Lecture 4: Exodus
Course: Old Testament Survey
I. Orienting Data for Exodus
A. First by way of general coverage. This is a book that deals with three big things.
1. Israel’s deliverance, how they got out of Egypt. It spends some time on how they got in for that matter. In reviewing that, you have that summarizing some of the things that are described in the end of Genesis.
2. Then the establishment of God’s covenant; this special relationship between God and His people that governs the way they relate, that sets out the terms for how they relate.
3. Finally, the tabernacle, starting with the last third or so of Exodus. A big, big theme of the book is the building of the tabernacle. We will look more at that next week.
B. Again, Moses is the author.
C. Same date of composition issues.
D. The coverage here is from the death of Joseph, around 1500 B.C., to the time the Israelites get to Mount Sinai. When the Israelites get to Mount Sinai, which is described for you in Exodus 19, they stay there all the way through the rest of the book of Exodus, all the way through the book of Leviticus and all the way to Numbers 2. Everything starting with Exodus 19 and going all the way through Leviticus and the beginning of Numbers, all of that takes place at one location Mount Sinai because the Israelites stay there for thirteen months, a year and a month. What happens? Why do they stay there? The answer is they stay there to learn who they are as God’s people. They stay there to learn his covenant. Day by day Moses receives covenant teaching; he comes down, he teaches it to them and the priests teach it to the people and everybody learns it and they get used to it and they get familiar with it and they puzzle it out and understand it just like you do in seminary. They were all there learning what the facts were, getting oriented. Some of them actually probably had to learn Hebrew because, as I mentioned, Exodus 12 tells us that a great, mixed multitude of people went with them. The Israelites were not an ethically pure group but rather there was a massive crowd that joined them as they left Egypt and these people knew nothing of Israelite traditions and probably did not speak Canaanite either. Some of them were learning the language and others were learning basic cultural features and getting to know people, but everybody was getting God’s covenant. That is why there is so much about things like tabernacle and so on in the book.
Here is one way to list them:
1. The development of Egyptian oppression. Whenever you speak about how hard things are for somebody in the Bible you will tend to see that this helps people in your church to whom you minister and who are having hard times also. People get through hard times partly by identification with others especially in stories where they know that God is aware of their suffering. It means an awful lot to anybody to know God understands, he is noticing, he is there every second and he is aware of how much I am suffering. That in itself is a great, great comfort. So, these kinds of stories can often help people be reminded of that deeply comforting truth and how long the oppression takes place. A lot of people lived and died as slaves in Egypt. God did not say, “I’ll give them an hour and a half of slavery, that will give them a feel for how bad things are, and I’m a nice guy, I’ll come right in and deliver them.” No, he let them go a long time.
2. His delivery was miraculous and it involved Moses as His agent.
3. Another theme, the reception of the covenant itself, The Ten Commandments, also the “Book of the Covenant” and the basic covenant laws that go from Exodus 20 to Exodus 23.
4. The establishment of proper worship; a great theme of the Pentateuch. The first responsibility of any believer is to worship the one in whom he or she believes; the first thing that should happen. So, if you lead anybody to Christ do not forget to say, “See you in church.” The first responsibility is to begin to worship and that is really clear from a book like Exodus—heavy, heavy emphasis on proper worship. You need help in worship, priests do that, priests are worship helpers. It is especially what they are. You need a place to worship. God emphasizes in the Old Covenant a central sanctuary. We see a really interesting phenomenon. In the Old Covenant you had to worship in one location only. All Israelites have to come together in one place. Deuteronomy 12 especially hits that hard. In the New Covenant you actually have a democratization of worship location. In the New Covenant Jesus says wherever two or three people are in my name, there I am. You can have a full-blown worship service in the back of a Mazda. You do not need a lot of space. You could not get that many people in but you could have a full-blown worship service. You cannot do that in Old Testament times. It has to be in one location. Wherever that Ark and the sanctuary are that is where you go. After this New Covenant Age on earth what will happen, again you revert to the ideal where in heaven every description of heaven is totality worship—everybody worshiping together. All the redeemed of all the ages worshipping together. It is a very interesting pattern. With regard to the basic teaching on worship we are in a funny kind of temporary mode where we have this worship at any location anywhere because we are all worshiping the same Savior. It is really quite interesting how that works. So, do not forget that central sanctuary emphasis because it really is the pattern of heaven. That is the way Hebrews says it, “Moses did what he did based on the patterns of heaven.” It is all supposed to symbolize what is the real, eternal situation that we look forward to. You teach this, things like the tabernacle and how it was built and why, and you will be helping people get ready for heaven. It is actually the function of it.
5. The early tendency of people to rebel against the covenant is seen because of while Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments and other commandments up on Mount Sinai, the people of Israel are down below making idols lead by Moses brother Aaron, that is pretty serious. These are just some of the big themes or emphases of the book.
II. Name Repetition
A. Just a couple more points that I want to make.
1. Exodus 3:4. One really interesting thing that is easy to miss but has quite a number of fascinating reflexes or reflections in Scripture is found in Exodus 3:4. I invite you to look at that. In Exodus 3:4 God sees Moses in this call out of the burning bush and says to him, “Moses, Moses.” He says his name twice. You might say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Hey Moses, Hey Moses, are you there?” You might think it has nothing at all to do with anything. In fact, it is a very significant concept in Scripture. Here are some examples.
2. 1 Sam. 3:4, 10. Samuel, Samuel. You may remember that if you have read that story. It occurs a couple of times in Samuel 3.
3. 2 Sam 18:33; 19:4. David talking about his son, “Absalom, my son, my son. Absalom, my son, my son. Absalom, Absalom.”
4. Matt. 27:46. On the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Name repetition.
5. Acts 9:4; 22:7; 26:14. God’s calling of Saul. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” By the way, Jesus is obviously using bad grammar, right? He should have said, “Why do you persecute them?” No, it’s a great point. He says, “Why do you persecute me?” One of the most eloquent instances in Scripture of the proof that when you suffer, God himself actually feels, “Why do you persecute me?” That is what he said. Not them. Saul, Saul, he repeats the story.
6. Matt. 7:21, 22. And then Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord. On that day many will say, Lord, Lord.”
7. Luke 6:46. Same thing in Luke. “Why do you call me Lord, Lord?”
B. It turns out that we find that in Semitic culture when you say somebody’s name twice it is a repetition of endearment, of deep, close friendliness. That is the point behind it. If I say to Fritzpert, “Hi Fritzpert, how are you?” That is fine. But if I say to him, “Fritzpert, Fritzpert,” I am saying, “My old pal Fritzpert, how are you brother? It’s great to see you.” That is what it means. The repetition of a name is a style in Semitic of giving indication of close, close friendship, endearment and so on. The usefulness of just knowing that comes especially in these passages where Jesus says, “Not everybody who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom.” “Oh, my old buddy, Jesus. Hey pal, we have been through it together. I’m ready for heaven.” Not everybody who makes that claim is going to get in because I will say, “I never knew you.” That is what he goes on to say, “I don’t know you. How come you’re claiming to be my pal? We don’t really know each other. We’re actually strangers.” That is the point. It is useful to see that. But since that is the system, when God calls Samuel or here calls Moses, you see what he is doing? God is in effect saying, “Moses, my good friend.” God is laying before Moses the fact, “Moses, I’m your friend. I’m your friend for life. I’m your buddy. I’m close to you. I love you. I care about you. You are dear to me.” He does it all by something that we do not have in English. Do you have this in Korean? Not many cultures have it but in Semitic you have got the double name as a technique in Semitic of saying the endearment.
III. Semitic Humility
One other thing, just one other point I want to make relative to a little phenomenon that can easily be missed as you are reading through. In Exodus 4:10 Moses is responding to God’s call and it is a big thing that God asks. There are a lot of stories of people being called in the Scripture to be prophets or whatever and typically they receive a call then they give what we call a ritual protest. “Oh, not me, you really don’t want me.” And God says, “Yes, I do.” Then there is the reassurance. That is a style that is very common in Semitic. People being properly modest by not saying, “Oh yeah! I was waiting for you to call.” You do not say that to God. Instead you say, “Really, me? I’m not worthy.” In some way you give what has commonly been called false eastern humility. It does not mean it is false in the sense of deceptive, it is just that it is exaggerated compared to what we are used to. I just thought if I gave you some examples just as a final little point tonight it would be useful enough because it comes up so often in Scriptural passages. Here is what Moses says in 4:10. “Oh Lord, I’ve never been eloquent either in the past or since you’ve spoken. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Many people have said, “Oh, there it is, Moses had a speech defect.” It is what it sounds like. So you can understand that people have thought that and taught it. I want to suggest to you that it really is not so. Moses goes on to do a lot of talking in the Bible. He is talking all the time, gabbing away. He can talk to huge crowds, they all understand him. It is not like he got up on Mount Sinai to give the Ten Commandments and no one could understand him. He was perfectly understandable. Here are some parallels.
A. Abraham says of himself in talking to the Lord, “I want to talk to you but I am just dust and ashes.”
B. And here is our passage, “I’m slow of speech and have a thick tongue.”
C. Saul, “I’m from the smallest tribe of Israel and my clan is the least of the clans.” It was not so. He was not from the smallest tribe and he did not have the least of the clan, he was a big shot in an important tribe, the tribe that dominated the north in his day.
D. David, “I’m only a poor man and little known.” Oh, yeah. Sure. Shimei goes out and says, “Oh King David, who are you cursing?” He says, “I’m just a dead dog, a flea, that is all I am.” Another flea one, “Dead dog like me,” says Mephibosheth. Hazael, who is a king says, “How could your servant, a mere dog accomplish such a feat?” He is not a mere dog, he is an important king of Syria.
E. Solomon, “I’m a little child, I don’t know how to go in and go out.” He is about thirty-years-old when he says this.
F. “Woe is me, I am a person of unclean lips,” says Isaiah. Now there is a truth behind this. I do not mean that these people are trying to fool somebody but they are using what we call exaggerated humility or false humility or excessive humility. In some cultures this is a style, as you know. Even in American culture you often will hear, “Oh, what a beautiful, beautiful kitchen.” “Oh, this?” Or, “What a lovely dress.” “This old thing.” It is a kind of a modesty and properly done it is very proper. It is not attempting to deceive but it is not also literal in its meaning.
G. Jeremiah, “I can’t talk, I’m only a child.” He goes on for fifty chapters talking perfectly well.
H. I think this informs us on Paul, “I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling.” I do not think that is entirely literal. Paul was, in many cases, very strong, very tough. It all depends on the situation. He talks of himself as the least of all the saints. That is still part of the style. Chief of sinners. And whoever wrote Hebrews says,” I wrote you only a short letter and I wrote Priscilla and wrote just kidding,” because we do not know who wrote Hebrews. It could have been Priscilla, it is a possibility. We do not know. Hebrews, as you may know, is just about the longest letter in the New Testament so this idea that it is only a short letter. Just bear that in mind as a little phenomenon because of all those places where this kind of language is employed and you can easily get the impression as I have heard that key people in God’s plan resisted the call. You can get the impression that Moses did not want it, Jeremiah did not want it, Isaiah did not want it; they did not want to do it and God made them do it anyway. That is not really what is happening. They are rather expressing themselves in a normal style of their culture and saying, “Do you really want me?” God is saying, “Yes, I do.” Then they say, “Okay, I’m yours.” And they become powerful at doing the very thing that they tended in that humility which is not literal to say they could not do.