Exodus 1-18 tells the story of how God heard and rescued the Israelites from centuries of brutal slavery in the land of Egypt. Responding to Israel’s outcry, God rescued a man from a murdered generation and brought him up in the house of Pharaoh. When the time came, God called on that man, Moses, and gave him a near impossible task: convince Pharaoh to emancipate the Israelites. On his own, the quivering, fearful Moses could not do it. But with the divine help of God and the bold voice of Aaron, Moses went to Pharaoh and pleaded with him. When Pharaoh repeatedly refused, God sent plagues and signs to warn Egypt and its ruler. Still Pharaoh persisted in his evil, increasing the Israelites labor and disregarding the suffering of even his own people. Pharaoh’s hardness of heart led him and his nation to destruction. On the final day of negotiation, God ordered his people to take flight. We then see Pharoah’s armies charging after the Israelites into the Red Sea. The Israelites passed through safely on dry ground; the Egyptians did not. Day breaks and the Israelites are left, blinking, free for the first time in 430 years.
The Exodus reveals an abundance about God’s nature and about Israel’s identity. Throughout the Exodus, God proves Himself to be a promise-keeper, the source of Israel’s victories, and a faithful protector of Abraham’s descendants. In Exodus, God seals His reputation as a good God, the only God. There was never a moment when God wasn’t rescuing Israel and enacting His plan of redemption. Exodus is confirmation that God doesn’t stand still. He heard to cries of the Hebrews and He made a way for them. God’s faithful action in Exodus is what thousands of generations would lean on for years to come. In Exodus, we don’t meet an aloof or unavailable God, we come face to face with a God who responds to His people, protects them, and provides for them.
Likewise, the great length’s God goes to in order to preserve Israel tells us something about them: they are worthy of God’s intervention, a part of His redemption plan. After the dust settles, God says to them, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The message of the Exodus is that God is good and Israel, should they continue to listen to God, is a holy, unique, and treasured nation. In the Exodus, God invited Israel to become something new. No longer would they be an oppressed nation, but a nation redeemed and chosen by God, a fulfillment of an age-old promise.
The Exodus sets the stage for the rest of the story. It’s God’s track record, the confidence Israel will cling to when they stumble through the process of becoming a holy nation. Exodus is a new chapter in the story that began in Genesis 1:1. Before, we saw God interacting with individuals in the family of Abraham. Now we watch as He begins to interact with an entire nation through the voice of Moses. We’ll see much more happen at the base of Mt.Sinai where He will lead, teach, and provide for Israel, continuing His story of redemption and partnership with humanity.