Exodus 1 takes up the narrative of the descendants of Jacob (Israel) in Egypt. We quickly discover two things about these “Israelites.” They prosper and multiply heavily while in Egypt. Because of this prosperity, the Egyptian Pharaoh becomes jealous and fearful of them. As a result, they are forced into slavery.
“Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already). And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them servewas with rigor.”- Exodus 1:1-14
Even though the people of God went into slavery, God never abandoned them. God blessed Jacob in spite of all his lying and scheming. God appeared to him at Bethel. Jacob referred to the place as the house of God. Jesus use to imagery of the ladder with angels of God ascending and descending to refer to Himself as the gateway to God.
“So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel;” - Genesis 28:11-19
God continued to bless and multiply the descendants of Jacob – so much that, according to Exodus 1:22, the Pharaoh decided to kill off the males. God had not forgotten them, but sent them a deliverer. It was during this holocaust that the man God appointed to deliver them, Moses, was born.
Exodus 2 documents the first 80 years of his life. Moses spent the first 40 years in Pharaoh’s house. At some point in time, Moses realized that the Hebrew slaves were his native people; he also likely sensed the call of God to deliver them*. One day, Moses decided to take the deliverance of the Israelites into his own hands. According to Exodus 2:11-15, “…it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?” Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!” When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.”
The next forty years he lived in Midian. While there he rescued the daughter of Ruel, priest of Midian, from some shepherds that were trying to deny them the use of Midian’s wells. Moses lived with Ruel and married his daughter, Zipporah. Moses' life from age 40 to 80 was relatively uneventful.
When Moses was about eighty years old, God revealed Himself. Moses saw a bush burning that was not being burned. When he approached the site, God spoke to him out of the burning bush, calling him to deliver His people.
“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.’
“So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’And he said, ‘Here I am…’
“…And the Lord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’” - Exodus 3:2-4,7-10
Supernatural deliverance from Egypt
When Moses returned to Egypt, he did not take up again the power of the flesh as he did forty earlier. God revealed to Moses His power and then commanded Moses to use this power.
“Then Moses answered and said, ‘But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’ So the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A rod.’
And He said, ‘Cast it on the ground.’ So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Reach out your hand and take it by the tail’ (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), ‘that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’”- Exodus 4:1-5
Moses used God’s power to deliver Israel. Ten plagues fell upon the Egyptians. These plagues included blood, frogs, lice, boils, etc. After the last plague, Pharaoh finally let the people go; he then relapsed and pursued them until his army drowned in the red sea.
Salvation by Grace through Faith at the Passover
When God first began plaguing the Egyptians, he discriminated against the Egyptians. By this I mean Egyptians suffered because they belonged to Pharaoh; the Israelites were exempted from these because they were the descendants of Jacob. The last plague, the angel of death, was different. The Lord required participation on the part of the delivered. He required this to show salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9).
“ For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.
And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” - Exodus 12:12-13
The angel of death was entering Egypt to kill the firstborn of every house. This time, God did not discriminate on the grounds of ancestry or nationality. The death angel “passed over” every house that had lamb’s blood on the doorpost; but invaded every house that did not have lamb’s blood on its door post, killing any first-born that were in the house. If a God-fearing Egyptian followed the instruction Moses delivered and put lamb’s blood on the door post of his house, then God passed over his house*. If a godless Israelite refused to heed Moses instruction, his house suffered the wrath of God. The lamb’s blood represented God’s grace that was poured out through the shedding of the blood of Christ, and applying the lamb’s blood represent faith in God.
Partaking the Passover involved entering into, or confirming, the covenant of Abraham. Exodus 12:48 spells out rules about who may take the Passover. “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.”Egyptians, Ethiopians, and other nationalities who took the Passover, because they feared the God of Israel, were from that day forward counted as heirs to the Abrahamic covenant. They shall be “as one that is born in the land.”
Faith in the Wilderness
The necessity of entering into, and standing on, the covenant by faith applied to the wilderness. God was leading them to conquer nations stronger than they were to see whether they would trust God or not.
Numerous times, the people showed that they did not have the faith necessary to enter the land. Numbers 13-14 records the occasion when Moses sent twelve spies to spy out the land. All twelve spoke of the abundance of the land. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb, spoke with faith that the Lord would deliver the land(13:30; 14:6-8). The other ten, however, gave an evil report that destroyed the faith of the camp. They told the Israelites that there was no possibility that they could take the land (13:31-33). Their unbelief stirred up full rebellion against God.
The rebellious Israelites decided to “make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”(14:4). While their bodies were delivered from Egypt, their hearts were still enslaved to Egypt. They were prepared to stone Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb to get them out of the way (14:10). Before they could carry out their murderous plot, the glory of the Lord appeared. God pronounced His judgment on them for their refusal to believe his promises.
God decided to disinherit them. He actually contemplated wiping them out, but Moses interceded for them. God did effectively disinherit them by letting their bodies die in the wilderness. (14:11-35). Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who were over 20 who would enter the land. The rest were rejected for refusal to believe.
Entering the Promised Land
After the forty years of wandering was finished, God raised up Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. The book of Joshua documents these battles. The land is secured, but God stops short of completely wiping out all of Israel’s enemies.