Written by Paul J. Bucknell on August, 29, 2020
The Book of Exodus, an Introduction and Outlines
The English name ‘Exodus’ comes from the Latin, literally meaning ‘a road out.’ In the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Book of Moses, the Lord described Israel’s founding from the family of Abraham. Jacob’s family entered Egypt, then the world empire, due to the famine. After the Israelites were oppressed and became slaves, they began to seek a way out of their distressing situation. Exodus records their cry for help and how God around 1500 BC came to their rescue.
Most dramatically, God led them out of Egypt, the world, and brought them into His land, a figure of God’s presence. This deliverance was done only by establishing an austere agreement with them, called the Old Covenant. God inscribed Ten Commandments on the two God-carved tablets of stone, forming the heart of that covenant (Exodus 20).
This deliverance pattern is set here, first seeing people comfortable and secure, but then, after their departure from the Lord, they wake up and see their lost and fall under the increase of oppression.
When things get desperate, they finally cry out for help, and God gladly comes and help them. All of this points forward to the coming of the Great Deliverer, the Messiah.
- A Geographical Outline of Exodus
- A Thematic Outline of Exodus
- The Place of Exodus in the Old Testament
- The Symbolism of Christ in ExodusA Geographical Outline of Exodus
A Geographical Outline of Exodus
(1) Exodus 1-12 The Bondage in Egypt
(2) Exodus 13-18 The Trip to Sinai
(3) Exodus 19-40 The Covenant at Sinai
The Book of Exodus divides easily into three geographical sections (referenced to in the map). In stage #1, chapters 1-12, the Israelites were in Egypt. Egypt is where they later faced much oppression. In stage #2, chapters 13-18, the Israelites left Egypt and started their journey to meet God at God’s appointed place. The rest of the book, chapters 19-40, records what happened at Mt. Sinai before the living God.
The Book of Genesis covers thousands of years, but time slows way down when we read the Book of Exodus. (Time slows down even more in the Book of Leviticus located in the middle of the Book of Moses, the Law.) Nothing is essential compared to finding God, and when one reaches God’s presence, everything else fades from the scene. Many chapters are spent on what we might call irrelevant material, but there is nothing more exceptional than for the Lord to reveal Himself and His redemptive plan of salvation.
The Place of Exodus in the Old Testament
The Law, including the Book of Exodus, forms the foundation of the Old Testament canon. The rest of the Old Testament, the historical, poetic, and prophetical books, are built upon the Law, the Pentateuch (the Book of Moses).
A Thematic Outline of Exodus
Theme of Exodus: Delivered by God to be His holy possession.
(1) Delivered from the World (Exodus 1-18)
1. Their Slavery (1-4)
2. Their Showdown (5-11)
3. Their Salvation (12-18)
(2) Brought into God’s Presence (Exodus 19-40)
1. The Covenant (19-24)
2. The Tabernacle (25-40)
Exodus’s thematic outline reveals the purpose of the book: Delivered by God to be His holy possession. After introducing the way Israel became oppressed and here their dire distress calls, Exodus reveals how God delivers, leads, protects and provides for them.
Redemption means purchased. Israel, bought by God, became His people. They were no longer their own. The first 18 chapters emphasize this delivery, and the second half, chapters 19-40, elaborate the special agreement, called the Old Covenant or the Law, the Israelites now had to live under.
Throughout the Book of Exodus, the unbelief of the people depicts how undeserving they are to be delivered and called God’s people to live in His presence.
The Symbolism of Christ in Exodus
The Book of Exodus provides a wonderful picture of salvation.
The Book of Exodus enables us to understand the glories of Christ Jesus and salvation better. There might be some debate as to the extent of the symbolism, meaning, and intent—of the feasts, tent, priests, sacrifices, etc. However, overall there is a general agreement to the types of salvation (amplified in Hebrews). Areas of minute conflict should not hold us back from seeing Christ’s dramatic glories revealed in the Book of Exodus.
God’s redemptive story influences all of God’s people through the ages. The redemptive truths are so foundational that they are embedded in Israel’s history. Exodus’ two key themes, her departure from Egypt and securing of the Old Covenant, significantly expand our appreciation and understanding of parallel teachings in the New Testament, ten of which are listed below.
(1) The Israelites’ bondage to Egypt shows how, apart from God’s grace, we are oppressed slaves to the world (1 John 2:14-16).
(2) The Angel of Death pictures how the wrath of God comes upon all who live in the world (firstborn rather than born again) unless he comes under God’s saving protection (Romans 5:9,12; 1 John 3).
(3) The Passover and the need to be under the blood shows how we need to be saved (Hebrews 9:15-16). Death, especially Jesus’ death on the cross, is necessary to seal the New Covenant.
(4) The death of the Passover lamb symbolizes how Jesus would suffer for us (Hebrews 9:12-14). “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
(5) The Israelites’ miraculous escape through the sea represents the believer’s repentance and baptism (cutting off the old and living by the new) (1 Corinthians 10:2).
(6) The Old Covenant (at Sinai) foreshadows the greater New Covenant through Christ (Hebrews 12:18-25).
(7) The laws reveal God’s standard of holiness summed up by Christ’s command of love (Romans 13:9).
(8) The tabernacle (tent) foreshadows Christ through whom He lived among men (Acts 15:16; Hebrews 9:11; Revelation 21:3).
(9) Christ is prefigured by the High Priest who could enter God’s presence and intercede for the people (Hebrews 5:5-10; 8:1).
(10) Christ was both the priest and the priest’s offering that appeases God’s wrath (Hebrews 8:3-6).
The above list is a small representation of all the prefigurement of Christ and His work. The New Covenant is much better than the Old in every way, in its cleansing, deliverance, creation of intimacy with God, and rooting out our evil with the heart for God by His Spirit.