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.“[Exodus 6:6]
The Exodus from Egypt is the single most significant event in the history of God’s people prior to the incarnation of Jesus Christ and His subsequent death, burial and resurrection. The Exodus not only lays the foundation for our faith in the God of Israel — Yhvh or Yahweh — but also marks the birth of the nation of Israel and the supernatural redemption of God’s people.
The sacred writings of the Torah, Psalms, and prophets collectively are pointing back to the Exodus as the signature event in Israel’s past, while at the same time looking forward to the greater Exodus at the end of the age when Messiah is revealed from heaven. God’s redemption of Israel out of Egypt and through the waters of the Red Sea provide the template for our ultimate redemption through the Person and work of Jesus Christ — the greater Moses.
God Breaks the Bonds of a Cruel Master
Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey …“[Exodus 3:7-8]
Israel sojourned into Egypt as a family of 70 and grew into a great multitude. Pharaoh responded by enslaving the people of God and subjecting them to harsh labor under his cruel taskmasters. For generations all the children of Israel were born into slavery and knew nothing of freedom. Even worse, Israel was powerless to deliver herself from Pharaoh and were left desperately crying out to God in agony.
Although Israel languished in despair, the Bible tells us that God heard their cry and determined to act. Israel needed a God greater than the gods of Egypt and someone more powerful than Pharaoh. Only the LORD — the Most High — could save them, and that is precisely what He did.
Israel, of course, is meant to be indicative of humankind in general, as we all are born into spiritual slavery as sons of Adam and held in bondage by the evil ruler of this world — the devil. The parallels between man’s sinful condition and Israel are obvious. In and of ourselves we are left powerless over sin and the devil, who has authority over all the kingdoms of the world [Luke 4].
Like Israel, we need a God who is greater than all our sin and more powerful than the devil to deliver us from our hopeless state. The good news is that the God of Israel became a man in the person of Jesus Christ and came to redeem us from the powers of darkness and transfer us into the Kingdom of God.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.[Romans 6:22-23]
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.[1 John 3:8]
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.[Colossians 1:13-14]
God Brings us through the Waters of New Birth
The LORD will reign forever and ever. For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea.[Exodus 15:18-19]
It was the LORD Himself, clothed in a cloud, leading Israel through the sea, as He also protected them in the rear by a column of fire. When Israel emerged from the depths with the enemy in her wake, she had been reborn — the birth of a nation through the waters of baptism. What a scene as the children of Israel rejoiced and praised God with a victory song of celebration!
The imagery of water baptism and the new birth runs consistently throughout the Scriptures. Noah and his family saved through waters. Moses and Israel saved through the sea. Jesus Himself, while ascending from the baptismal waters of the Jordan, is identified by the Father from heaven as His beloved Son — the Messiah of Israel. Later Jesus schools the teacher of Israel — Nicodemus — by revealing that man must be born of more than mere natural descent in order to enter God’s kingdom. We must be born again — from above — by the Holy Spirit.
In other words, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, but only those who participate in the resurrection at the end of the age. Ultimately the flesh counts for nothing, but God’s words are Spirit and eternal life!
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.[1 Peter 3:21-22]
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.[Romans 6:3-5]
Paul reminds us that all of these supernatural events throughout history are examples and foreshadowings of greater things to come in Christ — who not only redeemed Israel as a new nation but also who redeems us as a new creation.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.[1 Corinthians 10:1-4]
God Redeems us a People of His own Possession
Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.[Exodus 19:3-6]
Once the LORD had drowned Pharaoh and the army of Egypt in the sea, the process of redemption had been complete. Israel was chosen and set apart from all the nations of the earth to be God’s treasured possession and covenant people. The LORD will forever be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Israel is the name of the covenant people of God, but Israel was not redeemed at the exclusion of the other nations of the earth but rather for their ultimate blessing and inclusion into God’s kingdom.
In Christ, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. In Christ, God has made for Himself a people from not only the tribes of Israel but also from every tribe and nation and people of the earth. Even as Israel departed Egypt and crossed the sea, it was a mixed multitude of Egyptian and Israelite alike. God’s plan has always been to redeem for Himself kingdom of priest from every nation!
The Exodus is the pattern for all of redemptive history, and Christ is the hero of the whole story. Jesus is the image of the invisible God — the One who manifested in human form to redeem Israel out of Egypt — the One who took on flesh to save the world — and the One who is coming down again in power and great glory at the end of this present age to ultimately redeem the sons of God through the resurrection of the dead.
They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore[Ezekiel 37:25-28]
Next session, I will consider Israel the Bride of the LORD and the betrothal at Mt. Sinai.