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Jason L. Kortering is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Grandville, Michigan.

We continue with our outline of the book of Exodus.

5. Preparation for and the deliverance from Egypt (Ex. 4:29-13:16). Moses and Aaron inform the congregation the deliverance is near (Ex. 4:29-31). They also go to Pharaoh and demand, in the name of the Lord, that he free Israel to worship in the wilderness. Pharaoh reveals his hardness of heart not only by refusing to allow this, but he increases Israel’s burden by insisting that the people get their own straw for bricks (Ex. 5:1-19). Israel expresses their disappointment in this turn of events (Ex. 5:20-23). God reveals His covenant promise to Moses and through him to Israel: He is their God and He will deliver them. Israel had difficulty in believing this. Moses questions whether it can ever happen, but God assures him it will (Ex. 6:1-13). A listing of the heads of the families of Reuben, Levi (including Amram and Jocabed, Moses’ parents, and Aaron’s wife and children), and Simeon is given (Ex. 6:14-30). Moses and Aaron are instructed to appear before Pharaoh to demand the release of Israel, but God warns them that Pharaoh will refuse. God will bring a heavy hand on Egypt. At this point, Moses is 80 years old and Aaron 83 years old (Ex. 7:1-7). Upon God’s instruction, Moses performs a miracle before Pharaoh, the rod became a serpent. Pharaoh’s magicians could imitate it (Ex. 7:8-13). The ten plagues follow. Water turned into blood (Ex. 7:14-25); frogs out of the river (Ex. 8:1-15); lice which the magicians of Pharaoh couldn’t imitate (Ex. 8:16-19); swarms of flies but not over Goshen (Ex. 8:20-32); a terrible disease (murrain) on all the livestock of Egypt exterminating them all (Ex. 9:1-7); boils on man and beast (Ex. 9:8-12); hail, with the added notation, “for this cause have I raised thee up for to show in thee my power that my name be declared throughout the earth,” explaining God’s power over Pharaoh. For a time Pharaoh asked for respite, but he still hardened his heart Ex. 9:13-35). Then follows the threat of locusts. Pharaoh’s servants beg him to let Israel go. He consents to have the men go. The locusts came and left (Ex. 10:1-20). Thick darkness came. Pharaoh agreed to let the people go, but they must leave their cattle behind (Ex. 10:21-29). Israel is instructed to borrow jewels of gold and silver from their neighbors in anticipation of the last plague, the firstborn of Egypt’s men and beast will be killed (Ex. 11:1-10). Special instructions are given to begin the Jewish year with the present month. On the 10th day of this month, the passover is to be observed. This includes the killing of a male lamb which has no blemish, roasting it whole, taking the blood and striking the door posts, eating the meat entirely, and being ready to march (Ex. 12:1-14). Details are also given for the eating of unleavened bread, seven days, from the 14th to the 21st of the month, begun by a holy convocation (Ex. 12:15-28). The firstborn of Egypt are killed by the angel of death. Israel finally leaves laden with the treasures of Egypt (Ex. 12:29-36). The congregation of 600,000 men besides women and children with much cattle left Ramases and headed toward Succoth after a stay of 430 years in Egypt. Mention is made of the Passover being a feast for Israel alone—any stranger wanting to participate had to be circumcised (Ex. 12:37-51). Instruction was given for the sanctifying of the firstborn of man and beast and instructing the generation to come of its importance (Ex. 13:1-16).

6. The wilderness journey from Egypt to Mt. Horeb (Ex. 13:17-18:27). God led Israel to Canaan by the roundabout way of the wilderness and Red Sea. They carried the bones of Joseph with them. The pillar of fire and cloud went before them (Ex. 13:17-22). God tested Israel by deliberately leading them into a trap by the sea. He told Moses ahead of time that the purpose was to get honor upon Pharaoh one more time. Sure enough, Pharaoh saw they were trapped and pursued after them with 600 choice chariots and captains. Israel saw them coming and cried to Jehovah. Moses was instructed to lift up his rod, and the cloud went between Israel and the Egyptians. During the night a strong wind made a dry path through the sea and Israel crossed in safety. The Egyptians tried to follow, but were drowned in the sea (Ex. 14:1-31). Moses and Miriam, his sister, led Israel in singing a song of praise (Ex. 15:1-19). At the wilderness of Shur, they encountered bitter water at Marah, which became sweet when Moses cast a tree into it. Moses explained to the people that God would care for them, and that they should not murmur (Ex. 15:20-27). In the wilderness of Sin the people murmured for food. God provided manna in the morning and the flesh of birds in the evening. Instructions were given for the proper eating of this food (Ex. 16:1-36). The people murmured for water at Rephidem. God instructed Moses to strike the rock and water gushed forth (Ex. 17:1-7). They were attacked by the Amalekites, but while Moses’ hands were held up, God gave the victory to Israel (Ex. 17:8-16). As God had said, the congregation came to Mt. Horeb. There Jethro, his father in law, came with Zipporah and their two sons to meet Moses. Moses related to them all that the Lord had done in Egypt, whereupon Jethro offered sacrifices to Jehovah (Ex. 18:1-12). When Jethro observed that Moses judged all the people by himself, he advised him to appoint others for the task, to free himself from the great burden of dealing with so many people. Moses judged only the difficult cases (Ex. 18:13-27).

7. The ten commandments given at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19:1-20:20). It took Israel three months to arrive at Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb). God assured them that as He had cared for them in the desert, He would continue to be their God if they would obey His word (Ex. 19:1-9). Instructions were given to set bounds around the holy mount, so no man or beast would come near. The people must sanctify themselves. On the third day God came down upon the mount with thunder, lightning, earthquake, and the sound of the trumpet. God called Moses up to the top of the mount and told him to get down once again and be sure the people would not come near the mount (Ex. 19:10-25). The ten commandments were spoken by God from the mount (Ex. 20:1-20).

8. Various laws given at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 20:21-23:33). Moses was told to warn the people not to have gods of gold, but worship Jehovah through the use of altars made of earth or fieldstones (Ex. 20:21-26). Specific laws were given for the treatment of male servants (Ex. 21:1-6), for treatment of female servants (Ex. 21:7-11), for murder (Ex. 21:12-15), for stealing (Ex. 21:16). Death was ordered for cursing a parent (Ex. 21:17). The people of Israel were told what to do when injury came by smiting (Ex. 21:18-32), when the neighbors’ ox was injured or killed (Ex. 21:33-36), when livestock was stolen (Ex. 22:1-4), when damage was done to vineyards or grain (Ex. 22:5, 6), when dealing with thievery and damaged property (Ex. 22:7-15), fornication (Ex. 22:16, 17), witchcraft (Ex. 22:18), beastiality (Ex. 22:19), idolatry (Ex. 22:20), with strangers, widows, and poor (Ex. 22:21-27). They were instructed concerning proper treatment of rulers and firstborn (Ex. 22:28-31), false reporting (Ex. 23:1-3), enemies’ property and the poor stranger (Ex. 23:4-9), the sabbatical year for land (Ex. 23:10-13), three feasts to be kept—unleavened bread, firstfruits, and ingathering (Ex. 23:14-19). The Angel of Jehovah promised to care for them if they obey God (Ex. 23:20-33).

9. The ratification of the covenant by Israel (Ex. 24:1-18). At first Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abiram with 70 elders waited a distance from the mount while Moses worshiped alone. Then he came to the people and instructed them in the laws of the Lord. He read the book of the covenant to the people and they expressed agreement. They were all sprinkled with blood (Ex. 24:1-8). Soon Moses and the other men went into the presence of Jehovah and returned (Ex. 24:9-11). Moses went alone to obtain the tables of the law, being gone for 40 days and nights (Ex. 24:12-18).

10. Details given on the tabernacle and its ritual (Ex. 25:1-31:17). The people were instructed to bring gifts for use in constructing the tabernacle (Ex. 25:1-9). Details for the ark were given, including the mercy seat (Ex. 25:10-22), the table of shewbread (Ex. 25:23-30), the golden candlesticks (Ex. 25:31-40). The tabernacle was to be constructed with various curtains (Ex. 26:1-14) and dividers of wood (Ex. 26:15-30), a veil of linen, hung with specific directions (Ex. 26:31-37). Next we read of the altar of burnt offering (Ex. 27:1-8), and of various details of the outer courts (Ex. 27:9-19). Olive oil was to be used for the burning lamps tended by the family of Aaron (Ex. 27:20, 21). Details are given of the priest’s office as filled by Aaron and his sons; the garments to be worn; the ephod and all its parts, including the Urim and Thummim to be used for the judgment (Ex. 28:1-35); the plate and mitre, with specific wording (Ex. 28:36-43). The ministry of the priests was to begin with a ceremony of consecration (Ex. 29:1-37), followed by daily offerings in the tabernacle which would assure God’s presence (Ex. 29:38-46). Instructions were given on the altar of incense and how it was to be used (Ex. 30:1-10). Each soul in Israel was to be ransomed through the half shekel (Ex. 30:11-16). Mention was made of the laver for the washing of the priests in the service of the Lord (Ex. 30:17-21). The use of ointments and spices by the priests is spelled out (Ex. 30:22-38). Bezaleel and Aholiab were given specific instructions to build the tabernacle of the Lord (Ex. 31:1-11). The laws for the sabbath follow (Ex. 31:12-17).

11. The covenant is broken by the worship of the golden calf, and God renews His covenant (Ex. 31:18-35:3). God gave Moses the two tables written by His own finger (Ex. 31:18). Account is given how the people grew impatient with the absence of Moses. They asked Aaron to build a god for them, for they didn’t know what happened to Moses. He instructed them to break off their jewelry and he fashioned a golden calf. He told them, “these be your gods O Israel, that brought you out of Egypt.” He also built an altar and proclaimed a feast day on the morrow. The people came with their sacrifices and began eating and drinking (Ex. 32:1-6). Jehovah saw it and ordered Moses to go down the mount, and He told Moses He would destroy the people. Moses interceded and asked Jehovah to remember His covenant. The Lord assured him He would (Ex. 32:7-14). Moses appeared before the people and he broke the tables of the law in anger. He heard the singing and saw the people naked before him. He asked Aaron why he did it and Aaron excused himself by blaming the people. Moses called, who is on the Lord’s side. The Levites responded and he ordered them to kill those still dancing. Three thousand were killed. He charged the people to consecrate themselves before the Lord (Ex. 32:15-29).