Well, how are we doing?
If you’re reading along in the First Steps Reading Plan, you’re about halfway through the book of Exodus with only a couple of readings to go. (Remember, the First Steps plan doesn’t track through every chapter of the Bible in a year.) So far I’ve been able to keep up with the daily readings, but I’m not doing so well in keeping up with you in this community. There are so many gems in the Old Testament, particularly in the books of Moses (the Pentateuch, Genesis through Deuteronomy), and it would bring me great joy to know that I got you thinking a little more about this often-neglected part of the Bible, seeing an old familiar passage in a different way, opening up more of the Bible’s message as a whole. The first five books of the Bible have the power to do that.
For instance, we passed right over the calling of Moses, the plagues, the Red Sea crossing: momentous events in our history. Yes, I said “our” history. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-3 (NLT),
1 I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. 2 In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was…
What do you think will be the last word in that sentence? Notice that Paul, writing to a predominantly Gentile church in Corinth, calls the Exodus generation of Israel OUR ancestors. Because we Christians are children of Abraham (see Galatians 3:28-29), the history of Israel is OUR history. And their source of spiritual water, their rock was the same as ours.
The last word is “…Christ.”
The Exodus story gives us not only our history but our identity, vividly portraying a generation of those who walked by faith through the wilderness toward a promised land described in hyperbole (“flowing with milk and honey” because it ALWAYS pointed toward the new heaven and the new earth), demonstrating the need for perseverance from those who journeyed, guaranteeing the presence and support of the One whose very name expresses His essential nature to always BE, revealing the ground of a personal relationship with the LORD who is here for us (see Exodus 3:14-15). Exodus is important to Christians because we can see in its shadows and types the dynamics of our lives as followers of Christ.
Besides the narrative as a whole, there are so many significant and memorable events in Exodus. We read of several in the First Steps Reading Plan: the birth of Moses and his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex. 2:1-10), Moses’ calling (Ex. 3), Moses’ weakness (Ex. 6:1-12), The ministry of Aaron (Ex. 7:-17), the threat of plagues and the hardening of Pharaoh (Ex. 8:16-19; Ex. 11), the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover (Ex 12), the pillar of cloud and of fire (Ex. 13:17-22), escape through the Red Sea (Ex. 14), the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20), the Tabernacle (Ex. 29:44-46), apostasy and the intercession of Moses (Ex. 32), the revealed glory of God (Ex. 33), and that glory filling the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-38). These are just a few snapshots in the portrait of Israel in Exodus, an outline that is filled-in and color-saturated only in the fullness of Christ’s coming and the filling of the Spirit in the church, resulting in OUR sonship (Galatians 4:4-7).
A Christian who remains ignorant of his or her roots in these ancient stories is like a tree that can easily be blown over by storms. This perspective is just a glimpse of the rich, deep biblical landscape, a vista where we can see ourselves in a larger story as we have followed along in this journey of reading the Bible together. And we’re just getting started.