The Exodus Pattern in Old and New Testaments: Part I
The Old and the New Exodus
Introduction: The two-part series: The Exodus Pattern in Old and New Testaments points to freedom from bondage ultimately by through Christ’s resurrection. The Christian life is one of movement. This is true corporately (the Church) and individually (the believer). The Exodus event is a well-known event that speaks of deliverance from bondage in a foreign land. However, this Old Testament event points to the greater exodus – Jesus’ resurrection. His resurrection ushered in resurrection life for believers that began at salvation. This is true freedom. The believer has been set free from the penalty and power of sin. In Christ, he lives out his exodus. He enjoys growth in Christlikeness as one of the great privileges this side of heaven (1 John 3:1-3).
Mankind’s redemptive journey can be traced through the Old Testament. Almost all Christians, and even non-Christians, have some knowledge of the Exodus in the Bible. I am speaking of Israel’s flight or escape from Egypt (Exodus 14). The word exodus means departure, movement from, and often with haste. The biblical concept carries an aspect of joyful urgency. The exodus pattern pointed to the greater exodus that was accomplished by Christ’s resurrection. Luke 9:30-31 gives evidence of this fact: Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeached in glorious splendor talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure which he was about to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem. Here on the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus brought His humiliation and exaltation together. The word translated departure refers to an exodus – a going away, a leaving. The Old Testament giants were referring to the greater exodus – Jesus’ resurrection which would usher in eternal freedom that would begin in this life. The exodus pattern in Old and New Testaments came together in Christ.
The wonder of the Old Testament exodus event is that it gloriously foreshadowed and pointed to the new exodus event of the New Covenant in Christ Jesus and His bodily resurrection. One way of describing redemption through Jesus Christ is as a new and greater exodus. We can speak of an exodus pattern in the Bible when we assume that the concept of exodus is not an isolated occurrence in the Bible. Israel’s exodus from Egypt revealed a pattern of God’s action that was to be repeated in principle into the New Testament. There was a type of exodus recorded in Genesis 7. Noah and family, the few, were saved from death and destruction from the great flood. The exodus from the earth at the time of the Flood and from Egypt were actual physical deliverances but more. They were evidence of God’s covenantal faithfulness and pointed to Christ’s exodus.
The two exodus pointed to something deeper and greater. The exodus pattern in the Old and New Testaments God’s signature that His yes is yes i Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20-21). Not only did they point to a new beginning, they pointed to an inward spiritual reality. Moreover, the exodus from Egypt pointed to the greater Moses – Jesus Christ (John 5:45-46; 6:32-35; Hebrews 3:1-6) and the greater exodus – the resurrection of Jesus from the grave and the believer’s resurrection life in Him (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Hebrews 6:13-20). Based on His resurrection, life is secured in Christ for the believer by Christ’s bodily resurrection, Paul looked forward to the consummation of the new exodus called the Corinthians to stand firm and not grow weary (1 Corinthians 15:54-58 – see 1 John 3:1-3)
A controlling motif of the Exodus is the revelation of God’s victorious power under the unifying theme: “The Lordship of Yahweh.” Egypt and Pharaoh were competing with God. Pharaoh demanded worship and allegiance (Exodus 5:1-2). As a result the people were in bondage. However, we must remember that the Israelites were birthed in idolatry. Abraham was called from the land of Ur, a prosperous city of religion, wealth, and industry and from his father’s household. The city of Ur was thoroughly Babylon-ized with its pantheon of gods especially the moon god Sin. Abraham as did Daniel refused to be Babylon-ized.
The essential Exodus pattern of the Old and New Testaments is deliverance accomplished by the covenantally faithful God. The deliverance from Egypt was a physical deliverance from darkness, deadness, bondage, and oppression to light, life, freedom, and dignity as a true son of God (Exodus 4:22). God bought Israel such that Israel was His and He was their God. Israel was God’s chosen people. The deliverance from Egypt was accomplished through the man Moses who pointed to the greater Moses, Jesus Christ. The deliverance was relational; it was between God and His people under the direction of a mediator. The relationship carried privilege and responsibility.
As part of redemptive history, God wants His people to enlarge and sharpen their understanding of the exodus motif as presented in Scripture. Biblically speaking, the exodus motif began in the Garden. Enjoying harmony and fellowship with God, Adam and Eve were exiled – driven out of God’s presence due to Adam’s sin and God’s judgment. A real and monumental issue arose: would man be allowed back into God’s presence and if so on what basis? Said another way: would there be an exodus – a deliverance into the Promised Land? Genesis 3 gives the background of God’s answer. God’s answer was yes; it would be through the seed of the woman – Jesus Christ secured by the holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:20-22; Galatians 3:16).
At the end of the book of Genesis, Israel is in Egypt. The people were no longer exiled to Egypt. Rather, under the headship of Jacob the people sought a place of refuge, safety, and freedom given the great famine in the land of Palestine. In that sense, the Israelites were not exiled to Egypt but sought refuge much like Jesus, the new Israel, as described in Matthew 2:13. However, they brought their syncretism. God was good to Israel as Joseph proclaimed in Genesis 50:15-21.
When a new king in Egypt took the throne, the land became a place of bondage, darkness, and death for the Israelites (Exodus 1:8ff). Their bondage was a picture of spiritual deadness and darkness that is the result of Adam’s sin and God’s judgment and Israel’s own sins. The circumstances were similar to the described in Genesis 6-7. Bondage – sin and stench – was all around.
Israel lived in the land of Goshen set apart from the Egyptians. In spite of that fact, the Israelites were unfaithful to God. Yet He was faithful to them (Exodus 2:24-25). He rescued them from Egypt in order that the whole world – both the Israelites and the Egyptians – would know that He is God.
Miraculously, God redeemed His people. He brought His people out of Egypt – through the waters (Red Sea), into and through the wilderness, and to Mount Sinai for worship and fellowship (Exodus 19). In a real sense, God resurrected His people from the grave.
Israel was taught and the whole world was taught that God is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God who is trustworthy and powerful. He was keeping His promise made in eternity past, summarized in Genesis 3, and repeated to Abraham in covenant terms (Gen. 12:3-7). Therefore, He delivered His people via the exodus in spite of themselves. In the wilderness, He remained with His people chiefly through the pillar of cloud and fire. The Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle where God would meet with His people. God was with His people. Immanuel (God with us; Matthew 1:23l) was in evidence in the Old Testament – He tabernacled with His people (John 1:14-18; Revelation 21:3).
1. What is a major principle and theme underlying the exodus as given in the book of Exodus?
2. What spiritual reality did the physical deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt point?
3. How did Israel respond to their deliverance?
The Exodus Pattern in the Old and New Testaments: Part II
The Old and the New Exodus
Upon Israel’s release from their imprisonment in Egypt, the people wandered in the wilderness. The book of Numbers documents that time. Even though the Israelites had physically left Egypt, many had not left Egypt in terms of thoughts, desires, actions, and motivation. Egypt was still in them. They had not changed their view of God and themselves. As a result they grumbled and complained against God and His appointed agents (Exodus 14 and 16; Numbers 11, 14, 16, 21). Moses was a type of mediator that was to serve them. They sinned against the Third Commandment. They worshipped themselves, the created thing, thereby sinning against the First and Second Commandments. They were a rebellious, thankless people.
God is long-suffering with His people. After centuries of refusing to bow the knee, apostate and rebellious Israel (the southern kingdom) was exiled via the Babylonian captivity. God’s long-suffering had not produced the desired results that were to be in evidence by Jesus Christ, the new Israel and the restored son Israel. The people had refused to acknowledge God as their God and the God of the universe. Jesus would do in their place. He would be exiled outside the gate of Jerusalem and into the wilderness to die as a loser. His death accomplished what no physical exile or exodus could accomplish.
God’s faithfulness was always before the people even though at times circumstances seemed to dictate otherwise (review Israel’s time in the wilderness and the events surrounding Israel’s entrance into the Promise Land). God faithfulness stood out in marked contrast to Israel unfaithfulness (Judges 2:20-3:1). God would not forsake His people even though they had forsaken Him. In one sense God had never left His people; in another sense, He had. He disciplined His people because Israel was God’s first-born son but a rebellious one (Exodus 4:22), God forsook His Son instead of forsaking the remnant sinful though they were (Romans 8:31-39). .
God did return His people to Himself after 70 years of captivity which was a type of second exodus. During that time, they had only the law – no temple and no ark. There was no Passover, no spotless, unblemished lamb whose blood was shed all of which pointed to the greater Lamb and the greater Sacrifice (John 1:29, 36; Heb. 6:18-20; 9:11-14; 10:11-14). The redemptive significance of the exodus/departure from Babylon was less when compared to the Exodus from Egypt but the principle remained: God rescues His people from darkness and bondage and places them in the light and gives them new life.
The Israelites left Babylon which was a dark and godless place. However, only a remnant returned to the Promised Land from the exile. The number of returnees was much smaller than the previous population in Israel. The glory of Israel had departed because there was no temple and no ark (see the books of Ezra and Nehemiah). The people’s hope had been in themselves and the externals including a temple building and the ark (see Jeremiah 7). These physical structures functioned as a talisman for Israel – a four-leaf clover. Their trust was in things and self rather than in God.
The motif of the exodus pattern in the Old and New Testaments was foretold by the prophets and fully disclosed by the ultimate Prophet, Jesus Christ at His first coming. The gospel is the new exodus story. What the Triune God did in Egypt foreshadowed Jesus’ Messianic coming to earth in order to bring about the ongoing fulfilment of God’s redemption of His people. The exodus from Egypt and Jesus’ coming to His people embodies the unifying theme of God’s covenantal faithfulness. The consummation of the redemptive story awaits Jesus’ second coming. We have confidence that Jesus is coming because God has proven Himself to be God. He has “put His money where His mouth is.” While we wait, every believer should and will draw comfort, strength, and hope from the expectant consummation when Jesus’ returns the second time.
1. What are the parallels between the exodus from Egypt and Babylon and Jesus’ coming to His people (John 1)?
2. The Old points to the New; the New looks back at the Old. What does the exodus point and how is that a blessing to believers now?
3. The motif of exodus runs throughout redemptive history collectively and nationally and individually. How did Jesus usher in the new Exodus?