Module 03: The Need for a Mediator - The Preparation: God
Module Guide: Exodus - The Emergence of the Nation
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
The book of Exodus is a continuation of the story told in the latter part of the book of Genesis. In Exodus nothing is commenced and nothing is finished. It is a link in the chain of the story of God's dealings with the human race. For the sake of linking the subject to that which has gone before, let it be remembered that the book of Genesis was divided into three parts: first, Generation; secondly, Degeneration; thirdly, Regeneration.
In considering Regeneration we saw the work proceeding with regard to the individual, the family, and society. The last note in Genesis indicated the line of the regeneration of the nation.
We now turn to Exodus. The word "Now," with which the first chapter commences, may with perfect accuracy be translated " And." It is a word marking continuity. If we take the book of Genesis away, the book of Exodus becomes meaningless. All the history in Exodus depends upon that in Genesis. We left the children of Israel a people without a national consciousness, or organisation. We are now to study the account of the emergence of the nation.
There are three clearly defined divisions in the book: Bondage, Deliverance, and Organization.
Bondage - 1:1-5:21
Segregated from the corrupting influences of the land of Canaan, the children of Israel rapidly multiplied in the land of Goshen.
This very growth became a menace to Egypt, and from the standpoint of political expediency Pharaoh was justified in resorting to extreme measures to check it. High enthroned over Pharaoh, Jehovah permitted His people to pass through the long period of oppression and suffering, and so stiffened the national fibre, and thereby made the people strong for the campaigns of the future.
As the appointed time for deliverance approached, the instrument of God was found and prepared. The story of Moses occupies the next section. His preservation presents a wonderfully human picture as it manifests the sweet art of mother-love. The inspiration of love's activity was, as we learn from the New Testament, that of faith.
Jehovah's overruling of circumstances toward the accomplishment of His purpose is seen in the coming of Pharaoh's daughter. The history of the human race has been affected by the fact that on a given day a baby cried into the face of a woman. The baby found its way into the woman's heart, and the woman carried the baby into the heart of Egypt's power. There the future leader of Israel received his education, and the first part of the preparation necessary for the work that lay before him.
Forty years passed away, and the child, having become a man, turned his back upon the court of Egypt, and upon all its splendours. His flight was also under the government of God. If he had attempted to deliver Israel at forty years of age, he would have failed. The man, cultured and refined, with all the learning of his time, passed to the next period of his preparation in the majestic loneliness of the Sinaitic peninsula. It was change from lesser to greater grandeur. The solitude of the mountains, under the golden light of sun by day and the stately solemnity of stars by night, is more full of majesty than all the glitter of an earthly court. There Moses was a shepherd, and so received the next part of his preparation for leadership.
Then follows the account of his direct call and commission. In it Jehovah had to meet and deal with the difficulties of Moses' fear. The victory was with God, and Moses turned his back this time upon the loneliness of the wilderness, and set his face toward the court of Pharaoh.
Deliverance - 6:1-18:27
In this division Jehovah emerges from the shadows into clear light, and becomes the centre of supreme interest. He is seen dealing with Moses by way of preparation, with Pharaoh in judgment, and with His. people in deliverance and guidance.
In the first section we have the account of the answer which Jehovah gave to the complaint of His servant when he was discouraged at his first reception both by Pharaoh and his own people.
This answer consisted in the first place of a great Self-declaration. In the course of it the words "I am Jehovah " are used four times, and surrounding these declarations are affirmations concerning the Divine activity. "I appeared ... I was not known ... I have established my covenant ... I have heard the groaning ... I have remembered My Covenant ... I will bring you out ... I will rid you out ... I will redeem you ... I will take you to Me ... I will be to you a God ... I will bring you in ... I will give it you." The value of this declaration may be gathered by a recognition of the difficulty of the position which Moses occupied. The man who had been brought up in the court of Egypt had returned to declare the authority of another Potentate, an unseen King. He had been treated with contempt by Pharaoh. The very people he had come to deliver had refused to hear him. He had returned to God with his complaint, and the method of the Divine dealing with him was that of unveiling before Him His own glory. Moses was never afraid again. There were other failures, but no dread of God was manifest from that moment to the end. He had seen a new vision of Him, and doubted His power no more.
And yet fear was immediately manifest, but it was fear of himself. It was difficult to believe that he could be the instrument of such a God. This new fear Jehovah answered by assuring His servant that his strength before Pharaoh would not be that of his own eloquence or power, but rather that of Divine preparation and equipment. Then faith triumphed over fear, and Moses went forward to the work appointed him.
The next section reveals Jehovah dealing with Pharaoh in judgment. That judgment moves in three cycles, in each of which three plagues demonstrate the power of God. These all failing to bring the heart of Pharaoh into willing submission, a fourth and final judgment fell upon him.
In the story of this process of judgment it is necessary to draw a most careful distinction between Pharaoh's hardening of his own heart and God's hardening of his heart. This is one of the great passages in Scripture in which the Authorized Version is apt to mislead. There, throughout the account, it is declared that the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh. The Hebrew text does not warrant any such translation. As a matter of fact, it is never stated that Jehovah hardened Pharaoh's heart until the end of the second cycle of plagues.
Moreover, two different words are made use of, although both are translated "hardened." One of these means to make strong or courageous. The other means to make stubborn. It is declared from the beginning that God made his heart strong or courageous, thus setting him absolutely free for the unfearing exercise of his own will. It is never declared that God made his heart stubborn until it had been five times affirmed that he hardened his own heart.
There is a moment when God does that with a man. There is no Bible warrant for teaching that a man will be able, whensoever he chooses, throughout the ages, to turn back to God. Every man has his own probation, and his own opportunity, and the Judge of all the earth holds the balances with infinite precision. Whosoever stubbornly refuses to submit himself to God in the day of opportunity, and that repeatedly, finds at last that his own decision has become his destiny. By the outworking of law God seals the choice of the human win.
In this whole process of judgment the patience of God is as clearly manifest as is His power. In spite of persistent lying and deceit by Pharaoh in the promises made to Moses, God patiently waited. It was not until he had repeated opportunities of yielding himself to the Power Who was manifesting Himself that, by the will and decision and act of God, the stubbornness he had cultivated became such that he could not escape therefrom.
The final section in this division is occupied with the account of the actual deliverance of these people, and the commencement of that wonderful guidance which included provision for all their need, and power for all their weakness.
Judgment is seen in its purpose as it merges into deliverance. As they moved on toward the realization of their nationality, the very calendar was altered, and there dawned for them a new year, and a new order began. Before the march to liberty they observed the religious rite of Passover. This rite was called an ordinance, a feast, a sacrifice. It was wholly an ordinance to be observed. It was essentially a feast of rejoicing or deliverance. It was fundamentally a sacrifice perpetuating the memory of vital and essential truths. The night of the exodus was indeed, as the historian declares, "a night to be much observed." The people passed from slavery to liberty, from the lash of oppression to the place of power, from degradation to the realization of national life.
Immediately the nation, delivered and consecrated, is seen under the direct government and guidance of God. "God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near." "God led the people about."
The first march after that from Egypt was back into a place of danger. The definite meaning of that march was declared to Moses. The just judgment of the sin of Pharaoh must be carried out to its last degree, but it must also be carried out in such a way as to make evident its justice. Was ever the madness and blindness of sin persisted in, more manifest than in the proud preparation of chariots and armies to overthrow and destroy a people for whom God had so wondrously wrought?
No comment is necessary on a story so full of life and colour and dramatic power as that of the crossing of the sea. In the silent hush of the march through the solemn night there was revealed to the people the fact that, under Divine government, there are no obstacles which cannot be overcome. In fatuous rebellion Pharaoh and his host attempted to walk by the pathway specially prepared for the men of faith. With the morning watch God manifested Himself in some way to the Egyptians. He "looked forth upon the hosts through the pillar of fire and of cloud." There then dawned upon them the consciousness of their folly, and they attempted flight. It was too late. Their doom was sealed, and with the hand of Closes outstretched by Divine authority, the sea broke over them in rushing waves of destruction, and the power of the mighty people that had oppressed God's nation in spite of every opportunity for repentance was broken forever. It was a great and glorious song that rose upon the morning air on the far side of the sea.
There now commences the more direct story of the guidance of the people by Jehovah. Marah afforded an opportunity for the discovery of the resources of God. Elim was an evidence of His tender care for them. As they passed into the wilderness they began to be conscious of the scarcity of some of the things which they had possessed, even in the midst of Egyptian slavery. Again the resources of their God were proved as He supplied them with manna and with meat. Again their faith was tried by lack of water, and notwithstanding their murmuring against Moses, God was proved to be the God of patience.
The march of the people brought down upon them the army of Amalek. Perfect victory was gained by Israel, and in the first battles the principles of their perpetual conflict were revealed. They won by a combination of fighting and faith, a union of practice with prayer.
This division ends with the story of Jethro. His advice to Moses was reverent in its recognition of the Divine authority, "If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so." The fact that Moses acted on his advice is almost certain evidence that he recognized that God was speaking to him through this man.
Organization - 19:1-40:38
The people of Israel, delivered from bondage, were still a promiscuous multitude rather than an organized nation. In this division we have an account of the giving of the constitution, and of the great work of organization. It is divided into three sections, dealing with matters preliminary and fundamental, the moral code, and the established system of worship.
The Divine purpose of grace was first declared. The people were to be His "peculiar possession ... a kingdom of priests ... a holy nation." They were not yet prepared for the fulfilment of so great an intention, and their unpreparedness was manifest in their ready declaration that they would keep all the words of Jehovah. Immediately the new method, necessary in view of their condition of mind, was commenced. They were brought face to face with the supreme fact of the majesty of God. The law was given amid the accompaniments of thunders, voices, fire, and smoke. All of this was symbolic of the majesty and holiness of God. By special covenant He had brought the people near to Himself. It was a nearness characterized by untold blessing. Yet they must be reminded of the majesty of their King, and so be filled with reverence for Him.
The ten words of the moral law were preceded by a proclamation of God concerning Himself, first as to His name, "I am Jehovah"; secondly, as to His relation to them, "thy God"; and, thirdly, as to His deliverance of them from bondage. The Decalogue consisted of two parts. The first four commandments constituted the first, and governed the relationship existing between God and man. The last six constituted the second, and conditioned human inter-relationships. These ten words revealed a philosophy of life as well as a law. The true morality was to be learned from this philosophy. Man's first business is with God. His every other relation depends upon that, and will be created by it.
The effect produced upon the people by the uttering of these words was that they were filled with fear. The nearness of God became a terrible thing as they understood His holiness through the spoken words. Their fear was due to ignorance as surely as was their presumption. The Divine answer was full of grace. They were charged to have no other God, and a way of approach to God was at once provided. It was the way of the altar, and of sacrifice. These earliest instructions concerning the altar were deeply significant. It was to be constructed of simple and unmade things, devoid of any workmanship in which the heart of man might make its boast.
Then followed the. laws which were to govern the new nation as a state. These had first to do with the person. The relation of slaves to their masters was dealt with, and they were of such a nature that wherever they were obeyed they led ultimately to emancipation.
The sacredness of life was safeguarded by the enactment that any man taking the life of another was to forfeit his own. If the act was premeditated there was to be no escape. Injury or death wrought by cattle on men and women, and also on cattle, was to be punished and compensated. The laws of property were such as to make it patent that no man was to imagine that when he had fulfilled certain direct obligations to God he might live his life without reference to his neighbour. Wrong inflicted by neighbour on neighbour in the material realm was accounted sin against God in the moral realm.
These requirements were characterized by the most careful adjustment of relation between man and man, and revealed the intimate relation of God to all, and His remarkable interest in every phase and department of human life.
There followed a group of laws promiscuously stated, yet all having to do with the bonds which strengthened the state. In two of them sins of unchastity were dealt with. Passion was penalized, in the more natural expression by stern social requirement, and in the more unnatural by death. A blunt, stern word, "Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live," revealed how harmful, according to the mind of God, were all attempts to traffic in secret and hidden things. Laws affecting the lending of money and the receiving of pledges followed, and finally such as conditioned the administration of justice.
In this connection the feasts of the Lord were placed in their true relation to the social life of the people. The sabbatic year was arranged in order that the poor might eat. The rest of the Sabbath was revealed to be a provision of tender care for cattle and servants also, who were included in its intention. This section ends with a gracious promise which Jehovah made to His people of that Presence which should lead and guide them in all the days to come. A study of the subject of this Presence will show that the Person referred to was the Angel-Jehovah.
The third section deals at length and in detail with the preparation for tlie true worship which followed upon the promise of the Angel Presence, and the warning against false worship. There was a preliminary solemn assembly of the elders of Israel in the presence of God. Perhaps there is nothing more august in the whole book than this account of the approach of the elders. We are told "they saw the God of Israel." No description is given of what they saw. It may be that Jehovah manifested Himself to them in that Angel Presence which He had promised. It is better, however, to leave the statement as it stands, remembering that it can only be interpreted by the facts which followed, namely that Moses went into yet closer communion with God almost immediately afterwards. The vision was characterized for the elders by immunity from judgment, for upon them "He laid not His hand "; and, moreover, by a sacred act of communion in which they "did eat and drink." Finally, Moses was called beyond the people in the valley, and beyond that more select circle of the elders, into the very midst of the mount, where he received in yet fuller detail the law which was to govern them, and saw the heavenly things, and so learned the pattern of the earthly worship.
In examining the structure of the Tabernacle, it will be well to endeavour to understand what it meant to the people for whom it was provided. That detailed study is not within the compass of our present work. We notice now merely the general method of procedure. The first instructions were not concerning the building itself, but concerning its contents. They began at the very centre with the ark, which symbolized the fact of the presence of God, and the right of the people to approach Him as their King. Next in order the table of shewbread was described. Two ideas were suggested by this table. To the Eastern mind a table was always a symbol of fellowship and of hospitality. Thus the nation was reminded of the privilege of fellowship with God, and of the fact of a friendship which expressed itself in hospitality. The golden lampstand was the symbol and the figure of the testimony which these people were to bear to the outside world. The curtains and coverings of tabernacle and tent were made of materials which suggested the conditions among which God could make His dwelling-place. The boards and bars, set up in sockets of silver, spoke, in the symbolism of the time, of the standing of these people as a redeemed nation before God. The veil and the screen indicated at once the exclusion of the people from nearness, and yet the way of their approach through mediation. The veil of the outer court, the brazen altar, and all its fittings, reminded them of the life of devotion, based on sacrifice, which they were called to live. The gorgeous robes of the priest are seen to be in common with everything else, full of symbolic teaching. The ceremony of the priests' consecration is described, as is also the altar of incense, and the arrangements for placing the whole of the furniture within the sacred enclosure.
Instructions followed as to the gathering of the half-shekels from the people, which were to be used in the construction of the foundation sockets; and also as to the preparation of the holy oil to be used in anointing. The final words of instruction were those of a promise, full of grace and tenderness, that equipment should be granted to certain men which would enable them to do the work nec- essary for the construction of the tabernacle.
While the lawgiver was yet in the mount receiving this pattern of heavenly things in order to earthly worship, the people in the valley had fallen into grievous sin. This making of the golden calf consisted of a positive violation of the promise they had made to keep the words of the law. When they said, "Up, make us Elohim," it was not that they desired to substitute other gods for the One God, but rather they sought a similitude of God. Their choice of a calf was in itself significant. In Eastern symbolism the ox was ever the type of sacrifice and service, and they had at least some glimmering of the truth concerning the Divine attitude. It is also to be observed that, the day after the calf was erected, they observed a feast to Jehovah. The evil of their action was seen in the attitude of mind produced in them by their creation of a symbol. They "sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." Worship at once became materialized and sensual.
Moses is manifested in all the grandeur of his character in this connection. His pleading with God was not so much on behalf of the people as on behalf of God. He was swayed by an infinite pity for them, but at the back of the pity, and burning through it like a fire, was a passion for the honour of God. Having stood before God for the people, he came to stand before the people for God. In hot anger he broke the tables of stone, and seizing the calf, ground it to powder, and compelled the men who made it to drink of the water into which it was flung. He then proceeded to the ceremony of mediation and restoration, and passed back into the mount. We have no detailed account of the happenings of the second period save that the tables of the law were written anew. During this second absence the people waited patiently until Moses returned, his face shining with the glory of the awful and solemn fellowship of the mount.
The final movement of the book tells the story of the construction and consecration of the Tabernacle. A willing people offered of their substance until there was "much more" than enough. Then, by the hands of specially equipped workmen, the work went speedily forward until all was completed according to the Divine pattern. This is declared in the general statement "thus did Moses; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he." Finally it is recorded, "so Moses finished the work." Everything was completed according to the Divine pattern, and in the Divine order.
Everything symbolized the real presence of Jehovah, and that fact was made living in the consciousness of the people when the glory of Jehovah filled the completed place of worship. So great was the glory that Moses was not able to enter the Tent of meeting.
Thus the nation was organized around the presence and power of Jehovah, and the chronicle closes with the simple statement that they went onward in their journeyings guided ever by the presence of God manifested in connection with this centre of their life and worship.
Part A: BONDAGE - Exodus 1:1-5:21
A.1. Israel in Egypt - Exo. 1:1-1:22
- Growth of the Nation - 1:1-1:7
- Oppression - 1:8-1:22
A.2. Moses - Exo. 2:1-4:31
- Birth and Preservation - 2:1-2:10
- Flight and Residence in Midian - 2:11-2:22
- His Call - 2:23-4:17
- His Obedience - 4:18-31
A.2. Israel and Pharaoh - Exo. 5:1-5:21
- Moses and Pharaoh - 5:1-5:18
- Moses and Israel - 5:19-5:21
- Moses and Jehovah - 5:22-5:23
Part B: DELIVERANCE - Exodus 6:1-18:27
B.1. Jehovah and Moses (the Charge) - Exo. 6:1-7:7
- Self-declaration of Jehovah - 6:1-6:9
- The Charge and Fear - 6:10-6:12
- (Parenthesis) - 6:13-6:27
- The Charge and Faith - 6:28-7:7
B.2. Jehovah and Pharaoh (Judgement) - Exo. 7:8-11:10
- The Approach - 7:8-7:13
- First Cycle - 3 Plagues - 7:14-8:19
- Second Cycle - 3 Plagues - 8:20-9:12
- Third Cycle - 3 Plagues - 9:13-10:29
- Final - 11:1-11:10
B.3. Jehovah and Israel - Exo. 12:1-18:27
- Deliverance - 12:1-15:21
- Guidance - 15:22-18:27
Part C: ORGANISATION - Exodus 19:1-40:38
C.1. Preliminary and Fundamental - Exo. 19:1-20:26
- The Purpose. Grace - 19:1-19:25
- The Plan. Law - 20:1-20:26
C.2. Laws - Exo. 21:1-23:33
- Of the Person - 21:1-21:32
- Of Property - 21:33-22:15
- Of the State - 22:16-23:19
- The Angel Promised - 23:20-23:33
C.3. The System of Worship - Exo. 24:1-40:38
- Instruction and Equipment - 24:1-31:18
- Interlude. The People's Sin - 32:1-34:35
- Construction and Consecration - 35:1-40:38
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.