Old Testament Overview
• “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women
merely players.” William Shakespeare
• When we truly consider this statement, who is the director?
• This world is God’s theater where He displays His glory!
• Genesis gave us the introduction: The creation of the cosmos,
introduction of sin, and God’s great plan—to save a people
through Abraham’s line.
• At this point, who knew of this plan?
• In Exodus, God turns on the stage lights on the most powerful
nation on earth and delivers His people for His glory.
• In Exodus we will find themes and patterns that shapes how
God will work through the rest of history.
This will be a two part study:
– A historical overview with its place in the redemptive story.
– Then an exploration of the five main themes in Exodus.
• Setting: Israel in Egypt (1:1-1:22)
• Call of Moses (2:1-4:31)
• Moses and Aaron: initial request (5:1-7:7)
• Plagues and Exodus (7:8-15:21)
• Journey to Sinai (15:22-19:25)
Overview of Exodus 1-19
• Gen 3:15 is a key verse that declares that the seed of the
woman, a promised Son, will crush Satan’s head.
• This seed comes through the line of Abraham.
• They will become a great nation and possess Canaan and
bless the whole world.
• For now they’re a large family living in Egypt during a famine!
• Still, God’s plan is in motion – read Exodus 1:7.
• After 300 years, approximately BC 1500, they became Egypt’s
• They are no longer visitors … they are slaves. No longer
welcomed … they are oppressed. Where is God’s promise?
• This is the stage setting as the curtains of Exodus opens.
• Read Exodus 2:24.
• Had God actually forgotten?
• Note the timing. Moses was already on the scene, grown, old
(by our standards 80) when God began to implement His plan.
• What does that tell us about how God works?
• This begins the battle between the God of the universe and
the universal gods of Egypt.
• The last plague is the slaying of every firstborn in the land –
God’s outpouring of his wrath on Egypt for how they treated
• In God’s mercy, he provides a plan of salvation through the
shedding of the blood of an innocent animal.
• Pharaoh surrenders, Israel leaves the land only after
plundering its riches – God’s gift to his people.
• One last thing – God destroys Pharaoh and his army at the
miracle at the Red Sea.
• The people have been redeemed by the LORD; will they
continue to trust the LORD?
• In chapter 15 Moses praises God for his deliverance... 3 days
later they complain that there’s no water or food.
• Grumbling and disobedient and maybe not worthy of God’s
favor, He who redeemed them leads them through!
• Read Exodus 19:4-5 (example of conditional covenant)
• We see the pattern of redemptive history – oppression,
judgment, and miraculous deliverance.
• God speaks – he speaks to Moses and Aaron, and through
them to Pharaoh and to the people of Israel.
• God is revealing the meaning of the great events he’s
accomplished on this grand stage.
• Making Exodus a foundational book for understanding the
rest of the Bible.
God’s Unique Identity – Theme 1
• Read Exodus 3:13-14
• ָהי ָה hayah (verb) - to be, become, come to pass, exist,
happen, fall out
– He exists and His existence is absolute;
– He did not derive His existence from anyone or anything else.
– He is self-existent, self-sufficient.
– He is eternal.
– He simply and absolutely is.
• Prior to this, Moses most often uses “God” – now he most
often use “The LORD” Yahweh which most literally means “I
• Ex 5:2: “Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the LORD (Who is Yahweh!) that
I should obey his voice and let Israel go?’”
• Who is the LORD?! The whole book of Exodus is an answer to
that most fundamental of questions.
Attributes of the “I AM” that Exodus reveals to us.
1. The LORD is a covenant-keeping God. Ex 6:5; “I have heard the
groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving,
and I have remembered my covenant.”
2. The LORD is utterly supreme. Ex 8:10: “It will be as you say, so
that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our
God.” Yahweh is uniquely divine and sovereign.
3. The LORD is the great warrior. Ex 15:2-3: “The LORD is my
strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my
God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt
him. The LORD is a warrior, the LORD is his name.”
4. The LORD is the caring provider. Ex 16:11-12: “The LORD said
to Moses, ‘I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell
them, “At twilight you will eat meat, …”
• Read John 8:58.
• “Before Abraham was born, I am!”
• Jesus didn’t just call himself God. He called himself I AM – the
unique divine name. (The Jews knew that’s what he meant,
because they attempted to stone him!) So, in a very real
sense, Jesus is who we are reading about here in Exodus when
we are reading about “I AM” performing great miracles to
redeem His people.
• I AM: εἰμί eimi - to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
• Struggling or know someone who is … use these descriptions
of God’s character to inform and to comfort and to
The Pattern of Redemption – Theme 2
• The way he works – God’s pattern of redemption.
1. The problem: the people are oppressed in slavery. Ex 3:7.
– The exodus is the salvation of God’s people out of something:
in this case, out of tyrannical captivity.
2. The solution: the LORD’s single-handedly acts to save the
people, sparing them from his judgment through a blood
sacrifice. Ex 6:6.
– The concept of redemption, of course, refers to purchasing
freedom for a slave.
– The death of the Passover lamb is the ransom price for the
firstborn sons of Israel. God pours out his judgment on Egypt,
the ransom is paid, and the people go free.
3. The result: the LORD leads his people to the promised land
where they can worship him and be in fellowship with him.
– The LORD instructs Moses to give Pharaoh for desiring to leave
Egypt is so that the people can worship God.
– Israel is rescued out of slavery with the intent of taking them
into something else: into the land, so they can worship as
God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.
– Mere liberation from slavery is not the point of God’s
– The point is to create a people who know and worship Him.
– This is more than a release from physical slavery.
– The ultimate goal is worship and relationship.
• These three aspects of God’s redemption – the problem of
slavery, the solution of salvation through judgment, and the
result of restored worship – will be major reoccurring themes
in the rest of the Bible.
• Israel’s later exile into Babylon:
– They fall out of fellowship with God and become aliens
again in foreign lands where they are again mistreated.
– Then returned from exile is to have fellowship with Him.
• The greatest example is in Titus 2:14 says that Jesus Christ
“gave himself for us to redeem us [the solution] from all
wickedness [the problem] and to purify for himself a people
that are his very own [the result].”
• Saving us through the death and resurrection of his Son
wasn’t God’s Plan B – it was his plan before the creation of
A Substitutionary Sacrifice – Theme 3
• Read Exodus 12:12-13.
• Yahweh intends to strike down every firstborn?
• In most of the plagues, Israel was spared while Egypt suffered.
Not this time!
• Israel isn’t God’s people because they’re perfect. They too
deserve the punishment of death for their sins.
• God is sovereign and could kill the firstborn sons of Israel too,
and no one could question his goodness and justice.
• He provides a lamb to die in their place so they might not
• It’s not that punishment is given to Egypt but not to Israel—
rather, Israel’s punishment falls on a substitute.
• The Passover is a monument of God’s grace!
• Why remember the Passover every year?
• It was God’s way of pointing to the future Passover Lamb
– Jesus Christ.
• Read John 1:29 and 1 Corinthians 5:7.
• The New Testament writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit,
look back at Exodus and interpret the Passover most
fundamentally in spiritual terms.
• As Christians we need to focus on spiritual liberation as
Exodus applies to our lives.
• Many believe the best way for us to apply Exodus is to
fight slavery and oppression on earth – whether it is
human trafficking, systemic injustice, racism, or genocide.
• As Christians we should oppose these – all people are
created in the image of God, and we to love our neighbor
• But this is not the point. The New Testament teaches us that
the most desperate need of all people is the spiritual
liberation that comes through repentance and faith in Jesus,
our Passover lamb! Our exodus!
• As John Piper has recently said, “we Christians care about all
suffering – especially eternal suffering.”
• Liberation theology* is a political movement in Roman
Catholic theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus
Christ in relation to a liberation from unjust economic,
political, or social conditions. It has been described as "an
interpretation of Christian faith through the poor's suffering,
their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the
Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor",
and by detractors as Christianized Marxism.
* "Liberation Theology." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2013.
God’s Special People – Theme 4
• Read Exodus 19:5-6.
• God’s purpose in rescuing Abraham’s descendants from Egypt
wasn’t just to save them from slavery – it was to establish
them as a nation that belongs to him and that represents him
in the world.
• Read Exodus 4:22-23
• Israel is God’s firstborn son – a very unique relationship!
• They are first in God’s affections.
• They are His covenant people – to receive special blessings.
• They have a special mission – to display God’s glory to all and
to make him known throughout all generations.
So how does God’s “son” do at representing God?
1. At the end of the Exodus, chapter 14, Israel miraculously
passes through the waters of the Red Sea.
2. The march through the desert wilderness begins in 16:2.
3. Six verses later the grumbling starts for food and water.
4. In 17:2, they test God over no water to drink.
5. At Mt. Sinai they receive the 10 commandments and
forty days later they make and worship a golden calf as
• Quite typical behavior as recorded in the Old Testament for
• More than typical it is “typical” in the sense “typology”.
• Compare Jesus to Israel.
1. In his baptism, Jesus passes through waters and is called
“God’s beloved son;”
2. Then, he goes into the desert to be tempted;
3. His first temptation is about not having food to eat;
4. His second temptation is to “test” God; and
5. His final temptation is to worship someone other than
• Similar experiences - but Jesus succeeded in all the ways that
• Jesus is the true Son of God, the embodiment and fulfillment
of all that Israel was supposed to be.
• He is the true Israel. Read Matthew 2:15.
God’s Glorious Motive– Theme 5
• Read Exodus 6:7.
• Secular retelling of the Exodus miss this – they focus on the
tragedy of slavery and the heroism of Moses.
• “Then you will know that I am the LORD” occurs 14 times in
the first half of the Exodus.
• God’s purpose is to establish his fame, to exalt his glory!
– God’s glory is the purpose of the plagues.
– God’s glory is the purpose of the judgment of Egypt at the Red Sea.
– God’s glory is the reason why God himself sovereignly hardens.
Pharaoh’s heart so he would resist God and come under judgment.
• Would God harden our hearts so that He might judge us?
• God’s self-glorification is the ultimate summary for the first
half of Exodus.
• The curtain opened with Israel spread across the stage.
• Now God has become the predominate character in this play.
– He took on the gods of Egypt and prevailed.
– He has revealed his unique identity.
– He has established a mighty pattern of redemption.
– He has provided a substitutionary sacrifice.
– He has called out his special people.
• All for His glory!
• Our lives are more than doing our jobs and taking care of our
families – it is to bring to God!
• When you focus on this …
– How might your attitude towards others change?
– How might your relationships change?
– How might your money management change?
– How might your time management change?
• Read Revelation 1:5-6.