EXODUS: THE BOOK OF THE COVENANT
The word “Exodus” is of Greek origin and means ‘going out’. In Hebrew the book is known as Sefer Shemot (“Book of Names”), because it opens with the verse, “These are the names of the children of Israel . . .” These two titles sum up well the book. The identity of God’s people as a nation is revealed and they are brought out of slavery Egypt and begin their journey into the promised land.
Exodus is the ‘Book of the Covenant’ from which the first part of the Bible (the Old Covenant or Testament) takes its name. In Exodus God faithfully keeps His promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob centuries earlier. He also makes a covenant with the descendants of Abraham as His people: Israel.
WHO WROTE EXODUS?
Traditionally ascribed to Moses by both Jews and Christians, he is the main character and was present as an eyewitness for all of the events from Exodus chapter 2 onwards.
Along with Genesis, Exodus is foundational to the rest of the Bible. Exodus is the Book in which God reveals His personal Name: YHVH or ‘I AM THAT I AM’. This powerful and mysterious Name speaks to us of God’s eternity and unchangeableness. It also reminds us of the self-existence of the One upon Whom all other beings depend for their existence. It is shortened to ‘I AM’ (Exodus 3:14) and in this form it reminds of the Lord Jesus Christ who said: ‘Before Abraham was, I AM’ (John 8: 58).
Exodus is a book teaching God’s sovereignty over the false gods of this world. In the contest with Pharaoh (chapters 5 to 14), God is seen to win decisively. It is a book teaching God’s electing love: of all the nations in the world God chooses one. Exodus is the book of salvation and redemption. The Lord saves and redeems His people and brings them safely out of the ‘iron furnace’ of Egypt. Exodus foreshadows the Gospel: all of these historical events point to One who would later come to save and redeem His people, not by the blood of a lamb but by His own blood of which the Passover is a type or shadow. As the Apostle reminds us: ‘Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us’ (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Exodus teaches separation: that God’s people are to be separate from the world (symbolised by Egypt) and should be holy to the Lord. In later chapters describing the Tabernacle we see New Testament doctrines in picture form: propitiation, sanctification and incarnation.
Divisions: The book may be divided into three parts: Chapters 1-18: The Exodus from Egypt and journey to Sinai; Chapters 19-20: The giving of the 10 commandments to a redeemed people; Chapters 21-40: The building of the tabernacle and indwelling by the LORD Himself.
Exodus or the “Book of Names” begins with a nameless group of slaves, and ends with a people, proudly bearing His Name, following Him, serving Him and worshipping Him around His tabernacle home in this world.