footnote]D Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 66.[/footnote]

 

2. Moses vindicated

The time of doubts about Moses is slowly and gradually replaced by time of vindication and support for Moses. Moses is comparing their disbelief with his own divine vindication and support.

a. Marah and Elim (Ex.15:22-27): The people challenged Moses’ leadership, but God vindicated Moses by providing water in response to his prayer.

b. Sin (Ex.16:1-36): The Israelites again rebelled against Moses’ leadership, but Moses prayed for them and God provided manna.

c. Rephidim (Ex.17:1-16): Two events took place at Rephidim during which Moses leadership proved to be a blessing to Israel – the provision of water (Ex.17:1-7) and the defeat of the Amalekites (Ex.17:8-16).

d. Near Sinai (Ex.18:1-27): Moses reports the blessing of an effective judicial system enacted near Sinai that had been given through him to Israel by God.

Moses’ Message: These events prove that Israel should follow me in the future to secure protection and provision.
 

C. New Testament Analysis

1. The bread of life

Jesus presents Himself as the manna from heaven.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (Jn.6:31-35).

 

2. The water of life

The Apostle Paul tells his Corinthian readers that the rock in the wilderness was a type of Christ (1Cor. 10:4). Jesus Himself said:

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink (Jn.7:37).

Paul, in referring to this subject (1 Cor. 10:4f.), declares that both the meat and the drink were “spiritual,” which means that they were “from heaven” (John 6:31) and miraculously supplied. When he goes on to say that they “drank of that spiritual rock that followed them” and adds that this “rock was Christ,” we must be careful not to read into his words more than he intended. His exact meaning has been much debated. We may be sure that by describing the rock as “spiritual” he is excluding the Jewish tradition that the literal rock at Horeb or a fragment of it rolled after them wherever they journeyed. We may be equally sure that he saw in the manna from heaven and the water from the rock the types of Christ who is the Source of life to His people as well under the old dispensation as under the new. How much more may be inferred, it is hard to say. Some hold that the statement that the rock followed them refers to the definite Theophany of the pre-incarnate Christ, the Angel of the Covenant.[footnote]O T Allis, God Spake by Moses (Philipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1951), 70.[/footnote]

 

3. Written for our learning

These passages of Scripture have a message for us too.

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted (1Cor.10:1-6).

 

4. The Christian wilderness (Heb.3:7-4:13)

Christians today experience life as a wilderness wandering looking to the future Promised Land (heaven).
 

V. The Message

Original Message: Israel should follow the divinely called, used, and vindicated Moses
Present Message: The Church should follow the divinely called, used, and vindicated Moses and Christ.