The Context of Exodus

The book of Exodus is one of the most exciting books of the Bible, and during the next forty days, we will study it chapter by chapter! It’s a story of a loving, merciful God who is always looking out for his people and is ready to welcome us into his loving arms when we turn from our sins and turn back to him.

It’s also the story of an all powerful God who is intimately involved in people’s lives. He didn’t just create us to be a bunch of busy bodies, like busy ants or bees, who just work all the time or live our lives independently from him. God created us to have a relationship with him, and when we have that relationship, he is sovereign and will let nothing happen to us that he doesn’t allow. Exodus is a key part of the story of God and his creation, and in order to know God better, we must study and understand this book.

The Context – Key Questions:

What is the “exodus?” The “exodus” is Israel’s escape from slavery in Egypt and journey toward the promised land under Moses. Historically and theologically, this is the most important event of the Old Testament (OT). More than 100 times in the OT, God is proclaimed as “the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Israel remembered the exodus as God’s mighty redemptive act. They sang about it and celebrated it throughout their history, and Jews still remember it and celebrate it to this day. The exodus in the OT was to Israel as the death and resurrection of Jesus was to Christians in the NT. Therefore, the book of Exodus is considered the central book of the OT.

When did the exodus occur? The Bible does not give an exact date for the exodus. First Kings 6:1 says, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.” Knowing what we know about the time Solomon ruled and built the temple, these verses indicate a 15th century B.C. exodus event.

What is the literary setting? The book of Exodus is the second book of the Bible (the second book of the Pentatuech, which sounds like penta-tuke). This is an expression given to the first 5 books of the Bible. The Jewish canons also label these books collectively as the Torah, which means, “teaching” or “instruction.” In English, we refer to the first 5 books as the “Law.” Exodus builds on the Genesis narrative of creation, human sin, divine punishment and renewal. Genesis ends with Joseph bringing his family (the 12 sons of Israel) into Egypt to avoid the harsh suffering of famine. Exodus takes up the story of the children of Jacob in Egypt, now under a new pharoah and seen as feared foreigners instead of welcomed deliverers from famime.

We’ll pick up on this story, starting with the first chapter of Exodus, on Monday. This weekend, take some time familiarizing yourself with the background and setting of the book of Exodus. Get ready for a great ride as we study Exodus!

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