Many who study the Bible get so focused on each passage, one after another, that they find it difficult to step back and see how they fit together. But we must remember the Bible is a work of literature. It was not written to be scrutinized in bites; it was written to be devoured in gobbles. We should remember to read the Bible as we’d read any other book: moving through it at a reasonable pace, and recognizing ongoing themes, climax and resolution, and character development. When we hit milestones in the text, we should take the opportunity to survey where we’ve been and how it fits together.
So, now that we’ve reached the beginning of the end for Pharaoh, it’s a good time to catch our breath. Last week, I mentioned that from Exodus 7:8 to the end, Moses has no further relapses into doubt. And we should notice that Exodus 7:8 begins the long series of brutal confrontations that result in Pharaoh and his army meeting their end in the Red Sea (chapter 14), to the great delight and celebration of the Hebrews (chapter 15). But where have we been so far?
Let me list the main points I’ve proposed for each section:
- Exodus 1: The sons of God have many enemies, but none can prevent God’s promises from being fulfilled.
- Exodus 2: God will deliver his people through the hand of his appointed deliverer…just not yet.
- Exodus 3:1-4:17: God must deliver his people through the hand of a mediator, however hesitant he may be.
- Exodus 4:18-31: One qualified to serve as God’s faithful and merciful mediator must be made like his brothers in every way. Because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
- Exodus 5:1-21: The LORD makes his people rest and stink.
- Exodus 5:22-7:7: Yahweh is a God who provides not only a powerful mediator but also a great high priest to deliver his people and proclaim he is God.
In addition, my overview of the whole book led me to this overall main point:
Who is Yahweh, and why should you obey him? He is the God who 1) demolishes the house of slavery (Ex 1-15), 2) prepares to rebuild (Ex 16-18), and 3) builds his house in the midst of his people (Ex 19-40).
Pull It Together
Now what does this show us about the flow of thought in chapters 1-7?
- Chapter 1 serves to introduce the major conflict and need: Nobody can prevent God from keeping his promises. But it left us with a question: HOW will God go about fulfilling his promises in such a dire situation as his people’s oppression and infanticide?
- Beginning with chapter 2, the Lord answers this question by raising up a mediator for his people. Each section places another piece into this puzzle.
- Exodus 2: The mediator is not yet ready for these people, nor are these people ready for him.
- Exodus 3:1-4:17: The mediator must overcome his own hesitations.
- Exodus 4:18-31: The mediator must become like his people in every way.
- Exodus 5:1-21: For both the mediator and the people, things must get worse before they can get better.
- Exodus 5:22-7:7: Moses himself is not enough to mediate for these people; even he needs a great high priest to make him what God wants him to be.
In a sense, these early chapters of Exodus serve as Moses’ boot camp. These chapters show us how much it matters to God to make sure his mediator is fully qualified and trained for the task of deliverance. And this boot camp serves as Part 1 of the book’s first act, the demolition of the house of slavery.
We can flesh out our outline of the book a little further:
Act I: Yahweh demolishes the house of slavery (Ex 1-15).
Introduction: Nobody can prevent Yahweh from keeping his promises, but we’re not sure how he’ll do it (Ex 1).
Part 1: Yahweh appoints a mediator and ensures he is fully qualified and trained for the task of deliverance (Ex 2:1-7:7).
Part 2: ??? [We’ll begin studying this part in a few weeks.]
Act II: Yahweh prepares to rebuild (Ex 16-18).
Act III: Yahweh builds his house in the midst of his people (Ex 19-40).
Gaze Upon Jesus
I hope you can already see the many connections to the work of Christ:
- Like Moses, Jesus had to be made like his people in every way (Heb 2:17).
- He also had to escape an evil king who murdered all the infant boys (Matt 2:16).
- He also had to escape from Egypt (Matt 2:14-15).
- He also had to experience a terrifying Passover (John 19:36, quoting Exodus 12), a crossing through water (Matt 3:13-17), and temptation in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11)—all to reinforce his identity as God’s Son (Matt 3:17, 4:3, etc.).
- Like Moses, Jesus encountered the glory of God—and Moses himself!—on a mountain (Luke 9:28-36).
- Like Moses, Jesus had to work through his hesitations, submitting them to God’s will (Mark 14:36).
- As with Moses, Jesus’ efforts made things worse before they could get better (Mark 3:6, 14:48-52, etc.).
- Jesus didn’t need another high priest; he became a high priest far greater than Aaron (Heb 5:1-10).
Did you ever realize how much Jesus went through to win you? He couldn’t just snap his fingers to forgive your sins. He had some serious work to do—all to ensure he would be fully qualified and trained to serve as your mediator and high priest.
Marvel at this God who would become a man to do this for you!
Now you represent him to your world. Don’t expect it to be easy. As God sends you out to rescue sinners by preaching the gospel to all nations, he’s not yet finished with you. In fact, he’s probably just getting started on you. Some of your most significant growth in Christ will come only after you accept the call to go out and bring Christ to others. But God sent his Spirit to qualify and train you to this task.
Click here to see what I’m doing with this sample Bible study and why I’m doing it.