Redemption is a major thread that weaves its way through the scriptures. The picture of redemption culminates in the arrival of Jesus who will offer himself as a sacrifice to redeem us from our sins. In speaking of Christ, the apostle Paul says, “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins” (Colossians 1:14). But what does this exactly look like? Please consider that redemption is something that God had set forward as a hope for Israel and a hope to the world. In speaking about the prophetess Anna before the birth of Christ, listen to what the scripture says about her:
She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:37–38 ESV)
Anna was waiting for redemption. Where did she get that understanding to wait for redemption? What I want us to consider is that redemption is not a concept that suddenly appears in the New Testament. Redemption is a hope that had been pictured and promised by God to his people in the Old Testament days. To understand the redemption that is found in Christ Jesus, we have to understand what God was promising and what the people were looking for when God said that redemption was coming.
Before we continue forward I think it is important to emphasize that this is the purpose of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is given to us so that we would see these concepts. The scriptures are not a bunch of stories but a display of God’s character and what he would do for the world. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 ESV) The apostle Paul says that these things were written down for us. These things have a direct application to us. These Hebrew scriptures that we call the Old Testament were written down for us, new covenant followers of Jesus.
What is especially curious about redemption is that the prophets did not speak much about redemption. Anna did not wait for redemption because Isaiah or some other prophet wrote volumes about the coming redemption. So where did this hope come from? The book in the Old Testament that gives us a full picture of redemption may surprise you: it is the book of Exodus. The book of Exodus is the book of God forming his people, redeeming his people, and saving his people. The book of Exodus is the critical touchstone for us to be able to understand what God was going to accomplish through Jesus. We are going to look at these touchstone passages in just a moment. But before we do, we need to get a feel for the book of Exodus.
Sometimes we read the scriptures and imagine that these are 66 stand alone books. But that is not always the case. When we read the New Testament letters we are reading stand alone letters. But the first five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are not stand alone books. They are interconnected and heavily dependent on each other. Rather than thinking of these five books as five individual books, it would be helpful to think of them as five volumes of one book. For example, most people have seen the Star Wars movies or read the Lord of the Rings books. While each book or movie stands alone, they are actually volumes, continuing a message that was started in the last volume. Watching The Empire Strikes Back before watching A New Hope in the Star Wars trilogy or reading The Return of the King before reading The Fellowship of the Ring in the Lord of the Rings volumes will cause you to miss important storylines and details.
We have a number of connectors in the introduction of Exodus to show us that Exodus should be read as volume two of God’s epic story of redemption. To begin with, the very first word of the book of Exodus is “And.” Now, most of our translations do not render this word because in the English we were taught that it is improper English to start a sentence with the word, “And.” The NASB and NKJV begins with “Now” because this is a little more acceptable for starting a sentence. But this Hebrew word is a connecting word which draws us back to the ending of the book of Genesis.
The first six verses of Exodus also continue to reveal its connections and continuation of the Genesis story. Genesis ended with Jacob bringing his sons and their families to Egypt because of the famine that was occurring in Canaan. God had sent Joseph to Egypt, through a series of troubles and sufferings, so that he could deliver this family. Listen to what Joseph tells his brothers at the end of Genesis after Jacob dies:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20 ESV)
God allowed this suffering to happen to Joseph so that he would be in this position to rescue Jacob and his family. Joseph’s brothers intentions were evil but God used it for good. In our recent study of Job we could say that what Satan did to Job was intended for evil, but God meant it for Job’s good. The story of Joseph’s suffering actually turned about to be a story of God’s deliverance. The connection to Genesis is further strengthened because Genesis 46:8 is a repetition of Exodus 1:1.
Now these are the names of the descendants of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons. (Genesis 46:8 ESV)
But not only this, the end of Genesis prepares us for what is going to happen in the book of Exodus:
And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” (Genesis 50:24 ESV)
God is going to visit the family of Israel, bring them up out of this land of Egypt, and bring them into the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is going to be an exodus and God is going to fulfill his promise.
A New Moses
Now we mentioned earlier that the book of Exodus is the book of redemption. The book of Exodus is the critical touchstone for us to be able to understand what God was going to accomplish through Jesus. Let’s now look at some of those touchstone passages so that we can make this connection.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:13–27 ESV)
Notice that these two men were hoping that this Jesus was “the one to redeem Israel.” Now Jesus is going to show these men that this is exactly what he came to do. How does he show them? “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets….” The place to start is with Moses and to continue the theme of redemption through all the prophets. We need to start with Moses and thus we need to start with the Exodus. Exodus provides for us the primary model of redemption. In fact, what we will see in the New Testament is that what is happening with Jesus is following the model given in the book of Exodus. God told us he was going to do that. Listen to the words of Moses:
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15–19 ESV)
The Lord said that another Moses was coming, a prophet like him. God will put his words in the mouth of this new Moses and he will speak what God commands. Israel had the expectation that another Moses would come, which explains why they were awaiting redemption. Redemption and freedom is what Moses brought to the people. So a prophet who is like Moses is coming. Thus, Jesus began with Moses and showed how the scriptures were about him.
Further, when we studied the Gospel of John we saw on numerous occasions where Jesus was showing himself to be that Moses. In John 1 Jesus is described as the Lamb of God, which harkens back to the Passover which is in the book of Exodus. Again in John 1 Philip tells Nathanael that in Jesus they found the one of whom Moses in the Law wrote about (John 1:45). When Jesus fed the five thousand, the people saw the sign and said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 5:14), referring to this promise that a prophet like Moses was to come. In John 5 Jesus says, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46 ESV). In John 6 Jesus calls him the bread of life that comes down from heaven, greater than the bread that came down from heaven by Moses when Israel was in the wilderness. In John 8 Jesus declares that he has come to set the people free, referencing how Moses came to set the people free in Exodus. The Gospel of John strongly shows us that Jesus is the Moses of the Exodus that God promised.
Not only this, but we are told that the events that happened in the Exodus were pictures of what happens in Christ. Turn to 1 Corinthians 10 and listen to what the apostle Paul says.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. (1 Corinthians 10:1–5 ESV)
Consider carefully what Paul says. He tells these Christians these under Moses’ leadership experienced the same blessings that you as Christians experience, but God was not pleased with them and they were overthrown in the wilderness. They were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea, they were all baptized, they all ate the same spiritual food, and all at the same spiritual drink. What is happening in the Exodus is a picture of what God was going to do through Christ. So Jesus begins with Moses to explain himself to the two on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. Listen to what Jude says:
Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 5 ESV)
Did you hear what Jude said? Jesus saved a people out of the land of Egypt and destroyed those who did not believe. What did Jude just call Jesus? Jesus is the new Moses.
Therefore, as we begin this study I feel very insufficient for the task ahead of us. Exodus is God’s picture book of salvation, deliverance, redemption, and freedom that are available in him. When we read the Exodus, we are reading about a picture of the greater redemption and salvation that God would accomplish for the world in Jesus. We are going to behold the glory of the Lord in Moses and then even fuller, with grace upon grace, in the face of Jesus. What we are going to see in the acts recorded in the book of Exodus is what Jesus was going to do for us. I hope this excites you to read the book of Exodus and to study in detail with this lens.
Let me end our study tonight with just a quick overview of the book of Exodus and we can see this clearer. This is the outline of Exodus. Exodus begins with the people of Israel in slavery and God seeing the condition of their slavery and oppression. God then raises up a savior who goes to the people and delivers them. After delivering them through mighty miracles, God reveals his law to the people so that they can be in fellowship together. Finally, God joins himself to his people with the construction of the tabernacle.
This is the same message of Jesus and the New Testament. God sees the world enslaved to sin. God then raises up a Savior who comes to the people and delivers them through mighty miracles, the most notable being resurrection from the dead. Then God reveals his law by the Holy Spirit through his apostles so that the world could be in fellowship with God. Finally, God joins himself to his people. Listen to how Revelation ends:
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.“ (Revelation 21:3 NKJV)
The story of Exodus is our story. It is our story of freedom, salvation, redemption, and hope. Jesus is your Moses who has came to save you and free you from your sins.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13–14 ESV)