2. Exodus: The Old Testament
THE BOOK OF EXODUS
The Second Book of the
Old Covenant Law
The Spiritual Significance:
Learning to Trust God in All Life’s Circumstances
Exodus has two main divisions in it:
(1) Bondage in Egypt: the Jews redeemed and delivered from bondage in Egypt (chapters 1-18),
(2) Giving the law, describing the tabernacle and priesthood (chapters 19-40).
The Priests in the Tabernacle
The Jews were specialists in divine truth, under the Old Covenant LAW, even if they did not live it (and they usually didn’t). Today, we Christians should be specialists in divine truth, in the New Covenant GOSPEL, if we don’t even understand it. If you don’t grasp all of it’s blessing, consult this website: The 10 Gospel Coaching Sessions.
The fact is, God began his redemption plan in Genesis, where God is speaking to Satan: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15). Here in Exodus he is carrying it out in very graphic, physical form for us to see.
But, a main message to us from God is this: “As bad as things may get, even captivity in Egypt for 400 years, I am aware what happens, and I work to weave it into my plan. Trust me that I am working in your life, no matter what your life experience is, and even though you sometimes wonder if I am even aware of what is going on in your life.”
THE OLD TESTAMENT VS. THE NEW TESTAMENT
The people of God had drifted from him for 400 years, and adopted Egypt’s ways. God’s message in the Old Testament is, “You must stay close to me. You must live by my law, even though I know it is a law that no one can keep. So, when you fail, as you will, sacrifices in the tabernacle will cover you, and will make you righteous if YOU do so. Also, I’m assigning you priests to represent you to me and to cover you, so you remain right with me.”
In the New Testament, God says much the same thing: “You must stay close to me. You must trust my Son Jesus for your deliverance and redemption, and you must believe the GOSPEL he came to bring you, so you remain right with me. Jesus is your once-for-all sacrifice, and your righteousness is in HIM, not in yourselves. You can rest in confidence in me that, no matter what ups and downs you face in life, I love you as a child, and you are part of my family.”
But the fact is we drift from God, not living the New Covenant GOSPEL, as much as the Jews did by not living the Old Covenant LAW. Paul says in three letters: we have a new dispensation! It was seen by Old Testament prophets, but they knew it wasn’t for them.
Here’s the different dynamics between the Old and the New:
(1) Redemption is promised vs. redemption is accomplished by the cross.
(2) Animal sacrifices could never take away sin vs. the one sacrifice does so forever.
(3) There were many human, imperfect priests, vs. one perfect priest for us.
(4) A new covenant was promised, vs. the new covenant has become reality.
(5) God’s coming Kingdom was predicted, vs. God’s Kingdom has now come.
(6) The Messiah was promised, vs. the Messiah has come in Jesus Christ.
In short, the law was the ‘Constitution’ during Old Testament times. Today, the New Covenant Gospel is our Constitution. Like the Jews who were captive in Egypt, we are all captive to the world, and to darkness, until we choose to live life in gospel reality. Like God delivered the ancient Jews, he also delivers us today by means of the gospel.
In Acts, Paul says this is the ministry the Lord gave him (Acts 26:18), and each of these he says is a direct result of gospel truth and reality:
(1) to open our eyes to Kingdom truth
(2) to turn us from darkness to light
(3) to turn us from the power of Satan unto God
(4) to show us we have forgiveness of sins,
(5) to reveal our inheritance by which we are sanctified by faith in God.
Exodus produced God’s LAW that could not be kept. The gospel reveals God’s LOVE that cannot be escaped, that produces faith, and that constrains us like the law never could. The gospel is a story of God restoring his family to him, to be with us forever. The problem is we’re often more interested in being rescued from our problems, pains and fears than we are from being rescued spiritually into gospel reality. Our focus often is to have a better earthly life, not walk in ‘God’s new and living way’ (Heb 10:20).
THE OLD TESTAMENT PUTS A VEIL OVER OUR HEART
The fact is, we must read the Old Testament through the eyes of the New Testament gospel. To simply read the Old Testament throws a veil over our heart, and produces a blindness in us whereby we really can’t see all of the glorious reality God has done in the cross of Jesus.
But if we begin with New Testament truth, grasping the fullness of the gospel, then we can read the Old Testament as God wants us to see it (II Cor 3:14-16). But we must read the Bible ‘backwards,’ at least in a sense. We must begin with the New Testament, which is God’s renovation of the Old Testament. Paul says, “All things have been made new.” Then, once we understand the New Testament gospel, we can read the Old Testament for a fuller understanding of how much better the New is.
We read the Old in comparison to the New, not as complimentary to the New. Our job is not to live the Old Testament, but only the New Testament (II Cor 3:6).