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Entering Exodus

While it’s our usual practice to read and study a book like Exodus in a stand-alone fashion, it is actually part two of a five-part series. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are part of what is referred to as the Pentateuch (i.e., “five scrolls”). These books were written primarily by Moses and they provided Israel with a reminder of who they were and how they were to live before the world in the promised land of Canaan. If your parents ever told you when you were a child to “remember who you are,” then you understand exactly the purpose of these books.

This being so, the books build on each other like a series we watch on Netflix but even more like a movie franchise (Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.). While you certainly can understand and profit immensely from a stand alone look at any of the five books, your understanding will be enhanced when you consider any of them in the overall context of the other books. In regard to Exodus, this means that special attention should be paid to its connection to Genesis, since it is the only book of the five whose contents predate it.

This is exactly what Moses would have us to see as the book begins by reminding us of the “sons of Israel” who went with Jacob to Egypt (v. 1-5). This is a compression of Genesis 46 and it links Exodus to Genesis like two interlocking puzzle pieces. This integration is further heightened by verse 7, “but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.” This text answers Genesis 1:28a where God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Exodus begins by showing us that even though the focus has moved from a few people of Yahweh to the people of Yahweh, God’s creation purposes—to bless man by giving him fullness of life and love all anchored in rich fellowship with Him—continues even though they are outside the land of promise.

But Exodus 1:7 answers other passages in Genesis as well—the ones that are given after the fall. These are the texts where God assures Israel that even though their faithlessness and sin had made a mess of things, they hadn’t changed Yahweh’s creation purposes for them or the rest of the world. These would be the promise texts like 12:1-3, 22:16-18, 26:3-5, 28:14-15 and they find ultimate expression in Jesus Christ who came that we “may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This life consists of knowing (having a relationship with) “the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). All of this is at stake when Pharaoh seeks to bring under curse the people Yahweh has blessed.

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