Exodus Devotionals

Related Resources

Exodus Commentaries, Sermons

Exodus Devotionals- Links to multiple resources

Exodus Illustrations 1 - Our Daily Bread

Exodus Illustrations 2 - C H Spurgeon, F B Meyer, J H Jowett

Spurgeon Sermons on Exodus Part 1

Spurgeon Sermons on Exodus Part 2

Spurgeon Sermons on Exodus Part 3

Maclaren on Exodus Part 1 - Excellent sermons Exodus 1-18

Maclaren on Exodus Part 2 - Excellent sermons Exodus 20-40

Spurgeon's Exposition: Exodus

Exodus: Precept Ministries International Inductive Study

Lesson 1 can be downloaded as Pdf

( Click for discussion of the value of Inductive Study)


Deliverance, redemption, the Law, the Tabernacle

Exodus is a wonderfully practical study of God's Word that contains foundational truths about deliverance, redemption, the Law and the Tabernacle. Walk with Moses out of Egypt and gain insights for leadership. Observe the judgments of God while delivering His people. Understand the Old Covenant of the Law and how it was given to Israel to help in our understanding of the New Testament. Examine the contents and structure of the Tabernacle of God among His people and catch a glimpse of His holiness. Learn powerful truths about Who God is and what His ways are like. 11 weeks, 11 lessons


Theodore Epp

Exodus 2:1-5 Train a Child; Affect the World

Exodus 3:1-14 Frail Man Cannot Limit God

Exodus 4:1-17 God Enables Whom He Calls

Exodus 5:10-23 Rejected by One's Own

Exodus 6:1-13 Learning to Stand Alone

Exodus 7:1-13 Unquestioned Obedience

Exodus 8:20-32 Refusing to Compromise

Exodus 9:22-35 God Knows the Heart

Exodus 10:12-29 Resisting God

Exodus 11 God's Judgment Announced

Exodus 12:1-14 A New Beginning

Exodus 12 Saved by the Blood

Exodus 13:17-22 God Leads His Own

Exodus 14 Released From Bondage!

Exodus 15 From Singing to Complaining

Exodus 16:11-36 Feeding on God's Provisions

Exodus 17:1-7 Life to All Who Drink

Exodus 18:13-27 Delegating Responsibility

Exodus 19 Preparing to Give the Law

Exodus 20 Law Reveals Need of Grace

Exodus 32:1-18 Trust in God, Not Man

Exodus 32:19-35 Stand Up for Jesus!

Exodus 33:12-23 Desiring to Know God Better

Exodus 34 Reflecting God's Glory

Hymns Relating to Exodus
Click here, scroll down, click specific book

Lessons On Living from Moses
Back to the Bible
Devotionals from Woodrow Kroll
Click Scripture Link for full devotional

Exodus 15:21-22 Living in the Valleys - most people don’t live on mountains. The demands of reality require that life is generally lived in the valleys.
Exodus 15:23 By the Waters of Bitterness - A bitter spirit will keep you from being a better person.
Exodus 15:24 The Attitude of Ingratitude - Times of need are times for praying, not complaining... Nothing cures ingratitude as quickly as a good memory.
Exodus 15:25 Cry Out - It’s not what you know but who you know that counts.
Exodus 15:26 The Key to Health - An ounce of obedience is worth a pound of protection.
Exodus 15:27 Does Jesus Care? - In His time, God gives us rest from every test.
Exodus 16:2-3 Selective Memories - The memories Satan selects never reflect the way it really was.
Exodus 16:4 Tested By the Blessings - If you are experiencing a time of blessing, that’s wonderful—but be sensitive to the potential for danger. Testing doesn’t stop just because the trials have ceased. The need for obedience is constant whether the sun shines or not.
Exodus 16:7 Glory in the Morning - How you begin your day will frequently determine how you end it.
Exodus 16:8 I Hate to Complain - Ultimately, all our complaints are directed against God.
Exodus 16:23 Rest - (Sabbath) Rest is a matter of wisdom, not law.
Exodus 17:1-3 Give 'Em A Brake - Pastors need your grace, not your gripes.
Exodus 17:5-6 Water From the Rock - The world offers a cistern; Christ offers a well.
Exodus 17:8 When Life Isn't Fair - Perhaps you also are experiencing unfair treatment. Life is not fair, but God is.
Exodus 17:9 The Mentor - In helping others, we help ourselves.
Exodus 17:11-12 A Little Help From Your Friends - Be sensitive to the opportunities to respond as Aaron and Hur did. Victory is never won alone.
Exodus 17:14 Write It Down - The weakest ink is stronger than the greatest memory. When you’re feeling discouraged, or perhaps even wondering if God loves you, take out your journal and refresh your memory.
Exodus 17:15-16 His Banner Over Me - Is it obvious to those around you that the King is in residence in your life? If the King is in residence, be sure to fly His flag.
Exodus 18:2-5 A Family Reunion - Christians never say "good-bye"; just "until we meet again."
Exodus 18:7-8 Respecting Your Elders - Treat the elderly as a nonrenewable resource; they are!
Exodus 18:10-11 Great is the Lord - Trouble never troubles God.
Exodus 18:14,17 The Test of a True Friend - faithful friend is a truthful friend.
Exodus 18:21 Looking for Leadership - What a man is will always determine what a man does.
Exodus 18:22 Burden Bearers - Are you willing to help others bear their burdens? A burden shared is a lighter load.
Exodus 19:3-4 No Obstacles Allowed - What you can’t go through, God will help you fly over.
Exodus 19:9 No Room For Doubt - During those times when doubts arise, quench them with a healthy dose of proof. Read your Bible... Our faith is based on facts, not fiction.
Exodus 19:10-11 The God Who Is Near - When you put your hand in God’s hand, you will never walk alone.
Exodus 20:1-3 Priority One - If your life is chaotic, it may indicate your priorities are jumbled. Make God priority one in your life and you may be surprised at how easily everything else comes together. Only by starting your priorities right can you hope to end them right. Everything begins with the right priorities, and right priorities begin with God.
Exodus 20:12 Honor Your Parents - Honor your parents and the Lord will honor you.
Exodus 20:13 Respect for Life - An attitude can murder just as easily as an ax.
Exodus 20:14 An Undefiled Bed - When adultery walks in, everything worth having walks out

10,000 Illustrations
Click for illustrations on Exodus
See also Our Daily Bread

F B Meyer
Our Daily Walk, Our Daily Homily

My Utmost For His Highest
Oswald Chambers

Exodus 2:11

Exodus 3:4

Exodus 20:19

Our Daily Bread
Radio Bible Class
Updated June, 2013

Exodus 2:11, 37ff The Power In Meekness

Exodus 2:11-25 What Have We Learned?

Exodus 3:1-15 Don't Be Surprised

Exodus 3:2 Seeing God

Exodus 3:3:13-22 Who is God?

Exodus 3:5 Worthy Of Worship

Exodus 3:6 God's Holiness

Exodus 3:6 Fear of God

Exodus 3:7 Hurting And Hearing

Exodus 3:12 He'll Make It Work

Exodus 3:13-18 The Perfect Sentence

Exodus 3:14 Anything and Everything

Exodus 3:14 Who Is God

Exodus 4:1-5 - What’s In Your Hand

Exodus 4:2 The Little Things

Exodus 4:10-17 The Power of Limits

Exodus 4:10-17 - Absolutely Nobody

Exodus 4:1-17 - The Tales Of Two Sticks

Exodus 5:1-14 The Darkest Hour

Exodus 5:1-14,22-23 The Storm Will Pass

Exodus 5:1-14, 22-23 From Bad To Worse

Exodus 6:1-8 God’s Strong Arm

Exodus 6:1-9 The Most Depressing Day

Exodus 6:3- El-Shaddai

Exodus 6:1-9 Hurting And Hearing

Exodus 6:1-13 Not Without Hope

Exodus 6:28-7:13 - No Match For God

Exodus 7:8 Unmasking the Magicians

Exodus 8:16-19 A Gnat Lesson

Exodus 8:20-32 The Buzzing Of The Flies

Exodus 11 Fatal Frame Of Mind

Exodus 12 True Freedom

Exodus 12:1-3 Invite Questions

Exodus 12:13-17,25-27Your Children Will Ask

Exodus 12:1-20 The Passover Picture

Exodus 12:21-23 L’Chayim!

Exodus 12:29-42 Golden Gods

Exodus 13:14-16 Where History Comes Alive

Exodus 13:17-22 God’s Timing

Exodus 13:21-22 Wilderness Wanderings

Exodus 13:21 The Cloud And The Spirit

Exodus 13:21 A Path Through The Woods

Exodus 14:1-14 Standing Still

Exodus 14:15 A Time For Action

Exodus 14:1 “Don’t Worry, Dad!”

Exodus 14:1-14 A Matter Of Perspective

Exodus 14:5-22 Stand or Go?

Exodus 14:21-22 Unlimited Power

Exodus 14:30 A Bad Habit

Exodus 15:1-18 Celebration Of Praise

Exodus 15:God Is At Work

Exodus 15 - One More Miracle

Exodus 15 - A Tree Of Healing

Exodus 15:11 - The Perfect Sentence

Exodus 15:11 Celebration Of Praise

Exodus 15:19-27 Life After Miracles

Exodus 15:22-27 From Bitter To Sweet

Exodus 15:22-27 Into The Desert

Exodus 15:22-27 The Road To Blessing

Exodus 15:22-27 A Tree Of Healing

Exodus 15:22-27 An Oasis in the Desert

Exodus 15:22-16:5 The Sport of Scapegoating

Exodus 15:25 The Same Hand

Exodus 15:26 Into The Desert

Exodus 16:1-5 A Hill Too High

Exodus 16:1-12 No Reverse

Exodus 16:4 One Day At A Time

Exodus 17 - A Bad Habit

Exodus 17:1-7 - Desert Pete

Exodus 17:1-6 - Fellow Workers

Exodus 17:11 Invisible Support

Exodus 17:12 A Helping Hand

Exodus 17:12 A Paraplegic's Partner

Exodus 18 - Exhausted

Exodus 18:13-27 Willing Heart, Wise Head

Exodus 18:13-24 A Time For Good Counsel

Exodus 18:13-27 Wearing Yourself Out

Exodus 18:19 The Wisdom of Age

Exodus 18:24 - Minister Mentor

Exodus 19:1-8 - Our Main Calling

Exodus 19 True Worth-Ship

Exodus 20:1-6 Is Work Your God?

Exodus 20:1-20 The Gift Of Family

Exodus 20:1-7 The Name

Exodus 20:1-7 Honoring Your Parents

Exodus 20:1-17 Beware Of What You Want

Exodus 20:1-17 Murphy's Laws

Exodus 20:1-17 Windmills and Fences

Exodus 20:1-17 Long Life

Exodus 20:3 - Golden Gods

Exodus 20:3 Who Is On the Throne?

Exodus 20:3 Only Room For One

Exodus 20:4 Unseen Majesty

Exodus 20:7 Word Watch

Exodus 20:12 - The Gift Of Family

Exodus 20:13 - In Defense Of Life

Exodus 20:16 Creeping Deception

Exodus 20:17 - Good But Guilty

Exodus 22:21-27 Have A Heart

Exodus 22:22- 27- Hear Their Cry

Exodus 23 - A Wonderful Pair

Exodus 23:1-9 Doing Justice

Exodus 23:Bribery

Exodus 23:12 What Does It Take?

Exodus 23:16 Not A Killjoy

Exodus 23:20-33 Don't Get Stung

Exodus 23:20-33 Little by Little

Exodus 24:1-8 - Seeing God

Exodus 25:1-9 A Little Piece Of Heaven

Exodus 25-27 House of Symbols

Exodus 25-27 Inner Beauty

Exodus 25:10-22 The Intrigue of the Ark

Exodus 25:14-15 Showing Respect

Exodus 25:31-40 The Right Light

Exodus 26:1-11 Perfect Fit

Exodus 30:7-8 Psalms, Incense, Praise

Exodus 30:17-21 Spiritual Cleansing

Exodus 30:34-36 - Broken Things

Exodus 31:1-5 The Craftsman’s Touch

Exodus 31:1-11 A Place Just For You

Exodus 31:1-11 - Icebergs

Exodus 31:12- 18 Take A Day To Rest

Exodus 31:12- 18 The Most Important Days

Exodus 32:1 - Fast Freeze

Exodus 32:1 - Look Back

Exodus 32:1-14 Commandment 2: Refuse Idolatry

Exodus 32:15-29 Blaming God

Exodus 32 - Blurred Vision

Exodus 33:1-11 We Just Have to Talk

Exodus 33:1-11 A Refresher Course On God’s Majesty

Exodus 33:11 Good Buddy

Exodus 33:7-17 Knowing God Personally

Exodus 33:12-23 Awesome!

Exodus 33:12-17 - Anywhere With Jesus

Exodus 33:14 Walking Away

Exodus 33:18-34:8 God's Description Of Himself

Exodus 34:1-8 God's Description

Exodus 34:1-9 Caricature God

Exodus 34:6 God's Description Of Himself

Exodus 34:6-7- What Makes God Laugh-

Exodus 34:29 Seeing God's Glory

Exodus 34:27-35 Give Me New England!

Exodus 34:29-30 - Making A Face

Exodus 35:30-36:1 Good Workers

Exodus 35:30-35 - With All My Art

Exodus 35:30-36:1 Good Workers

Exodus 36:1-7 Beauty In The Church

Exodus 37:1-9 The Sensuous Christian

Exodus 40:24 The Right Light

C H Spurgeon
Morning and Evening, Faith's Checkbook
Click Scripture Link for full devotional

Exodus 3:7

"I know their sorrows." The child is cheered as he sings, "This my father knows"; and shall not we be comforted as we discern that our dear Friend and tender soul-husband knows all about us?

Exodus 3:12

A man without fear.

Exodus 4:12

Speak What He Teaches

Exodus 7:5

God’s Enemies Shall Bow

Exodus 7:12

Examine yourself, my reader, on this point. Aaron's rod proved its heaven-given power. Is your religion doing so? If Christ be anything he must be everything. O rest not till love and faith in Jesus be the master passions of your soul!

Exodus 8:23

Maintain the Difference

Exodus 8:28

"The further from a viper the better, and the further from worldly conformity the better. To all true believers let the trumpet-call be sounded, "Come ye out from among them, be ye separate. "

Exodus 12:13

Justice Satisfied

Exodus 14:13

"Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord." These words contain God's command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master's word to him is, "Stand still."

Exodus 16:21

Labour to maintain a sense of thine entire dependence upon the Lord's good will and pleasure for the continuance of thy richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for ever.

Exodus 20:25

God's altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labour might be seen upon it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature;

Exodus 22:6

Discord usually takes first hold upon the thorns; it is nurtured among the hypocrites and base professors in the church, and away it goes among the righteous, blown by the winds of hell, and no one knows where it may end. O thou Lord and giver of peace, make us peacemakers, and never let us aid and abet the men of strife, or even unintentionally cause the least division among thy people.

Exodus 23:22

God Is Our Ally

Exodus 23:25

Commonest Things Blessed

Exodus 28:38

"The iniquity of the holy things." "What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight."

Exodus 25:6

"Oil for the light." My soul, how much thou needest this, for thy lamp will not long continue to burn without it.

Exodus 28:38

Rest in All Thy Goings

Exodus 33:14

Rest in All Thy Goings

Exodus 34:20

"But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck."

Exodus 35:8

"Spices for anointing oil." Much use was made of this anointing oil under the law, and that which it represents is of primary importance under the gospel. The Holy Spirit, who anoints us for all holy service, is indispensable to us if we would serve the Lord acceptably. Without his aid our religious services are but a vain oblation, and our inward experience is a dead thing. Whenever our ministry is without unction, what miserable stuff it becomes!

Today in the Word
Moody Bible Institute

Devotionals on Exodus

Exodus 1:1-22

The righteous will live by his faith. - Habakkuk 2:4
Members of presidential administrations often publish “kiss-and-tell” books soon after they leave government. These memoirs typically present the author in a flattering light while reporting their angle on the “truth.” Some authors criticize the President under whom they served, including David Stockman (budget director for Ronald Reagan), George Stephanopoulos (advisor to Bill Clinton), and Scott McClellan (press secretary for George W. Bush).

What's the real story, we ask? We ask it when we study history or read today's paper, and we have to ask it along our faith journey. Sometimes the struggles of our lives seem to be telling a story from which God feels absent. We lose faith and hope, wondering, “Where is God?” Are we to believe that God has abandoned us when life gets hard?

The Israelites must have been asking that same question as they lived through what is described in Exodus 1:11-22. Their oppression was extreme. As slaves, their work was both physically exhausting and utterly meaningless: no compensation and no sense of accomplishment. Their sweat was all for Pharaoh and for the coffers of Egypt. But not only did they lose the dignity of their work, they were losing their lives. Their newborn boys were being murdered ruthlessly, thrown in the river like trash to be disposed. These were dire days for the Israelites.

Yet another story is here to be told. There is hope in the struggle. God is present. Verses 1 through 7 make that clear. These verses provide clear allusions to the promises God had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He had promised to bless them with descendants and land and nationhood. As their numbers multiplied, they could see these promises were being fulfilled. God wasn't as far away as He seemed.

The book of Exodus is a book all about faith. It reminds us that our struggles, our enemies, and our feeling of abandonment are only half the story. It takes faith to see beyond our circumstances and remember the promises of God.
Faith asks the question, “Can God be trusted?” There is no time more difficult to trust God than in the midst of suffering. We feel abandoned by God. We fear our prayers are futile. We want to give up on God because we feel He's given up on us. Reading the other half of the story, the behind-the-scenes work of God found in the Bible, strengthens our faith in those dark days. To find encouragement in your own difficult times, review Romans 10:17, and commit to reading God's Word to see God work.

Exodus 1:8-2:1

About twelve hours before a scheduled abortion some twenty years ago, a young, unwed mother chose not to go through with it. Instead, she gave birth to a son, who was adopted into a Christian family. His name is Mike Glass–he praises God more than most of us do for the gift of life. And he mourns, in a very personal way, for the 40 million babies aborted in America since Roe v. Wade.

“Thanks God, Mom, Mom and Dad,” he wrote in World magazine. “I love you all. Thank you for letting me breathe my first breaths; I could have easily been one of the 40 million.”

Human life is sacred. So when the Israelite midwives in today’s reading refused to kill newborn babies, their actions honored God. Shiphrah and Puah were probably the heads of a larger association of midwives, reminding us that faith and wisdom can and should be lived out collectively as well as individually.

Many years had passed since the days of Joseph. A new dynasty had come to power in Egypt and had begun to oppress the Hebrew foreigners in their midst. As God had promised, the Israelite population had multiplied, and despite their enslavement, continued to do so. This fed a cycle of Egyptian mistrust, fear, and violence against them (vv. 12–14).

In a cruel attempt at “population control,” the Hebrew midwives were ordered to kill all baby boys at birth. Although they were slaves and subject to Pharaoh’s power, they did not obey, instead offering a transparently weak excuse. While we can assume that one of their motivations was loyalty to their own people, their main motivation was fear of the Lord (v. 17). “Fear of the Lord” is a reverence or respect based on knowledge of who God is. The midwives knew that He had created human beings, that we are made in His image, and thus that human life possesses intrinsic value (cf. Gen. 1:27; Ps. 139:13-16). God’s law clearly outweighed Pharaoh’s decree!
In honor of the Israelite midwives in today’s reading, take the initiative sometime soon to find out about Christian crisis pregnancy centers in your neighborhood or town. What are churches and parachurch organizations doing to help women in difficult circumstances? When voices on all sides are telling them abortion is the easy way out, who is speaking up to say that human life is made in God’s image and must be treated as sacred?

Exodus 2:1

You are my hiding place. - Psalm 32:7
When asked what had sparked his interest in science, Albert Einstein frequently recalled two gifts he had received as a child. One was a magnetic compass. He was transfixed by the needle’s northward-pointing constancy and the idea of invisible magnetic forces. The second was a geometry book. He was impressed by its logic and began to realize that nature, even its invisible features, could be explored and explained.

These two gifts helped shape the direction of Einstein’s remarkable life and career. In a similar way, the basket Moses’ mother made in today’s reading foreshadowed the direction and themes of his entire life: protection and deliverance (Ps. 32:7). At Joseph’s invitation, Jacob and his family had gone down to Egypt to escape famine. While at first welcomed, over the course of 400 years, their descendants had been forced into slavery. A fearful Pharaoh had issued orders that Hebrew babies were to be killed to control the population.

We don’t know if Moses’ mother’s action was one of desperation, or if she had a hopeful scheme all along. We do know that she and her husband acted in faith (Heb. 11:23). In God’s sovereignty, an Egyptian princess found the basket with the Hebrew baby inside; she rescued and adopted him, which meant she also concealed the truth about him. It was she who named him Moses, meaning “to draw out” (of the water). Moses’ own mother was hired to nurse him, and he was raised as a prince of Egypt.

Unlike Joseph, though, Moses’ earthly position would not be the means God used to accomplish His intentions. To become the deliverer God planned, he would have to repudiate his royal upbringing and choose to suffer with the people of God (Heb. 11:24-26).
The story of Moses and the Exodus is a classic narrative of bondage and freedom. These themes are found throughout the Bible, and today we encourage you to do more in-depth study searching for them.

A wide-ranging look at narrative, poetry, prophecy, and the epistles will give you a greater appreciation for the God who sets the captives free (Isa. 42:7).

Exodus 2:1-25

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways. - Psalm 37:7
Life doesn't stop when we suffer. It would certainly be easier if it did: we could give our pain its due attention, write the finale, and open a new chapter. But when we grieve the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the betrayal of a friend, we do so in the middle of going to school, getting married, raising children, and advancing our careers. This was true in the story of Moses' parents. They belonged to a generation of slaves with no real freedom and no hope in sight. Nevertheless, they found love and married. They gave birth to children.

The realities of life were harsh, but they could embrace small evidences of God's grace. Their son's life was saved, and the mother would be paid for nursing the very son to whom she gave birth. At least for a short season, she was restored the joy not only of raising her son but work that was meaningful and rewarding.

Starting in verse 11, we see Moses as a grown man at the age of 40. Nothing has changed about the Israelites' suffering. Pharaoh has not backed away from his determination to make life miserable for the Hebrew slaves. Moses, raised an Egyptian, identified himself now as a Hebrew and acted as a vigilante on their behalf.

He did exactly what we must avoid when we suffer. Our impulse is to do something drastic to change our circumstances. Like Moses, we want to right the wrong. Or we might try to dull the pain. We want to make it stop, and we end up acting rashly.

Moses didn't yet know how to turn to God, but our passage today tells us exactly why we should turn to God when we suffer (vv. 23-25). God can be trusted. Even when we don't have the faith to compose prayers, God hears our cries and complaints. God can be trusted because God doesn't forget His promises, and He isn't indifferent to our pain. God can be trusted because He is not far from us when we suffer: He knows everything we endure, and His compassion is real.
If you're facing something difficult now, don't make the same mistake Moses did. If you've been hurt by someone, don't act rashly on your feelings of bitterness and anger. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to help you forgive. If you're grieving a loss in your life, turn to God as a source of comfort, rather than to empty substitutes. If you see injustice being done, ask for God's help to be an agent of righteousness in His way and His time. All of these responses require patience and prayer.

Exodus 2:23-4:10

Positioned in front of a Hollywood backdrop, with staff in hand and a stoic expression on his face, Charlton Heston made a formidable Moses in the classic movie The Ten Commandments. More recently, the story of Exodus received an animated face-lift in 1998’s The Prince of Egypt, complete with awe-inspiring special effects. While both movies take liberties with the biblical account of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt, they draw attention to an event so significant that its memory permeates the whole of the Old Testament and the history of the Jewish nation.

God responded to the Israelites’ cry because of His covenant with Abraham and His ensuing relationship with the patriarchs. But He was also motivated out of compassion for their sufferings, which included infanticide and forced labor. To set His people free, God called upon the reticent Moses. And through the battle of wills with Pharaoh, the escape, and the establishment of society in the wilderness, God’s role in the lives of the Israelites moves from that of distant deity to personal and present provider. “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Deut. 4:7).

Oppression and injustice are a fact of life for many people around the world. But groups like the International Justice Mission (IJM) are working to confront these evils in the name of Christ. The IJM serves all victims of injustice by investigating allegations of abuse and pursuing evildoers worldwide. The IJM also seeks to mobilize the American Christian church to aid the victims of injustice overseas. Visit their web site today at http://www.ijm.org. Lift in prayer the work of organizations like this.

Exodus 3:1-22

I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt . . . I am concerned about their suffering. - Exodus 3:7
Throughout Jesus' ministry, He called people in the context of their everyday lives. He invited Simon, James, and John to follow Him when they had fishing nets in their hands. He called Matthew from the seat in a tax collector's booth. He met blind men alongside the road and Zacchaeus in a tree. These encounters with God happened during the activities of ordinary life.

Moses met God on what was likely a very ordinary day. He was tending the sheep and cattle for his father-in-law, enjoying the solitude of the mountains, perhaps lost in the quiet reverie of his own thoughts. Forty years had been sufficient time to forget the responsibility he had once felt toward the suffering Hebrew slaves in Egypt. And then he heard the voice of God.

Moses may not have recognized the voice of God, but he recognized his own name. It's significant that the first word God spoke to Moses was Moses' name. Some- times the only thing we can hear in our first encounters with God is our own name. What's most real in our lives is how we feel, how we hurt, how we have been wronged. Our lives convince us that we, not God, are the center of our world. When God speaks our name, we realize we're not as alone as we once thought.

God then spoke His name to Moses. He is the God of Abraham. He is Yahweh, the eternally existing God, the I AM. By His name, He reveals that He is the center and the source of life. He isn't unaware of what we endure, and He isn't ambivalent to what we suffer.

He spoke hope to Moses. He told Moses about His plan to rescue His people from Egypt and take them to a better place, the land He had already promised to Abraham. Their slavery would end, their freedom would be guaranteed. All was not lost! God was coming to the rescue.
Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden after His resurrection (John 20:10-18). She, beset with grief, mistook Him for the gardener. It was when He spoke her name that she recognized Him. God knows you by name. Do you know how much He loves you? Read Psalm 139 as a reminder of your unique value to Him. If you are going through a difficult time, let this Psalm encourage you, or use it to encourage someone close to you who is suffering.

Exodus 4:1-19, 29-31

God testified to [this salvation] by signs, wonders and various miracles. - Hebrews 2:4
Ancient Egyptian religion was quite superstitious. According to historian Will Durant, “Egyptian religion had little to say about morality; the priests were busier selling charms, mumbling incantations and performing magic rites than inculcating ethical precepts.”

If someone read only the first portion of Exodus, the same claim might be leveled against Hebrew religion. God gave Moses incredible power to perform miracles, and in the context of some of the plagues, it looked like a showdown between Yahweh and the Egyptian magicians.

We need to understand the purpose for which God designed these miracles. They aren't for special effects, but for revealing the power of God over the created order. Egyptian religion centered on the worship of creation, and these miracles, which overturned natural laws, struck at the heart of that religion. God wanted the Israelites to acknowledge His absolute authority over creation and His superiority over the Egyptian gods. These miracles were also intended to authenticate Moses as God's spokesman. God wanted the Israelites to believe that what He says is true and that this man, Moses, was indeed His chosen leader.

The first sign involved a snake, the Egyptian symbol of wisdom and life, worn by the Pharaoh himself. The second involved the body, proving God's power to heal (cf. Ex. 15:26). The third involved the Nile River, the lifeblood of Egyptian civilization. These three signs, similar to the plagues to come, provided compelling evidence of God's authority and power.

In our key verse, the writer of Hebrews tells us that every miracle God performed was for the purpose of verifying His message about Himself and about salvation. God doesn't always choose to work miraculously. In fact, the story of Exodus teaches us that miracles alone can never fully persuade us to trust God. Faith is more than being wowed by something God does; faith is responding obediently to what God says.
As you read the book of Exodus this month, unfortunately you'll find a lot of doubt and rejection of God's word. This leads us to examine our own lives. In certain seasons, the action of God is very plain. We can see His involvement in our lives, and it's easy to respond obediently to Him. At other times, God's ways aren't so clear, and we're left with no visible testimony of God in our lives except the words of Scripture. Do we treasure His words? Do we believe His promises? Or do we demand that He work miracles?

Exodus 5:1-6:8

Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance. - Isaiah 19:25
The civilization of Sumeria from which God called Abram practiced polytheistic religion. Every city had its own god. Religion was provincial; people worshiped the god their ancestors had worshiped. Imagine how extraordinary it was when Abram left his family and their gods to follow the commands of the strange God their clan had never known.

It may be true that the Israelites, from Abraham's time until the time of the Exodus, did not fully grasp who it was that called Himself the “God of Israel.” Perhaps they persisted in a belief that this God was no more than a national deity; the Egyptians had their gods, the Sumerians had their gods, and the Hebrews had Yahweh. In the opening verses of chapter five, Moses calls God the “God of Israel” and the “God of the Hebrews.” His argument to Pharaoh for letting the people go is not that the Egyptians would be punished for refusing to liberate the Israelites, but that the Israelites themselves would suffer at the hands of this God. This may have been an argument that he thought Pharaoh would understand, or perhaps evidence that Pharaoh would have been spared the plagues had he relented and released the Israelites earlier.

The experience of the Exodus would redefine the Israelites' understanding of God, but it took time. Today's reading proves that there would be no immediate deliverance. It was going to get worse before it got better. Their slavery worsened; Egyptian sentiment hardened further against the Israelites after Moses' initial plea.

This turn of events left Moses leveling what sounds like an accusation against God: “You have not rescued your people at all!” It's a question that many of us feel like asking when, by faith, we choose to believe and follow God, and invariably, He seems to disappoint us. We expect something from Him, and He doesn't deliver. Worse, our expectations have been shaped by His promises. Has His Word failed? It's often a painful process to revise our expectations and understanding of God.
Reread Exodus 6:1-8. Make a two-column list of the things God has already done for the Israelites (past-tense actions) as well as the things He promises to do (“I will” statements). Here's a critical spiritual truth, especially in times of darkness and difficulty: we can trust God and live with hope today, no matter what the circumstances, by recognizing what God has done in our past and what He promises for our future. Read Ephesians 1:17-23 as a reminder of this truth.

Exodus 5:22-6:8

Even from eternity I am He . . . I act and who can reverse it? - Isaiah 43:13
In his book, Eternity in Their Hearts, Don Richardson provides numerous accounts of previously unevangelized people who had a particular legend handed down from ages past. Despite widely-scattered geographic regions, these tales are remarkably similar, often describing some type of “book of knowledge” that had been taken away from the group because of transgression. Yet this book would someday be restored--brought back by people from far away.

That’s pretty amazing considering these people groups were illiterate! Somehow God had prepared their hearts for the advent of missionaries who would bring both the Word of God and literacy.

This type of “heart preparation” may be close to what the Jews in Egypt received. The story of God’s promise to their ancestor Abraham must have been recounted over and over. However hard it may have been to believe, it’s possible there wasn’t a descendent of Abraham who didn’t know the story.

Eventually God raised up a leader for His oppressed people in Egypt. Yet even Moses seemed to have a hard time believing that the promise given to Abraham would soon begin to be fulfilled. So, after forty years of desert training, the Lord reiterated to Moses the promise of the inheritance given to Abraham.

First, God reminded Moses of who He was (Ex. 6:2) and that He was the same One who had appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v. 3). Then, He reminded Moses that He had not forgotten the covenant in which He promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendents (v. 4). In fact, God’s promise of the land to Abraham became the basis of the nation’s confidence that God would deliver them from Egypt and lead them to the promised land.
It’s easy to lose sight of eternity, perhaps because heaven often seems far off.

Exodus 7:1-13

The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment. - 2 Peter 2:9
One question haunts human existence: “Why does evil exist?” Rousseau, a French thinker of the Enlightenment, believed that we are born innately good and our environment corrupts us. His American contemporary, Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan preacher, preached that evil emerges from within us because of our sin nature.

Many get stuck on the question on evil, especially when we suffer unjustly. How can we surrender our lives to a God who's either ambivalent to cruelty or powerless to do anything about it? We might have better luck playing Russian roulette.

But God can be trusted, as the book of Exodus wants us to understand. The idea of judgment as it first appears in our reading today and in chapters to come provides a critical framework for our faith. In earlier chapters we've seen God's compassionate response to His people in their suffering. He had set in motion a plan to rescue them. But God's goodness includes more than just compassion for His people; He is also good because He upholds justice against those who perpetrate evil.

As we saw earlier, one purpose of the plagues was to inspire faith in the one true God, Yahweh; the plagues also served as judgment against the false gods of Egypt. The Egyptians worshiped creation, and they also worshiped the false gods of power and prosperity. They enslaved the Israelite people because they wanted to control any threat to their power and to enrich themselves. They did not want the Israelites mounting a rebellion that would jeopardize their grandiose building projects. They committed the evil act of dehumanizing an entire group of people for their own self-advancement.

God would act decisively to right the wrongs the Israelites have suffered. In this situation, He would no longer tolerate the evil and injustice suffered by His people. His judgment is an expression of His goodness, and His goodness is reason for trusting Him.
Read the passage from where we take our key verse, 2 Peter 2:4-10. Here we find more examples of God rescuing the godly and punishing evildoers, such as in the stories of Noah and Lot. If you're struggling to trust God's justice, read passages like Psalm 73 and Romans 12:14-21. Other vivid pictures of God's wrath against injustice are included in Revelation; read chapter 16 as an example, and meditate on verse 7: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”

Exodus 7:14-8:19

God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. - Romans 9:18
John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota and founder of Desiring God ministries, has written many sermons and books on the sovereignty of God. In one sermon, he describes God's sovereignty this way: “God's freedom in mercy and hardening is at the heart of God's glory and God's name. This is what it means to be God—to be ultimately free and unconstrained from powers outside himself.”

The first chapters of Exodus confront questions concerning God's sovereignty and human free will. Before the plagues even began, God committed to hardening Pharaoh's heart (7:3). In essence, he declared Pharaoh the loser before the start of the games. Can this be fair? Were the plagues no more than a divine charade to keep alive the illusion that humans have a choice in the matter when it comes to God's plans?

We see in our reading today that Pharaoh was not a pawn in God's divine schemes. He was making real decisions. The language of the text suggests that Pharaoh himself chose not to listen to God. Even in the face of the miraculous, Pharaoh refused to believe. He was guilty of hardening of his heart (8:15). The passage suggests that God's choice and Pharaoh's choice work together in a way that we might not fully understand. We cannot minimize either God's sovereignty or human responsibility.

What we actually see from the account of the plagues is not injustice on God's part, but rather His magnificent patience. As early as Exodus 4:23, we have a warning from God about the final plague, the plague of the firstborn. God gave Pharaoh nine chances to heed His word.

God could have forced Pharaoh's hand earlier. He could have launched a divine blitz to get His people out of Egypt. But He confronted Pharaoh with His word before He ever drew His sword. Ten times Moses said to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” Ten times, Pharaoh chose not to listen. And he was held accountable for that choice.
In Romans 9, Paul teaches the doctrine of divine election, that God freely chooses who will receive His mercy and who will receive His wrath.

But we are not powerless. Paul himself says in Romans 10:1 that he prays for his fellow Israelites to be saved. He maintained a confidence in the power of prayer and the mercy of God to be moved by prayer. We, too, have to keep praying for people who are still far from God.

Exodus 8:20-9:12

I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. - Exodus 6:7
John Sailhamer, in his book, The Pentateuch as Narrative, underscores the importance of seeing the first five books of the Bible as a single book written by Moses. Pentateuch is a carefully constructed literary work of someone, who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wanted to communicate important truths to the people of Israel. Studying Exodus can lead us to examine the literary structures of the book as well as to discover its theological principles.

One interesting literary element of the plagues narrative is that the first nine plagues are grouped into triplets. Each triplet of plagues shares similarities: in the first, fourth, and seventh plagues, Moses delivered his warning to Pharaoh early in the morning by the Nile. In the second, fifth, and eighth plagues, Moses confronted Pharaoh in his palace. In the third, sixth, and ninth plagues, God gave no warning of the plague to come. The final and most devastating plague stands alone.

In our reading today, we are explicitly told for the first time that God spared the Israelites from the plague of the flies and the plague of the livestock. Miraculously, the land of Goshen was shielded from these harbingers of death. In today's passage, Moses details why God visited these plagues on the Egyptians and not on the Hebrews.

God dealt differently with the Israelites than with the Egyptians. As God's chosen people, they received God's preferential treatment. He was in their midst: “I, the Lord, am in this land” (v. 22). As this distinction became evident, notions of what makes people valuable were turned on their head. Pharaoh, the most powerful ruler of the ancient world at this time, could not escape the judgment of God. The flies poured into his palace, and his royal livestock lay dead in the morning. Yet the Egyptian slave labor force, the Israelites, the people whose babies had been so carelessly thrown into the river, were divinely spared.
The world defines and values people according to their power and prestige. But the Bible teaches us that what matters most is our identity as the beloved children of God. Read the following passages about our identity and worth: Romans 8:12-17; Galatians 3:26-4:7; 1 Peter 2:4-12. What implications do these truths have for how we live? And where can you find evidence of God's special provision and protection in your life, similar to the example we have in our reading today?

Exodus 9:13-10:29

I have raised you up for this purpose, that I might show you my power. - Exodus 9:16
In 2005, David Samuels wrote an article the The Atlantic entitled, “How Arafat Destroyed Palestine: The Legacy of One Man's Corrupt Personal Rule.” Samuels cites evidence that Arafat lined his pockets with money pilfered from the Palestinian treasury. During his tenure as Palestinian president, a mere 10 percent of the Palestinian budget was actually spent on the needs of the people in the West Bank and Gaza.

Arafat is one of many leaders throughout history whose personal greed and pride destroy the people they intend to lead. The Egyptian Pharaoh in the book of Exodus is another such leader. Egypt had been utterly devastated by the plagues: their crops destroyed, their livestock dead. Egyptian officials were pleading with Pharaoh to give in to the demands of Yahweh and save Egypt from further destruction.

But pride tightened its death grip on Pharaoh's heart, and he refused their pleas. He could not humble himself. His authority had been challenged with each plague, and the one remaining vestige of power—that of determining the fate of the Israelites—he could not concede.

God opens His playbook in today's reading and reveals His strategy behind the plagues. First, He was making a name for Himself. “There is no one like me in all the earth” (v. 14). Pharaoh was not God: He is. And He is not just the God of the Israelites. Yahweh rules over Egypt and over the entire earth (v. 29). It's as if the plagues themselves were like a full-page ad in the Egyptian Times: “I am God. I rule the earth. You worship creation: I am the Creator. Nothing can thwart my power and my plans.”

Through the story of the plagues and eventually the Exodus, God was also authoring what would be the defining story for future generations. This story of God's judgment on the Egyptians and God's rescue of the Israelites would be the compelling reason why future generations would know and trust the Lord.
God doesn't just give us His truth in a theological lists and formulas. He gives us stories, which speak powerfully about His salvation. The central story of the Old Testament is the Exodus. The central story of the New Testament is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The parallels between both of these stories are extraordinary. When you teach your children the truths of the faith or when you share the gospel with friends, capture the character and plan of God's redemption through these two events.

Exodus 11:1-10

Blessed are you, O Israel . . . a people saved by the Lord. - Deuteronomy 33:29
The AIDS virus has ravaged sub-Saharan Africa. It has orphaned 15 million children and shortened life expectancy in some countries to a mere 37 years. In countries like Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, AIDS is believed to affect 15 to 20 percent of the adult population. The AIDS crisis is a modern-day plague of death.

In the next few days, we'll read about the tenth and final plague visited upon Egypt. It, too, is a plague of death. The Israelites would be spared, but the firstborn of every Egyptian family and herd would die as night fell.

We can't help but think about the innocent children who suffered under this plague. What's more, Pharaoh, the evil man behind the melodrama of the last several chapters, lost a son, yet his own life was preserved. How do we reconcile what we know of God's goodness and justice with the tenth plague?

This death knell might be more horrific than what we would prefer to find in the Bible. Think back to Genesis: Adam and Eve died for transgressing God's command, the generation of Noah died in the Flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah were obliterated because of their sin. Why are the pages of Scripture stained with blood?

It isn't because God takes pleasure in anyone's death (cf. Ezek. 18:23). It is because death is the ultimate reality of fallen humanity: for the Egyptians on the night of the Passover, and for every human being. God had not created humanity to experience death, but the consequence of sin has brought upon each of us its curse (cf. Rom. 3:23).

The Passover story doesn't just include death; we miss the whole picture if that is all we see. Passover also proclaims life for the people of God. It reveals gospel truth. At the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a message about God rescuing us from spiritual death. The Passover foreshadows this message and adds an important word to our spiritual vocabulary: salvation.
We don't all have dramatic testimonies of God saving us from drugs, alcohol, or crime, especially if we professed our faith in Christ at an early age. But it's still true that we've been saved. Think of some of the synonyms for saved: rescued, delivered, liberated, set free. Reflect on how God has rescued you. From what have you been delivered and liberated? Do you live as one set free? “Jesus saves” may sound like a worn-out revival phrase, but it captures what's true of us as Christians.

Exodus 12:1-30, 43-51

Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. - 1 Corinthians 5:7
Pat Tillman left a lucrative football career with the Arizona Cardinals to join the army after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The news of his death in 2004 made headlines, and Tillman was heralded a hero. More than a month later, however, his family learned that American—not Taliban—troops had fired the fatal shot. Tillman had been killed by “friendly fire.”

The event of the Passover foreshadows Jesus' death on the cross, the ultimate example of “friendly fire” when God the Father fired a shot, and God the Son took the bullet.

Our reading today describes the fateful night when the angel of death visited every Egyptian household, and none were spared. Even the firstborn son of Pharaoh, thought to be a son of god, died. The language of verse 29 is unequivocal. God has authority over all of creation, to give life and breath, or to take it away. The night of the Exodus, He took Egyptian life as an act of judgment on their sin (v. 12).

But just as He acted in judgment, He also acted in mercy. He spared the Hebrew people. The same God who visited the Egyptian homes to bring death is the God who passed over the Israelite homes. In Isaiah 31:5, we learn that to “pass over” means to shield and defend. God Himself stood in the doorway of Hebrew homes to defend its occupants. The sign of their deliverance was the blood on the doorposts of their homes.

In the Passover and at the cross, sin is judged, and the penalty is death. God, being a holy God, must execute His just wrath against sin.

His love, however, makes way for mercy. In the Passover, the lamb is sacrificed as a symbol of what Jesus would do for every person on the cross, when Jesus would die by “friendly fire.” He took the bullet of the Father's wrath on our behalf.

His death and resurrection makes it possible for us to be brought out of bondage to sin.
Jewish people today still celebrate the Passover, usually around the time of the observance of Easter. At the heart of the Passover celebration is the Seder, a communal meal to celebrate their deliverance from Egypt. Many Jewish Christian fellowships celebrate a Christian Passover meal, which highlights the Christian symbolism of the Exodus story. Consider attending a Seder meal this spring as a means of understanding more completely these symbols that illustrate Jesus' death on our behalf.

Exodus 12:3-42; 13:1-22

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. - Psalm 40:2
On September 9, 2008, Leona Baxter was sucked down a storm drain as she and the family dog splashed in puddles in a park near her home. She was dragged through a concrete pipe nearly 50 feet long. Her dad describes her rescue: “I ran across to the river and saw what I thought was Leona's coat. It wasn't—it was Leona floating face down in the river. I jumped in and grabbed her.”

We all have a story like Leona's, a story of how God our Father jumped in the river after us. It's the story of our salvation. The book of Exodus recounts the story of Israel's salvation, and in Exodus 13:14-15, that story is summarized. It gives us a framework for understanding our own salvation stories.

“With a mighty hand,” the story begins (13:14). Every act of salvation demonstrates the awesome power of God, whether it's crossing the Red Sea or kicking addiction. Salvation stories also remind us from where we've come. For the Israelites, it was Egypt. For us, it may be a rebellious adolescence, a messy divorce, or bankruptcy. Salvation is that journey from slavery to freedom, death to life, and brokenness to wholeness. “When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every firstborn” (13:15) acknowledges the enemies of God but assures us that evil won't always prevail. In heaven, we're going to sing, “Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” (Rev. 19:1).

The epilogue for every salvation story is, “This is why I sacrifice to the Lord” (13:15). Obedience and worship flow from salvation. Without the profound recognition that we've been saved, our spiritual lives can become perfunctory. We do what we have to, but our hearts are disengaged from God. As salvation becomes personal, obedience and worship aren't religious hoops through which we have to jump. We obey and worship the God to whom we owe our very lives (13:8).
Have you ever written down your personal salvation story, or your testimony? This week, set aside time to reflect on how God saved you. Specifically note the elements discussed today: God's power, what you were saved from, and how you live your life differently now that you are saved. After considering your story of salvation, see if you can condense it into one paragraph. If the goal is to share your story with someone lost (and it is!), you may have only five minutes for sharing it.

Exodus 12

Exodus 12:31-42; Psalm 106:6-12
He saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. - Psalm 106:8
In March, 1849, Henry “Box” Brown mailed himself to freedom.

Born into slavery in Virginia, Brown was brought to Richmond to work in a tobacco factory. After his wife and children were sold to another owner and sent south, he vowed to escape. A friendly white shoemaker helped devise a plan to put him in a packing crate and mail him to a free state.

Brown entered the box with a little food and water, and a tool for boring air holes. Twenty-seven hours later, the “shipment” arrived at the Philadelphia office of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and was unpacked by abolitionists. Brown is said to have emerged from the crate singing! Free at last!

As they left behind slavery in Egypt, the Israelites no doubt were also singing, “Free at last!” Their journey from slavery to freedom is one of the great journeys in all of Scripture, as well as a thematic parallel to salvation and the background of the Christian journey. After all, Christ came to set the captives free (cf. Isa. 42:6–7; 61:1; Rom. 8:21; Gal. 5:1).

God exercised His power against a mighty nation to liberate His people. Against all odds, they walked away from bondage, their arms filled with Egyptian plunder. God personally guided them with a pillar of cloud and fire. But don’t mistake

an epic beginning for a finished journey. The Israelites had a long way to go–even further spiritually than physically. Despite the miraculous start, they fell into idolatry, complaining, and faithlessness on many occasions. We can relate.

Psalm 106 surveys Jewish history, confessing national rebelliousness and praying for God’s mercy (v. 47). Liberating them from slavery and opening the Red Sea, God had shown His power and goodness. Israel’s mistake was to forget or ignore what they’d seen and known. Nonetheless, God had a plan for His name to be glorified and made known among the nations, so He’d faithfully rescued and guided them.
To augment both today’s topic and our month’s theme, we suggest that you read and meditate on Psalm 78 or 105, or the entirety of Psalm 106. These psalms praise God by reviewing the history of Israel. The writers looked back and saw the gracious, powerful hand of God working through past events. The nation was on an extended journey, and God was guiding their national destiny as surely and lovingly as He guides our own journeys down our individual roads.

Exodus 12

He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son. - Colossians 1:13
Gladys Aylward was a British missionary to China, and shortly after her arrival in the 1930s the Japanese invaded China. After the town where she lived was bombed, Japanese soldiers were sent to kill any survivors. Aylward led the survivors, including many children, on a long march through perilous terrain. Miraculously, many survived this harrowing escape and caught the last train for freedom.

There's something very compelling about rescue operations, the greatest of which is surely found in the story of the Exodus. Here we see a pattern of God's redemptive work. Just as He chose one man, Abraham, through whom He would bless all the peoples of the earth, so now He chose this nation, Israel. But before this nation could be a blessing, they would have to be freed.

Exodus 12 is really the climax of the first eleven chapters of Exodus, which record the efforts of Satan to thwart God's redemptive plans and God's sovereignty. The book opens with the cruel plot to crush the Jews through forced labor (1:11), but the Jews continued to increase. Then the Pharaoh ordered the murder of all Jewish baby boys, but God intervened again (1:15-20). The story of Moses' birth (Ex. 2) is an entire rescue operation in itself! God's protection of His people is tied to His covenant promise to Abraham (Ex. 3:13-17).

Exodus 12 describes the final plague. Although this plague was to fall upon every firstborn in Egypt, the Lord provided a substitution for the Israelites: a spotless yearling lamb, whose blood was to be spread on the outside doorframe (v. 7). In this way, the plague would pass over the Israelite households (v. 22).

As we read this account, it can be difficult to see how this was a blessing to the nation Egypt. But notice that many other people, presumably Egyptians, left with the Israelites (v. 38). They likely saw the power of God and wanted to join His people. Keep in mind also that God's purpose for rescuing the Israelites was to make them a great nation that would be a blessing to all the nations around, including Egypt.
It's not hard to see how the Passover prefigures our Lord Jesus Christ. Like the sacrificial lamb, whose blood offered protection, His death upon the cross offers salvation.

Luke 4:18 says that Jesus came to set the oppressed free, but the oppression here is not physical bondage to a foreign power, but spiritual bondage to the Evil One. By His death and resurrection, Jesus has made possible the greatest rescue operation in the history of the universe—the rescue of a lost person from the realm of darkness (Col. 1:13).

Exodus 12:29-42, 13:17-14:31

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. - Exodus 15:13
After 29 years of laboring as a slave in Maryland, Harriet Tubman escaped to Philadelphia in 1849. She’d been determined to be free for years, and now she was--but she didn’t stop there.

Tubman spent the next decade helping other slaves escape as well. Working as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, she made about twenty trips into slave states to guide groups of runaways to safe routes and hiding places. Despite the Fugitive Slave Act and bounties placed on her head by plantation owners, Tubman courageously helped free about 300 slaves, earning her the nickname, “Moses of her people.” She earned that name because she, like Moses, led her people to freedom (cf. Heb. 11:27-29).

Of course, it was God who truly led His people to freedom (Ex. 12:42). In the last of the ten plagues, the deaths of the firstborn children demonstrated that His power reached all levels of Egyptian society. The Israelites didn’t suffer, for they’d obediently put atoning blood on their doorposts and celebrated the first Passover. Pharaoh was so humbled that he broke his word about never seeing Moses again and he asked him for his blessing (vv. 31-32).

The slaves were set free, and even hustled on their way by Egyptians afraid of further judgment. The Israelites took Egyptian livestock, and were given clothing, gold, and silver by their excaptors, fulfilling God’s promise to Moses (Ex. 3:19-22; cf. Ps. 105:36-39). The bread without yeast symbolized their hurry to leave, which was ironic given the unlikelihood, from a human perspective, of their leaving at all.

God Himself guided the Israelites, taking them down the best, though not the shortest, road. He kept vigil over them, leading, protecting, and encouraging His people with His visible presence through a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. When the Egyptians came in pursuit, He opened a miraculous way of escape for Israel and fought on its behalf (Ex. 14:13-14).
If you’d like to respond creatively to today’s devotion, we could suggest several ideas.

• Make a drawing or a series of drawings to show the main events of the Exodus.

• Write a “journal entry” about the Exodus from the point of view of an ordinary Israelite or even an ordinary Egyptian.

Exodus 14:1-31

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! - Revelation 19:7
When Lin Miaoke sang “Ode to the Motherland” for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, she captured the hearts of the world. Only later was it reported that she had lip-synched to a recording actually sung by Yang Peiyi, whom the Chinese authorities had not considered cute enough to perform the song on camera.

China used its status as host nation for the Olympics to conduct a public relations campaign, choosing the details (and faces!) to present to the world. In the first fourteen chapters of Exodus, God has been launching something like a PR campaign about Himself. In God's case, every act and image represented His true self. Exodus 14 dazzles with His power: the waters of the Red Sea parted, the Israelites crossed to the other side on dry ground, and the pursuing Egyptian army drowned before their very eyes.

The spectacle of God's power in this picture was fantastic. Interestingly, though, if God were only concerned with safe passage to the Promised Land, He could have chosen an easier and more direct route. Surely, God didn't need to command the Israelites to turn around after several days' journey and head back toward Egypt, an action that positioned them for recapture when Pharaoh decided to pursue the Israelites.

God deliberately charted a course that seemed chaotic, and He did so for the purpose of showcasing His glory. Unlike us, who are often motivated to do what is most expedient and comfortable, God isn't pragmatic in His decision-making. Of course, He has purposes to achieve here, and He will make good on His promises to the Israelites. He will deliver them safely to the Promised Land.

But there's something more important than the destination. God chooses to act in such a way as to win renown and honor for His name. For all the nations who would hear the story of the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, God was asserting His supremacy as the one true God. And when God is honored as the supreme God, He is glorified.
All throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see the preeminence of God's glory. As we see in our text today, God acts to gain the glory He deserves. When you have time for additional reflection on Scripture, review these passages to understand more fully what God's glory is, why it matters, and how we can reflect His glory in our lives: 1 Chronicles 16:7-36; Isaiah 6:1-3; John 1:14; Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 1:11-14; and Hebrews 2:7-10.

Exodus 15

I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. - Exodus 15:1b
They say that truth is stranger than fiction. And real-life accounts of God’s actions in history are more gripping that any drama ever produced! One example of this is the Exodus, the account of God leading His people out of Egypt to the land He had promised them. As you read this account, you can feel the suspense as the people hurriedly prepare their final “passover” meal (Ex. 12:22). You can almost feel their wonder as they finally begin to follow Moses out of Egypt (Ex. 12:37). And it’s hard not to hold your breath as over one million Israelites find themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea! How would God provide this time?

We may be quite familiar with this account, but it’s always inspiring to read one of the greatest stories of liberation in all history. Today we’ll look at how this part of God’s Word impacted a freed slave, Harriet Tubman, who was involved in another liberation story.

In the early 1800s, escaping slaves seemed to “disappear” once they crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky. One slave owner said it was as if the slave had run down an “underground road”--later, this system of escape routes was called the Underground Railroad and homes that offered shelter along the way were called “depots.”

Perhaps the most famous “conductor” of this railroad was Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery in 1849, from eastern Maryland. Following her freedom, Tubman returned nineteen times to slave states and helped to liberate over 300 slaves. Each return trip was extremely risky, but Tubman’s record of never losing anyone entrusted to her care earned her the nickname “Moses.” Like Moses, Tubman was completely confident that God would protect her and her charges. She herself looked to the account of Moses crossing the Red Sea, especially his praise song in Exodus 15.
The greatest account human liberation is even more dramatic than the account of Moses crossing the Red Sea or Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. That’s because the greatest story of human liberation is an individual’s redemption from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ! As believers, we each have our own account of how God liberated us from the darkness of life without him and brought us into the kingdom. Take some time today to reflect back on your journey of liberation with the Lord.

Exodus 15

Who is like you--majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? - Exodus 15:11
You don’t have to remember much about Greek mythology to know that Mount Olympus was the home of the Greek gods and goddesses. From its peak, Zeus hurled down lightning bolts on those who had earned his displeasure. A pantheon of deities “controlled” human destinies from the unapproachable heights of this mountain.

The association between mountains and gods was common in the ancient world. Critics of the Bible like to believe that this explains the origins of today’s passage, but we will see significant differences between ancient mythologies and the idea of the mountain of God’s inheritance (Ex. 15:17).

For one thing, this passage is a praise hymn composed by Moses to the Lord, extolling Him for His miraculous acts of deliverance. The immediate context of this passage is the crossing of the Red Sea, when the entire nation was safely delivered from Egypt, but when Pharaoh’s army was drowned (vv. 1, 4–5).

The ten plagues “proved” beyond any doubt God’s complete sovereignty over Egyptian gods--no wonder Moses exclaimed that no other “god” could ever be like the One True God (v. 11). Whereas Canaanite and Egyptian deities were limited to a specific geographic region, God’s mighty acts revealed His sovereignty over the entire earth.

Furthermore, God identified Himself on the basis of relationship (for example, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”) and not on the basis of any particular location. That’s important, because verse 17 says that God actually was leading His people to the mountain of His “inheritance” (probably a reference to the entire promised land) to establish them firmly there. In ancient mythologies, people were driven from the gods’ mountain, not graciously planted and nurtured on it!
Although most of us don’t think of God inhabiting a certain place, we may be guilty of thinking He inhabits a certain time--Sunday morning.

Exodus 15:1-21

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. - Exodus 15:2
W. E. B. Du Bois, the first African-American scholar to earn a degree from Harvard, studied the experience of black slaves in America. He wrote about the impact of the spirituals, calling them “Sorrow Songs” and describing them as “the most beautiful expression of human experience born this side of the seas . . . the greatest gift of the Negro people.”

Just as it did for the African slaves, music expresses hope in times of despair; music can also declare most eloquently our greatest joys. The hymn of Exodus 15 is the loud and jubilant chorus of an enslaved people who have been delivered. Verse one tells us that Moses and the Israelites sang this song after the spectacular rescue in chapter 14. The theological content given in this passage may be the hymn that develops later, in the days and weeks to come, from the original refrain of verse 21. Miriam sang this chorus on the banks of the Red Sea, using her tambourine as accompaniment. Perhaps as the freed slaves marched toward the Promised Land, they added verses to the this glorious refrain, “The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.”

However the song was composed, the hymn has been preserved for us as a theological reservoir for discovering truths about God. All this “wisdom” about God comes from seeing Him in action. The Israelites did not enjoy the privilege of studying a sacred text about God. At that time, there were no worship services or ministry of preaching as we know it. What they knew of God was what had been revealed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and what they had witnessed of His mighty deeds. This hymn expresses these new discoveries about their God.

The strength of God is unrivaled; He easily defeats His enemies. The love of God is undeniable; He rescues the people of His promise. This hymn is a cry of confidence in God; He will lead them. They have nothing and no one to fear.
Music has significant power to focus our minds and hearts on God and His Word. Music was an important part of Jewish worship. The book of Psalms is actually a hymnal! In Christian tradition, music has also played an important role. How can you incorporate more music into your personal devotions? Into your family devotions? Even if your church sings contemporary worship music, invest in owning your own traditional hymnal to learn and to teach your children hymns of the faith.

Exodus 15:22-16:36

Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling. - Exodus 16:9
Deborah Scaling Kiley lived a nightmare. During a fierce storm, the yacht she and her four friends had been sailing sank, and they spent five perilous days in the open sea without food or water. Before Kiley's eventual rescue, two of the men drank salt water out of desperation, and the hallucinations started. They died when they slid off the side of the dinghy into a sea full of sharks to “get cigarettes.” In order to drown out the sounds of the sharks, Kiley repeated aloud, over and over, the words of the Lord's Prayer.

Each of us faces times of crisis. Will we react in despair, or will we cling to faith? In today's reading, the Israelites had been walking three days in the desert without water. Their thirst was agonizing, affecting most profoundly children and elderly people. People no doubt were collapsing, and finally, having reached utter desperation, they cried out to Moses, “What are we to drink?” God provided water for them, and all was well—until the provisions with which they left Egypt ran out. Their empty stomachs churned, and they remembered the delicacies of Egypt. This time, their complaining turned to accusation: “You have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death!” (16:3).

Could this be the same community of people who witnessed the cruel effects of the ten plagues on the Egyptians and how God had mercifully saved them? Did they remember how God miraculously parted the Red Sea, how they had walked across on dry ground and the Egyptians had drowned in pursuit?

Everything they'd proclaimed about God in Exodus 15 was forgotten. They made no appeal to the power of God they had seen displayed so visibly. All they now accepted was the evidence of their senses: they felt thirsty, and they felt hungry. This they interpreted to mean that God had somehow forgotten them. They began to despair when they should have been praying.
We know that we should pray in times of crisis, but hopelessness keeps us from praying. It's impossible to pray when we are somehow convinced that God doesn't love us or is powerless to change our situation. Do you believe either of those two lies? You can know whether or not these lies have taken root, when your impulse, similar to that of the Israelites, is to complain rather than to pray. Confess to God where your faith is weak, and pray that He will strengthen your faith (cf. Mark 9:24).

Exodus 17:1-16

He humbled you . . . to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. - Deuteronomy 8:3
The most recent version of Apple's iPhone supports software that can do much more than make and receive calls. One feature is its ability to recognize any song, sung either by the original artist or a cover band, and display the album cover on its screen. For instance, you might be walking through a store, and your iPhone can identify the songs playing on the store's speaker system.

We don't need an iPhone to recognize the refrain at the beginning of Exodus 17. It's the tune of “Woe is Me!” by the band called the Israelites. It sounds like a funeral dirge played in a minor key. In this variation, the Israelites were thirsty and convinced they were about to die.

As He's done from the very beginning of the book of Exodus, God deliberately seems to bring His people face to face with hardship. When He first commissioned Moses to lead the people out of Egypt and Moses made his plea before Pharaoh for the freedom of the Israelites, their slavery instantly worsened. When they were finally freed, God led them on an indirect route out of Egypt and even commanded them to turn back, inciting the Egyptians to chase them down. And now, as they journeyed through the wilderness, they set up camp (at God's command) at Rephidim, the most unlikely of sites. There was no water, and they were completely vulnerable to the enemy.

God wanted the Israelites to discover that they could depend on Him, not their own ingenuity or sufficiency. Without the thirst and hunger, without being attacked by enemies, they would never have learned that their daily bread came from God, and that God alone was their protection.

The staff, used by Moses to strike the rock at Horeb and used in battle against the Amalekites, was a symbol of the presence of God with His people. The answer to the question, “Is the Lord among us or not?” was a definitive “yes!”
God commanded Moses to record the events of their journey through the wilderness, in part because these stories would be sources of instruction and encouragement to us even today. Do you journal regularly? Sometimes, the act of writing and then rereading about our own personal journey can illuminate the patterns of how God is at work. If only the Israelites had seen the pattern of hardship on their journey and understood that it was never a time to despair but to expect God's deliverance!

Exodus 18

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. - Psalm 78:4
Growing up under Communism, Karin Krachova had never heard the gospel. One day in 1995, however, she heard some students at her university describe how God had helped protect them and their families, who were all Chris-tians, during the years when the Communists were still in power. As Karin listened, she began to wonder if there really might be a God. Months later, through her friendship with these students, Karin became a Christian herself.

In Exodus 18, we find another individual, Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, who was profoundly impacted by hearing what God had done in the lives of others. Somehow word of the Lord's victory over Egypt spread to Jethro, just as it spread to Rahab (as we'll see in tomorrow's study).

Sometime after Moses had returned to Egypt, he sent his Midianite wife, Zipporah, and his sons back to his father-in-law's place. It's possible that Zipporah told her father about the events of the Exodus, but the Bible is not clear about this, nor about why and when Zipporah and the sons returned to Midian. What is clear is that Jethro was eager to see Moses again. Both Rahab and the nations mentioned in Exodus 15:14-16 were terrified by this news, but Jethro rejoiced to hear “everything that the Lord had done for Moses and his peo-ple” (v. 1) and sought out Moses.

After Jethro heard first hand from Moses of the Lord's faithfulness, he praised God and confessed that “the Lord is greater than all other gods” (v. 11). Jethro learned from the account of the plagues and the Exodus what the Egyptians were intended to learn, namely that there is only one true God. And Jethro praised and worshiped the Lord. This account gives us a good insight into God's plan for the nations as they hear all that He has done.

It is perhaps ironic that Jethro, a Midianite, had a better grasp of what God had done for the Israelites than they themselves had. Exodus 16 and 17 record the constant grumbling of those who were eyewitnesses of the remarkable events of the Exodus!
Too often Christians say they don't know how to share their faith. But what many Christians don't realize is that one of the most powerful ways to share the gospel is simply to tell what God has done.

Of course, it's vital to know the gospel essentials—namely, that Jesus paid the price for sin and must be confessed as Lord and Savior. But sharing the good news often means declaring what He has done for us, by bringing about our own Exodus from the bondage of sin and darkness.

Exodus 19

Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. - Exodus 19:5-6
Déjà vu is the phrase used to describe the sensation that we're saying or doing something that we've said and done before. Perhaps Moses felt some déjà vu as we read through the first part of Exodus 19, for it bears striking resemblance to his initial encounter with God at the burning bush in Exodus 3.

Both Exodus 3 and Exodus 19 took place on the “mountain of God,” also called Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai. In Exodus 3, God gave Moses words to speak to the Israelites: Return to Egypt, and tell the people that I've seen their misery and will rescue them (3:16-17). In Exodus 19, God again gave Moses a message for the Israelites. In both passages, the response of the Israelites was the same. They believed Moses and worshiped God in Exodus 4:29-31; and in our passage today, the people affirmed their commitment to His words: “We will do everything the Lord has said” (v. 8).

Despite the similarities in these two passages, there are also critical differences. In Exodus 3, God had to make introductions. He gave Moses information about Himself, which he was to carry back to Egypt and convey to the Israelites. In Exodus 19, there was no need for introductions. God affirmed what He had already done: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings” (v. 4). Another difference was the message given to Moses. In Exodus 3, God told the Israelites only the opening scene of the story that was about to unfold: they would be rescued. In Exodus 19, He illuminated why they were rescued: they would be His people.

Like the experience of Moses, our spiritual journeys might bring us to familiar places. Sometimes we can almost feel like we're traveling in a circle! However, it's in these familiar places that we can take courage and encouragement that our knowledge of God is deeper than before and that God will give us greater wisdom than before.
A month's study of Exodus cannot completely cover all of the forty chapters of the book. (For example, you'll note that we skipped Exodus 18.) But when you have extra time for your personal devotions, you are encouraged to read the entire book of Exodus. Look for some of the themes that are being treated in our study this month: the salvation of God, His glory, and how He inspires the trust of His people.

Exodus 19

Exodus 19:1-6; Deuteronomy 7:6-11
[H]e is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. - Deuteronomy 7:9
When Scott Siegel knew that God wanted him to ask Charis to be his wife, he prayed to find just the right diamond for her ring. This diamond needed to reflect her purity, her radiance, and above all, her preciousness--both in his sight, but more importantly, in God’s sight.

Many people think of diamonds as precious possessions, but how many believers think of themselves in this way? Yet this is exactly what 1 Peter 2:9–10 says! This truth is rooted in the Old Testament. Yesterday we saw that the promised land to which God was leading His people was His own special possession (Ex. 15:17). Today we’ll see that the people themselves were also His own special possession (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 7:6).

The context for Exodus 19 is important. Recall that the people had just experienced God’s redemptive acts that delivered them out of Egypt (Ex. 14–15). Following this, the people miraculously received manna and quail (Ex. 16), water from rocks, and victory over their enemies (Ex. 17). Such actions revealed God’s special care and love for His people, and today’s passages reemphasize this truth.

Exodus 19:5 introduces two very important concepts: covenant obedience and God’s election, or unmerited choice, of the nation. Although some people think that this verse puts a condition on God’s promises, God’s covenant was evidence of His love and choice of the nation. Obeying God’s covenant flowed from the people’s special status and demonstrated their love for Him.

God’s holy commands showed the people how they would be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6; Deut. 7:6). In essence, because they were to occupy God’s holy land, they needed to abide by His holy commands (Ex. 20).
Do you think of yourself as a treasured possession? Because this concept is a bit hard to grasp, why not make it more concrete through the following activity?

Exodus 19:9-25

Worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” - Hebrews 12:28-29


In May 2008, Barbara Walters published her memoir, Audition, revealing details about both her personal life and her career. She has spent decades interviewing the world's most prominent politicians and movie stars, from Fidel Castro to Paris Hilton. As a network journalist, Walters enjoyed special access to conversations with famous people, access that most people don't have. Today's reading depicts the extraordinary access that God granted to Moses, access beyond what most Israelites could imagine.

Moses gave the people specific instructions in order to prepare them to meet with God: wash their clothes, abstain from sex, meet at the base of the mountain but do not touch it. Moses' first encounter with God on Mount Sinai, by contrast, required no such preparation: it was unexpected, happening as he was herding his father-in-law's livestock (cf. Ex. 3:1).

Moses' first encounter with God took place at the foot of a burning bush, a spectacular sight but hardly a fearful one. We know that because his first reaction was to approach the bush (cf. Ex. 3:3). The encounter of the Israelites with God in today's reading was much more ominous. The mountain itself became an inferno. The sky was dark, the thunder deafening, and the earth beneath them shook. It was an ominous display of God's presence and power.

Compare another aspect of Moses' interactions with God and those of the Israelites: all throughout the book of Exodus, Moses was freely invited to talk with God. One beautiful element of the book of Exodus is that it records these conversations that Moses, a man, had with God. Notice, however, that the Israelites, with the exception of Exodus 20:1-17 (which we will study tomorrow), relied on Moses to mediate between them and God. They were forbidden from approaching God under penalty of death. Moses' access to God foreshadows some of the same privileges that we, under the new covenant through Christ, enjoy.


The Bible talks about the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom. Even tomorrow, we will learn from our reading that the fear of the Lord keeps us from sin. Fear of the Lord is often misunderstood: it is not simply the trembling fear that the Israelites had at the base of Mount Sinai. Read Hebrews 12:18-28 where the writer of Hebrews uses this account from Exodus to help us understand what it means to relate to God now.

Exodus 20:1-6

Exodus 20:1-26

We love because he first loved us. - 1 John 4:19


Michael Dukakis was asked in the second presidential debate of 1988, “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” The “Ice Man,” as some in the public called him, answered coolly with a policy discussion of his opposition to the death penalty.

The public would have preferred his outrage at the scenario—at least they would have seen that something or someone mattered to him. Anger, when someone we love is violated, is the expected response. The same is true of jealousy. In a marriage relationship, two people pledge to love each other exclusively. If that commitment is threatened, jealousy is in order.

God is a jealous God because He loves us. The Mosaic Law given in the chapters to follow (and more thoroughly, in the book of Leviticus) are set in this context of love. Notice that the book of Exodus doesn't open with the words, “You shall not.” It's taken us twenty chapters to get to the commands given by God through Moses, and it's a deliberate choice made by Moses when writing Exodus. The “rules” can only be understood when set in the context of the “rescue.” The past nineteen chapters have taken us through God's call to Moses to save His people, the ten plagues to prove His authority and power, and the Exodus itself—a splendid scene of rescue. Even when the people have complained of hunger and thirst in the wilderness, God has provided for them.

His Law makes sense in light of this narrative backdrop. The Israelites needed to see that this God, who described in detail the plagues to befall the Egyptians, this God whose word was always and completely true, was binding upon them. This was a God with authority over all creation. His words to them mattered. They were bound by His words because they were the words of the Rescuer.


Our culture tries to convince us that rules are inherently bad. But the Bible turns that notion on its head. God's rules are good because He is good, and because He wants our best. In fact, the Ten Commandments can be read as rules that, when obeyed, are meant to restore what fell apart in the Garden of Eden. Read through each of the commandments, and reflect on how they can restore our relationship with God and our relationship with one another.

Exodus 20:8-11

God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. - Genesis 2:3


Last year, a U.S. News & World Report cover story described how work has come to control American life. We work more hours per week than people in any other industrialized nation. Two-income families are “needed” to pursue the desired standard of suburban living. Cell phones, pagers, and e-mail have made escaping the office all but impossible. One third of us feel overwhelmed or even crushed by long hours and heavy workloads. Stress levels are high, especially in a shaky job market--people feel they have no choice but to give up their quality of life in exchange for continued employment.

In such a climate, the principle of Sabbath feels like a fresh breeze. When God finished His work of creation, He rested. What did this mean? That may be a theological puzzler, since we know God doesn’t become tired or fatigued. What we do know is why He rested--because He finished His work. It was done, and done perfectly. For this reason, He “blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Gen. 2:3).

In the Mosaic Law, God commanded the Sabbath day to be kept as part of Israel’s cove-nant responsibilities. God made it holy--now the nation was to keep it holy. How? By imitating God and resting from work. Saturday was to be set apart from the ordinary business of life. In the cycle of consecration, if the people kept holy what God had made holy--that is, if they obeyed the Sabbath and other covenant obligations--then in turn God would make them holy. But He also promised severe punishment for individuals and the nation if they failed to honor the Sabbath (see Ex. 31:12–17; 2 Chron. 36:20–21).


Examine yourself before the Lord today concerning your own patterns and habits in the area of work and rest. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you about any changes you need to make in your attitudes or actions.

Exodus 20:22-44

At his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD. - Psalm 27:6
Sacrifice played a central role in many ancient religions. Throughout history, sacrificial offerings have consisted of various animals, fruits, flowers, vegetables, and even human beings. The Aztecs, for example, offered as many as twenty thousand human sacrifices yearly to their sun god. The Greeks sacrificed animals such as goats or cattle, sometimes eating the sacrifice in a “celebratory meal” in honor of their gods. Long ago the Chinese practiced human sacrifice and also offered animals and food to their gods and ancestors.

How tragic that all these sacrifices were made in vain! The one true God commanded the Israelites of the Old Testa-ment to follow a sacrificial system that foreshadowed the once-for-all sacrifice of His Son. How did these sacrifices point to Christ? And in retrospect, how did Christ fulfill the Old Testament sacrifices? Answering these questions will be our focus this month.

We’ll start with several days of “preliminaries”--pre-Law examples of the principles of sacrifice. Then we’ll spend several days on each of the five major Old Testament offerings: burnt, meal, sin, guilt, and peace. Just in time for Easter, we’ll meditate on Passion Week and the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Finally, we’ll apply this to our own lives, discovering how we as believers should be sacri-

ficing today.

Ultimately, this study is about worship--the “worthship” of God. True sacrifice is all about worshiping Him, about recognizing and responding rightly to who He is. An obedient, worshipful heart has always been more important to God than any mere ritual, even the rituals of the Law (see 1 Sam. 15:22 and Hos. 6:6).
The Old Testament sacrificial system can be difficult to understand. Consider using a commentary on the Pentateuch to help you get the most from this month’s study. We recommend New Manners and Customs of Bible Times from Moody Press.

Exodus 22:1-23:9

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is an excellent resource for studying Scripture. It explains how to understand the different genres, or literary forms, of the Bible. Some books are poetic; some are historical. Others are books of Law. We read all of the Bible literally and affirm its veracity. But we must take into account the way that each book communicates truth. For instance, we understand that the Psalms are poetry, and that the Epistles are letters. The book of Exodus is a historical book, and this context helps us navigate the portion of the book that describes the details of the Law.

We certainly learn more about God by reading the Law He gave to the Israelites, but we do not assume that the Law is binding upon us. The laws of Exodus 20:22-23:19 are the civil ordinances given to the nation of Israel. This people, freed from Egyptian rule, never enjoyed the status of a nation; now they needed laws to maintain order and justice.

Trying to uncover the principles of justice found in the Law is one of the most helpful ways to read an Old Testament text of Law. God doesn't change, and He still requires His people to act justly.

The principles of fairness, equality, and restitution are three principles found in our reading today. When punishment is necessary, the punishment must fit the crime. The principle of lex talionis, or an eye for an eye, was meant to curb excessive penalties.

Furthermore, there is recognized equality between all peoples. Unlike other ancient law codes from this time and region, which exacted steeper penalties for crimes against nobleman than against common citizens, all crimes in the Mosaic Law are treated alike, no matter the identity of the victim or perpetrator. God is no respecter of persons. And finally, restitution is required for various crimes when appropriate. Making it right when wrong has been done matters in God's economy.
In the Old Testament Law, specific provisions are given for three vulnerable classes of people: the widow, the orphan, and the alien. Throughout history, these people have been vulnerable to injustice and abuse. God is on their side (cf. Ps. 68:5-6)! Are we on God's side? Does your life reflect a growing concern for these people? Do the ministries in your church reflect God's heart for those who suffer injustice? Pray that God will give you opportunities to “do justice and love mercy.”

Exodus 23:20-24:18

Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. - Hebrews 7:22
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is a military alliance formed between democratic states in North America and Europe. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is a cooperative trade pact between the countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. These are two examples of modern-day treaties. They detail obligations and privileges for the members.

The word covenant, which we see in our reading today, can be understood as something like a treaty. A covenant can be made between two people (cf. 1 Sam. 18:3), two nations (cf. Gen. 21:32), and between God and His people. In today's reading, God put forward a binding agreement with the people of Israel. In it, He made many promises, and He also set forth His expectations for the people.

Israel was now God's chosen people, and they were promised His protection for their journey to the Promised Land. He promised also to provide for them food, water, health, and offspring. Here, God was reiterating the promises He had already made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.”

God provided for the people and protected them, and in return they were to worship and to obey Him. Notice the number of times the text mentions the “words” of God. When Moses presented God's “words and laws,” the people affirmed their intentions to obey. The covenant itself was mediated by words.

The central image of this passage is the stone altar that Moses built at the foot of the mountain. He did what Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had done before him: when God met them and spoke to them, they responded by building an altar of worship (cf. Gen. 12:7-8; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25; 28:18; 35:14). But he also did something unusual, something that had no precedent in Genesis. With the blood of the sacrificed animals, he sprinkled the altar and the people. Again, Exodus foreshadows the person and work of Jesus, whose blood made it possible to be in relationship with God.
The Old Covenant was mediated by the words of God, or the Law. The New Covenant is mediated through the Word of God (John 1:1). The Old Covenant was ratified with the sacrifice of animals, the New Covenant with the sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 10:10). The Old Covenant inspired worship before an earthen altar; the New Covenant inspires worship at the altar of life (Rom. 12:1). Jesus fulfilled the Covenant given to Israel through Moses (Matt. 5:17).

Exodus 25:1-40

Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. - Exodus 25:9
Good readers notice not only what a text says but also what it doesn't say. An author can communicate by what he puts in the text, but also by what he omits. Let's think of what some things we don't see in the book of Exodus.

Other books of the Pentateuch give a more thorough treatment of the Law. The book of Numbers details the events of the forty-year wandering. Exodus doesn't include much of that information. Instead, this book records specific instructions for building the tabernacle. Indeed, an entire third of the book is dedicated to this subject. Despite the challenges of governing this new nation, God put worship first. He wanted the tabernacle built and the priesthood established before the Israelites ever stepped into the Promised Land. Worship was, and still is, God's top priority.

We no longer use the tabernacle or its forms of worship, but we can learn much that applies to our own faith and worship. Scholars have noted the similarities between the account of constructing the tabernacle and the account of Creation. The tabernacle symbolized a new beginning for God's people. God would be among them as He was in the Garden of Eden.

Moreover, the tabernacle itself, as well as its furnishings, foreshadow the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the back section of the tabernacle, the Most Holy Place, was the ark. Above the ark's atonement cover, God would manifest Himself. No one but the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and even he entered only one day a year, on the Day of Atonement (cf. Leviticus 16). This place where atonement was made foreshadowed the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.

Outside the curtain separating the Most Holy Place was the Holy Place, the location of the Bread of the Presence and the lampstand. These also prefigured Jesus, the Bread of Life and Light of the World (see John 6:35; 12:35). Each was either beautifully crafted or overlaid with gold. Everything in the tabernacle is useful, but also beautiful and masterfully crafted.
In coming weeks, read Exodus 25 through 31. Try to discover parallels to the account of Creation in Genesis 1. Here's a hint: look for “And God said” phrases to signal the seven “acts” of creation. Notice how the account ends. Think through why Moses might have drawn a parallel between Creation and the tabernacle. If you're interested in the New Testament correspondences for the tabernacle, check your concordance for words like light, bread, fragrance, oil, and priests in the New Testament.

Exodus 26:1-37

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name . . . worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. - 1 Chronicles 16:29
The Egyptian temples and pyramids bear witness to the genius and grandeur of the Egyptian civilization. One of Egypt's finest architectural treasures is the Great Pyramid, built over two thousand years before Christ. The Pharaoh, Cheops, spent over twenty years building his elaborate tomb, with more than two million blocks of stone—each stone weighs the equivalent of an elephant.

Our reading today continues our study of the tabernacle, a structure that God had commanded the Israelites to build. Unlike the Egyptian pyramids, it did not endure for millennia. Its design demanded portability: God's presence would remain in the tabernacle, and from there, He would lead the Israelites on their journey. When the cloud of God's presence covered the tabernacle, the Israelites camped. When the cloud lifted, they set out. Sometimes they made camp for a night, sometimes for a month or more. (cf. Num. 9:15-23). They could not be encumbered by heavy stones or materials to carry in the desert. Instead, materials for the tabernacle were fairly lightweight: wood, linen, animal hides, and precious metals used for overlay and adornment.

While the tabernacle's design was very functional, it also boasted tremendous beauty and lavishness. The materials and their colors suggest that the tent housed no ordinary inhabitant. These were colors and materials fit for a king, even God Himself. Not only that, but access was extremely restricted for the interior part of the tent, the Most Holy Place. Only the High Priest could enter there once a year. The entire tabernacle was cordoned off by a courtyard and a screen fence (cf. 27:9-19). It was covered by four layers of materials: the innermost was linen, then goats' hair, rams' skins, and finally hides from the sea cow (possibly the dolphin). Even light could not penetrate the Most Holy Place.

The design of the tabernacle reflected the beauty of God's holiness and inspired reverent worship.
God commanded the Israelites to build something that is functional and yet beautiful. Unlike the generations of the past, which produced artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, we haven't valued beauty as much as they once did. Perhaps we've lost a sense that God is more than the Great Pragmatist, who just cares about getting things done. Scripture also testifies that He is the Great Aesthete, the Creator and Lover of all that is beautiful.

Exodus 29:1-46

Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored. - Leviticus 10:3
In Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations, people worshiped a pantheon of gods who were thought to be angry and vengeful. Worship in these cultures was hardly a free response of love; instead, worship resembled acts of appeasement. Mythologies contain the stories of men and women who transgressed against the whims of the gods and forever suffered the consequences of their sins.

The ceremonial requirements for the priesthood and the priestly offerings recorded in Exodus are different from ancient mythology. These were not acts to appease an angry God. The last two verses of our passage provide the framework for understanding why God had these requirements for the priests and the sacrificial offerings: God wanted to meet with His people. Their sin had incurred His wrath, yes, but His posture toward them was love. He had rescued them from Egypt in order to establish a unique allegiance with them. He wanted to be their God.

What stood in the way of establishing this relationship? Sin. When Adam and Eve sinned against God in Genesis 3, they were driven from God's presence. The rest of the Bible narrates the story of man's estrangement from God because of sin. The tabernacle, the Levitical priesthood, and the sacrificial system picture for us how sin must be addressed in order to come into the presence of a holy God.

Atonement is the key word central to understanding how God deals with sin. When an offense has been made, it must be made right. Sin is an offense against a holy God, and the sin offerings of slaughtered animals represent acts of acknowledging offense and making it right. The sacrificial system is called substitutionary atonement. The sinner himself deserved death, but God accepted an appropriate substitute in his place.
Leviticus 8 through 10 describe in greater detail how Aaron and his sons were ordained, how they first began to assume priestly duties, and then tragically how Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, fell under God's severe judgment for transgressing God's commands and regulations. God's holiness and judgment appear not only in the Old Testament: consider the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 4. These passages instruct us about the holiness of God. He doesn't accept deviations from the one way He provided to be in His presence.

Exodus 31

I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts. - Exodus 31:2–3
Earlier this year, the Gallery of the American Bible Society (ABS) mounted an exhibition entitled, “Threads of Faith: Recent Work From the Women of Color Quilters Network.” Fifty-three quilts with religious themes were on display, covering everything from biblical narratives to African-American history. The introduction said they “record personal histories, make political statements, celebrate family values, and reflect the role of faith and Christian tradition in shared history.”

For example, one quilt by Cynthia Lockhart, Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, is filled with colorful curving stripes and beads. She said, “This quilt is about the joy I feel when I sing the praises unto the Lord. Music is depicted as colorful and full of rhythms with a multiplicity of vibrations. When I sing and shout the praises I have a spiritual connection with the Lord.”

Her quilt and the others at the ABS exhibition show the power of God-honoring creativity. In contrast to the creative sinfulness seen in yesterday’s devotion, they enlist art in the service of worship. That’s also what God did in His instructions for the tabernacle--He wanted the nation’s worship center to be a beautiful, well-made place. To make it happen, He chose two craftsmen, Bezalel and Oholiab, and gifted them with a range of artistic abilities necessary to accomplish and supervise the construction of the tabernacle. Bezalel was actually said to be “filled with the Spirit of God” for this job (v. 3)!

How can we distinguish between righteous and unrighteous uses of creativity? We can compare this passage with the golden calf episode. Who is being honored--God or something else? What is the result--order or disorder, beauty or chaos, sin or holiness? Was there intentionality behind it, a submissive, worshipful attitude and thankfulness for the artistic abilities in use? Or is it reminiscent of Aaron’s excuses?
Here’s an idea: organize a “church arts night” when believers can edify one another with their God-given creative talents. One person might read a poem, another sing a song or play an instrument, and another show paintings, photographs, or a video. A group might perform a “worship dance” or a short drama. Or perhaps people can work together to create a mural on an available wall or rehearse a choral Scripture reading for next Sunday’s service. The aim is to please and glorify God!

Exodus 32

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. - Psalm 19:7
Last fall, a boy’s Bible saved his life. According to police, a Florida mother killed one of her sons at home with a shotgun, then drove to a church where she found her sixteen-year-old son standing outside. She fired at him at close range, but the shot struck his Bible.

“The Bible certainly saved his life,” said a sheriff’s deputy. “Had his Bible not been in the way he would have sustained the brunt of the blast and very well could have died from that type of injury.”

That young man will never forget that he owes his life to the Word of God. More figuratively, today’s verse reminds us: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” In today’s reading, God Himself wrote the tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai. But even before those tablets had reached the people, mercy was needed.

The people of Israel seemed intent on going back into slavery. They “forgot” all that God had done for them, from the miracle of the Red Sea’s parting to their very freedom from the bondage of Egypt. Aaron gave in to their demands and fashioned a calf that may have resembled an Egyptian bull-god familiar to the Israelites. The festival they celebrated in the idol’s presence included drunkenness and sexual immorality. By the time Moses saw them, they were totally out of control.

God was justly angry. After all, only a short time before He had said, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). Moses could have pridefully accepted God’s offer to destroy the Israelites and create the “Mosesites,” but instead he interceded for the people. Why? He understood God’s unchanging love and the infinite depth of His mercy.

God showed mercy, but judgment was also needed. The Levites answered the call to purify the people, earning a blessing by siding for God against even family and friends (Ex. 32:29). The powdered drink Moses served the Israelites was just a taste of the consequences of sin.
Do you have the zeal of a Levite? Do you desire to make war against sin and to live for righteousness?

Exodus 32

You shall not make for yourself an idol. - Exodus 20:4
The pornography business brings in $10 billion a year, with about 11,000 “adult movies” produced every year in America. These are marketed over the Internet, to cable TV companies, and through video distributors, who claim that 30 percent of all video rentals on the east and west coasts are sex films. What’s more, such well-known companies as General Motors, AOL Time Warner, and Marriott are helping themselves to a share of the profits. They do so quietly, omitting or obscuring the information in company reports; and while they may not actually produce pornographic movies, they pipe them into homes and hotel rooms nationwide.

Assuredly, human creativity and our pursuit of pleasure are corrupted by sin! Today’s narrative is a warning and instructive example of how creativity can be twisted to serve the opposite of the purposes for which God gave it. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law, the impatient, faithless Israelites bullied Aaron into using his skills to fashion a golden calf idol, which seems to have been a representation of the Egyptian god Apis. Despite his pathetic excuse of “out came this calf!” (v. 24), and despite his lame attempt to proclaim the day a “festival to the Lord” (v. 5), Aaron clearly used his creativity to support idolatry.

The nation’s disobedience spun out of control, to the point where Joshua thought a battle was raging and Moses saw a “laughingstock” being made of their covenant witness (vv. 17, 25). The pagan revelry no doubt included sensual dancing, carousing, sexual immorality, and other forms of self-indulgence. The people apparently wanted a god more familiar than the one seen in the pillar of cloud and fire. More to the point, they wanted one who was more permissive, whereas God had already made His standards of purity and holiness quite clear. It took special intercession by Moses, the destruction of the idol, the righteous swords of the Levites, and a plague from God to set things right.
Today we offer our third reading suggestion of the month, a book entitled The Gift of Art, by Gene Edward Veith (InterVarsity Press). In a way that is aware of both artistic history and the highs and lows of art in today’s culture, Veith surveys the place of the arts in Scripture. His book presents a solidly biblical perspective and is rich in potential applications for your own interaction with artistic creativity. This is a wonderful resource to introduce and inform your thoughts on how God’s truth can be expressed in art.

Exodus 32:1-35

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. - Psalm 27:14
In our time-pressured society, an array of goods and services has been developed to save people time. Microwaves, drive-thru windows, and Blackberrys should make life easier, right? A generation ago, scientists predicted that Americans would enjoy more discretionary time because of technological advances. The opposite has happened; we've grown more greedy for our time, more impatient with ever having to wait, always trying to cram one more thing into our day.

But impatience is not a modern phenomenon; from today's reading, we could argue that it's a besetting sin of the human condition. The Israelites grew impatient waiting for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai. They blamed Moses (and God) for the delay. Just what was taking so long?

They waited a little over a month for Moses to return from his appointment with God. A month was hardly any time at all compared with the years of harsh slavery they had endured in Egypt. Their actions seemed rash, and God Himself accused them of being “quick to turn away from what I commanded them” (v. 8). Clearly the people saw time differently than God did. Today's reading is only one of many examples throughout Scripture where men and women get tired of waiting on God. When this happens, they take matters into their own hands, usually with disastrous results.

Here, the Israelites directly disobey the second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol” (20:4). The golden calf wasn't a new god other than Yahweh but rather a false representation of Yahweh. They learned this practice from the Egyptians, who worshiped gods represented by animal forms. Thus, their sin came not from an outright rejection of Yahweh, but from trying to blend true worship of Yahweh with false, forbidden worship.

Their sin incited God's wrath against them. After this incident of rebellion, God was prepared to destroy them completely and start over with Moses. And though He relented from this threat, people still die as a result of their sin.
Why is it that God so often forces His people to wait? Abraham waited decades for a son. The Israelites waited over four centuries before they inherited the Promised Land. The disciples waited three days for the risen Christ, and we've been waiting over two millennia now for His return. We have innumerable commands in Scripture to wait on the Lord. Waiting on God forces us to turn from sins such as self-reliance, rashness, and prayerlessness. What are you waiting on God for, and can you wait with hopeful expectation?

Exodus 32

Humans tend to worship what is seen and often what appeals to emotion. The golden calf represented an Egyptian fertility cult. Recall that while the people were in the wilderness God alone provided all that they needed to eat and drink. Rejecting God’s promises, they chose to bow down to an idol that falsely gave them a sense of control. Idol worshipers believed that a god had to be manipulated in order to respond.

Humans tend to worship what is seen and often what appeals to emotion. The golden calf represented an Egyptian fertility cult. Recall that while the people were in the wilderness God alone provided all that they needed to eat and drink. Rejecting God's promises, they chose to bow down to an idol that falsely gave them a sense of control. Idol worshipers believed that a god had to be manipulated in order to respond.

The true God is very different! He is the only God, not one among many. He is a personal God, not a dead piece of wood or metal. He is the Creator of all, not merely a god of a river or a mountain. He acts in history and directs people; He is not manipulated by perverse rituals! And finally, He is a holy God who makes moral demands on His people.

- Today in the Word, Dec. 2003, p.11

Exodus 32:7-20

Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. - Exodus 32:12
Mizpah was a key event in Israelite history. The people had been worshiping Canaanite idols, but through the ministry of the judge and prophet Samuel, they decided to return to the Lord. Samuel gathered them at Mizpah, where they fasted, offered sacrifices, and repented of their sins while he interceded for the nation. The Philistines seized the moment for an attack, but God miraculously defended His people, and Samuel set up a “stone of remembrance” to commemorate His rescue (1 Sam. 7).

Samuel and Moses are recognized in Scripture as two of the greatest national intercessors in the history of Israel (Jer. 15:1). While Moses’ life contains many episodes on which we might focus (cf. Heb. 11:24-28), we’ve chosen today’s prayer as a good example of the faith at the center of it.

The Israelites, miraculously released from slavery by God’s mighty intervention, were camped at the foot of Mount Sinai. They had seen God defeat Pharaoh, open the Red Sea, and lead them by the pillar of fire and cloud. Through Moses, God was about to initiate a special covenant and give them His holy Law. But their memory of these awe-inspiring evidences of His power and love didn’t last a month, which is about how long Moses was up on the mountain. Tired of waiting, the people bullied Aaron into making a golden calf as an idol, then worshiped it with pagan rituals and orgies.

God was justly angry. The people had acted impatiently, rebelliously, and faithlessly. Their punishment would be richly deserved! Why not wipe them out and make Moses into a founding father (v. 10)?
You might take some time in prayer today to imitate the examples of Samuel and Moses. Intercede before God for the future of our nation.

Exodus 33:1-23

The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. - Exodus 34:6
In January 2000, Illinois became the first state to declare a moratorium on the death penalty. Then Governor George Ryan commuted the sentences of 167 death-row inmates, including the man who had killed Ryan's own neighbor and friend. Ryan's move was controversial, prompting more debate about how to execute justice, mercy, and fairness in the U.S. legal system.

We're going to examine God's mercy and justice in our reading today. Some skeptics have argued that God looks inconsistent in Exodus 32 through 34. Earlier in Exodus, He had gone to great lengths to reiterate His promises to the Patriarchs. Now at the beginning of Exodus 33, we see what seems to be a different side of God. He's had it with these people. He won't renege on His promise to deliver them to the Promised Land, but He is refusing to go with them. In yesterday's reading, He was actually poised to wipe them out, but Moses intervened on their behalf. Today's reading reveals that God's anger had cooled—but not entirely.

Does God respond impetuously in the moment, the way that humans do? Is He at the mercy of human activity, caught by surprise when we don't do what we're supposed to? The answer is an emphatic no. God's mercy is the very thing that allows His plans of redemption to go forward. Mercy has been and will always be necessary for God's purposes to be accomplished.

God was merciful to the Israelites when they least deserved it. God's judgment was in no way exaggerated—they were “stiff-necked” and rebelled again. But He forgave them and restored them to Himself. He would relent and accompany them to the Promised Land. God was merciful to Moses and Joshua, giving them the privilege of unrestricted access to God. His mercy granted them an audience with Him, and His mercy protected them from the danger of their front-row seat.

Sin always provokes God's holy anger and judgment, but amazingly, He also responds with mercy. He brings people to Himself.
Consider what it means that the Israelites were “stiff-necked.” What was the most heinous part of their sin? Was it that they had built an idol? Or was it that, despite God's revelation of Himself and His Word, they refused to believe and to submit to Him? The writer of Hebrews tells us that their greatest sin was unbelief (cf. Hebrews 4). What is it that God has revealed to you about Himself and His plans that you continue to turn away from? What is it that God has promised that you can't bring yourself to believe?

Exodus 34:6

The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. - Exodus 34:6
For 60 years, journalist Walter Cronkite brought the news to America. He reported big stories, such as the first moon landing, President Kennedy’s assassination, and Watergate. He interviewed important leaders, including every U.S. President since Truman, and covered hot issues–the arms race, civil rights, and public education. Even after his 1981 retirement, Cronkite was consistently named in surveys as one of the most trusted men in America. If he said it, people believed it. Americans depended on him.

Even more confidently can we depend on God. He can be trusted to be forgiving. How do we know? He said so Himself. That’s who He is–that’s what He does. Forgiveness is one of His key attributes.

In today’s reading, God responded personally to Moses’ bold request to “show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). Jehovah’s memorable self-declaration in these verses is repeated numerous times throughout the Bible.

There were many things God could have said to announce Himself. He could have declared Himself as the sovereign Creator or as the Power who defeated the Egyptians. Instead, He testified that His Name means One who is compassionate, gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving. His forgiveness is not naïve but remains in accord with His holiness (v. 7).

Moses knew that the Israelites stood condemned because of their rebellion and idolatry, but he interceded for them before the Lord. What God had just said about Himself gave Moses hope that Israel’s history wouldn’t end here. God promised that He would go with them to the Promised Land, prove His covenant faithfulness, and show His power. The Israelites’ responsibility was to worship Him alone.
Scripture memory is a valuable spiritual discipline and a good way to remind ourselves of the character of God. This week, make it your goal to memorize Exodus 34:6–7 from today’s reading. Following verse 6, which is quoted in the sidebar, it continues: “maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” This was God’s own declaration of who He is, which is why these words are quoted many times in Scripture (see, for example, Joel 2:12–14). We’ll benefit from committing to memory the words God uses to describe Himself.

Exodus 35:1-36:7

From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. - Exodus 35:5
Churches adopt a variety of attitudes towards money. Some renounce preaching on the subject of money or passing a collection plate, for fear of offending visitors. Others make passionate and unapologetic pleas for money week after week from the pulpit. Some churches hire consulting groups to manage their capital campaigns.

Today's reading describes an incredibly successful capital campaign! Moses launched the campaign with an invitation to give. He did not use guilt or manipulation to goad the Israelites into giving. There were no gripping emotional appeals. Moses encouraged giving that was not coerced, but cheerful. No one was responsible to keep track of what was given or who was giving; perhaps some did not participate. But those who did bring offerings did so because they wanted to. The offerings presented were called “freewill offerings” for this very reason.

Every person in the Israelite community had an opportunity to get involved. Under the direction of Bezalel and Oholiab, skilled artisans could contribute to the metal and woodworking projects. Women used their skills for spinning the linen, yarn, and goat's hair for the tabernacle curtains. Those who didn't have skills to contribute brought forward some of the gold they had plundered from the Egyptians. Every person had a part, and like an Amish barn-raising, the construction of the tabernacle unified the Israelite community.

What's probably most startling is the overwhelming generosity of the people. They gave so much to the project that they actually had to be restrained from giving. The surfeit of gifts overwhelmed the artisans; they simply didn't know what to do with the extra materials. Moses then issued the command to stop giving.

The last two days of our study haven't depicted the best behavior from the Israelites. Their disbelief led to rebellion, and God called them “stiff-necked.” But today's reading renews hope that there's more to this story than disloyalty and disbelief. God's people, however imperfect, do respond with generosity for the glory of God.
Exodus is such an important book because as a salvation story, it mirrors some of our own spiritual experiences. Truth be told, we're a lot like the Israelites: we're all a mixed bag of faith and disbelief, stubbornness and surrender. Who is it that you've recently judged and maybe held in contempt because of their chronic failures? Can you extend grace to them, forgiving their imperfections and giving them a second chance?

Exodus 39:32-42

Six days you shall labor and do all your work . . . For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth. - Exodus 20:9, 11
In the opening chapter of his book, Work and Leisure in Christian Perspective, Wheaton College Professor Leland Ryken describes the importance of work to the human experience. “There is something primordial about work. It answers a deep-seated human urge to be useful, to master something, to do something skillfully, to produce something tangible.”

The tabernacle was exactly this kind of work: it was a task to make something useful, and it required skill. With the materials brought by the people, Israelite men and women worked to build the tabernacle according to the divine blueprint given to Moses by God. They were building a place of worship, and the materials were themselves offerings of worship, yet their activity was called “work.” Our reading today leads us into a biblical discussion of work. What's most evident is that the Bible (and God) does not view worship and work as two separate spheres of human activity. It's not as if we work Monday through Saturday and worship on Sunday. We should be worshiping seven days a week, whether we're sitting in a cubicle or in a pew. The biblical defense of this view of work is found in Genesis 1, when God works to create the world. We've already seen how the construction of the tabernacle has paralleled the account of Creation; we see this again in verse 42, when Moses inspected the work they've done, just as God Himself did after each day of creation.

We tend to think of work in the narrow terms of paid labor. We go to work. But this is not the biblical concept of work. The construction of the tabernacle shows that work is a creative enterprise mirroring the activity of God Himself. In our work, we put to use our God-given skills and abilities, just as Bezalel and Oholiab did. Work can mean producing something that is both purposeful and beautiful, whether we're paid for our labor or not.
Os Guinness has written a compelling book entitled, The Call, where he traces the history of Christian thought on the subject of work. He inspires his readers to think broadly about the purposes for which God has commissioned them. It's more than just “work,” the way our culture tends to think of it. As Christians, we should recapture biblical thinking about our work. If we understood the dignity of work as a reflection of the character of God, we'd probably go to our jobs with a different (and more winsome) attitude toward work!

Exodus 40:1-38

He decreed statues for Jacob and established the law in Israel . . . Then they would put their trust in God. - Psalm 78:5, 7
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Al Gore credited himself with “taking initiative to create the Internet.” His words soon became fodder for the jokes of the late-night talk show hosts. People laughed at the notion that Gore thought he was somehow exclusively responsible for the invention of the Internet.

As ludicrous as it might sound that Al Gore created the Internet, it's also curious how Moses records the work of setting up the tabernacle: he credits himself exclusively. Would it not have been very difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish the work described here without help? Perhaps we are to infer that Moses had gathered the strongest men of every clan to help him. But the author of the text (Moses himself) seems very deliberate in repeating, over and over again, that he alone did the work.

The text uses this device of repetition in more than one way. The first section (vv. 1-15) emphasizes the words of God: “You shall,” He instructs Moses. You shall first erect the tabernacle, then you shall place the ark in it, then you shall hang the veil, etc. The second section (vv. 16-33) emphasizes the obedience of Moses, who did everything “as the Lord had commanded.”

In many ways, the entire book of Exodus has explored this very dynamic: the revelation of God to His people and their response to Him. He has revealed Himself by the miracles He performed in rescuing them from Egypt, and He's revealed Himself by the words He spoke in the Law given to Moses. But the Israelites have not responded in faith to God's revelation. They have a story of chronic disbelief and disobedience.

Moses stood alone as an example of faithfulness to God. The final chapter of Exodus emphasizes this. It would seem that only Moses has received God's Word and responded faithfully to it. In this final chapter, we find yet another foreshadowing of the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ Himself.
Our reading today announces that it has been exactly one year since the Israelites left Egypt (cf. Exodus 12). For those who have read further into the Pentateuch, we know what's ahead for the Israelites: more disobedience, more rebellion, and forty years wandering in the desert as a result. But the book of Exodus ends with the spectacular sight of God's glory descending and filling the tabernacle. It's a reminder that the last word of our salvation story is not our failure but God's glory.