Genesis had the promise of a nation. Now the 12 sons of Jacob have grown to 12 tribes, they’ve become a large ethnic group of slaves within Egypt.
Exodus is God’s action on the Genesis promise, the action that creates the nation.
They are the ones God chose, the ones God saved, they know God’s will, and they know it because of this adventure. The passover, and receiving the means of grace via law and sacrifice, remain the seminal events of Judaism. And of Christianity, via the transforming link of Jesus’ last supper.
It invents the road movie cliche of the geographical trip being less important than the spiritual journey. They never do reach the promised land in this book, but reach oneness with God. Getting there is a painful journey with much failure and loss. God’s judgement of those who can’t accept it is absolute, hard to read.
I spoke about him being revealed in flashing tableaux, as if lit by lightning in Genesis. Here, through his relationship with Moses, God’s character is on full display: cloud by day, fire by night. They climb mountains to meet him and he passes right by, so close Moses’ face glows, and God writes with his finger on stone that Moses can carry and read. Guidance, judgement, salvation, provision, love.
Moses the rescued orphan; unwilling, humble leader becomes the catalyst of God’s revelation. He transfers his intimacy with God to the people.
Recovering from a low of completely rejecting God & Moses, they end on a high of creative energy for God, crafting the tabernacle, and being blessed with his presence.
1 The Israelites are, slaves, hated in Egypt, their male babies are to be killed
2 Moses is born lucky, but his life seems at a dead end in exile after an impulsive murder
3 An ordinary day, except the momentous moment God speaks to Moses
4 Moses is an unwilling mouthpiece, God gently persists
5 Moses’ message makes things worse, which is how faith, truth, will often work
6 The older patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph had a promise, Moses will have an act
7 God given signs, and the first plague, don’t convince Pharaoh. There’s none so blind…
8 Frogs, gnats, flies. Pharaoh learns some flexibility, Moses learns some courage.
9 Diseased livestock, boils, hail & lightning. Designed to discredit Egyptian Gods
10 Pharaoh tires of Moses, reacting against perhaps God tiring of him?
11 Pharaoh is warned of the killing curse and still won’t bend
12 Passover – God judges, chooses, rescues
13 As the Israelites leave, God is so present, in cloud & fire, as he is for us in prayer
14 The mighty nation making moment where the Egyptians are defeated is accompanied by doubt and longing to return by many Israelites
15 Finally, a moment of joy and celebration, praising God’s “unfailing love”, then whinging when they start to get thirsty. I’d like to say it wouldn’t be me…
16 Manna and quail, the lord’s provision. I have a week of 3 deaths.
17 Water from rock, in which I contemplate how faithful the Israelites actually are despite appearances to the contrary; and the phrase “author of life”
18 Moses delegates. We see his take on a good leader
Getting the law: 10 Commandments and much other stuff
19 Dramatic scene setting as Moses approaches Sinai for the law. How vague their religion must have been before then!
20 The 10 commandments. I’m particularly struck by “no other Gods” & covetousness
21 Detailed law starts. I call it “God’s imperfect bargain with our sinful natures”
22 The Israelites’ exemplary justice code is in some respects a judgment on us today.
23 The laws on social inequality and fairness, they also put us to shame
24 God calls a group up the mountain for a special covenant… only Moses goes to the top
25 God speaks in great detail, gives them creative work to do for him – tabernacle etc.
26 Instructions for the tabernacle
27 More parts of the tabernacle. I imagine a theology without the indwelling spirit, needing a place for God
28 The priestly garments, holy, representative of the tribes, and with wisdom built in
29 Consecration of priests rules, and how rituals scratch our spiritual itch
30 lights & incense in the tabernacle… predicting messiah (gold, frankinsence, myrrh)
31 the artisans who will make everything, the sabbath & tablets of stone with the law
Losin’ it all ….almost
32 devastating golden calf incident. God wants to start again. 1000 destroyed
33 Moses argues for saving the people. God shows Moses his glory, and relents.
34 God makes another set of stone tablets, renewed promise, Moses’ face glows
35 The people have a 2nd chance & throw themselves into tabernacle construction
Repentance through tabernacle making, and God’s blessing
36 Joy of tabernacle making, the people bought more than necessary, so keen
37 Making the sacred articles, God takes pleasure in the people’s artisanship
38 The curtains that define the place where God is. Being with God, mind=blown
39 Making the priestly garments for tabernacle. All done! Moses blesses everything.
40 Ends on a high, with God descending on the completed tabernacle, state of Grace