Meaning in Moses and the Exodus
To most people the account of the exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt appears fantastic and without any significance at all. Even among ecclesiastics the account is held very lightly for they see no special value in it, it has no charm for any such people, except only as an historical event in some quarters and nothing more than that. To others it means nothing at all, for they doubt Bible history so much that they don’t want to be troubled with myths as they are pleased to call anything and everything which passes their understanding.
But to the man of God, to the Christian, the narrative of God’s dealings with the children of Israel and Pharaoh is full of meaning. God patiently brings the events to come to pass according to plan, and then causing the same to be put on record by the direction of His Spirit through holy righteous men.
There is meaning and there is reason for all the enactments of God. In Exodus we meet Moses. There we find:
all these, being the workings of God are of great importance to His people.
Moses was born at a time of unusual trouble and his life was saved from death when only a babe through the faith of his parents and by the kind providence of the Almighty. This man, Moses, despised the riches and comforts of palaces in the house of the Pharaohs, because he believed God.
At that time Egypt was a very great nation with a civilization, if one might say so, with organised societies and, certainly a government, not unlike present day governments. Moses, who was brought up as a prince, rose to the right hand of Pharaoh with all the due honours and the pomp of the court and undoubtedly, he was treated as the grandson of Pharaoh. If he wished for anything, the almost illimitable wealth of the treasures of Egypt was within his reach. This we have from a good authority that Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds. (Acts 7:22)
Yet he preferred to share the sufferings of his people in their affliction, rather than be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and he esteemed it gain to be numbered with the slaves who were the people of God than to be called a prince of the court of Egypt while his brethren were gasping for breath under the heavy yoke of their taskmasters. Moses could not forget that his parents were slaves. He could not forget that the bondmen who were groaning in brickfields beneath the lash of the task-masters were his brethren, and when it came to make a choice, he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God.
What a noble character Moses was! Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. He willingly gave up the high and mighty office he held that he may join the slaves and be like one of them, and we are not surprised at that, because in God’s providence Moses was serving much higher ideals than the mere service to a people.
A prophetic scripture that cannot be overlooked speaks of one coming like unto Moses. Deut.18:15 says that a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me (Moses). The mighty Moses became a slave, yet “A prophet...like unto me” God will raise, and how true! For He that was rich, says the apostle, became poor for your sakes, that through his poverty ye might become rich. (2 Cor.8:9) And Again, He “Made Himself Of No reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, (the form of a slave) and…humbled himself...even unto death”. (Phil.2:7-8) Thus it is written of Christ of whom Moses wrote so much in advance of the due time.
The writer to the Hebrews (3:1-2) places the faithfulness of Jesus side by side with the faithfulness of Moses, saying that “Jesus…was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was”, with one exception and that is the difference between a master and a servant of a house. Moses the servant, Jesus Christ the Son and heir therefore was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath built the house hath more honour than the house. This argument of the apostle has brought us now into a closer relationship with Exodus for it is evident that this house where Moses served as a servant and over which Christ is as a Son over his Father’s house, “whose house are we” (Heb.3:6) is none other than the church of the Gospel Age. Exodus and the church are interlocked. Suffice to say now that those things were the forerunners and heralds of some greater things to come.
Now a word about Pharaoh from whose hands God demanded the freedom of his people, that they might be free to serve and to worship Him in the place where He had chosen. This Pharaoh was a new ruler in Egypt who would not follow the traditions of his fathers toward the brethren of Joseph and be kind to them, but instead the hard and cruel king had appointed task-masters to oppress the Israelites with their burdens and made them serve with harshness.
With whom shall we compare this king? And what character does he represent with such tyrannical schemes of oppression and murder? Satan is the being whom Pharaoh represented in this act, for truly Satan is the archenemy of God and man.
Mankind to this day is labouring under this cruel king and the nations are completely under the control of the prince of darkness, whom Jesus called a liar and a murderer. What a tyrant! What an adversary the nations are serving! A deceiver, a murderer! What a cruel ruler has Satan been with his lieutenant, sin—another mighty taskmaster who knows no pity and has no regard for small or great, for the rich or the poor and all bear marks from the lash of this tyrant. Even the man of God who delights in the law of God, sees another law in his members making war against the law of his mind, and brings him into captivity to the law of sin. What a torture, how painful is this thorn of sin to the flesh! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me? Thanks be to God who by the hand of one “like unto Moses” demands the freedom of the race, He demands their liberty that they might go out into the place He has chosen, and as surely as Israel went forth, so shall mankind go forth and be free from all bondage, from sin and death with the final destruction of the anti-typical Pharaoh—that evil one being destroyed in the eternal death, the second death. (Rom.7:23-25)
There is then Moses who foreshadowed Christ, there is Pharaoh representing Satan, Israel representing mankind, and Egypt typifying the evil forces, the powers of darkness under whose spell the poor groaning creation is held in bondage. The happenings in Egypt, as far as the account shows, were highly pictorial, and were true types and shadows of things then future.
Continuing, one is impressed with the particularity of the instructions Moses received concerning the selection of the lamb which brought them their first deliverance. “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year”. (Exod.12:5) How careful the householders must have been in the selection of their lamb out of the flocks. Any lamb wouldn’t do, for upon the carrying out of the instructions of Moses depended the safety and ultimately the deliverance of their firstborn as well as that of the whole congregation, i.e. the nation. Not the blind, oh no, not the broken or the maimed. Not the bruised or the crushed. No such an offering but one without blemish could be acceptable to God, for there was a very good reason why that should be so.
To the Jews it was just a commandment which they must observe, but God was revealing decisions which dated from the foundation of the world, yet not unto them, but unto us did God minister through them. Affecting not only the earth but the universe also.
It should be noted that the first to receive protection and deliverance from death were the firstborn of Israel, for “I will pass through the land of Egypt...and will smite all the firstborn…and when I see the blood, I will pass over you”. (Exod.12:12-13) I hope you can appreciate the antitype, or the substance of this shadow when we say that in Israel and the firstborn of that nation, the members of the Church of God and the rest of the world of mankind are represented respectively and comprehensively.
John the Baptist first pointed at Jesus saying: “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh (beareth) away the sin of the world”. (John 1:29) He, John, speaks of the Lamb and the world. But their forerunners were the lamb of Exodus and the nation of Israel yet people who like to be called by the name of the Lord dare to say that Exodus is a mythical fantasy which one may or may not believe.
And now listen to Peter who later reminded the brethren with these words saying: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…But with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”. (1 Pet.1:18-19) Surely the apostle draws his lesson from the firstborn in Egypt and their redemption from the destroyer through the blood, to which he likens the redemption of the firstborn of the gospel age, “the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.” (Heb.12:23 NIV)
The early Christians understood the bond which united their lives with the ancient history of the people of God because they had been led into the secret of God that salvation is of the Jews, “to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom…Christ came”. (Romans 9:4-5) Everything the apostle names is based on Exodus which the modernists are wont to discredit and ridicule.
Indeed, this part cannot be brought to a finish without quoting the very pivot of the wonderful experiences of the people of God and which the apostle takes from Exodus, when he said “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us”. (1 Cor.5:7)
And the firstborn of Exodus, the firstborn of Israel, holy unto the Lord, no one can fail to identify in them the believer in Jesus, the faithful disciples, brethren, beloved of God, holy unto the Lord.
God having claimed the firstborn, the remainder of the nation typified the residue of the world which the apostle says: “Itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now…waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God”. (Rom.8:21-22:19) Furthermore the scripture declares that at first “God... did visit the nations (Gentiles) to take out of them a people for His name…After this He saith, I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David” etc… that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the nations upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord who doeth all these things. (Acts 15:14-17)
Year after year the Jew was commanded to repeat the performance of rituals and to tell his children what it all meant, and how God brought about their deliverance with an out-stretched arm in the land of Egypt. As the Jew was thus to remember his deliverance from bondage so the Christian is likewise commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ to “this do in remembrance of me”, for the apostle says, “as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup (of the Lord’s supper), ye do show the Lord’s death till he come”. (1 Cor.11:25-26)
The crossing of the Red Sea. The Israelites pursued by the hosts of Egypt came to the shores of the Red Sea. It was an awful plight! In front of them the waters of the Red Sea stretched as far as the eye could see, and from behind the pursuing Egyptian armies were almost on top of them. They lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid. They couldn’t see a way of escape, it was as if they had already perished in the wilderness.
It is suggested that the Red Sea represents in this instance death itself, the death out of which God will deliver not only the church of the firstborn, but all mankind at the due time by the hand of the greater Moses, Jesus Christ, who has the keys of hell and of death. The time is coming when Jesus will use these keys which symbolise authority and power and will use them both to open the doors of the prison houses of death and of the grave and command the prisoners to come forth and live.
Believeth thou this? The friend of Jesus did! Under His leadership humanity will live no longer in Egypt under Pharaoh, no longer the slaves of Satan, no longer the prisoners of sin and death, but the redeemed of the Lord of the new earth under the new heaven, for the first heaven and earth, represented in Egypt and her rulers, were passed away.
“Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD...for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” There is a great lesson to be learned from this, and that is that there are times when we must do nothing at all, but just stand still and see the work of the Lord. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. For the Lord is good unto them that wait for Him. The Israelites stood still and waited. The waters of the Red Sea divided, and the great multitude moved on between two walls of water upon dry land in the midst of the sea. The crossing went on through the night, and the morning dawn revealed one of the most memorable spectacles of history. A nation of slaves, fleeing from their masters, had suddenly become a nation of freemen and stood emancipated upon the shores of a new continent.
Then they sang a song to Jehovah, a song of deliverance and of praise. Does the account of Exodus thrill your heart? What message does the narrative convey? Is it one of hope and trust? And how many songs do you hear the multitude singing?
The song of Moses, yes! But can you hear the song of the Lamb? That sweeter song of a much greater deliverance which is yet to come unto all? Israel sung a song of triumph as led by Moses, but Jesus will have his own choir, not only in heaven but on earth also, to sing songs of praises and glory unto the Lord. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men” will soon be sung. For “the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa.35:10 RSV)
What a deliverance is awaiting the poor groaning creation! What untold joys shall be to this sin-stricken world in the resurrection morning, when all families reunited once again, will cherish their own under the protection, control and leadership of the Prince of peace who shall then lead them into fountains of living waters that they might live forever.
But for good or for ill one cannot hope to achieve these things at this time, because the prince of this age, like Pharaoh, is holding the nations back in subjection by his cunning devices, thus blinding their eyes, and misrepresenting God, so that few are they which have faith in the Almighty.
Finally, a word about the fears which the children of Israel entertained as to their supplies after the Exodus. Their fears remind me, beside other things, the questions people ask concerning future supplies for the every day needs of the race, if all are going to live for ever! How will the earth support so many millions of souls for ever? How will they be fed, clothed and be cared for? Why, they say people will be eating each other? Well, the language of the scripture says such “do err not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God”. They are like the murmurers in Israel who said Moses had brought them out of the house of bondage to starve them, and instead of life to give them death. O that God might open their eyes to behold his mighty deeds recorded in his word and revealed in Jesus for their salvation.
Pharaoh is furious, but the plagues will soon put an end to all that he stands for, and the peoples of the earth shall be freed. Then the Lord shall speak peace to the nations, for He is the Prince of peace whose reign shall be without end.
To finish, “Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD”.