Three primary promises given by God in Genesis drive His activity in Exodus:
- Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
- Genesis12:3 – “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
- Genesis 15:13-14 – “Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.””
These verses establish God’s agenda: He will produce a Seed who will redeem humanity through a people who will produce that Seed. God’s promises guide and determine history—even when events appear impossible and are at their worst.
Thus the book of Exodus begins with God’s people living under adverse circumstances in a land that is not theirs. This context establishes the backdrop of the birth of a son in the house of Levi who faces certain death, but is rescued, adopted into Pharaoh’s household (right under his nose), and provided the best education. As an adult, Moses chooses, however, to align himself with his birth people. The writer of Hebrews describes Moses’ faith and resulting actions, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for the look to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them” (Hebrews 11:23-28).
God is only mentioned twice during this difficult period—which begins when Jacob and his family immigrate to Egypt and ends when God’s breaks His silence when He speaks the Moses. The Hebrew midwives “feared God” and “God dealt well with the midwives” (Ex. 1:17, 20-21). God is again mentioned in reference to Israel’s crying out to God because of their bondage, His hearing their groaning, His remembering His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and with Jacob, His looking upon and acknowledging the children of Israel (Ex. 2:23-25). Eighty years later God introduces Himself to Moses: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:6) and calls him to lead Israel out of Egypt.
God begins to dismantle the Egyptian empire and religious system by sending ten plagues upon them (He brings judgment “on all the gods of Egypt,” Ex. 12:12). The tenth plague kills the firstborn of every home whose doorway isn’t marked by the blood of the Passover lamb.
The substitutionary death of the Passover lamb continues the theme of redemption begun by God in the garden when He slew the animal to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Abel, Seth’s descendants, Noah, the patriarchs, and Job continue this sacrificial service as an act of faith, by which they were counted as righteous.
A number of truths emerge as Abraham’s descendants become a nation:
- All that God does in the present is based on what He promised to do in the past.
- Without the knowledge of God’s promises man lives in total darkness. Therefore, when Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, He includes the phrase, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Prayer enables God’s people to walk by faith and trust God when adversity conceals or misconstrues His activity.
- Both the past and the present are best understood or interpreted through the lens of God’s Word and His good character.
- God uses midwives, king’s daughters, older siblings, misunderstanding and runaway “has beens” to accomplish His redemptive purposes.
- No man is ready to be used by God without wilderness stripping and an encounter with God. A sense of calling alone doesn’t prepare the man for the actual assignment. God is not in a hurry and does not take short cuts.
- God always fulfills the promises that He makes—completely, through adverse circumstances, and often after lengthy passages of time.
- Circumstances rarely appear as they are spiritually. Looking back grants 20/20 vision while the present always requires faith in the wisdom and work of God.
- God never ceases being the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” An unbroken continuity exists between Abraham and Moses, between Abraham and David, between Abraham and Jesus Christ, between Abraham and the Apostle Paul, between Abraham and today’s believer. God always finishes what He begins. He is always “the God on mission”; His story continues.