Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:1-8, Intro To Exodus: What Happened Before?

New Testament Reading: Acts 7:1-53

“And the high priest said, ‘Are these things so?’ And Stephen said: ‘Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’ This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’ Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’ You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it’” (Acts 7:1–53, ESV).

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 6:1-8

“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’ God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD’’” (Exodus 6:1–8, ESV).


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


It is very easy to misinterpret an event when there is ignorance concerning what happened beforehand.

Immagine walking around a corner to find one man striking another man. That is all you see. It would be nearly impossible to discern which one of them, if any, is in the right and which one is in the wrong. It could be that the man you see striking the other is the bad guy, or it may be that he is acting in self-defense, or in defense of another. If you walk upon the situation unaware of what led to it, you will be in the dark regarding the meaning and significance of what you are witnessing. But a little bit of background information will go a very long way in helping you to discern the meaning of the event itself — the other guy attacked first, or the other guys attempted to rob him. Ah, now things are clear. 

And I am suggesting to you that the same is true of the Exodus event and of the story that is told in the rest of the Old Testament scripture. From Exodus onward, it will be the nation of Israel that is in view. Think of that for a moment. From Exodus onward, nearly everything is about, or at least it transpires within the context of, Old Covenant Israel. That nation was brought into existence at the time of the Exodus. They were redeemed from Egyptian bondage. They were given a law. God entered into a covenant with them, and the rest is history. There were many nations on the earth at this time in human history, but Exodus through Malachi has its focus on this one relatively small nation in particular.  

One of the big picture questions that we must ask is, why? What is the meaning of this? What is the significance? What was God doing with these people? Why did he redeem them, enter into a special covenant with, and dwell in the midst of them as he did? Why was the nation of Israel set apart from all of the other nations of the earth in this way? It is one thing to read the Exodus story and to understand what happened. It is quite another thing to understand the significance or meaning of what happened. Really, that should be our objective. Not only should we be able to tell the story of the Exodus, we should also be able to explain why it is significant and what it was that God was doing in and through the nation of Israel. And I am saying that if we hope to do that we cannot ignore what happened beforehand.

The Exodus event did not just happen, brothers and sisters. No, God rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage for a purpose. He did so in fulfillment of promises previously made. As you know, the purpose of the Exodus and the promises concerning the Exodus are found in Genesis. Genesis is a book about the beginning of things, which is what the name means. Most think of the creation of the heavens and earth when they hear the word, “beginning”, and of course the book of Genesis does tell that story: “in the beginning, God created the heavens and earth.” But we must not forget that Genesis also tells the story about the beginning of man, the beginning of man’s covenantal relationship with God, of sin and its effects, of the promise of redemption, of the kingdoms of this world and their hostility towards God and the people of God, and of the nation of Israel.

Where did these Hebrew people come from? Why did God have this special concern for them? Why did he bring them out of Egypt and into their own land? The answers to these questions are not found in Exodus, but in Genesis, the book of beginnings. This is why we have referred to Genesis as the prologue, or introduction to, the scriptures.

So let us remember what we learned in our study through Genesis. Clearly, I will need to be very selective this morning. But I do wish to highlight some of the key events in Genesis which paved the way for the Exodus and enable us to understand its significance.  


Remember Eden

What was God doing when he redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage, entered into a covenantal relationship with them, and tabernacled in the midst of them? Well, if we are to understand this great act of redemption we must, first of all, remember Eden.  

Do not forget that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. At first, the earth was without form and void and darkness was over the deep. In the space of six days, God formed and fashioned the earth to make it a place suitable for human habitation. In particular, we are to remember that God made a garden. He placed the man and the woman there, and he entered into a covenant with him, the Covenant of Works. There, man enjoyed sweet communion with God. 

So then, this was man’s original condition. The man and the woman were holy. They lived in a holy realm where they worshipped and served a holy God. As I have taught you before, we are to think of Eden as a temple. The man was to guard that place and expand its borders. 

There is so much to say about Eden. It wasn’t long ago that I preached through Genesis, so you may go to those sermons to hear more. For now, I simply wish to encourage you to remember Eden. What God was doing in the Exodus event was certainly related to Eden. God rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage, gave them his holy law, entered into a covenant of works with them, to bring them into the land of promise. So then, God’s aim was to have a holy people, living in a holy land, so that he, the Holy God, might dwell in the midst of them. This should sound familiar to us. It should remind us of Eden. In fact, when we come to consider the construction of the tabernacle in the third part of the book of the Exodus it will become clear that the tabernacle was designed to remind the worshipper of Eden. Garden imagery was everywhere present. 

So what was God up to when he rescues Israel from Egyptian bondage to bring them into the land of promise where he would dwell in the midst of him? Well, we can at least say this: he was graciously regaining for man something that was lost at the fall. Remember Eden. 


Remember The Fall And Its Consequences

Secondly, we must remember man’s fall into sin and its consequences. The wage of sin is death. When Adam ate of the forbidden tree he was destined to die a physical death. But in that very moment, Adam did enter into the estate of death. He was now at enmity with God. He was under God’s wrath and curse and subject to eternal condemnation. Adam would eventually die physically, but he died spiritually on the day that he ate of the forbidden tree.

All of this culminated in banishment from God’s holy temple. The man and the women were cast from Eden. An angel guarded the entrance and the way to the tree of life. All of Adam’s posterity was born outside of Eden, therefore, dead in sin and alienated from the blessed presence of God. 

We cannot forget the fall and its consequences when we read Exodus. It is the fall that explains the suffering of the Hebrews. It is the fall that explains why deliverance was needed. And it is the fall and its consequences that enables us to understand what God was doing when he rescued Israel, set them apart as holy and tabernacled in the midst of them. Clearly, he was addressing the problem of man’s fall into sin.

Think of it. Adam was banished from the garden temple, but in the days of Moses God instructed Israel to construct a tabernacle. The fact that God commanded that a tabernacle (or temple) be constructed means that God had shown grace to mankind. It meant there was hope. There was still a way for man to commune with God. God had determined to not abandon man altogether but to graciously dwell in the midst of us, and to invite us to worship and serve him. 

Do not forget the fall, brothers and sisters. What God was doing at the time of the Exodus was clearly an answer to man’s fall into sin and its consequences. 


Remember The First Promise Of the Gospel

Thirdly, we must remember the first promise of the gospel as delivered to Adam and Eve, and therefore, to all of their descendants. In Genesis 3:15 God spoke to the Evil One in Adam and Eve’s hearing, saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, ESV).

From that moment onward, Adam, Eve, and all of their posterity could rest in this promise. It was a very mysterious promise. How exactly it would come to pass was unknown. But that it would come to pass was certain, for it was the word of God. In due time someone would be born who would defeat the Evil One who had brought the temptation to Eve, and through her to Adam. The serpent would bite at the heel of the offspring of Eve, but from her a Savior would arise who would crush the serpent’s head, and thus win the victory. Who would this be? When would he come? How would he do it? It was a mystery. But the promise of God was sure. A Campion would certainly arise. A Savior would surely come.   

Brothers and sisters, do not forget this first promise of the gospel when you read Exodus, for the Exodus event is certainly connected to this promise. It was a major step forward in God’s program of redemption. It brought greater clarity to the mystery of God’s plan. When God rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage it was clearly shown that God would bring the Messiah into the world through that people. And in the Exodus event, we have a picture of the salvation that the Messiah would accomplish for us. 

I wonder if you can see how damaging it would be to fail to make the connection between the first promise of the gospel as stated in Genesis 3:15 and the Exodus even? If we begin with Exodus, and neglect the early chapters of Genesis, we might assume that God was only (or supremely) concerned with the salvation of the Hebrews. But if we start with Genesis (as clearly we should) it becomes apparent that God’s plan was to bring salvation to the children of Adam and Eve, and not to the Hebrews only. Viewed in this way, Israel must be viewed as a conduit, and not as the end-goal. First, God promised to bring salvation to the children of Adam, then he rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage and set them apart as holy. The sequence matters very much. God did not change his plan, friends. No, it was through Israel that God determined to bring the head-crushing Messiah into the world, who would secure salvation for people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. 

The Jews who were alive in Jesus’ day who were so offended that the gospel of the kingdom was to go to the Gentiles missed this most fundamental truth. Israel was to serve as a conduit of blessing and salvation to the nations. And those who hold to an Israel-centric, instead of a Christo-centric,  theology today make the same error. 

Do not forget about the first promise of the gospel, friends. First, God promised to provide a Savior for the children of Adam, and afterward, he set Israel apart as holy unto himself. Sequence matters very much. 


Remember The Righteous Line Of Seth

Fourthly, do not forget about how we got from Adam to Moses. The story of redemption does not jump immediately from Adam to the Exodus event. No, we must remember that God set apart a righteous line who descended from Adam and Eve’s son, Seth.  

That story is told in Genesis 4 and 5. In brief, Adam and Eve had two sons. The first born’s name was Cain, and the second born’s name was Able. Able had faith. Cain did not. And Cain, being driven by jealousy, rose up and killed Abel when God received Able’s sacrifice, but rejected Cain’s.  

In Genesis 4:25 we read, “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:25–26, ESV).

The Genesis narrative is clear. God kept a “righteous line” alive in the world in the days prior to the flood. So do not forget about the righteous line of Seth, brothers and sisters, for in it we see what God meant when he cursed the serpent, saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, ESV). God would have his people in the world, and Satan would have his. These two lines would be at perpetual enmity with one another. The Christ would come into the world through the righteous line.

When we come to the Exodus event, we must remember this principle, for there we see it on a very large scale. Hundreds of thousands of Hebrews were being oppressed by the idolatrous Egyptians, who were the most powerful people on planet earth at that time. God had preserved his people in the world, and this he would continue to do until the promised Messiah was brought into the world. 


Remember The Theme Of Oppression And Hostility Against God’s People 

Fifthly, remember the theme of oppression and hostility against the people of God which began to develop very early in the Genesis narrative. 

Remember the arrogant injustice of Lameck. Unrighteous Cain fathered Enoch. These were city builders. They devoted themselves to building, not the city of God, but the city of man. Lamech was also a descendant of unrighteous Cain. He disregarded God’s design for marriage by taking two wives. And he used his power, not to promote justice, but injustice. Listen to his arrogance. “Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold’” (Genesis 4:23–24, ESV). This is not the just principle of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth applied. No, this is tyranny. Lamech boasted to his wives that he killed a man because the man wounded him. Hardly a proportionate response. 

This tyranny and injustice increased upon the earth so that in days before the flood it is said that “the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.” (Genesis 6:2, ESV). These “sons of God” were mighty kings. And instead of promoting justice in their kingdoms, the oppressed the weak. They forcefully took for themselves any woman they desired. Can you imagine living under such a tyrannical regime? 

Given the emphasis in the narrative upon the righteous and unrighteous lines — the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent — it is right to conclude that this oppression, which was ever increasing in the world, was the fulfillment of the word that God spoke to the serpent, saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, ESV). In the Genesis narrative, this oppression of the weak must be viewed as an assault against God and his people. God promised to bring a Savior into the world through the seed of the woman, and Satan and his seed were continually at war against this. 

When we come to the Exodus story we will quickly realize that this very thing was happening in a very focused way against the Hebrew people. By commanding that the male children of the Hebrews be put to death Pharaoh was doing the bidding of the Evil One. He was at war with God, the promises of God, and the kingdom of God. So do not forget the theme of oppression and hostility against the people of God which began to develop very early in the Genesis narrative. The story of the Exodus is a development of that.  


Remember The Flood And God’s Covenant With Creation In The Days Of Noah 

Sixthly, remember the flood and of God’s covenant with creation in the days of Noah. 

I’ll be brief here. Please recognize the theme. In the days of Noah wickedness increased on the earth. God judged the wicked with water, but he rescued righteous Noah and his family by bringing them through the waters in the ark. Can you see that a similar thing happened at the parting of the Red Sea? God’s chosen people passed through the waters, but those same waters were waters of judgment that fell upon the Egyptians.  

And do not forget the covenant that God made with all of creation after the flood. Among other things, God commanded societies to uphold justice, saying, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” And God commanded that humanity procreate and fill the earth, saying, “ And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it” (Genesis 9:6–7, ESV). So then, when we come to the Exodus story and see that Pharaoh was commanding that innocent children be put to death in an attempt to hinder the multiplication of the Hebrew people, we see that he was ruling in a direct rebellion against the standard that God imposed upon all nations in Noahic Covenant. He was an oppressive unjust Tyrant. It was fitting that his army was swallowed up by the waters. 

If we remember the flood and God’s covenant with creation in the days of Noah we will see that, once again, the righteous line was preserved through water, whereas the wicked were judged by water. 


Remember That God Set Abraham And His Offspring Apart From The Nations And Entered Into A Covenant With Them

Seventhly, remember that God set Abraham apart from the nations and entered into a covenant with him and with his offspring.

The story of Abraham begins in Genesis 12.  God promised to make him into a great nation, to bless him, and to bless all the nations of the earth through him. God would bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him.

In Genesis 15 and 17 we see that the covenant that God translated with Abraham was clarified, expanded, and formally ratified. In those texts, we learn that Abraham would have a son, that a great multitude would come from him, that God would eventually give his descendants the land of Canaan, that his offspring would be afflicted as sojourners for 400 years, that he would be the father of a multitude of nations, that kings would come from him, and that individual members of this covenant would be blessed if they kept the covenant, and cursed if they did not — they would be cut off. And so circumcision was given as a sign to the Hebrews. 

Do you notice how things got progressively clearer with the passing of time? That first promise of the gospel was very mysterious. One would arise from the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. The promise was clear enough so that men and women could trust in it, but it was vague. But by the end of Genesis 17, we understand that this Messiah would come into the world through Abraham and the nation that would descend from him. Abraham and this nation would preserve the seed of the woman. They would carry along the promises of God. They would function as a conduit of blessing. This was the will of the Lord, and it was revealed with clarity even in the days of Abraham.

You cannot understand the Exodus if you do not first understand God’s covenant with Abraham. Where did these Hebrew people come from? Why was God concerned to rescue them from Egyptian bondage? What was his purpose for doing so? You will be very confused about these things if you do not understand Abraham. In fact, to understand what God was doing in the Exodus and with Israel after that, you must understand both Adam and Abraham. Genesis is the prologue, remember? 

I think it is fitting at this point to remember how Genesis concludes. Abraham fathered Isaac. Isaac fathered Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons. One of them was Joseph, who was sold by his own brothers into Egyptian bondage, but God exalted him to a high place in that land. A famine arose which drove Jacob and his sons to Egypt, for God had worked through Joseph to save many lives by preparing for the famine ahead of time. Joseph was reunited with his family and graciously made provisions for them. Now here are the last words of the book of Genesis: “And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.’ So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24–26, ESV). With these words, the stage is set for the Exodus.  



So what is the benefit of remembering what preceded the Exodus as we have done this morning? I have three brief thoughts concerning that.

One, by remembering what happened before, we are better able to comprehend the significance of what God did in the Exodus. The backstory is essential. And if we remember the foundation that was laid in Genesis it will help to guard us against wrongly thinking that what God was doing with Israel was the end-all. The prologue of Genesis establishes that God’s plan was to bring salvation to the nations through Abraham and his offspring. This is where we must start. And this we must remember as we read all of the scriptures from Exodus onward. Sequence matters. Paul understood this, and so he wrote, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise” (Galatians 3:16–18, ESV).

Two, by remembering the promises previously made we are able to better appreciate the Exodus event as a display of God’s covenantal faithfulness. Why did God rescue Israel from Egyptian bondage? Answer: Because he is gracious, and because he promised. God always keeps his promises. So then, if God kept the promises that he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to deliver their descendants from slavery just as he said he would, we must trust that God will also keep his promises to us in Christ Jesus. He will deliver us from all evil, from sin, and death, and bring us safely into our eternal inheritance, the new heavens and earth. 

Three, by recognizing that the Exodus event was not the end-all, we will be able to appreciate it for what it was. Yes, it was a real act of redemption. And yes, it was a very significant part of God’s plan. But again, it wasn’t the end-all. It wasn’t the full and final fulfillment to the promises made to Adam and Abraham. It was a big step forward. But it wasn’t the big show. Pharaoh was defeated, not Satan. The kingdom of Egypt was overthrown, not the kingdom of darkness. Israel was delivered from earth bondage, not spiritual. And they were led towards Canaan, not the new heavens and earth. At the Exodus a battle was won, but not the war. The Exodus event was a preview, a precursor, a picture, a prototype of the greater work of redemption that the Christ would accomplish at a later time. Paying attention to what happened in Genesis helps us to see this clearly. 

Brothers and sisters, may we appreciate what God did for Israel in the days of Moses, and may it deepen our understanding of and appreciation for what God has done for us in Christ, to “[deliver] us from the domain of darkness and [transfer] us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14, ESV).

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:1-8, Intro To Exodus: What Happened Before?

Discussion Questions: Intro to Exodus (Part 1)


Sermon manuscript available at

  • The book of Exodus is about more than the story of deliverance from Egyptian bondage. What else is it about? How is this story (the whole story) analogous to our life in Christ?
  • Exodus begins with Israel building cities for Pharaoh. It ends with Israel building a tabernacle for God. What does this tell us about the purpose for our redemption in Christ Jesus?
  • The law of God and the covenant that God made with Israel are at the heart of Exodus. Why is this significant? What similarities are there between Israel’s experience and ours? What are some major differences?
Posted in Study Guides, Joe Anady, Exodus, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions: Intro to Exodus (Part 1)

Morning Sermon: Exodus 15:1–18; Intro To Exodus: What Happened?

New Testament Reading: 1 Peter 2:1–12

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:1–12, ESV)

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 15:1–18

“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, ‘I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up; the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with your wind; the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them. You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed; trembling seizes the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O LORD, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. The LORD will reign forever and ever.’” (Exodus 15:1–18, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


This morning we begin a sermon series through the book of Exodus.

The book of Exodus is very important, for it tells the story of the beginning of the kingdom of Israel.

Really, that story began in the book of Genesis with the call of Abraham. The book of Genesis has been described by some as a “prologue”, and I think that is right. The Old Testament scriptures are largely about the kingdom of Israel, and the book of Genesis functions as a prologue (that is, an introduction, or forward) which sets the stage for the drama of redemption. The Exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage is the main event in the Old Testament story of redemption.  

So then, in the story of redemption, the book of Genesis functions as an introduction or prologue (it sets the stage, as it were). The book of Exodus tells us of the redemption that God accomplished for Israel to graciously bring them out of Egyptian bondage and into his presence. And this Exodus story, which we will be considering in detail in the months to come, is not to be forgotten by the people of God who live in subsequent generations. No, the Exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage is to be remembered. In fact, it is to be viewed as a prototype or picture of the greater act of deliverance that God would accomplish for his people through the Messiah, Christ Jesus our Lord. This story is told in the New Testament. So the book of Exodus is to the Old Testament what the Gospels are to the New Testament.  Exodus in the Old, and the Gospels in the New, tell the story of the accomplishment of redemption. Through Moses God redeemed Old Covenant Israel from Egyptian bondage. Through Jesus Christ, God redeemed the true Israel of God from Satan, sin, and the power of death. 

So you can see that the book of Exodus is very foundational. The Exodus event was clearly foundational to the nation of Israel, the Old Covenant people of God. And the Exodus event is foundational for all who are in Christ, for the Christ emerged from Israel, and in the Exodus event, we find an earthly picture of the redemption that God has worked for us in Christ Jesus. The Messiah has redeemed us, not from Pharaoh, nor from Egyptian bondage, but from Satan, the power of sin, and from death. And I am saying that the experience of Israel in the Exodus was an earthly type, picture, or pattern, of the greater act of deliverance accomplished by the Messiah. It is because of this relationship between the redemption accomplished through Moses and the redemption accomplished by Christ — the one was a picture or type of the other — that the gospel of Jesus Christ is everywhere present in the book of Exodus. How is Jesus the Messiah present in the book of Exodus? The answer: through promises, prophecies, types, shadows.  

I pray this will grow ever more clear to you as we progress through this marvelous book of Holy Scripture together. For now, l may show you what I mean by using the Passover as an example. We know that the children of Israel were shielded from death by the blood of the Passover lamb applied to the doorposts of their home. At the same time, we know that that act of deliverance, and the Passover feast which was celebrated year after year, was a picture of Christ, of the shedding of his blood, and of the forgiveness of sins that is found in him. Christ is the Passover lamb. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7, ESV). This is but one example of the ways that Christ is present in the book of Exodus. The book is in fact packed full of types and shadows such as these. 

This sermon series through Exodus will be substantial. I’m not sure how long we will be here. I’d rather not commit to a time frame before getting a feel for preaching through this book. I’m sure we will be here for a while, though. Maybe a year. And it is my custom to take a sermon or two to introduce large books of scripture like this one. I would like to take three sermons to introduce Exodus. 

In this first introductory sermon, I wish to provide you with an overview of the book itself. The title of this sermon is Intro to Exodus: What Happened? 

In the second introductory sermon, I wish to draw your attention to the connection between the book of Exodus and what happened before that as recorded in Genesis. Genesis and Exodus must be read together, for the story of Exodus is rooted in the story of Genesis. Genesis is the prologue, remember? That sermon will be entitled, Intro to Exodus: Its Relation To What Preceded.

And in the third introductory sermon, I wish to draw your attention to the way in which the scriptures, from the time of the Exodus onward, constantly refer back to the Exodus event and use its language and themes as prototypical of the work of redemption that God would accomplish through Jesus the Christ. In other words, it is the book of Exodus that provides us with the terminology and themes that we need in order to comprehend and speak of the great work of redemption that the Messiah would accomplish for us. I wish to tease that out for you a bit before diving headlong into the text of Exodus itself. That third introductory sermon will be entitled, Intro to Exodus: Its Relation to What Proceeded.    

The task that is before me today is to overview the book of Exodus. I wish to remind you of the marvelous story that is told here. And I wish for you to see that there is so much more to this story beyond the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea! No, the story that is told in Exodus is about bondage, deliverance, and reconciliation. This is a story about God rescuing his people out of darkness so that he might dwell in the midst of them, and they with him. Already you can see what I mean about the Exodus picturing our redemption in Christ Jesus, for God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14, ESV), but I’m getting ahead of myself. 


Structure: Exodus In Three Parts

For now, let us consider the structure of the book of Exodus. Recognizing the structure will help us to understand the meaning of this marvelous work. When Moses wrote this text under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he divided it into three parts (I should say that I’m indebted to the work of the Old Testament scholar, Alec Motyer, for the terminology): Part one, which runs from 1:1-13:16, tells the story of Israel in Egypt. Here God is portrayed as a savior. YHWH is Israel’s saving LORD. Part two, which runs from 13:17-24:11, tells the story of Israel at Mount Sinai. Here God is portrayed as a companion.  YHWH is Israel’s covenant LORD. And part three, which runs from 24:12-40:38, tells the story of Israel around the tabernacle. Here God is portrayed as an indweller. YHWH is Israel’s indwelling LORD. 

I would venture to say that Christians are most familiar with part one of the book of Exodus. This section contains the story of Egyptian bondage, of Moses’ birth, of his failed attempt at deliverance, of his journey into the wilderness, of the revelation of the Divine name at the burning bush, of the calling and commissioning at Moses and Aaron, of the ten plagues, the Passover, and the parting of the Red Sea. Part one is all about God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage through Moses. That is the part that we are most familiar with, I would think.

But there is so much more to the book of Exodus. Not only did God free Israel from Egyptian bondage, but he also freed them to commune with him. God has set Israel apart to be his holy people. He entered into a covenant with them. He gave them his law and called them to walk in obedience. And he went with them to guide them and to defend them as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud of glory by day. The LORD fed Israel with manna in the wilderness, and he satisfied their thirst with water from the rock. So then, you can see that this is not only a story of deliverance, it is also a story of companionship and covenant. The LORD was Israel’s God, and Israel was God’s people. 

This story of redemption and companionship reaches its climax in the third part of the book of Exodus which describes the construction of the tabernacle, which would later become the temple. What is the purpose of a tabernacle, or temple? The tabernacle was the place where God dwelt in the midst of his people. There at the tabernacle, the people of Israel were invited to come and to commune with the LORD, their Maker, and Redeemer. The LORD was Israel’s God, and they were his people — and God dwelt in the midst of them. He indwelt the tabernacle. He indwelt the nation, therefore. God is everywhere present, this we know. And so when we say that the LORD indwelt the tabernacle, clearly we mean that his glory filled that place, and his presence was manifest there in a special way. God was gracious to Israel to set them apart as his people from all the nations of the earth, and to be present with them in this special way. 

The song of Moses which we read from Exodus 15 tells and celebrates this story. The majority of it rejoices in the deliverance that God worked for Israel to free them from Egyptian bondage, but listen to how the song concludes. The people sang, “You [God] will bring [your people] in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. The LORD will reign forever and ever.” So then, the song celebrates deliverance, but also celebrates communion with God, and indwelling of God’s presence. 

This storyline should sound familiar to you. Not only is it the storyline of the Exodus, it is also the storyline of our redemption in Christ Jesus. In Christ, you have been freed from bondage. More than this, you have been reconciled to God in the Covenant of Grace. He is yours, and you are his. He is with you to guide, direct, and protect. And he has made his home with you. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer and the church. As Paul says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ESV). The story of the Exodus and the story of our redemption in Christ are not the same story. They are different stories in very significant ways. But they are similar. The storylines are the same. God has delivered his people, he has entered into covenant with them to commune with them, and he has indwelt them by tabernacling amongst them. 

I’m so very tempted to get ahead of myself by looking back to Genesis and particularly to the situation in the garden before sin entered the world to compare what God did in the Exodus with that situation as it was at the beginning. This we will do next Sunday, Lord willing. For now, may I urge you to begin to think in that direction? Please consider that what God did with Israel at the time of the Exodus was a major step forward in regaining what Adam lost when he rebelled against his Maker. What did Adam lose? Well, he lost many things, the most precious of them being sweet communion with God in his garden temple, and the hope of consummate life and eternal glory. Here I am saying that the Exodus event — the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, the covenantal communion with God that was established then, and the indwelling of God at the tabernacle  — must be considered against the backdrop of Genesis chapters 1-3. At the Exodus, progress was made in God’s program of redemption. 

And I am also tempted to get ahead of myself by looking forward, beyond the book of Exodus and to subsequent revelation. This we will do in three Lord’s Day, Lord willing. But for now, consider how these Exodus themes are repeated in scripture. And not only are they repeated, they are also advanced and heightened. Yes, there was an Exodus in the days of Moses. But in the scriptures, we see that the people of Israel were to look forward to one greater than Moses, and to a greater Exodus in the future. The passage that I read from 1 Peter at the start of the sermon illustrates this point. When the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians (Jews and Gentiles alike) he used Exodus language to describe them. He called them “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…” He stated that their purpose was to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” He referred to them as “sojourners and exiles”. He taught Christians that God was making them into “a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” This is Exodus language that Peter uses, but he applies it, not to Old Covenant, ethnic Israel, but to the Israel of faith, that is, to the church of Jesus Christ consisting of Jew and Gentile alike. 

We will look more carefully at what preceded the Exodus, and what proceeded from it on the next few Lord’s days. For now, notice the familiar storyline — deliverance, covenantal communion, and indwelling. 


Structure: Exodus In Chiastic Form

Before moving on to some application, please allow me to draw your attention to another structural feature of the book of Exodus. Not only is Exodus divided neatly into three parts — Israel in Egypt, Israel at Sinai, and Israel around the tabernacle — there is also a chiastic structure to the book wherein the first part of the book corresponds to the last, the second to the sixth, and the third to the fifth, with the fourth part being the heart of the book. 

You should get used to the idea that the scriptures are highly structured like this. It is not at all uncommon to find entire books of the Bible, or sections of books, being highly organized in this way. The literary structures themselves help to tell the story. 

So how is the book of Exodus structured chiasticly? 

Well, scholars have noticed that in part I Israel is in bondage and they are building for Pharaoh in that idolatrous nation, Egypt. Chapters 1-5 tell that story. But the book concludes in chapters 35-40 with Israel building, not for Pharaoh, nor for his idolatrous kingdom, but for God and for his kingdom. They are freely building God’s tabernacle. So then, the book begins with Israel serving Pharaoh, but it concludes with Israel serving the LORD. 

In chapters 6-12 we hear of the deliverance of Israel through the ten plagues. Everything comes to focus on the Passover and the Lamb of God. In the chiastic structure, this corresponds to chapters 32-34 with Israel worshipping the golden calf. So here we have another contrast, but it is a negative one. How does Israel respond to God’s redeeming grace? They fall almost immediately into idolatry. 

Next, in chapters 13-18 the emphasis is placed upon God being with Israel to guide, protect and provide. Israel is lead through the Red Sea and into the wilderness by the cloud and pillar. God feeds them with bread and gives them water to drink. God is their companion. And this does correspond to chapters 25 -31 wherein the instructions for construction of the tabernacle are described. At the conclusion of that section, God says, “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.” (Exodus 29:45–46, ESV)

This makes chapters 19-24 the heart of the book of Exodus. And it is here that God meets with Israel at Sinai to give them his law — the ten commandments and the laws that are based upon them. In chapter 24 Israel formally enters into covenant with their God. In 24:7 we read that Moses “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’” (Exodus 24:7–8, ESV). So then, it is the law of God and the covenant that God transacted with Israel through Moses that is at the heart of this marvelous story of redemption.


Conclusion and Suggestions For Application


I don’t know about you, but I find it helpful to consider these two structures found in the book of Exodus. 

The first is rather straightforward as we follow Israel’s journey from Egypt to Sinai, to the tabernacle. Considered in this way, we see clearly that God delivered Israel so that he might commune with them and indwell them. 

The chiastic structure is a bit more complex, but it helps us to see the contours and nuances of this story. When God rescued Israel from bondage he freed them from brutal slavery to Pharaoh so that they might worship and serve him as his redeemed people. Israel once built cities for idolatrous Pharaoh, but they were redeemed to build a house and kingdom for God so that God would dwell among them and be their God, and they would be his people.    

Brothers and sisters, the same is true for you and me. God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14, ESV). We have been freed from bondage so that we might willingly and freely serve the Lord. Friends, don’t forget about that aspect of our redemption. You have been set free… to serve the Lord. We have been “delivered from the hand of our enemies…” so that we “might serve [the LORD] without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Luke 1:74–75, ESV). Many will walk the aisle at church or say a prayer to God because they wish to be delivered from their bondage and forgiven all their sins, but they forget that faith involves repentance, and a new life in Christ Jesus will produce a holy walk. To have Jesus as Savior one must confess that he is Lord. So yes, I pray that you would look to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and deliverance from the domain of darkness and the power of the evil one. But having been led out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God, you are to walk with the Lord faithfully, follow him, and trust him as he guides you. He indwells you if you are his. And because he indwells you, you are to pursue holiness, for he is holy. No longer are you to build for the Evil One nor for his kingdom. Instead, you are to build for God and labor for the furtherance of his. 

God’s graciousness is also displayed in Exodus. God did not redeem Israel because of something worthy in them, just as he did not call Abraham hundreds of years earlier because of something deserving in him. This great act of deliverance is by the grace of God alone. And so it is with us. Why did he set us free? Not because we were worthy, but because God is merciful and kind. That Israel was unworthy, and God merciful and kind, is seen clearly in the juxtaposition of the Passover scene with the Golden calf scene. God delivered Israel and led them to his holy mountain. And what did they do? They were unfaithful. They committed idolatry. May our appreciation for the mercy and grace of God shown to us in Christ Jesus grow and grow with each passing day. 

And what shall we say regarding the centrality of the law of God and of the covenant that God transacted with Israel through Moses wherein the people pledged obedience to this law that God gave them?

I have two things to say:

One, we should acknowledge that, like Old Covenant Israel, we also relate to God and are made to be citizens in his kingdom through covenant. Remember how Christ said, this is the New Covenant in my blood. And do this in remembrance of me. So then, we share this in common with Old Covenant Israel. They were brought into the kingdom of God by way of covenant. It was the covenant that God transacted with them that established the terms of the relationship. The same is true for us. And concerning the giving of the law we must confess that we too have a law. At regeneration, the law of God is written on our hearts anew and afresh. So, covenant and law are central features of our relationship with God too. 

But hear this: the covenant that we are partakers of is not the same as the covenant as the one made with Israel Israel in the days of Moses, for that was a covenant of works, and we are under the covenant of grace. And connected to this, we must confess that the law which God imposed upon Israel in the days of Moses does not apply to us in quite the same way. 

So then, throughout our study of Exodus, I will constantly be drawing your attention to the similarities but also the differences between Old Covenant Israel’s experience and ours as we live in this New Covenant age. 

Here is one similarity: holiness matters as much now as it did then. God’s people are to be holy just as he is holy. Under the New Covenant, God has made us holy by the shed blood of Christ, his moral law is written on our hearts, and he has called us to be holy, as he is holy. May Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, move us to obedience as we encounter God’s moral law, which is at the heart of this book concerning God’s work of redemption. 

Here is an important difference: we are not under this law that was given to Israel through Moses as a covenant of works. The covenant that God transacted with Israel was a covenant of works. We are under the Covenant of Grace. When Jeremiah the prophet spoke of the coming New Covenant he emphasized that it would differ from the covenant that God transacted with Israel in the days of Moses, saying, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:31–32, ESV).

So then, there are many similarities between Old Covenant Israel’s experience and ours, but there are many differences too. We must keep these similarities and differences ever in mind. 

Well, I think that is enough for today. We will continue with introductory concerns next Sunday, Lord willing, as we look back into Genesis to consider how Exodus is connected to what preceded it. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 15:1–18; Intro To Exodus: What Happened?

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