Exodus is derived from the Greek language and means ‘a way out.’ This second book of the Bible tells how God made a way out of Egypt and slavery for His special people, the nation of Israel.
In Exodus chapter 1 we find the Israelites living prosperously in Egypt. In addition to great wealth, their population was expanding with remarkable speed. These factors combined made Pharaoh nervous, it was completely possible that this group could take over the land of Egypt. In answer to the threat, Pharaoh condemned the entire nation of Israel to slavery. Although Israel was persecuted their numbers continued to rise, so Pharaoh commanded all male babies to be slaughtered at birth. One boy escaped; his name was Moses. God worked dramatically in Moses’ life, moulding him into a man fit to lead Israel.
At God’s command Moses acts, demanding Pharaoh free Israel and permit them to leave Egypt. Pharaoh needs persuading so God sent 10 plagues on Egypt:
1) All water in the land was turned to blood,
2) Plague of frogs,
3) Plague of lice,
4) Plague of flies,
5) An epidemic amongst livestock,
6) Epidemic of boils,
7) Deadly hail storm,
8) Plague of Locust,
9) Absolute darkness for 3 days,
10) Death of every first born human and animal.
On the same night the Egyptian’s firstborn children and animals were struck dead, the Israelites celebrated their first Passover feast. Interestingly, the name Passover formed because God passed over the houses of the faithful Israelites and Egyptians, only killing the firstborn of those who hadn’t obeyed God’s directions regarding this special feast. Whilst the land of Egypt was filled with crying, Israel and faithful Egyptians headed away, led by a miraculous pillar of fire. Everything seemed rosy until the people realised Pharaoh was bearing down on them with a terrifying army of chariots. Unfortunately, Israel was stuck between mountains and the Red Sea with no way of escaping a complete massacre. God acts again, comforting the people through Moses and performing the most astounding miracle yet. He divided the Red Sea in two, creating a highway on the sea bed so Israel could cross safely to the opposite shore. The Egyptian’s attempted crossing in Israel’s wake and were drowned when the sea closed back over them.
Free from slavery, Israel now found themselves in the hostile Sinai Desert, without food or water. In answer to these basic needs God miraculously provided a constant supply of bread and water. Additionally, He caused a pillar of cloud to lead the nation by day and pillar of fire by night, this would have doubled as shade and warmth. After some travelling, the people were led to camp before the great Mt Sinai and here they stayed for quite a while.
It may seem odd that God would lead His nation to a remote and desolate place. However, there was infinite wisdom in this move. Israel had made an exodus from Egypt in a physical sense but they were trapped in the religion and philosophy of their dead masters. God had brought the nation to a place without worldly distraction, so that they could begin a spiritual exodus. It was in this unlikely camp ground that Israel received God’s covenant with them, His laws, including the 10 Commandments, national feasts, holidays and instructions for building the Tabernacle (a tent where God would be worshipped and communicate with Israel). The intent was to teach Israel about their great and holy God and cause them to start developing characters like His. Throughout the remaining pages of this book Israel displays moments of faithfulness and obedience to God, contrasted with thankless, rebellious behaviour.
We conclude this book summary having learnt that a physical exodus took place many years ago but the spiritual exodus from Egypt is ongoing. Indeed, every person who wants to please God must undergo a spiritual exodus; an exodus that can only be achieved by following God’s way out.