At the end of Genesis, the sons of Israel are in Egypt, and Joseph dies. At the beginning of Exodus, the sons of Israel “increased greatly” (Exod. 1:6). A new king arose over Egypt “who did not know Joseph” (Exod. 1:8). Slavery followed. “They set taskmasters over them and to afflict them with heavy burdens” (Exod. 1:11).
In three major sections, the Book of Exodus tells the story of Israel’s redemption; its organization into a covenant community; and its formation into worshipping body. The first section, chapters 1-18, tells the story of God’s redemption of Israel under the leadership of Moses. The Passover is integral to Israel’s redemption.
It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt (Exod. 12:11-13).
As the Apostle Paul teaches us, the Passover points directly to Christ; “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). And so it is that God saved Israel from slavery, and God saves us from bondage to sin through the blood of Christ, the Passover Lamb.
Then God brings Israel to Mount Sinai. Section two encompasses chapters 19-24. Here God gives Israel His Law and forms His people into a covenant community.
And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words (Exod. 24:6-9).
Moses read the “Book of the Covenant” to the people. The people responded, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” This reading and response was Israel’s covenant of church membership. Moses sealed the covenant with blood sprinkled on the altar and the people. In like manner, God redeems you and me to make us a visible part of covenant communities. We, too, listen to God’s Word and take vows, reflecting our acceptance of God’s covenant.
Finally, God fashions Israel into a worshipping community. The third major section of Exodus is chapters 25-40, where God gives the directions for, and Moses leads in the building of the Tabernacle. Exodus 25:8 is a key verse, “Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.”
The tabernacle, with all of its regulations and ceremonies, is Israel’s worship center. The Tabernacle later gives way to the more permanent Temple. In the New Testament, the church gathered for worship is God’s Temple, a special “dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). As Paul tells the church at Corinth gathered to hear his letter read to them, “We are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16).
Exodus displays God’s purpose for Israel to redeem them and form them into a covenant, worshipping community. God’s purpose for you and me is to redeem us and form us into covenant, worshipping communities.