Exodus can be an intimidating book to preach through exegetically. It contains long narrative passages (the 10 plagues in Egypt cover 5 chapters) as well as discourses on law, ceremonial rites and routines, and lengthy instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle and its components. Furthermore, the story that begins in Exodus does not conclude until Joshua leads the people of Israel into the Promised Land, which, of course, is described in the book of Joshua.
6 Reasons to Preach Through the Book of Exodus
Since Exodus may not be viewed as an obvious choice for the exegetical preacher, this article offers six reasons to preach through the book of Exodus.
Reason 1: It’s in the Bible.
The book of Exodus is God-breathed like the rest of Scripture and is useful for teaching. Christian preachers have a responsibility to preach Christ from all of Scripture, which includes Exodus.
Reason 2: Exodus teaches God’s framework for redemption.
Through the Exodus, God reiterates His framework for the redemption of his people. Israel, the “firstborn son” of God (Ex. 4:22–23) is enslaved to Egypt. The Egyptians are oppressive and abusive toward Israel and God sets out to deliver His people (Ex. 1–15). Having delivered Israel from slavery and from the pursuit of the Egyptians through the crossing of the Red Sea, God establishes the Mosaic covenant (Ex. 16–24). Having delivered and covenanted with His people, God grants them his presence (Ex. 25–40). The presence of God is viewed as the most precious benefit of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. Even the Promised Land is unattractive to Moses if God does not go with Israel (Ex. 33:15).
The parallels between the message of Christ’s redemption and the redemption of Israel through the Exodus are too numerous to include in a blog article of this length. Succinctly, the gospel is the message of God’s deliverance of his people from slavery to sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He institutes a new covenant with His people through the shedding of the blood of His only Son. He promises his people that he will be present with them always, and He sends the Holy Spirit as a seal and down payment of the promises secured by the work of Christ Jesus.
Reason 3: Exodus is foundational in establishing the identity of the nation of Israel and in understanding the character of God.
Through the Exodus, God identified the nation of Israel as His peculiar people. In Exodus 19:5–6 God tells them, “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.”
The Mosaic Covenant, which was confirmed through the Exodus, remains a significant cultural marker for contemporary Jews. Most Jewish feasts and festivals, most notably Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, have a direct connection to the Exodus. The people of Israel were commanded to observe these feasts in order to remember what God has done for them (Exodus 13). Furthermore, Israel continues to identify herself as “the people whom God delivered from Egypt” throughout the rest of the Old Testament. Not only does Israel identify herself this way but God identifies himself as “the LORD God who brought [Israel] out of the land of Egypt” throughout the Old Testament (Ex. 20:2; 29:46; Lev. 11:45; 19:36; 22:33; 23:43; 25:38; 26:13; Num. 15:41; Deut. 1:30; 4:34; 5:6; 20:1 are a few of the many examples). God identifies himself with His act of deliverance, which serves as a reminder of His determination to be the deliverer of His people.
While these truths serve as a foundation for understanding the rest of the Old Testament, they serve a further purpose for the preaching of the Gospel. Just as the people of Israel identified themselves as those who had been delivered from bondage in Egypt, so Christians identify themselves as those who have been delivered from bondage to sin and death.
1 Peter 2:9 quotes from Exodus 19:5–6 to identify Christians, saying, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Christians should be at least as determined as the Jews to memorialize and remember their deliverance through the work of Christ. The gospel reminds us also that God is the Lord who delivers his people out of slavery to sin. God desires to be known as a deliverer, and He is willing to deliver any who come to him by faith.
Reason 4: God reveals his name, “I Am.”
Not only does God identify himself as the deliverer of his people in Exodus, but He also discloses His name. Before Moses spoke with God at the burning bush, God had primarily been identified as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In Exodus 3:13, Moses seemed to imply that the people of God would require Moses to know God’s name. Perhaps this request for God’s name was a bargaining tool in Moses’ attempt to not go back to Egypt. Whatever his motivation, Moses received an answer from God in Exodus 3:14. “God replied to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.’” God’s introduction of himself to Moses as YHWH is transformational especially in contrast to the gods of Egypt and other pagan nations.
God identifies himself as the singular, self-sufficient, and eternal God. He commands the Israelites not to use his name in vain (Ex. 20:7) and they take this law very literally. YHWH (the “tetragrammaton”) appears over 6000 times in the Scriptures. Jewish scribes do not include vowels in the text to ensure that the name of God is not verbalized. The Israelites are very careful not to say the name of God aloud in fear of using His name in vain.
The implications for gospel preachers should be obvious. Jesus identified himself as the “I Am” in John’s gospel. Jesus is not a moralizer, a prophet, or teacher. He is the second person of the singular, eternal, self-sufficient God.
Reason 5: God gives the law.
The law of God given to Moses at Sinai is both an identifying marker of God’s people and the disclosure of God’s standards for righteousness. Throughout the Old Testament, adherence to the Torah is the criteria in discerning God’s pleasure or displeasure with His people. The law of God addresses the human relationship with God as well as human relationships with each other.
Ultimately God’s standard of perfect righteousness proved unattainable until the advent of Jesus. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill the law (Mat 5:17). In fulfilling the law Jesus is due all of the blessings of obedience. However, through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus willingly exchanged his inheritance of eternal life and blessing for the lawbreaker’s inheritance of condemnation. Anyone who believes in Jesus, then, is incorporated into His eternal reward. The continuing presence of the law (rightfully understood) ignites the human consciousness of sin and incites desperation for salvation (Rom 3).
Reason 6: Moses.
Moses is the most important Old Testament prophet and author of the Torah. He and the covenant that bears his name are foundational to the Jewish faith. More importantly to the gospel preacher, Moses is a type of Christ whose story points seamlessly to Jesus. Jesus himself excoriated the Jews because they did not recognize Jesus as the messiah through their knowledge of Moses (John 5:33–47).