Updated: Apr 5, 2018
Escape from Slavery
Exodus 12:31–14:31 In the final plague, God killed all the firstborns in Egypt. God's people were saved from death by following God's instructions for the Passover.
Pharaoh finally allowed God's people to go free! They walked to Sinai towards the Red Sea. The Lord led two million men, women and children through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night.
Yet Pharaoh hardened his heart again. He sent his army to pursue them as far as the Red Sea. The people were trapped. They cried out to God in terror.
Moses told them not to be afraid because God was with them. He lifted his staff, and the Angel of the Lord parted the water, allowing the people to walk across the sea on dry land into the Sinai. The waters then swallowed up Pharaoh's army. So God saved His people from slavery, through signs and miracles, and delivered them from Pharaoh, the most powerful sovereign of the day.
The purpose of this journey out of Egypt was not just escaping slavery. It was to bring God's people back to God's promises so that God’s covenant with all nations could be fulfiled.
But God did not take them directly there because the people complained about the hardships and disobeyed God. God make them wandered in the desert for 40 years where they learned to worship and trust God. This was a time when they learned about their new relationship with God. God spoke to them through Moses from the mountain.
God speaks from the mountain
Exodus 19 & Deuteronomy 18:15-19 When the people arrived at the mountain, they camped in front of it. God's holy presence was on the mountain. There was a thick cloud, thunder, lightning and earthquakes. The people were terrified and they were warned not to touch the mountain or they would die. An unholy people cannot be near a holy God. Only Moses was allowed to go up the mountain on behalf of the people. (Exodus 33:7-11)
God said, "My people, you yourselves have seen what I did to your enemy, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Keep my covenant, and you will be my holy nation for the world to see."
God’s heart is for all nations to believe and worship him alongside His people.
God also taught Moses and the people another important prophecy: If a prophet claimed to be speaking in the name of God, but what he prophesied did not come true, then he would not be a true prophet of God.
To help His people live and reflect all these truths, God gave them the Law and the Tabernacle.
Exodus 20, 32-34 The Lord gave Moses the Law. It included the famous Ten Commandments and 52 commandments of worship and social justice. These were instructions on how God's people should live and display God’s glory to other nations. The people should trust God as their deliverer, not just through their words but also through their righteous actions, obedience and holiness.
The Law was never a way to salvation through doing good works. This is impossible because every person has broken the Law. Our human righteousness can never erase our sin; only God can do this.
The Tabernacle and Atonement
Exodus 25-31 God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle: a holy place where God would live in the midst of His people and where the people could meet with God.
The Tabernacle had an outer courtyard with an altar. In it, there was a tent which was divided into two parts by a curtain. The outer room was the Holy Place, and the inner room was called the Holy of Holies. Everything in the Tabernacle is a symbol of God’s covenant with His people.
Only priests were allowed into the first part of the tent. But they could enter only after purification through washing, the shedding of blood and anointment with oil. This is the meaning of the word ‘Messiah’, the one anointed by God to do the work of God.
Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would pass through the curtain and enter the Holy of Holies on behalf of people. But before entering, he must make sacrifices and burnt offerings for the sins of both himself and all the people of Israel (even the High Priest was a sinner!). This was the only way that the sin of all the people could be removed and they could have their relationship with the Lord restored.
Pointing to the future...
The story of Moses is all about deliverance from slavery and from sin. It is how Abraham's descendants became a nation and were made ready to enter the ‘promised’ land. God taught His people many lessons in the desert about trust and obedience. They spent 40 years in the desert learning same lessons over and over again. Nevertheless, they were to become a nation from whom the ‘anointed’ one or Messiah would come, one who would atone for the sins of the world.
Watch the whole story
Listen to God and pray...
God performed such powerful signs for His people. Do you think He is able to do this for you today?
What is God's attitude towards sin? What is your attitude? What do we learn of God’s heart for the people and nations of the world? What would qualify me to come into the presence of God himself?