Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
“Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”
An Overview of the Book of Exodus
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” (Exodus 14:13)
The Book of Exodus is a book about redemption. Throughout the book, we are given picture after picture of our redemption and deliverance from sin and death by Christ. The theme of the book is found in verse 13 of the 14th chapter. — “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” That is the way sinners are saved. God does it. We see it (2 Tim. 1:9-10).
There are multitudes who, when they read this book, see it as nothing but a book of religious laws and ceremonies. There are three basic reasons for that. (1.) Many read the Scriptures as though they were two books, two revelations from God. They read the Old Testament as though it is an independent book, standing alone, and separate from the New. How often have you heard people refer to the Old Testament as “the Old Bible”? The Old Testament is but the first part of God’s written revelation of himself. The New Testament is the second and final part. But they are one Book of God, one Revelation. They must never be separated. Someone once said, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”
(2.) Others attempt to interpret the New Testament by the Old. That is a terrible mistake, leading to terrible erroneous doctrine. The New Testament is the Holy Spirit’s inspired commentary on the Old Testament. In the New Testament he explains that which is written in the Old Testament.
And (3.) the vast majority of people read the Old Testament as though it has very little to say about the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. After listening to a large box of our tapes her nephew gave her, a lady who had been in church all her life wrote to me to say, “The Old Testament has come alive with Christ.” Truly, the Old Testament comes alive to us when we see Christ in it. Until then, we see nothing but religious history, religious laws, and religious ceremonies.
We often speak of the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. But Moses’ writings are also gospel literature. The gospel is the proclamation of God’s salvation in and by Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us about the earthly life and ministry of our Redeemer. Yet, Moses wrote about our Savior’s person and work more systematically and in greater detail than they did. Only he tells us the story of redemption, grace, and salvation by Christ in types, and pictures, and shadows.
Moses gives us the same story, the same gospel, the same good news as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He continually holds before us God’s election, our sin, Christ’s atonement for sin, and the Holy Spirit’s cleansing of our souls in regeneration. I want the Book of Exodus to come alive to you. In these forty chapters Moses wrote of Christ (Luke 24:27; John 1:45).
As we read the Old Testament, we must never lose sight of him of whom the Old Testament speaks. Rather, let us search for him in this field of Holy Scripture as for hidden treasure. In particular, as we study the Book of Exodus, I want to show you Christ on every page. There are, perhaps, more types, and shadows, and pictures of the Lord Jesus in Exodus than in any other book of the Old Testament. May God the Holy Spirit graciously bring to light the things of Christ in these forty chapters and show them to us, that we may find him “of whom Moses and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth.”
Exodus means “going out.” This Book is called “Exodus” because it reveals God’s great work of grace in bringing his covenant people out of Egyptian bondage. It covers a time frame of about 140 years, from the death of Joseph to the erection of the tabernacle.
The whole Book of Exodus is a message of divine deliverance. As such, it portrays the great work of our God in redeeming us from the bondage of sin and death and bringing us into what Paul calls, “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). Even as he gave Israel his law in ten commandments, God told them that his intention in his dealings with them was that they might ever be reminded of this fact, — “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2).
Exodus shows us God’s answer to our need, his remedy for our ruin, and his deliverance from sin and death by Christ. As such, it is a tremendous picture and conveys very instructive lessons about redemption. — What it is and how it is accomplished. Here we see pictures of what our God has done for us, is doing for us, and will yet do for us in bringing us into “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” His wondrous method of grace is the same in your life and mine as it was in Moses’ day. He does not change; and his method of grace does not change.
Everything written in the Book of Exodus was written by divine inspiration to show us how God works in providence and grace, overruling evil for good, to teach us the gospel (Acts 10:43; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). It focuses our minds on seven great events. — Israel’s Bondage in Egypt — The Birth of Moses — The Passover — The Crossing of the Red Sea — The Giving of the Law — The Making of the Tabernacle — The End of Moses’ Work.
In chapter one we see Israel in Egyptian bondage. Israel was God’s chosen nation, typically representing all his elect, his “holy nation” and “royal priesthood,” “the Israel of God.” All those are terms used to describe God’s church and kingdom. National Israel was but a type of true Israel.
Just as Israel was in bondage to Egypt for 400 years, so all God’s elect, by the sin and fall of our father Adam, are by nature in a state of bondage to sin and death, “having no hope and without God in the world.” But it is very important for us to remember four things.
1. Israel’s bondage in Egypt was according to God’s purpose of grace toward Abraham (Genesis 15:13).
2. Israel’s time of bondage was for a set time — 400 years.
3. At the appointed time all Israel came out of Egypt.
4. And though they were bondmen in Egypt for 400 years, they lost nothing by their bondage, but gained much. — They came into Egypt as 70 poor, starving souls. — They came out as a mighty nation (upwards of 4,000,000!), carrying with them all the spoils of Egypt!
So it shall be with God’s elect. For each one there is a set time of bondage; and at the time appointed, called “the time of love,” every chosen sinner shall come out of Egypt. In due time, in the fulness of time, Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. And at the appointed time of love, every blood-bought sinner is delivered by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit in effectual calling. And we will suffer no loss by reason of our bondage. Rather, when our Savior gathers his elect unto himself in resurrection glory, we shall bring all the wealth of the earth with us into his heavenly kingdom. And, when the former things are passed away, we shall have all the fulness of all things forever with Christ. And there shall be no sorrow, for there shall be no sin, only the glory of perfect redemption in and with Christ!
The Lord God told Abraham that he would send Israel into a stranger’s land, where they would be afflicted for four hundred years. Then, he promised to deliver his people (Genesis 15:13-14). The book of Exodus begins with Israel in bondage in the land of Egypt. They had been in bondage for four hundred years. But the time of deliverance had come, and God raised up a deliverer. Now, the time of deliverance was at hand. So in chapter 2 we have the birth of Moses, Israel’s deliverer.
Moses was a type of Christ. Without question, the name “Moses” represents the law of God and is used, at times, as a synonym for the law (Acts 6:11; 15:21; 21:21; 2 Corinthians 3:15). But Moses was also a type of Christ (Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Acts 3:22; 7:37). As it was with the incarnation, birth, and life of our great Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the hand of God was remarkably and undeniably manifest throughout Moses’ life. Like the Lord Jesus, that Deliverer whom he typified, Moses appeared “in the fulness of time.” When the “due time” arrived, the deliverer arrived. His birth was at a time of great darkness and great need. When he was born, Pharaoh sought to kill him. But Moses was miraculously preserved until the time of his appearing as God’s deliverer.
God often uses Satan’s devices to accomplish his purposes. As I read the Scriptures, I cannot help thinking that our Lord must have a sense of humor. I can hardly refrain from laughter as I read about him turning the tables on his enemies and overruling the evil ploys of men and devils to accomplish his great purpose of grace, the very thing they try to prevent. We see the ways of our God revealed in Psalm 76:10 displayed in the life of Moses and in the life of our Redeemer.
Though Pharaoh ordered the midwives to murder all the baby boys born among the children of Israel, Moses was not only saved, but Pharaoh’s daughter hired his own mother to nurse him and take care of him! He grew up in Pharaoh’s house, as his own grandson. He was trained in all the learning of the Egyptians and given the best education in the world at that time. As Pharaoh’s adopted son, he had every privilege and every advantage of the world.
When he became a man, God revealed himself to him and showed him that he was chosen and ordained to be the deliverer of Israel. So he went out, trying to do his job, he thought, and ended up killing an Egyptian and fleeing into the wilderness. He left the land of Egypt and tended sheep for forty years in the wilderness.
Then he was called, sent, and equipped of God to deliver Israel. The Lord God appeared to him in the burning bush and sent him back to Egypt to deliver Israel at the time appointed (chapter 3). But Moses was totally unfit for the task before him; and he knew it. He could not deliver Israel; but God could. Moses was only a typical redeemer (Exodus 3:7-22). The Lord told him, “I am come down to deliver them” (v. 8).
Moses knew he was not able to articulate things as he should as God’s spokesman. So the Lord assured him that he would be his tongue and that he would speak through him (Exodus 4:10-12). There was nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is commendable humility. God never uses anyone who thinks he is fit for the job. He always uses nothings and nobodies to do his work (Isaiah 6:1-8; 66:2; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
But then Moses said, “Lord, can’t you get someone else to do this work?” “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” (Exodus 4:14). We would be wise to lay this to heart. A sense of inability, inadequacy, and personal unworthiness is always commendable; but any lack of willingness, or even hesitancy, in doing what is clearly God’s will is abhorrent rebellion.
Moses went back to Egypt with nothing but the rod (Word) of God in his hand to deliver Israel from the most powerful king the world had ever known (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Immediately, he ran into trouble. He came into conflict with Pharaoh. The conflict between Pharaoh and Moses, the representatives of Satan and God, was tremendous. No drama ever written by a man compares to this bit of history. As you read it, you can feel the intensity of it. Though the Lord God sent plague after plague upon the Egyptians, “Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people go.”
There were nine plagues in all. Each one was directed against one of the gods of Egypt. By sending these plagues, God not only judged Egypt, but also, as he punished the Egyptians, showed the impotence of their idols and displayed himself as God alone, sovereign, omnipotent, majestic, and holy.
Moses was typical and representative of Christ, our Savior. The next great event in the Book of Exodus, the Passover (chapters 11 and 12), was typical of our redemption by Christ. It is so obvious that the Passover represented our redemption by Christ that everyone who even claims to believe the Bible is the Word of God acknowledges it. Few understand what is taught by this great picture of redemption; but all acknowledge that it is a picture of redemption. Let me just call your attention to the highlights.
The Passover, like our redemption by Christ, was an act of God’s free, sovereign, covenant mercy alone. It was God who put a difference between Israel and Egypt (Exodus 11:7). — That shows us God’s distinguishing grace (1 Corinthians 4:7). The message was spoken in the ears of God’s chosen (Exodus 11:1). — The call of God the Holy Spirit is a particular, distinguishing call (Romans 8:29-30). God promised an effectual, glorious work, by which all (Egyptians and Israelites) would know that he is God. — The Egyptians thrust Israel out of the land; and they went out with a high hand, spoiling the land of Egypt, taking all the good of the land. Israel was under the special protection of divine providence. — God promised, “Against the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast” (Exodus 11:7). The Lord God raised up Pharaoh and hardened his heart. He specifically said, “That my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 11:9; Romans 9:15-18). — Satan is God’s servant, not his rival! When God gets done with him, he will dump his carcass in the sea of his fury, just as he did Pharaoh’s; and all shall know that he alone is God.
The Passover, like our redemption, was a display of how God saves sinners by blood atonement. It was accomplished at God’s appointed time (Exodus 12:2). It was for Israel the beginning of months (2 Corinthians 5:17). The paschal lamb portrayed Christ our Passover who is sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). The blood sprinkled upon the door speaks of the effectual call of grace in which the Spirit of God applies Christ’s atoning blood to the conscience, creating faith in the redeemed sinner (Hebrews 9:12-14). Particular, effectual redemption is displayed in the fact that all for whom a lamb was slain went out of Egypt (Exodus 12:37). And, as Israel spoiled the Egyptians (Exodus 12:36), we shall have the spoils of victory in resurrection glory, inheriting the earth.
The Red Sea
But the story does not end there. Beginning in chapter 13, we see the fourth great event in Exodus — The Crossing of the Red Sea. Really, the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea are two parts of the same thing. They cannot be separated. Israel could never have crossed the Red Sea had the Passover not been kept. And the keeping of the Passover would have been a meaningless, useless thing had Israel not crossed the sea.
The crossing of the Red Sea is a picture of our conversion by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit in effectual calling. This is so closely connected with the sacrifice of Christ as our sin-atoning Substitute, that the two cannot be separated. Christ’s death effectually secured our conversion. And without the conversion of God’s elect, Christ’s death would have been a useless, futile, vain, and meaningless thing. Now, watch the type. May God make it dance with life.
The Lord went before them (Exodus 13:21). He led them through the way of the wilderness (Exodus 13:18). Israel was brought into terror and fear; but their fear only stirred the rebellion that was in them (Exodus 14:10-11). Legal conviction is not saving. It takes Holy Spirit conviction to save (John 16:8-11). Yet, it seems to be the common experience of God’s elect that a time of legal conviction (the terror of eternal death) precedes the blessed joy of faith. When Israel was utterly terrified, Moses said, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord!” (Exodus 14:13). — “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace!” (Exodus 14:14). That is exactly the place to which God brings his own. He graciously forces us to cease from our own efforts and works to save ourselves, and makes us look to Christ alone for salvation.
Israel crossed the sea by the rod of Moses. That rod represented the whole Word of God, mercy and truth, justice and grace, holiness and love. “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged.” The law of God, being satisfied by the blood and righteousness of Christ, opens the way before us to everlasting salvation, and the grace of God carries us through. Then, standing upon the shores of blessed deliverance, looking back upon their slain enemies, they believed, worshipped, gave praise to God, and started on their journey (Exodus 14:31-16:1).
The Scriptures (1 Corinthians 10:1-2) tell us plainly that the passage of Israel through the Red Sea was a baptism unto Moses. It signified the same thing as believer’s baptism does today. It showed the distinction God put between Israel and Egypt. So does believer’s baptism. It was an act of obedience to God’s command. Both Israel’s baptism unto Moses and the believer’s baptism with reference to the finished work of Christ are acts of obedience performed to the command of God with reference to the promise of God (Exodus 14:13-16; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16). As Israel followed Moses through the Red Sea, so believers follow Christ through the waters of baptism, symbolically declaring salvation to be the work of God alone by Christ’s fulfilling all righteousness as our Representative and Substitute.
No sooner had they crossed the Red Sea than they came to the bitter waters of Marah (Exodus 15:23-26). So it is with us. From its very inception, the life of faith is a life of trial. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” The Lord showed Moses “a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” Then he revealed himself in a singular way, declaring, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Let us ever be assured that whatever trials of bitterness we must endure, as we go through this wilderness of woe, the trials and bitter experiences are but the means by which our God intends to reveal himself more fully. And those trials and bitter waters are made sweet to our souls because they flow to us as blessings of grace from the thrown of our heavenly Father, through the blood of our crucified Mediator who died upon the cursed tree for us. The cross sweetens everything. Oh, how it sweetens life’s experiences! As Pastor Scott Richardson often said, “There’s no bad news once you get the good news.”
As they made their journey through the wilderness, the Lord graciously fed the children of Israel with heavenly manna every day (chapter 16), and refreshed their bodies with water flowing from the smitten rock that followed them (chapter 17). Without question, these things were miraculous provisions for their physical sustenance. But they were much more than that. The manna that fell from heaven and the water that flowed from the smitten rock were pictures of God’s provision for our souls, for time and eternity in Christ, our crucified Savior (John 6:48-58; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11).
Perhaps the most difficult experience of God’s people in this world, after being converted, is the constant, ever-increasing warfare between the flesh and the spirit. We see this portrayed in chapter seventeen as well. Amalek comes and fights with Israel; but God declares unending war with Amalek (Exodus 17:10-16). The fact is, the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that we can never do the things we would. We can never walk with our God and serve him perfectly, without sin, while we live in this world. We constantly find ourselves to be wretched sinners (Romans 7:14-23; Galatians 5:17). This warfare will never end, or even abate, until we have dropped these bodies of flesh. We can never make peace with Amalek. Yet, Amalek will never cease to assail us. But, blessed be God our Savior, Amalek shall never prevail! Because Christ is our Banner, because the Lord our God fights for us, “we are more than conquerors,” and all our foes shall fall before us, even our sins!
The fifth thing that stands out in the Book of Exodus is the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. In chapters 19-24 we find Israel at Mt. Sinai, where the Lord God gave Israel his law in ten commandments and taught them how he must be worshipped. The law was a detailed revelation of God’s immutable, unrelenting, perfect, glorious holiness. That is why the law and the giving of the law were terrifying to Israel. Nothing is so terrifying to sinful men and women as the realization that God almighty is absolutely and unchangeably holy, that nothing can change him. He will never be talked out of anything. He can never be bought off. He will never lower his standards in any degree. The law is the absolute, irrevocable standard of God’s character. It is also a declaration of the absolute sovereignty and utter solitariness of his being as God. Because he is who and what he is, the Lord our God demands perfection of all who are accepted of him.
At the very outset, the law of God taught Israel, and teaches us, that the holy, sovereign, unalterable Lord God cannot be worshipped by fallen, sinful, sinning men and women except through a mediator he has ordained, provided, and accepted (Exodus 20:18-19), upon an altar of his own making, an altar to which man contributes nothing, and can never climb by degrees (Exodus 20:23-26). In other words, the law drives us away from Sinai to Calvary, away from Moses to Christ for refuge and salvation (Galatians 3:19-26).
The sixth thing in Exodus is the erection of the tabernacle, the place of reconciliation and peace, with its altar, sacrifices, priesthood, and mercy-seat (Exodus 25-40). In chapter twenty-five the Lord began to give Moses instructions about the tabernacle and priesthood, sacrifices and ceremonies, by which the children of Israel might come to him and find acceptance with him. The whole thing speaks of Christ and the believer’s acceptance with God in him (Hebrews 9:1-10:22). Here we are taught by types and pictures how that the Lord our God can be both a just God and a Savior (Isaiah 45:20-21). Through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, the holy Lord God, in complete justice, holiness, and truth, receives redeemed sinners in total reconciliation and declares, “There is now no condemnation,” none whatsoever. None whatsoever! Every believing sinner has perfect access to the Father through the Son. And God himself, by his Holy Spirit, has taken up his tabernacle in our hearts and lives. He will never leave us, and will never let us leave him! We are forever, immutably “accepted in the beloved!”
The End of Moses’ Work
The last thing we see in Exodus is the end of Moses’ work. Once the tabernacle was finished and God and his people were ceremonially reconciled, Moses’ had finished his work (Exodus 40:33). And once the chosen, redeemed sinner has been brought to faith in Christ, the law of God has finished its work (Romans 6:14-15; 7:1-4; 8:1; 10:4). Once God’s elect are brought into the blessedness of reconciliation with him by faith in Christ, the law has nothing more to do with us. It no longer terrifies, condemns, or even frowns upon us. Rather, the law of God cries as fully as the grace of God —”JUSTIFIED!” This is beautifully portrayed in the last paragraph of Exodus.
“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:34-38).
“Free from the law—O happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission!
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.
Now are we free—There’s no condemnation!
Jesus provides a perfect salvation!
‘Come unto Me’—O hear His sweet call!
Come, and He saves us once for all.
Children of God —O glorious calling!
Surely His grace will keep us from falling!
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all!”
As we seek to worship, serve, and honor our God in this world, we would be wise to pray for the very same great boons of mercy and grace Moses sought from the Lord in chapter 33.
“Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight” (v. 13). — If the Lord God will be pleased to show us his way, order our steps in his way, cause us ever to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and ever give us his grace, we shall be blessed throughout our days upon the earth and forever in heavenly glory.
“Consider that this nation is thy people” (v. 13). — Let us ever pray for the church and kingdom of God in this world. We cannot ask anything greater than that the Lord God ever consider that his people are his people.
After the Lord promised Moses’ his abiding presence, Moses sought it earnestly. “And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (v. 15). — It is almost as if he felt he had neglected this before, or simply made the presumption that God’s presence was his. Certainly every believer is promised the Lord’s unfailing presence. But let us never presume upon it, or imagine we can function without it. Rather, let us constantly seek it. If the Lord is with us, we have no need unsupplied.
Then, Moses prayed, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory” (v. 18). — And the Lord God granted his request. He showed himself to be a just God and a Savior. Oh, may he be pleased ever to hold before our eyes his glory in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, that our every thought may be consumed with it, that we may in all things do all for the glory of our God.
Former pastor of Katy Baptist Church, Fairmont, West Virginia.