Last night, I had the privilege to finish a nearly four year journey through Exodus with our church family.  Although it was lengthy, it was exciting to see the details unfold and God’s plan of redemption woven into each turn in the story.  What can we learn from Exodus that we often overlook in casual reading?  I think two overarching things are evident in a serious study of Exodus:  The detailed providence of God in all things and God’s redemptive plan to save a people for His glory.

The Providence of God

Exodus began with the darkness of slavery and it ends with the bright light of theophany.  From the unlikely connection of Joseph and his family to the Egyptian throne to the unlikely leadership of Moses against the throne of Egypt – the providence of God leads the way around every corner through this gripping story of God’s redemptive history. The Israelites were bound by chains, ruled by evil kings, and forced to provide labor – hard labor – for over 400 years.  They were born in bondage, lived under bondage, and died in a foreign land that was not their own.  Under the strong arm of Pharaoh, their days were long, dark, and hopeless.

God had made a covenant with Abraham, and God always keeps His word.  God had a plan and we see it in the preservation of Moses in a basket on the riverside.  He is discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the palace of the wicked king and his family.  God was preserving Moses and raising him up for a specific task – the task of deliverance.  Moses was the servant and the prophet, but it was God who plagued Egypt and the throne of Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea, preserved the Israelites in the wilderness, and led them to organize their worship in the Tabernacle.  All of the glory goes to the God of glory.

The Plan of Redemption

Over these four years, I have learned much about God’s detailed plan.  God is always interested in the details.  At the beginning of Exodus, we see God keeping His covenant promise with Abraham by delivering the people from Pharaoh.  In the latter chapters (19-40), we see God handing down the Law of God, the blueprint for the Tabernacle, and Moses orders Israel to construct this tent and furniture in the exact way that God described.

As we come to the final chapter, we see that Moses did all that God had commanded.  He was faithful to obey His God.  He prepared the Tabernacle and all of the furniture, placed the holy garments on Aaron and his sons, oversaw the washing process of purification, handed off the baton of mediation to Aaron who would now go before God in sacrificial worship, and then erected the entire structure just as God commanded.

All of the furniture pieces had an immediate function for worship, but they also were completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His work of salvation.  These furniture pieces represented and foreshadowed the work of Jesus on the cross.  From the blazing bronze alter to the mercy seat – every detail pointed to the work of Christ.  This was God’s plan of redemption.  He was saving His people in the wilderness and He would ultimately fulfill the plan of redemption in the one sacrifice of His Son as John the Baptist called Him – the Lamb of God (John 1:29).  As Jesus was slain on the cross, He fulfilled the office of the high priest and the death of the sacrificial lamb at the very same time.

Hebrews 9:24-26 – For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. [25] Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, [26] for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

As the Tabernacle was raised up, the glory of God came down and rested upon the tent.  It was obvious, God had not forgotten His people.  God was saving His people and would demonstrate that through the sacrifices that would take place on the blazing alter on a daily basis.  The Great God who lives in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16) was with His people.

Once again, this is all a foreshadowing of what would take place in the future.  In Jesus, God came once again among His people.  John 1:14 tells us, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  σκηνόω – “Dwelt” among us literally means – “tabernacled” among us. It means “to fix one’s tabernacle, have one’s tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent).”  Imagine being in the presence of Moses when God came down among the people.  In days past, God thundered from the distant mountain and only Moses was allowed to enter into the presence of God.  Now, God was among His people.  Years later, it would happen again as God came among His people in the person of Jesus Christ.  Imagine being in the presence of God in human flesh.

Although being in the presence of God is difficult to comprehend with our human minds, one day, we will experience this ourselves.  Consider the words of Revelation 21:1-4:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. [2] And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. [4] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

One day, the dwelling place of God will once again be with man.  God will dwell with us and we will live in the manifest presence of God as His children.  The most impressive thing about Revelation 21:1-4 isn’t the absence of pain, death, and sadness.  It’s the fact that redeemed sinners will live with God.  God’s plan of descending upon a tent in the wilderness had a purpose.  The purpose was not just to save Israel, but to look beyond to the fullness of God’s redemptive plan to save a people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation on planet earth.  Let us praise Him.