Outline Of Exodus

I. Beginning of Bondage in Egypt (1).

II. Birth, Call, and Training of Moses (2—7:18).

III. The First Nine Plagues (7:19—10:29).

IV. The Passover and the Death of the Firstborn (11:1 — 12:30).

V. The Exodus front Egypt (12:31 — 15:21).

VI. The Journey to Sinai (15:22—19:2).

VII. The Giving of the Law (19:3—24:18).

VIII. The Tabernacle and the Priesthood (25—40).

        A. Instructions for building of tabernacle (25—27, 30—31).

        B. Consecration of the priesthood (28. 29).

        C. Idolatry (32, 33).

        D. Covenant renewed (34:1—35:3).

        E. Preparation of tabernacle furnishings (35:4—38:31).

        F. Preparation of priestly garments (39).

        G. Erection of the tabernacle (40).

Chapter 1

Historically, Exodus is the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. Doctrinally, it is the story of redemption, based on the blood of the Passover lamb, displayed in the crossing of the Red Sea, and resulting in God’s dwelling among His people in the Tabernacle.

To really enjoy the book of Exodus, we need to look for Christ in it. Moses, the Passover lamb, the rock, and the tabernacle are only a few of the types (symbols) of the Lord Jesus, many of which are referred to elsewhere in Scripture (see, for example 1 Cor. 5:7; 10:4; Heb. chs. 3—10). May the Lord do for us what He did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus—interpret to us in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).

For explanations of the 70 souls (v. 5), see the notes on Genesis 46:8-27. The 70 people had multiplied to a few million, including 603,550 men of war, by the time the Jewish people were ready to leave Sinai for Canaan (Num. 1:46). Verses 6 and 7 indicate that many years elapsed between the end of Genesis and the events of Exodus. The meaning of verse 8 is that a new king arose who did not look with approval on the descendants of Joseph; Joseph himself was already dead, of course.

The Israelites had so increased in number and in power that the Pharaoh thought they would pose a threat in time of war (v. 10), so he decided to make slaves of the people and to destroy every male child and thus eventually wipe out the Hebrew race. ‘Three evil rulers in Scripture ordered the slaughter of innocent children; Pharaoh, Athaliah (2 Kgs. 11), and Herod (Matt. 2). These satanically inspired atrocities were aimed at the extinction of the Messianic line. Satan had never forgotten God’s promise in Genesis 3:15.

Pharaoh used the enslaved Jews to build the storage cities of Pithom and Raamses. But instead of being wiped out by his repression, they multiplied all the more. Pharaoh meant the hard labor for evil, but God meant it for good. It helped prepare the Jews for their arduous journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.

When Shiphrah and Puah, who were probably the chief Hebrew midwives, saw the Jewish mothers bearing children on the birth stools, they did not kill the male children, as Pharaoh had ordered (vv. 15-17). They excused their inaction by explaining that the Hebrew children were usually born too quickly—that is, before the midwives could get to the mothers (vv. 18, 19). This assertion probably had some truth to it. “‘The reward given to the midwives in terms of a nourishing family life (v. 21) was granted them not for their falsehood but for their humanity.” This is not to say that the end justified the means, still less that there are no absolute standards of morality. But in a world as charged with sin and its effects as ours has become, it may be that obedience to greater duties is possible only at the cost of obedience to lesser ones. In this as in all else, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’”28

Chapter 2

The man of the house of Levi in verse 1 was Amram, and the daughter of Levi was Jochebed (6:20). Thus both of Moses’ parents were of the priestly tribe of Levi. By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months (Heb. 11:23).

This must mean that they received some revelation that he was a child of destiny, because faith must be based on some revealed word of God.

Jochebed’s ark, like Noah’s, is a picture of Christ (v. 3). Moses’ sister (v. 4) was Miriam (Num. 26:59). This chapter is full of seeming coincidences. For example, why did Phar- aoh’s daughter happen to bathe right where the ark was floating (v. 5)? Why did the baby happen to weep and thus draw out her compassion (v. 6)? Why was Moses’ mother accepted by Pharaoh’s daughter as his nurse?

Christian parents should take the words of verse 9 as a sacred charge and an unfailing promise. The Egyptian name “Moses,” given by Pharaoh’s daughter (v. 10), means “child” or “son.” The Hebrew name means “drawn out”—i.e., out of the water.

“The devil was foiled by his own weapon, inasmuch as Pharaoh, whom he was using to frustrate the purpose of God, is used of God to nourish and bring up Moses, who was to be His instrument in confounding the power of Satan.”29

We know from Acts 7:23 that Moses was 40 years old when he visited his own people (v. 11). His killing the Egyptian (v. 12) was ill-advised; his zeal outran his discretion. God would one day use Moses to deliver his people from the Egyptians, but the time had not come. First he must, spend 40 years on the backside of the desert, learning in the school of God. God had said His people would be in the land of Egypt as slaves for 400 years (Gen. 15:13), so Moses’ actions were 40 years premature. He needed more training in the solitude of the desert. And the people needed more training in the brickkiln. The Lord orders all things according to His infinite wisdom. He is not in a hurry, but neither will He leave His people in affliction one moment longer than necessary,

Moses’ people rejected his leadership at this time (vv. 13, 14), as they were later to reject One greater than Moses. Moses fled to the land of Midian—that is, Arabia (v. 15). The priest of Midian is given two names—Jethro (3:1) and Reuel (v. 18), which is the same as Raguel (Num. 10:29 KJV). The Midianites were distant relatives of the Hebrews (Gen. 25:2). Jethro’s daughter, Zipporah, became Moses’ wife, and a son, Gershom (“a stranger there”), was born to them.

God was not oblivious to the plight of His people. When a new king ascended to the throne, the Lord “heard” and “remembered” and “saw” and “took notice” of their condition (vv. 24, 25 NASB). His response was to bring His servant back to Egypt (ch. 3) to lead His people out of that land in the mightiest display of power since the creation of the world.

Chapter 3

In tending the flock of Jethro, Moses learned valuable lessons about leading God’s people. When he went to Horeb (Mount Sinai), the Lord appeared to him in a bush that burned with fire but was not consumed (vv. 1, 2). The bush suggests the glory of God, before which he was told to stand with unshod feet (v. 5). It might also foreshadow Jehovah’s dwelling in the midst of His people without their being consumed. And some have even seen in it the destiny of Israel, tried in the fires of affliction but not consumed. We should all be like the burning bush—burning for God, yet not consumed.

The Lord promised Moses that He would deliver His people from Egypt and bring them into a land of abundance—that is, Canaan—inhabited by the six heathen nations listed in verse 8. The word “holy” occurs for the first time in the Bible in verse 5. By removing his sandals, Moses acknowledged that the place was holy.

Moses protested God’s sending him to Pharaoh, citing his own inadequacy. But the Lord assured Moses of His presence and promised that he would yet serve God on Mount Sinai with a liberated people (vv. 9-12). “His inventory of disqualifications covered lack of capability (3:11), lack of message (3:13), lack of authority (4:1), lack of eloquence (4:10), lack of special adaptation (4:13), lack of previous success (5:23), and lack of previous acceptance (6:12). A more complete list of disabilities would be difficult to conjure up. But instead of pleasing God, his seeming humility and reluctance stirred His anger. “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” (4:14). In point of fact, the excuses Moses advanced to show his incapacity were the very reasons for God’s selection of him for the task.”30

Moses anticipated questions from the children of Israel when he returned to them as the Lord’s spokesman, and he wanted to be able to tell them who sent him (v. 13). It was at this point that God first revealed Himself as Jehovah, the great I AM (v. 14). The name Jehovah or Yahweh is known as the sacred tetragrammaton. It comes from the Hebrew YHWH, with vowel markings supplied from Elohim and Adonai, other names of God. No one knows the true pronunciation of YHWH because the ancient Hebrew language had no actual vowels in its alphabet. The Jews consider YHWH too sacred to utter. The name proclaims God as self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, and sovereign.

The fuller name I AM THAT I AM may mean I AM BECAUSE I AM or I AM WHO I AM or I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE.

Fortified by this revelation that God was really present and ready to come to His people’s aid, Moses was told to announce to the people of Israel that they would soon be free (vv. 15-17). Also, he was to test Pharaoh by requesting that the Israelites be allowed to travel three days’ journey to sacrifice to the Lord (v. 18). This was not an attempt to deceive but a minimal test of Pharaoh’s willingness. It would also prevent the Egyptians from witnessing the slaying of animals that were sacred to them. God knew that Pharaoh wouldn’t yield until compelled by divine power (v. 19). The wonders of verse 20 are the plagues that God sent on Egypt. By the time God was finished with them, the Egyptians would be glad to give the Jewish women anything they asked (vv. 21, 22)! The wealth thus accumulated would only be just compensation for all the slave labor of the Jews under the taskmasters of Egypt. The Israelites did not “borrow” Jewels and clothing (as in the KJV); they “asked” for them (NASB). No deceit was involved—only the just payment of wages.

Chapter 4

Moses continued to doubt that the people would accept him as a spokesman of God (v. 1). Maybe the disillusionment of 2:11-15 had eaten deep into his soul. Therefore God gave him three signs, or miracles, to confirm his divine commission. 1) His rod, thrown on the ground, became a serpent. Taken by the tail, the serpent became a rod again (vv. 2-5). 2) His hand, placed in his bosom, became leprous. The same hand, placed in his bosom again, became free of leprosy (vv. 6-8). 3) Water of the Nile, poured upon the land, became blood.

These signs were designed to convince the people of Israel that Moses was sent by God (vv. 1, 5, 8, 9). They spoke of God’s power over Satan (i.e., the serpent), and sin (i.e., the leprosy) and of the fact that Israel would be redeemed from both of these through blood.

Moses was still reluctant to obey God, excusing himself because he was not eloquent (v. 10). After reminding Moses that the Lord made man’s mouth, and therefore could make him eloquent, God appointed Aaron, Moses’ brother, to speak for him. Moses should have obeyed the Lord in simple dependence, knowing that His commands are His enablements. God never asks us to do anything without giving us the power to do it. Because Moses was not satisfied with God’s best, he had to take God’s second best—that is, having Aaron as his spokesman. Moses thought that Aaron would be a help, but he later proved to be a hindrance in leading the people to worship the golden calf (ch. 32).

Forty years after fleeing to Midian, Moses returned to Egypt at God’s command and with Jethro’s blessing (vv. 18-20). His wife and sons (v. 20) were Zipporah, Gershom, and Eliezer (18:2-4). The staff in verse 2 heroines the staff of God in verse 20. The Lord uses ordinary objects to do extraordinary things so that it can be plainly seen that the power is from God. The wonders which God commanded Moses to perform before Pharaoh were the plagues that followed (v. 21). God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but only after the ruler had hardened his own heart (v. 21). “Firstborn” (v. 22) sometimes refers to the order in physical birth, but here it means a position of honor normally held by the firstborn son, the inheritor of the birthright.

Pharaoh was forewarned that if he did not obey, God would slay his son. But before Moses could deliver the message, lie had to learn obedience himself. He had failed to circumcise his son (Gershom or Eliezer), possibly because of Zipporah’s opposition. When God threatened to kill Moses, perhaps by serious illness, Zipporah angrily circumcised the son and secured her husband’s release (vv. 24-26). She called him a “bridegroom of blood” (NASB). This incident may have been the reason why Moses sent Zipporah home to her father with her two sons (18:2, 3).

Aaron came out to meet Moses as he returned to Egypt (v. 27). They both stood before the people of Israel, delivered the Lord’s message, and confirmed it with the three signs which the Lord had given. The people believed and worshiped the Lord (vv. 28-31).

Chapter 5

In 3:18 God had told Moses to take the elders when he went before Pharaoh. In the meantime, the Lord had appointed Aaron as Moses’ spokesman (4:14-16). So Aaron went with Moses in place of the elders (v. 1).

When Moses and Aaron delivered their first ultimatum to Pharaoh, he accused them of distracting the people from their work. Also, he changed their work rules by insisting that henceforth they would have to gather their own straw for making bricks, yet produce the same number as before (vv. 2-14). Until now the straw had been provided for the Israelites. It was used to reinforce the bricks, and to keep them from sticking to the forms in which they were made. When the Jewish foremen were beaten, they protested to Pharaoh but received no consideration (vv. 15-19). Then they blamed Moses and Aaron, and Moses in turn blamed God (vv. 20-23). Opposition from within the ranks of God’s people is often harder to bear than persecution from without.

Chapter 6

The Lord graciously answered Moses’ petulant speech first by assuring him that Pharaoh would let the Israelites go because he would be compelled by God’s strong hand (v. 1). Then He reminded Moses that He had revealed Himself to the patriarchs as El-Shaddai or God Almighty but not as Jehovah (vv. 2, 3). The thought here seems to be that He would now reveal Himself as Lord in a new way—that is, in new power in delivering His people. He had made a covenant and was about to fulfill it by freeing the Israelites from Egypt and bringing them into the Promised Land (vv. 5-8). The name “Jehovah” had been used before, but now it took on new significance. Notice 25 personal pronouns used by God in these verses, emphasizing what He had done, was doing, and would do. Moses seems to have missed the point, being still occupied with his own inadequacy (v. 12). After further reassurance, he did obey the word of the Lord (ch. 7). “Uncircumcised lips” in verse 12 and 30 means faltering speech. Moses did not consider himself a great speaker.

The genealogies in verses 14-25 are limited to Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, the first three sons born to Jacob. The author did not want to give a complete genealogy but only to trace the line to Moses and Aaron (vv. 20-26).

Chapter 7

At the close of the previous chapter, Moses wondered why the mighty Pharaoh would listen to such a poor speaker as he. The Lord’s answer was that Moses stood before Pharaoh as a representative of God (v. 1). Moses would speak to Aaron, and Aaron would convey the message to Pharaoh (v. 2). Pharaoh would not listen {vv. 3, 4) but God would deliver His people anyway (v. 5).

Pharaoh was forewarned of coming trouble. When Aaron cast down his staff and it became a serpent (vv. 8-10), Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate the miracle through demonic powers. We learn from 2 Timothy 3:8 that the magicians of Egypt were Jannes and Jambres. They resisted Moses by imitating him and Aaron, but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods (v. 12). God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (vv. 13, 14), not arbitrarily, but in response to his stubbornness. It was now time for the first plague. The water of the Nile was turned to blood, the fish died, and the river stank (vv. 14-21). The magicians duplicated this miracle with water found elsewhere than in the Nile (v. 22). This probably encouraged Pharaoh to resist Moses’ demands to let the people go (v. 23). During the seven days when the Nile was polluted, the people obtained water by digging wells (vv. 21, 25).

Chapter 8

The plague of frogs which covered the land of Egypt was so distressing that Pharaoh seemed to relent. When he asked Moses to have the plague lifted, Moses said, “The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?” (v. 9 NASB). The magicians were able to produce frogs also (v. 7), as if there weren’t enough already! They probably did this by demonic power, but they dared not destroy the frogs because the frog was worshiped as the god of fertility! When the frogs died the next day, there was a tremendous stench from their dead bodies (vv. 12-14). Once again Pharaoh hardened his heart.

In the third plague the dust of the earth changed into gnats or lice (8:16, 17). This time the magicians, unable to produce lice, warned Pharaoh that a power greater than theirs was at work, but the king was obdurate (vv. 18, 19). The more he hardened his heart, the more it was hardened by God.

So God sent the fourth plague—swarms of flies or beetles (vv. 20-24). This was aimed against Khapara, the god of the sacred beetle. Pharaoh buckled to the extent of allowing the Israelites to sacrifice to God in the land of Egypt (v. 25). But this wouldn’t do because they would be sacrificing animals worshiped by the Egyptians and thus incite a riot (v. 26). Pharaoh made a further concession: the Jews could go into the wilderness to sacrifice but they must not go far (v. 28). This too was unsatisfactory because God had commanded them to go three days’ journey (v. 27). As soon as Egypt got relief from the plague, Pharaoh changed his mind and forbade the people to go (vv. 29-32).

Chapter 9

After Pharaoh had been warned, God sent a pestilence, possibly anthrax, that killed all the Egyptians’ livestock in the field (vv. 1-6). The animals belonging to the Israelites were not affected. So it was a discriminating judgment that cannot be explained by natural phenomena. All attempts to explain the plagues on naturalistic grounds dash themselves against the rocks. Not all the animals of the Egyptians were destroyed, since some are referred to in verse 19 and some were later killed on the Passover night (12:29b). So the “all” of verse 6a may mean “all in the field” or “all kinds.” The ram, the goat, and the bulls were sacred animals in Egypt. Now their decomposing carcasses were polluting the environment.

When Pharaoh steeled himself still further, God caused ashes to be turned into boils on the men and animals of Egypt (vv. 8-10). Even the magicians were affected. The more Pharaoh hardened his heart, the more it became judicially hardened by God (v. 12). “All my plagues” (v. 14 KJV) means “the full force of my plagues” (NIV). God reminds Pharaoh that He could have destroyed him and the Egyptians with the preceding pestilence (v. 15), but instead He had spared Pharaoh in order to demonstrate His power and spread His fame (v. 16). There is no thought in verse 16 that Pharaoh was predestined to be damned. Reprobation is not a Bible doctrine. The Lord used Pharaoh as an example of what happens to a man who is determined to resist the power of God (see also Rom. 9:16, 17).

The next plague consisted of hail and lightning or fire, accompanied by thunder. It destroyed men, beasts, and some kinds of vegetation in the field (vv. 22-25); but the Israelites, dwelling in Goshen, were untouched (v. 20) in response to Pharaoh’s plea. Moses prayed and the plague stopped (vv. 27-33). But, as Moses expected, Pharaoh became even more adamant against letting the Jews leave (vv. 34, 35).

Chapter 10

Moses and Aaron warned Pharaoh of an impending locust plague, but he would agree to let only the men go to hold a feast to the Lord. The women and children had to stay behind (vv. 1-11). But God would not have the men in the wilderness while their families were still in Egypt. The plague was of unprecedented severity, with locusts covering the land and eating everything edible (vv. 12-15). This showed that the god Serapis was powerless to protect from locusts. Pharaoh seemed willing to yield, but he would not let the sons of Israel go (vv. 16-20).

The ninth plague was three days of darkness which could be felt (vv. 21-23). Only the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings, an obvious miracle. The Egyptian sun god, Ra, was unmasked as impotent. Pharaoh told Moses to go to the wilderness with the women and children but to leave the livestock behind. He thought this would guarantee their return. (Perhaps he also wanted to replenish his own herds.) But in that case, there would be nothing to sacrifice to Jehovah, and sacrifice was the reason for their departure from Egypt (vv. 24-26). When Moses was unwilling to make the demanded

compromise, Pharaoh ordered him banished from his presence forever.

Chapter 11

Moses had not yet departed from Pharaoh’s presence. In verses 4 through 8 he is still speaking to the ruler. The first three verses may be thought of as a parenthesis. In view of the tenth and final plague, God told Moses to have the Israelites ask (not “borrow,” as in KJV) for gold and silver Jewelry from the Egyptians (vv. 1-3). Moses warned Pharaoh that all the firstborn of Egypt would be slain at midnight of the appointed date (see 12:6), that the Israelites would not be affected by the slaughter, and that Pharaoh’s officials would bow low, begging the Jews to leave at once and en masse. Then Moses left the potentate in hot anger (vv. 4-9). The warning fell on deaf ears, and Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart still more (v. 10).

Chapter 12

The Lord gave detailed instructions to Moses and Aaron on how to prepare for the Passover (vv. 1-20). The lamb, of course, is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 5:7). It was to be without blemish (v. 5), speaking of the sinlessness of Christ; a male of the first year (v. 5), perhaps suggesting our Lord’s being cut off in the prime of life; kept until the 14th day of the month (v. 6), pointing forward to the Savior’s 30 years of private life in Nazareth, during which He was tested by God, then publicly for three years by the full scrutiny of man; killed by the congregation of Israel (v. 6), as Christ was taken by wicked hands and slain (Acts 2:23); killed in the evening (v. 6), between the ninth and eleventh hours, as Jesus was killed at the ninth hour (Matt. 27:45-50). Its blood was to be applied to the door, bringing salvation from the destroyer (v. 7), just as the blood of Christ, appropriated by faith, brings salvation from sin, self, and Satan; the flesh was to be roasted with fire (v. 8), picturing Christ enduring God’s wrath against our sins; the flesh was to be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (v. 8), symbolizing Christ as the food of His people. We should live lives of sincerity and truth, without the leaven of malice and wickedness, and with true repentance, always remembering the bitterness of Christ’s suffering. Not a bone of the lamb was to be broken (v. 48), a stipulation that was literally fulfilled in the case of our Lord (John 19:36).

The first Passover was to be observed by a people ready to travel (v. 11), a reminder to us that pilgrims on a long journey should travel light. The Passover was so named because the Lord passed over the houses where the blood was applied (vv. 13, 21). “The expression ‘passover’ does not mean ‘pass by.’ It means to go back and forth like a sentry. The Lord Himself kept guard over the blood-sprinkled door” (Choice Gleanings). The Passover marked the first day of Israel’s religious calendar year (v. 2). Closely connected with the Passover was the Feast of Unleavened Bread (vv. 15-20). On that first Passover night, the people left Egypt in such a hurry that there was no time for the dough to become leavened (vv. 34, 39). Thereafter, in keeping the Feast for seven days, they would be reminded of the speed of their exodus. But since leaven speaks of sin, they would also be reminded that those who have been redeemed by blood should leave sin and the world (Egypt) behind them. Whoever ate leavened bread would be cut off (v. 19)—that is, excommunicated from the congregation of Israel.

In verses 21-27 we hear Moses passing on the instructions to the elders of the people. Further details are given about how to sprinkle the blood on the door (v. 22). The hyssop may picture faith, which makes a personal application of the blood of Christ. The Passover would provide a springboard for teaching future generations the story of redemption when they would ask the meaning of the ceremony (vv. 26, 27).

The blow finally fell as threatened (vv. 29, 30). The Israelites were at last permitted to leave (vv. 31-36). Verse 31 does not necessarily mean that Moses met Pharaoh face-to-face (see 10:29). What a servant says or does is often ascribed to his master. Moses had predicted that Pharaoh’s servants would beg the Israelites to go (11:8), The Israelites journeyed to Succoth (vv. 37-42), a district in Egypt, not to be confused with the town of that name in Palestine (Gen. 33:17). The word “borrowed” (v. 35 KJV) should be “asked.” The Egyptians were only too glad to give their wealth to the Israelites and be rid of them. For the Jews, it was only just recompense for all the labor they had given to Pharaoh. It provided them with “equipment for the journey and materials for the service of God.”

About 600,000 men left Egypt, as well as women and children (v. 37). The exact number of men was 603,550 (38:26).

There is considerable uncertainty concerning the date of the Exodus. A conservative date is 1441 B.C. Other scholars place it at 1290 B.C. or even later. A mixed multitude (v. 38) (that is, including foreigners) tagged along with the Israelites when they left Egypt. They are referred to as “rabble” in Numbers 11:4 (NASB), where they are seen complaining against the Lord despite His goodness to them.

Concerning the chronology in verse 40, see the notes on Genesis 15:13, 14. The 430 years mentioned here cover the total time that the Israelites spent in Egypt. It is an exact figure, to the very day (v. 41). The important thing to see is that the Lord did not forget the promise he had made centuries earlier. In bringing His people out, He fulfilled His Word. God is not slack concerning the promise of our redemption either (2 Pet. 3:9). In a coming day, Moses’ “antitype,” the Lord Jesus, will lead His people out of this world to the eternal Promised Land.

The ordinance of the Passover (vv. 43-51) specified that only circumcised people were allowed to participate, whether aliens, neighbors, or servants.

Chapter 13

God had saved the firstborn of the Israelites from death in Egypt; therefore, the firstborn of mankind and of animals were to be set aside (sanctified) for God, as belonging to Him. The firstborn sons became priests of God, until the tribe of Levi was later set apart for this service. The firstborn of clean animals were to be sacrificed to God (v. 15) within a year. The firstborn of unclean animals, such as an ass, could not be sacrificed to the Lord; therefore, it had to be redeemed by the death of a lamb; that is, a lamb had to die in its place (v. 13). If the ass was not redeemed, then its neck had to be broken (v. 13). It was a choice between redemption and destruction. Later, provision was made for the ass to be redeemed with money (Lev. 27:27; Num. 18:15). The firstborn child, born in sin, also had to be redeemed (v. 15), the payment being five shekels (Num. 18:16). This was a solemn reminder of man’s unclean moral condition before God.

Just as the sanctification of the firstborn spoke of dedication to God, so the Feast of Unleavened Bread spoke of the moral purity that was expected of a redeemed people. For seven days the people were to eat unleavened bread, and their houses were to be leaven-free (vv. 6, 7). Both the sanctification of the firstborn and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to be object lessons to future generations of how the Lord had delivered His people from Egypt (vv. 8, 14).

The Jews followed verses 9 and 16 literally by making phylacteries, or little leather boxes containing portions of God’s Word, and tying them to their foreheads and wrists. But the spiritual meaning is that all we do (hands) and all we desire (eyes) should be in accordance with God’s Word.

The most direct route from Egypt to Canaan would have been through Philistine country, a trip of about two weeks along the coastal road known as “The Way of Horns.” But this was a busy thoroughfare, under constant surveillance by the Egyptian army. To save His people from attack and consequent discouragement, God took them by a more southerly route through the Sinai Peninsula (vv. 17, 18). The children of Israel were “armed” or “in orderly ranks,” not “harnessed” (v. 18 KJV).

“The Biblical term for the sea which was opened before the Israelites is ‘Yam Suph,’ literally the ‘Sea of Reeds’ (Exod. 13:18). The area now known as the Bitter Lakes may have been connected with the Red Sea in ancient times, thus accounting for the traditional rendering of ‘Reed Sea’ by ‘Red Sea.’ There are numerous theories of the exact spot of crossing, but none has gained unqualified acceptance.”31

The Lord’s presence with His people was indicated by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (vv. 21, 22). This glory cloud is known as the Shekinah.

Chapter 14

The Lord directed His people southward to Pi-hahiroth, somewhere west of the Red Sea (v. 2). This made escape seem impossible, but made the subsequent miracle more marvelous. Pharaoh thought they were trapped and set out after them with his army (vv. 3-9). The people complained to Moses (vv. 10-12) as they had done once before (5:21). No longer timid, Moses told them to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (v. 13).

The angel of the Lord (Christ) look His place as a pillar of cloud and fire, at the rear of the host of Israel, protecting them from the Egyptians (v. 19). The cloud provided light for the Israelites and darkness for the Egyptians (vv. 19, 20). At Moses’ bidding the Red Sea parted, forming two walls of water with a path of dry land between (vv. 21, 22). The Israelites passed through safely, but when Pharaoh’s army tried to follow, the Lord troubled them and disabled their chariots (vv. 23-25). Before they could retreat, the sea closed in on them at Moses’ command (vv. 26-28). The same faith that opened up the Red Sea enables us to do the impossible when we are moving forward in the will of God.

The crossing of the Red Sea is set forth as the greatest display of God’s power in the Old Testament, but the greatest power of all time is that which raised Christ from the dead.

Chapter 15

Just as the Passover speaks of redemption by blood, the Red Sea tells of redemption by power. The song of Moses celebrates the latter. Dr. H. C. Woodring outlined it as follows:32

        Prelude (v. 1)—The triumph of Jehovah.

        Stanza #1 (vv. 2, 3)—What He is: strength, song, salvation.

        Stanza #2 (vv. 4-13)—What He has done: victory over past enemies, deliverance of His people from Egypt.

        Stanza #3 (vv. 14-16)—What He will do: victory over future enemies; bring His people into their inheritance.

        Postlude (v. 19)—Contrast of the defeat of Egypt and the deliverance of Israel.

        Antiphonal response by Miriam and women (vv. 20, 21).

Verse 22 begins the record of the journey from the Red Sea to Mount Sinai. Each step is filled with spiritual lessons for believers of every age. Marah (v. 23), for instance, speaks of the bitter experiences of life. The tree suggests the cross of Calvary, which transmutes the bitter things of life into sweetness. At Marah, the Lord revealed Himself as Jehovah-Rapha, “the Lord that healeth thee” (v. 26). He promised to deliver Israel from the diseases that afflicted the Egyptians. Elim, with its 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees, suggests the rest and refreshment which are ours after we have been to the cross (v. 27).

Chapter 16

Journeying to the southeast, the people came to the Wilderness of Sin. There they complained bitterly about the lack of food and sighed for the food of Egypt (vv. 1-3), seemingly forgetful of the terrible slavery that accompanied the food. God graciously responded by supplying plenty of quail at night and manna in the morning (vv. 4-14). The quail were provided only twice, here and in Numbers 11:31, whereas the manna was provided continuously. “Manna” means “What is it?” (v. 15 RV). It was food miraculously provided by God; no attempts to explain it on a natural basis succeed. Manna was small, round (v. 14), white, and sweet (v. 31), picturing the humility, perfection, purity, and sweetness of Christ, the Bread of God (John 6:48-51). Its arrival was somehow connected with the morning dew (vv. 13, 14), reminding us that it is the Holy Spirit who ministers Christ to our souls. The Israelites were allowed to gather one omer (about three pints) per person. No matter how much or how little they gathered, seeking to approximate an omer, they always had enough and never too much (vv. 16-18). This suggests the sufficiency of Christ to meet every need of all His people, and the results achieved when Christians share with those who are in need (2 Cor. 8:15). The manna had to be gathered in the early morning, before the sun melted it (v. 21). So we should feed on Christ at the start of each day, before the pressures of life crowd in on us. It had to be gathered daily (v. 21), just as we must feed daily on the Lord. It was to be gathered on the first six clays of the week; none was provided on the seventh. On the sixth clay the people were ordered to gather twice as much as on the other days, to tide them over the Sabbath. If they did this on any other day, the manna bred worms and stank (vv. 22-26). The manna could be baked or cooked (v. 23). Moses rebuked those who went out to gather it on the Sabbath (vv. 27-30). Some of the manna was placed in a golden urn and kept as a memorial (vv. 32-34), later to be placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Heb. 9:4).

God rested on the seventh day at creation (Gen. 2:2), but He did not command man to do so at that time. But now He gave the law of the Sabbath to the nation of Israel (vv. 22-30). Later it became one of the Ten Commandments (20:9-11). It was a sign of the covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai (31:13) and a weekly reminder of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Deut. 5:15). Gentiles were never commanded to keep the Sabbath. Nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament as instructions in righteousness for the church. The one that is not repeated is the law of the Sabbath. “Set there is a principle of one day of rest in seven for all mankind. For the Christian, that day is the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, it is not a day of legal responsibility but a day of gracious privilege, when, released from secular activities, we can give ourselves more wholly to the worship and service of the Lord.

The “Testimony” (v. 34) meaning the “Ark” of the Covenant, is mentioned here before it ever existed. This is an illustration of the law of prior mention. The “Testimony” can also mean the Ten Commandments, depending on the context.

The “forty years” (v. 35) is a prediction of the time the Israelites would wander in the wilderness. The manna ceased when they reached Gilgal, just inside the border of Canaan (Josh. 5:12).

Chapter 17

At Rephidim the people scolded Moses because of a shortage of water. The Lord instructed Moses to proceed to the general area known as Horeb (meaning “the desolate place”) and to smite the rock with his rod. When he did, water flowed from the rock (vv. 1-6)—a picture of the Holy Spirit, who was given on the day of Pentecost as the fruit of Christ’s being smitten on Calvary. “Massah” (v. 7) means “tempting” or “proving”: it was there that they tried or tested God. “Meribah” means “chiding” or “strife”; it was there that they strove with Moses.

Joshua (“Jehovah is salvation”) now comes on the stage for the first time (v. 9). As the servant of Moses, he fought against Amalek in Rephidim. As long as Moses held up his hands in intercession, the Israelites had the margin of victory. But when Moses’ hands sagged, Amalek gained the ascendancy. Amalek, a descendant of Esau, is a type of the flesh—that is, the evil, corrupt, Adamic nature of man. Observe the following parallels between the flesh and Amalek. It presents itself after the Holy Spirit is given at conversion to fight against the Spirit (v. 8). God has war with the flesh from generation to generation (v. 16); it is never eradicated from the believer. Two means of triumph over the flesh are suggested—prayer (v. 11) and the Word (v.14).

According to Josephus, Hur (v. 10) was the husband of Miriam, Moses’ sister. This same Hur was later left with Aaron to supervise the people while Moses was on Mount Sinai (24:14).

Jehovah-nissi (v. 15) means “The Lord is my banner.”

Chapter 18

This chapter marks a distinct division in the book of Exodus. Until now we have had the manna, the smitten rock, and the stream—speaking of Christ’s incarnation, His death, and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Now we seem to have a foregleam of Christ’s future glory. Moses is a type of Christ reigning over the earth. We also see the Jews, represented by his sons; the Gentiles, pictured by Jethro; and the church, typified by Moses’ Gentile bride, Zipporah. All these will enjoy the blessings of the millennial kingdom—the Jews and Gentiles as subjects in it, and the church reigning with Christ over the earth.

The events are not in chronological order. Jethro is described as coming to Moses at Mount Sinai in verse 5, but the Israelites did not arrive at Mount Sinai until 19:2. One commentator suggests that this arrangement is to clear the way for an uninterrupted account of the meeting with Jehovah and the giving of the Law. Moses had probably left his wife and two sons in Midian when he went back to Egypt. Now Jethro brings Zipporah, Gershom and Eliezer (“my God is help”) to Moses for a joyous reunion (vv. 1-12). It appears that Jethro had become a convert to the one true God (v. 12).

When Jethro saw the tremendous task that fell to Moses in judging the people, he advised his son-in-law to appoint men of high character to assist him (vv. 13-26). This would ease the load on Moses and enable the work to be handled more quickly. Some think that Jethro’s counsel was divinely given, that it urged a sensible delegation of authority lo others. Others remind us, however, that God never assigns tasks without giving grace for them, Therefore Moses should have carried on until God Himself made other arrangements. Up to this time God had been speaking to Moses as a man speaks with a friend, and had not been using a go-between.

Chapter 19

The children of Israel have now arrived at Mount Sinai. The rest of the book of Exodus, the entire book of Leviticus, and the first, nine chapters of Numbers record events that took place here.

From Adam until this time, there had been no direct law of God. The Lord’s dealings with His people had been predominantly in grace. Now He offered them a conditional covenant of law. If they would obey. He would bless (vv. 5, 6). Not realizing their own sinfulness and helplessness, the people readily agreed (v. 8). “‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ Bold and self-confident language. The golden calf, the broken tablets, the neglected ordinances, the stoned messengers, the rejected and crucified Christ, are overwhelming evidences of man’s dishonored vows.”33

The people were told to prepare for a revelation from God by washing their clothes (v. 10) and refraining from sexual intercourse (v. 15). This was designed to teach them the necessity for purity in the presence of God. Mount Sinai was a forbidding place. Neither mankind nor animals were to touch it on penalty of death (v. 12). A transgressor was not to be followed onto the mount but was to be shot through (with darts) or stoned from a distance (v. 13a). “Touch it” (v. 13 KJV) should read “touch him” (NASB). Only Moses and Aaron were allowed to ascend (v. 24), and then only when the ram’s horn sounded (v. 13b). The mount was covered with a thick cloud; there were thunders and lightnings, fire and smoke; the whole mount quaked greatly. All this spoke of the terrors of meeting God, especially on the basis of law-keeping.

The Lord repeated His warning to Moses that the people should not touch the mount. Moses at first thought it unnecessary to remind the people but later obeyed (vv. 21-25). The priests in verses 22 and 24 were probably the firstborn sons.

Chapter 20

The Ten Commandments were divided by the Lord Jesus into two sections, one covering love to God and the other covering love to one’s neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). Some suggest that the first four commandments teach love to God, while others add the fifth. Williams points out that the expression “Jehovah thy God” is found in the first five commandments.34

The Ten Commandments

1. No other gods (vv. 2, 3). This is a prohibition against the worship of many gods (polytheism) or against the worship of any other god except Jehovah.

2. No graven image (vv. 4-6). Not only the worship of idols but their manufacture is forbidden. This includes pictures, images, and statues used in worship. It does not, however, include all pictures or statues, since the tabernacle contained carved cherubim. Also, God told Moses to make a serpent of brass (Num. 21:8). The commandment undoubtedly refers to pictures or images of deity.

God is a jealous God—that is, jealous of the worship and love of His people (v. 5). He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation, through inherited weaknesses, poverty, diseases, and shortened lifespan. But God’s mercy endures to thousands (of generations) of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

3. Taking God’s Name in vain forbidden (v. 7). This means to swear by God’s Name that a false statement is actually true. It could also include profanity, cursing, minced oaths, or swearing to a promise and failing to fulfill it.

4. The sabbath day (vv. 8-12). First mentioned in Genesis 2:1-3, and enjoined in connection with the gatherings of manna (Exod. 16), the sabbath was now formally given to the nation of Israel for strict observance. It was a picture of the rest which believers now enjoy in Christ and which a redeemed creation will enjoy in the Millennium. ‘His sabbath is the seventh day of the week, or Saturday. Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians commanded to keep the sabbath.

5. Honoring father and mother (v. 12). To honor here means to obey. The verse teaches that a life of obedience to parents is the type of life which, in general, insures length of days. A life of disobedience and sin often leads to premature death. This is the first commandment with a promise attached (Eph. 6:2). It teaches respect for authority.

6. Thou shall not kill (v. 13), or better, “Thou shall do no murder” (RV), this refers to murder and not to capital punishment or to manslaughter. This command teaches respect for human life.

7. Thou shall not commit adultery (v. 14). This prohibition covers all forms of unlawful sexual behavior. It leaches respect for marriage, and warns against exploiting another person’s body.

8. Thou shall not steal (v. 15). This refers to any act by which a person wrongfully deprives another person of his property. It teaches respect for private property.

9. Thou shall not bear false witness (v. 16). This commandment forbids damaging the character of another person by making statements which are not true, and thus possibly causing him to be punished or even executed. It teaches respect for a person’s reputation.

10. Thou shall not covet (v. 17). The tenth commandment passes from acts to thoughts, and it shows that it is sinful to lust after anything that God never intended one to have. Paul states that this commandment produced deep conviction of sin in his life (Rom. 1:7).

After the Ten Commandments were given, the people were terrified by the manifestations of the divine Presence, but were reassured by Moses (vv. 18-21).

The purpose of the law was to show the people their sinfulness. Next, God graciously gave instructions for the erection of an altar, reminding the people that sinners can approach God only on the ground of shed blood (vv. 22-26), The altar speaks of Christ as the way of approach to God. Man could contribute nothing to the perfection of Christ, either by the tools of personal effort or the steps of human achievement. Priests ascending steps in long, flowing garments might accidentally expose themselves in a manner that would be inappropriate for such a solemn occasion.

Chapter 21

Following the giving of the Ten Commandments, God delivered many other miscellaneous laws for the conduct of the children of Israel.

A Hebrew could become a slave to pay off a debt, to make restitution for a theft, or by being born to Hebrew slaves. A Hebrew slave could be required to work for six years, but in the seventh year he had to be set free. If he was married when he became a slave, then his wife was freed with him (v. 3). But if he married during his servitude, then his wife and children were the property of the master (v. 4). In such a case, he could choose to remain a slave by having his ear bored to the doorpost, thus voluntarily identifying himself with his master’s house. Henceforth he was “earmarked.” This is a beautiful picture of Christ, the perfect Servant, who so loved us that He would not go out free, but rather went to the cross of Calvary. In view of what the Savior has done for us, we should be His willing bondslaves, saying in the words of Handley Moule:

My Master, lead me to the door;
Pierce this now-willing ear once more.
Thy bonds are freedom; let me stay
With Thee to toil, endure, obey.

In the case of a female slave, she could not go out free in the seventh year if her master had taken her as a wife or concubine and was willing to fulfill his responsibilities to her (v. 7). If he was not willing, she had to be redeemed, but not sold to Gentiles (v. 8). If he wanted her as a wife for his son, then he had to treat her as he would any daughter-in-law (v. 9). If the master took another wife, he was still responsible to provide for the slave girl and to give her full marital rights (v. 10). Otherwise, she must be freed without money (v. 11). The fact that God gave legislation concerning slavery does not mean that He approved it. He was only protecting the civil rights of the enslaved.

Verse 12 states the general rule

that to kill another person brings the sentence of death upon the offender. An exception is provided in the case of manslaughter: if the death was involuntary, the manslayer could flee to the altar of God, or later to special cities of refuge. But in cases of willful murder, the altar of God provided no safety for the offender (v. 14).

Parenthood was especially protected by making the striking of one’s father or mother a crime punishable by death (v. 15). Kidnapping (v. lb) and cursing one’s parents (v. 17) were also capital crimes.

If a man injured another in a quarrel, he was responsible to pay his loss of time at work and also his medical expenses (vv. 18, 19).

A master could punish a slave, hut he did not have the right to kill him. If a servant died immediately after a beating, the master was guilty; but if the slave lived a clay or two, the master was not punishable because he obviously did not intend to kill a slave who was worth money to him (vv. 20, 21).

If a pregnant woman was hit as a result of a fight between two men and she gave birth prematurely, though there was no serious injury (NIV), then her husband named the amount of the fine and the judges arbitrated the case (v. 22).

The general rule concerning personal injury was life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc. (vv. 23-25). The penalty should suit the crime, avoiding excessive leniency or extreme severity. In practice, all cases except murder could be settled by paying a fine (see Num. 35:31).

If a man injured his slave’s eye or tooth, the slave was allowed to go free (vv. 2b, 27). If an ox unexpectedly killed a person, the ox was to be slain, and his flesh could not be eaten (v. 28). If the owner knew that the ox was vicious and had been warned, then he too was to be put to death (v. 29). But provision was made for the owner to pay a fine in lieu of his life (v. 30). The fine would be the same for the death of a son or a daughter (v. 31). For the death of a slave, the fine was 30 shekels of silver, and the ox was to be stoned (v. 32). If a man left a pit uncovered, he was responsible for any loss incurred by animals falling into it (vv. 33.34). If one man’s ox killed another man’s ox, the value of both animals was di- vided equally (v. 35). If the owner of the offending animal knew of its dangerous habits, then he had to replace the slain animal, but he himself could take the carcass (v. 86).

Chapter 22

A thief had to make restitution for what he had stolen, the amount depending on the nature of the theft (v. 1). If a thief was slain while breaking in at night, his killer was not accountable (v. 2); he had no way of knowing whether the motive was theft or murder. But to kill a thief during daylight hours brought guilt on the killer (v. 3a). If the thief of verse 1 could not make restitution, then he was sold as a slave (v. 3b). If a stolen animal was found alive, the thief had to restore double (v. 4). If a farmer allowed an animal to stray into a neighbor’s grainfield, he had to restore the same amount from the best of his own crop (v. 5). Anyone who carelessly started a fire that destroyed crops had to make restitution (v. 6).

Verses 7-9 deal with the theft of money or property that was being kept in trust by one person for another. The one who stole it had to repay double (v. 7). If the thief could not be found, the one holding the money in safekeeping had to appear before the judges to see if he himself was the guilty one (v. 8). In any case of breach of trust, the judges decided whether the accused or accuser was guilty, then required double payment (v. 9). If an animal died, was injured, or was driven away while being held in trust, and if the trustee swore that what had happened was beyond his power to prevent, no restitution was necessary (vv. 10, 11). If the animal was stolen through the trustee’s lack of watchfulness, he had to make restitution (v. 12). No restitution was required for a mauled animal if the carcass was produced (v. 18).

If a borrowed animal was injured or killed, the borrower had to make restitution (v. 14). But if the owner was present when it happened, and was therefore able to protect it, no restitution was necessary (v. 15a). No restitution was necessary in the case of a hired animal, since the risk of loss was included in the price (v. 15b).

If a man seduced a virgin to sin with him, he was obligated to marry her and to pay the regular dowry (v. 16). If the father refused to give his daughter in marriage, the man still had to pay the “bride price” to the father since the possibility that the daughter would ever marry was now greatly reduced.

Three capital crimes in addition to murder were sorcery or witchcraft (v. 18), sexual intercourse with an animal (v. 19), and idolatry (v. 20).

The Jews were to be compassionate toward strangers in their land, because they too had been strangers in a foreign land (v. 21). Humane treatment was also to be accorded to widows and fatherless children (vv. 22-24). The Lord took it upon Himself to enforce this commandment (v. 24). Men were appointed to punish most other violations, but in this case, God would punish directly. He hasn’t changed in His attitude toward the defenseless. He still cares for widows and orphans, and we as believers should do the same.

No interest was to be charged on money lent to an Israelite (v. 25), though it could be charged to Gentiles (Deut. 23:20). Clothing taken as a pledge had to be returned before nightfall, since the cloak was used as a blanket (vv. 26, 27).

It was forbidden to revile or curse God or the ruler (v. 28). The Lord was to receive His portion, whether of crops or sons or animals. Firstborn animals were to be offered on the eighth day (vv. 29, 30). It was forbidden to eat meat that had been torn by beasts (v. 31). In such a case, the blood would not have been drained immediately, and to eat blood was a violation of God’s law (Lev. 17).

Chapter 23

In judicial matters, it was forbidden to utter a false report (v. 1), to conspire with the wicked to defend the guilty (v. 1), to take sides with an evil multitude (v. 2l) or to show partiality to the poor (v. 3). No spite was to he shown to an animal belonging to an enemy. If it was lost, it should be returned to its owner (v. 4); and if it had fallen down with a heavy load, it should be assisted to its feet (v. 5). Justice was to be shown to the poor (v. 6), and the innocent and righteous were not to be condemned through wicked legal tricks (v. 7). It was forbidden to take a bribe (gift) (v. 8), or to oppress strangers (v. 9). The seventh year was a sabbath, during which land was to lie fallow (idle). The poor were allowed to take what grew by itself that year (vv. 10, 11). The seventh day was also to provide rest for master and servant and animal (v. 12). Note that the God of the Old Testament was merciful and just, in spite of the charges made against Him by modern critics.

Jews were forbidden to mention other gods (idols) except perhaps by way of condemning them, as the prophets did (v. 13). Three great feasts were to be kept to Jehovah: 1) The Feast of Unleavened Bread (v. 15). It was held at the beginning of the year, after the Passover Feast, and speaks of the importance of purging our lives from malice and wickedness. 2) The Feast of Harvest (v. 16), also called Pentecost and the Feast of Weeks. It speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the formation of the church. 3) The Feast of Ingathering (v. 16), also called the Feast of Tabernacles. It typifies Israel dwelling securely in the land during the Millennium… Adult males were required to attend these feasts {v. 17); for others it was voluntary.

Leavened bread (leaven symbolizes sin) was not to be used in connection with “the blood of my sacrifice,” i.e., the Passover. The fat of an offering was the Lord’s because it signified the best part; it was not to be left until the morning, but probably was to be burned (v. 18). An animal was not to be cooked in its mother’s milk (v. 19b). Jews today refrain from cooking meat and milk dishes in the same pan. Also, they refrain from eating meats in cream sauces, etc. Some Bible teachers interpret this regulation to mean “no violation of natural affections.”

In verses 20-33, God promised to send an Angel (the Lord Himself) before the Israelites, to lead them to the Promised Land and to drive out the heathen inhabitants. If the Jews refrained from idolatry and obeyed the Lord, He would do great things for them. Their land would extend from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines (the Mediterranean Sea) and from the desert (the Negev south of Canaan) to the river (Euphrates).

Notice the command to drive out the inhabitants of the land (v. 31). There were to be no treaties, no idolatry, no intermingling (vv. 32, 33). God had already promised to destroy the wicked Canaanites (vv. 27, 28), but Israel had to cooperate. This enshrines an important spiritual principle: God will give us victory over our enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil), but He expects us to fight the good fight of faith.

Verse 33 finds its counterpart in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Separation from the world has always been God’s will for His people. Israel’s failure to obey this command led to her downfall. It is still true that: “bad company corrupts good morals.”

Chapter 24

Moses was on Mount Sinai when God spoke to him the laws and ordinances contained in Exodus 20—23. Before Moses left the top of the mountain, God told him to return with Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, and with 70 of the elders (v. 1). However, only Moses was to draw near to the Lord; the others were to remain at a distance (v. 2). Under the Law, distance must be maintained between the sinner and God. Under grace “we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19 NASB). Law says, “They shall not come near,” Grace says, “Let us draw near” (Heb. 10:22).

Moses then descended to the people and delivered the Law to them. They immediately agreed to keep it, little realizing their powerlessness to do so (v. 3). To ratify this conditional covenant between God and Israel, Moses first built an altar with 12 pillars (for the 12 tribes of Israel) (v. 4). He then took blood from the offerings and sprinkled half on the altar (representing God’s part in the covenant) and half on the people (signifying their determination to keep their part of the agreement) (vv. 6-8).

Following this, Moses and the others went back up on Mount Sinai, as invited in verses 1 and 2. There they saw God in His glory (v. 10). Ordinarily, to see God would be sufficient to kill a person, but it was not so here. They were not destroyed; they saw God “and did eat and drink.” In other words, they saw God and lived to eat the peace offering (v. 11).

There is a seeming paradox in the Bible with regard to the matter of seeing God. On the one hand, there are verses which indicate that it is impossible to see God (Exod. 33:20; John 1:18; 1 John 4:12). On the other hand, there are passages which speak of men seeing God, such as Genesis 32:30; Exodus 24:10; 33:23. The explanation is that while God in His unveiled glory is a consuming fire which would vaporize anyone looking at Him, yet He can reveal Himself in the form of a man, an angel or a glory cloud (Deut. 5:24) which a person could see and still live.

A different ascent to Mount Sinai is apparently described in verses 12-18. This time Joshua accompanied Moses for part of the distance. In his absence, he delegated Aaron and Hur to serve as judges for the people. For six days Moses waited on the side of the mount while the glory cloud covered the summit. Then, at God’s invitation, he climbed up to the top and entered the cloud, where he was to remain for the next 40 days and nights. Forty is the number of testing or probation. Here the testing was for the people rather than for Moses. They failed the test by plunging themselves into sin. Thus the Lord revealed through the Law what was in the heart of man.

The instructions Moses received during this time are recorded up to 31:18.

Chapter 25

The next seven chapters deal with instructions for the building of the tabernacle, the setting up of the priesthood, and related legislation. A total of fifty chapters in the Bible are devoted to the tabernacle.

The tabernacle was a tentlike structure which was to be God’s dwelling place among His people. Each part of the tabernacle taught spiritual lessons concerning the Person and work of Christ and the way of approach to God. The priesthood reminded the people that sin had created distance between God and themselves, and that they could draw near to Him only through these representatives appointed and made fit by Him.

In verses 1-9, Moses was told to take from the people an offering of the materials that would be needed in erecting the tabernacle (sanctuary). The ark (vv. 10-22) was a wooden chest, covered inside and out with gold. On each side were rings of gold through which poles were placed for carrying the ark. The ark was to contain the testimony—that is, the two tables of the Law (v. 16) and later Aaron’s rod and ajar of manna (Heb. 9:4).

The lid of the chest was called the mercy seat. It was a solid gold platform supporting two angel-like figures (cherubim). These cherubim faced each other and had their wings spread upward to meet each other. God manifested Himself in the glory cloud between the cherubim and above the mercy seat (v. 22). Cherubim are mentioned in at least 13 books of the Bible. They are connected primarily with the holiness and righteousness of Jehovah, and are often mentioned in association with the throne of God. They are described in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10.

The table of showbread was a wooden table covered with gold (vv. 23-30). It. had an ornamental edge around the top (a crown), and a handbreadth-wide rim with a second ornamental edge. Like the ark, the table was carried by poles placed through rings at the lower corners or legs. On top of the table were placed 12 loaves, for the 12 tribes of Israel. Also, there were various dishes and utensils.

The candlestick (vv. 31-37) was a lampstand made of solid gold. It had seven branches or arms at the top, each one holding a small vessel with a wick for burning oil. In connection with the candlestick, there were tongs for trimming the wicks and snuff dishes for holding the pieces that were trimmed off (vv. 38, 39).

The great single requirement in making these objects was to follow the instructions which God gave on the mount (v. 40). There was no room for human genius or ingenuity. So it is with all spiritual matters: We must follow divine directives and not deviate from the pattern that the Lord in His wisdom has given.

All the furniture of the tabernacle spoke of Christ: the ark symbolized His deity (gold) and humanity (wood). The mercy seat pictured Christ as our mercy seat, or propitiation (Rom. 3:25). The table of showbread represented Christ as the Bread of life. The candlestick portrayed Christ as the Light of the world. The brazen altar (ch. 27) typified Christ as the Burnt Offering, wholly consumed for God. The altar of incense or the golden altar (ch. 30) pictured the fragrance of Christ to God. The laver (ch. 30) symbolized Christ cleansing His people by the washing of water by the Word (cf. Tit. 3:5; John 13:10; Eph. 5:26).

Chapter 26

This chapter describes the tabernacle itself. It measured approximately 45 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 15 feet high (assuming a cubit of about 18 inches). The two sides and one end consisted of upright boards, set in sockets and joined together. The other end (the entrance) had pillars.

The first covering, here called the tabernacle (v. 1), was made of fine linen with figures of cherubim embroidered in blue, purple, and scarlet. It consisted of two sets of five strips sewn together. These two sets were joined by golden clasps that were apparently attached to 50 loops of blue. The total covering measured 42 by 60 feet (vv. 1-6). The next covering, called the tent (vv. 11-13), was made of goats’ hair. A set of five strips was joined to a set of six by bronze clasps that were connected to 50 loops. The total covering, measuring 45 by 68 feet, overlapped all sides of the tabernacle except the front. There a section was folded back (vv. 7-13). The third covering was made of rams’ skins, and the fourth was made of badger skins (also translated seal, porpoise, or dolphin skins). No measurements are given; these coverings were probably the same size as the goats’ hair covering (v. 14).

The upright boards that formed three sides of the tabernacle are described in verses 15-25. Each board was 15 by 2 1/4 feet. It was made of acacia wood covered with gold and had two tenons at the bottom to fit into a socket. There were 20 boards on each side and six boards on the rear. Two special boards were made for the rear corners (vv. 15-25). The boards were kept in place by wooden bars, covered with gold, that passed through gold rings on the boards. The middle bar was one continuous piece. Two shorter bars of varying lengths may have been joined together to form one bar at the top, and two others joined to form one bar at the bottom (vv. 26-29).

The tabernacle itself was divided into two rooms—first the holy place, measuring 30 feet by 15 feet, and then the most holy place (the holy of holies), measuring 15 feet by 15 feet. These two rooms were separated by a veil made of fine linen and embroidered with cherubim (vv. 81-33). The veil was hung on four pillars. The ark and the mercy seat were to be put in the most holy place (vv. 33, 34), whereas the table of showbread and the golden lampstand were to be put in the holy place. The altar of incense (ch. 30) was the only other furniture in the holy place; it was placed in front of the veil. The lampstand was on the south side of the holy place and the table on the north side (v. 35). At the door of the tabernacle was a curtain, similar to the veil, but hung on five pillars (vv. 38, 37).

Chapter 27

The altar of burnt offering, also known as the brazen altar, is described in verses 1-8. It was made of wood covered with brass and measured 7.5 feet, square and 4.5 feet high. A horn protruded front each corner. It. was carried by poles attached to the lower sides.

Surrounding the tabernacle itself was a large area known as the court. This was enclosed by linen curtains stretched between brass pillars. The enclosure measured 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 7.5 feet high. The entrance at the east end was 30 feet wide. It had a curtain of embroidered linen, similar to the curtains of the tabernacle.

Unless otherwise designated, all the vessels of the tabernacle were to be made of bronze (v. 19). Oil for the lampstand was to be pure olive oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit (vv. 20, 21). It was to burn continually—that is, every evening, “from evening to morning” (v. 21). The expression “the tabernacle of the congregation” (v. 21) or “the tent of meeting” (NASB) is used here of the tent that would be Clod’s dwelling place, but it is used in chapter 33:7 of a provisional tent, erected by Moses.

Chapter 28

This chapter deals with the garments of the high priest and of his sons. These garments, their colors, the Jewels, etc., all speak of the various glories of Christ, our Great High Priest. The family of Aaron was the priestly family (vv. 1, 2).

The high priest had two sets of garments: garments of glory and beauty, richly colored and intricately embroidered; and plain white linen garments. The former are described here (vv. 2-4). The ephod (vv. 6, 7) was similar to an apron, with two sections joined at the shoulders and open at the sides. On each shoulder was placed an onyx stone engraved with the names of six of the tribes of Israel (vv. 9-12). On the front of the ephod rested the breastplate, containing 12 precious stones, each one bearing the name of a tribe. The breastplate was attached to the ephod by gold chains (vv. 13-28). Thus the high priest, carried the tribes of Israel before God on his shoulders (the place of strength) and on his breast (the place of affection) (v. 29). The breastplate is called the breastplate of judgment (vv. 15, 19, 30), probably because the Urim and Thummim were in it and were used to determine the judgments of the Lord (Num. 27:21). The girdle or band (v. 8) was a belt which went around the waist just above the hem of the ephod. The “ouches” (v. 13 KJV) were “filigree settings of gold” (NASB) for precious stones.

“Urim and Thummim” (v. 30) means lights and perfections. We do not know exactly what these were, but we do know (as explained above) that they were connected with the breastplate and that they were used to obtain guidance from the Lord (1 Sam. 28:8).

The robe of the ephod (v. 31) was a blue garment worn underneath the ephod. It extended below the knees. On the hem were small bells and pomegranates, speaking of testimony and fruit. The sound of the bells had to be heard when Aaron entered or left the holy place (v. 35).

On the headcovering, or turban, the high priest wore a golden plate or miter bearing the words “Holy to the Lord” (vv. 36-38 NASB). It was for the iniquity of holy things, a reminder that even our most sacred acts are stained with sin. As Archbishop Beveridge once said, “I cannot pray but I sin… My repentance needs to be repented of and my tears need to be washed with the blood of my Redeemer.”35

The woven tunic of checkered work (v. 39) was a linen coat which the high priest wore underneath the blue robe. This had a woven sash. Aaron’s sons wore plain white coats, sashes, and caps. As underclothing, they wore linen breeches (vv. 40-43). They were clothed from head to ankles, but there was no covering on their feet. This is because they were on holy ground when they ministered to the Lord (3:5). “Consecrate” (v. 41) means “to fill the hand” (that is, with offerings).

Chapter 29

God ordained Aaron and his sons as the first priests. After that the only way to become a priest was by being born into the priestly tribe and family. In the church the only way to become a priest is by the new birth (Rev. 1:5, 6). For man to ordain priests is sheer human presumption. The ritual described here was carried out in Leviticus 8. The consecration of the priests is somewhat similar to the cleansing of lepers (Lev. 14). In both cases, sacrificial blood was applied to the person himself, teaching the necessity for expiation before sinful man can approach God.

The materials for the offerings are introduced in verses 1-3; detailed instructions are given later concerning their use. The first step in the consecration of the priests was the washing of Aaron and his sons with water at the door of the tabernacle (v. 1), Second, Aaron was clothed with the garments described in the previous chapter (vv. 5, 6). Then he was anointed with oil (v. 7). Next, the sons were clothed in their priestly garments (vv. 8, 9).

Three offerings followed: a bull for a sin offering (vv. 10-14); a ram for a burnt offering (vv. 15-18); another ram of consecration (vv. 10-22). Laying hands on the head of a sacrificial victim signified identification with it and indicated that the animal was to die in place of the offerer (v. 10). The blood, of course, was a picture of the blood of Christ, shed for the remission of sins. The fat was considered the choicest part of the animal and was therefore offered to the Lord (v. 13). The first ram was completely burned on the altar (vv. 15-18). This speaks of Christ’s complete devotion to God and it is being completely offered up to God. The blood of the second ram (the ram of consecration) was to be put on the right ear of Aaron and his sons, upon the thumb of their right hand, upon the great toe of their right foot (v. 20) and sprinkled on their garments (v. 21). This signified the need of cleansing from sin in every area of human life—the ear for obedience to God’s Word, the hand for action or service, and the foot for walk or deportment. It might seem strange that the priests’ beautiful garments should be sprinkled with blood: atoning blood might not seem attractive in man’s eyes, but it is absolutely necessary in the sight of God.

Next, Moses was ordered to fill the priests’ hands with the materials necessary for sacrifice and thus authorize them to sacrifice (vv. 22-28). The first offering (vv. 22-25) was to be waved before the Lord and then burned on the altar of burnt offering. The breast of the ram was waved before the Lord, perhaps horizontally, and the shoulder, or thigh, was heaved before the Lord, doubtless vertically. These two portions were then given to the priests for food (vv. 20-28). The wave breast speaks of God’s affection for us, and the heave shoulder symbolizes His power stretched forth in our behalf. Aaron’s garments became the property of his sons after him, since the priesthood was handed down from father to son (vv. 29, 30). The food of the priests and how it was prepared is described in verses 31-34.

The consecration ceremony lasted seven days, with the sacrifices repeated each day and the altar cleansed by blood and anointed with oil (vv. 35-37). From then on, the priests were required to offer on the altar of burnt offering two lambs which were one year old—one lamb in the morning and the other in the evening of every day (vv. 38-42). God then promised to meet with the people at the tabernacle, to dwell among them and to be their God (vv. 43-46).

Chapter 30

The altar of incense (vv. 1-10) was a gold-overlaid wooden altar which stood in the holy place. It was 18 inches square and three feet high. It was also known as the golden altar. On this altar, incense was burned both morning and evening, picturing the intercessory work of Christ on our behalf. Although this altar was in the holy place, it was so intimately connected with the holy of holies that the writer to the Hebrews mentions it as being behind the second veil (Heb. 9:4). The altar was carried on poles that were placed through rings that were under the molding on opposite sides.

God ordered every male Israelite over 20 years of age to pay a half-shekel as a ransom for his soul (vv. 11-16). This payment, the same for rich and poor, was levied whenever there was a census and was used to finance the services of the tabernacle. At the outset it was used to make silver sockets to support the boards of the tabernacle. Silver speaks of redemption, which is the foundation of our faith. Redemption is needed by all and is available to all on the same terms.

The bronze laver (vv. 17-21) stood between the bronze altar and the door of the tabernacle. It was a basin where the priests could wash their hands and their feet. It was made of the bronze mirrors donated by the women (38:8). No dimensions are given. Any priest who handled holy things before washing was sentenced to death. This is a solemn reminder that we must be spiritually and morally clean before entering any service for the Lord (see Heb. 10:22).

A holy anointing oil was used to anoint the tabernacle, its furniture, and the priests themselves (vv. 22-33). It was not to be used for any other purpose. Oil in Scripture is often a type of the Holy Spirit. The anointing of the priests signifies the necessity for enduement of the Spirit in all divine service. The incense of verses 34-38 was a perfume that was burned on the golden altar morning and evening. Like the oil, it was not to be imitated or used elsewhere.

Chapter 31

God appointed skilled craftsmen, Bezalel and Oholiab, to construct the tabernacle and all its furnishings. They supervised other workers in this holy task (v. 6b). The repetition of “I” in this paragraph shows that with the divine command there is divine enablement. The Lord appoints His workmen, endows them with ability, and gives them a work to do for His glory (v. 6). The work is all the Lord’s, but He accomplishes it through human instrumentality, then rewards His agents.

Keeping the sabbaths was to be a sign between God and Israel. No work was to be done on the seventh day (not even the building of the tabernacle). Disobedience was punishable by death (vv. 12-17).

At this point the Lord gave Moses two tables of stone inscribed with the Law of God—that is, the Ten Commandments (v. 18; cf. Deut. 10:4).

Chapter 32

Impatient at Moses’ delay in returning to them, the people asked Aaron to make an idol for them. He meekly complied by converting their earrings into a golden calf, an act that was expressly forbidden (Exod. 20:4). Then they broke out in revelry, worshiping the idol and eating, drinking, and playing immorally. They professed to be worshiping the Lord (v. 5), but by means of the calf. God had blessed His people with gold when they left Egypt (12:35, 36), but the blessing turned into a curse through the sinful hearts of the people.

God informed Moses what was going on at the foot of the mount (vv. 7, 8) and threatened to destroy the people (vv. 9, 10). In his reply, Moses stands out as one of the great inter- cessors of the Bible. Notice the strong arguments he uses: The people were the Lord’s people (vv. 11, 12). God had cared for them enough to deliver them from Egypt (v. 11). The Egyptians would gloat if God did to His people what the Egyptians had been unable to do (v. 12). God must be true to the covenants He made with the patriarchs (v. 13).

“And the Lord repented of the evil …” (v. 14). “Evil” here means punishment. In response to the intercession of Moses, the Lord turned away from the punishment which He otherwise would have inflicted on the people.

Moses descended the mount with the two tables of the Law, met Joshua on the way, and came to the people as they were carrying on their sensual, idolatrous feast. In righteous anger, he broke the tables of the Law as a witness of what the people had already done. He then ground the golden calf to powder, mixed it with water, and made the people drink it (v. 20)—perhaps a hint that our sins return to us as a bitter potion.

Aaron explained to Moses what had happened, implying that the golden calf had come out of the fire rather mysteriously (v. 24). It was only because of the intercession of Moses that the Lord did not kill Aaron (Deut. 9:19, 20).

Some of the people were still carrying on without restraint. When Moses called for loyal followers, the tribe of Levi responded and proceeded to slay with the sword those who were “out of control” (NASB). Even close relatives were not spared (vv. 25-29). Here the broken Law brought death to 3,000 people. At Pentecost the gospel of grace brought salvation to 3,000 people. The heroic loyalty of the Levites may be why theirs was chosen to be the priestly tribe (see v. 29).

Moses returned up the mountain to meet the Lord, thinking that he might make atonement for the people’s sin (vv. 30-32). The Lord’s answer was twofold: First, He would punish the people who made the calf (He did this by sending a plague) (v. 35); second, He would send an angel to go before Moses as he led the people to the Promised Land. The character of Moses shines out in verse 32—he was willing to die for his people. How like our Lord who died, the Just for the unjust! God spared Moses but He did not spare His beloved Son. “… blot me out of thy book” (v. 32) is a figurative way of saying “end my life.”

Chapter 33

The Lord refused to accompany the sinful Israelites on their journey to Canaan, lest. He be compelled to destroy them. Instead, He would send an angel as His representative (vv. 1-3). When the people heard this, they repented and stripped themselves of their ornaments, such as had been used to make the golden calf, and never wore them from Mount Horeb onward (vv. 4-6).

The tent mentioned in verse 7 was not the tabernacle, which had not yet been erected, but a provisional tent pitched by Moses and called here “the Tabernacle of the congregation” or “the tent of meeting” (NASB). Individuals who desired to seek the Lord could go there, outside the camp. The camp itself had been defiled by the sin of the people, so the tent was situated outside. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud descended, indicating God’s presence. Verse 11 cannot mean that Moses saw God in His essential being. It simply means that he had direct, unhindered communion with God.

Moses expressed dissatisfaction with the promise of an angel to accompany him and asked for God’s presence to lead His people to Canaan (vv. 12, 13). Then the Lord graciously promised that His presence would go with them (v. 14). Moses insisted that nothing short of this would do (vv. 15, 16). “Safety does not consist in the absence of danger but in the presence of God.”

Next Moses asked for a sight of God’s glory. God replied by promising to reveal Himself as a God of grace and mercy (see Exod. 34:6, 7). Moses could not see God’s face and live, but he would be permitted to stand on a rock while God’s glory passed by, and he would see an appearance of God’s back (vv. 17-23). This is figurative language, of course, since God does not have a body (John 4:24), “Moses is to see the afterglow which is a reliable indication of what the full splendor is to be.”36

No one can see God’s face and live (v. 20). This means that no one can look upon the unveiled glory of God: He dwells “in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. 6:16). In that sense, no one has seen God at any time (1 John 4:12). Then how do we explain passages in the Bible where people saw God and did not die? For example, Hagar (Gen. 16:13 NASB); Jacob (Gen. 32:30); Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 76 of the elders of Israel (Exod. 24:9-11); Gideon (Judg. 6:22, 23); Manoah and his wife (Judg. 13:22); Isaiah (Isa. 6:1); Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:26, cf. 16:20); John (Rev. 1:17), The answer is that these people saw God as represented by the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes He appeared as the Angel of the Lord, sometimes as a Man, and once He appeared as a Voice (Exod. 24:9-11; cf. Deut. 4:12). The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has fully declared God (John 1:18). Christ is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His Person (Heb. 1:3). That is why He could say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Chapter 34

Again Moses alone was called up to Mount Sinai, this time with two tables of stone which he had prepared. There the Lord revealed Himself as a God of grace and justice (vv. 6, 7). Three different words are used in verse 7 for wrongdoing. Iniquity has to do with perverting the ways of the Lord. Transgression means rebellion against God. Sin is literally “offense,” primarily by missing the mark which God has set. They all convey the idea of falling short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The Israelites should all have died for having broken the Law of God, but God spared them in mercy. Moses worshiped the Lord and pled for His presence and grace on the basis of His people’s unworthiness (vv. 8, 9).

God then renewed the covenant, promising to do marvels for Israel in driving out the inhabitants of Canaan (vv. 10, 11). He cautioned them against intermingling with the heathen or adopting their idolatrous practices (vv. 12-16). Asherim (v. 13) were obscene images, or phallic idols, symbols of fertility. Because God had made a covenant with His people (v. 10), they were not to make any covenants with the inhabitants of the land (vv. 12-15). It is impossible to be joined to God and to idols at the same time (see 1 Cor. 10:21).

God then repeated instructions concerning the Feast of Unleavened Bread (v. 18); the consecration of the firstborn (vv. 19, 20); the sabbath (v. 21); the feast of weeks and the feast of ingathering (v. 22). All males were to appear before God for the three annual feasts mentioned in 23:14-17 (vv. 23, 24). Note in verse 24 that God promised to control the wills of the Canaanites so that they would not try to seize the property of the Jewish men when the latter went to Jerusalem three times a year. After repeating other rules (vv. 25, 26), the Lord ordered Moses to write down the words He had just spoken in verses 11-26 (v. 27). Then the Lord Himself wrote the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets (v. 28; cf. v. 1 and Deut. 10:1-4). The last “he” in verse 28 is Jehovah.

After 40 days and nights on the mount, Moses came down with the two tablets in his hand (vv. 28, 29a). He was unaware that his face was shining as a result of being in the Lord’s presence (vv. 29b, 30). After delivering the commandments of the Lord to Israel, he put a veil over his face (vv. 31-33). Verse 33 should read “When Moses had finished speaking…” (NASB) instead of “Till…” (KJV). Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 3:13 that Moses veiled his face so the people would not see the fading glory of the Law, the legal dispensation.

Chapter 35

After repeating the law of the Sabbath (vv. 1-3), Moses gave instructions for an offering to the Lord consisting of materials for the building of the tabernacle (vv. 4-9), He also called for volunteer workers to make the various parts (vv. 10-19). God had two buildings for worship, the tabernacle and the temple. Both were paid for in advance. God moved the hearts of His people to supply what was needed (vv. 5, 21, 22, 26, 29). Our giving and service should likewise be voluntary and ungrudging. Many of the people responded generously with the treasures they had brought from Egypt (vv. 21-29). Those who had given gold for the calf lost it all. Those who invested in the tabernacle had the joy of seeing their wealth used for the glory of Jehovah. Moses publicly named Bezalel and Oholiab as the ones whom God had appointed to oversee the work (vv. 30-35).

Chapter 36

The first verse belongs with verses 30-35 of the previous chapter.

The skilled workers began the task of construction, but the people brought so much material each morning that Moses had to restrain them from bringing more (vv. 2-7).

From verse 8 of this chapter to the end of chapter 39 is a detailed account of the construction of the tabernacle and its furnishings. The repetition of so much detail reminds us that God never tires of those things which speak to Him about His beloved Son.

The curtains covering the tabernacle (vv. 8-19). The inner curtains, made of fine linen, were called “the tabernacle” (v. 8). Next were curtains of goats’ hair, called “the tent” (v. 14). The curtains of rams’ skins and porpoise skins (or seal skins) were called “the covering” (v. 19).

The boards for the three sides (vv. 20-30). These were made of acacia wood, the only kind of wood used in the tabernacle. Acacia trees flourished in dry places, were very beautiful, and produced wood that was practically indestructible. Likewise, the Lord Jesus was a root out of dry ground (Isa. 53:2), was morally beautiful, and is the Eternal One.

The bars which held the boards together (vv. 31-34). Four were visible, one invisible because it passed through the center of the boards. ‘The invisible bar pictures the Holy Spirit, binding believers together into “a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21, 22). The four other bars may suggest the life, love, position and confession that are common to all God’s people.

The veil leading to the most holy place (vv. 35, 36). This represents the flesh of the Lord Jesus (Heb. 10:20), torn on Calvary in order to open the way of approach to God for us. The cherubim on the veil are thought to represent guardians of the righteous throne of God.

The curtain leading to the holy place (vv. 37, 38). It was made of the same material as the gate of the court and the veil mentioned above, and pictures Christ as the way to God.

Chapter 37

Details concerning the furnishings continue.

The ark (vv. 1-5). This was a chest made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, pointing to the humanity and deity of our Lord. It contained the tables of the Law, a golden pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded. If applied to Christ, these things speak of Him as the One who said, “Thy law is in my heart” (Psa. 40:8b); as the bread of God come down from heaven (John 6:33); and as the Priest of God’s choosing, risen from the dead (Heb. 7:24-26). If applied to the people of Israel, they were all memorials of failure and rebellion.

The mercy seat (vv. 6-9) was God’s throne, the place of His dwelling on earth. As the golden cherubim looked down upon it, they did not see the Law (which Israel had broken) or the pot of manna and Aaron’s rod, both of which were associated with rebellions by Israel. Rather, they saw the sprinkled blood, which enabled God to be merciful to rebellious sinners. The mercy seat typifies Christ as the One “whom God hath set forth to be a mercy seat” (Rom. 3:25 lit.)… . The mercy seat was the lid of the ark.

The table of showbread (vv. 10-16). This held 12 loaves, “typical of Israel’s place before God in the acceptability of Christ, who as the true Aaron maintains them even now before God.”37 The loaves may also speak of God’s provision for each of the 12 tribes.

The golden lampstand and its accessories (vv. 17-24). Some see the lampstand as a type of Christ, the true Light of the world (John 8:12). Others prefer to view it as picturing the Holy Spirit, whose mission is to glorify Christ, since it illuminates all that speaks of Christ in the holy place. Still others see it as typifying Christ in union with believers. The middle branch is unique, yet all seven branches are made of one piece.

The altar of incense (vv. 25-28). It speaks of Christ being a perpetual sweet savour of God. It also suggests the present ministry of the Lord Jesus, interceding for us in heaven.

The holy anointing oil and the incense (v. 29). Oil typifies the Holy Spirit, and the incense speaks of the ever-fragrant perfections of our Lord, bringing delight to His father.

Chapter 38

The altar of burnt offering (vv. 1-7). This represents the cross, where the Lord Jesus offered Himself to God as a complete sacrifice. There can be no access to God apart from His sacrificial death.

The lover (v. 8) speaks of the present ministry of Christ, cleansing His people by the washing of water with the Word (Eph. 5:26). The priests were required to wash their hands and feet before performing any service. So our actions and our walk must be clean before we can serve the Lord effectively.

The outer court, with its white linen curtains, its brass poles, and embroidered curtain at the entrance (vv. 9-20). The court around the tabernacle was enclosed by a white linen fence. The white linen speaks of the righteousness which bars the unbelieving sinner front approaching God, but which also separates and protects the believer inside. The only entrance to the court was the gate, made of fine linen and embroidered with blue, purple, and scarlet. This suggests Christ as the only way of approach to God. The fine linen is a picture of His spotless purity; the blue, of His heavenly origin; the purple, of His regal glory; the scarlet, of His suffering for sin.

The names of the skilled workers are repeated in verses 21-23. Whenever God has a task to do, He raises up people to do it. For the tabernacle He called and equipped Bezalel and Oholiab. For the building of the temple He used Hiram to supply materials. For the building of the church, he used His chosen workman, Paul.

The materials used in building the tabernacle are carefully tabulated (vv. 24-31). They would be valued in the millions of dollars in today’s currency. We too can dedicate our possessions to the work of the Lord, saying in effect, “Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.”

Chapter 39

Now we come to the preparation of the priests’ garments (vv. 1-31). We are struck at the outset by the repetition of the four colors. Some see them as representing the manifold glories of Christ as seen in the four Gospels: purple—Matthew—the King; scarlet—Mark—the suffering servant; white—Luke—the sinless Man; blue—John—the Son of God come down from heaven. The gold threads in the ephod speak of Christ’s deity (v. 3). On each shoulder-strap of the ephod was an onyx stone engraved with the names of six of the tribes of Israel (vv. 6, 7). The breastplate held 12 precious stones, one for each of the tribes (vv. 10-14). So it is with our Great High Priest. “The strength of His shoulders and the love of His heart are thus bearing the names of God’s people before the presence of God” (Peter Pell). The robe of the ephod (vv. 22-26) was a blue garment, worn under the ephod. On its hem were bells of gold and pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet. These speak of spiritual fruit and testimony as they are found in our Great High Priest and as they should be reproduced in us. The linen tunics (vv. 27-29) were the first garments that the priests put on (Lev. 8:7). Then came the garments of glory. God first clothes the repentant sinner with His own righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). When the Lord Jesus returns, He will clothe His own people in garments of glory (Phil. 3:20, 21). Righteousness must precede glorification. The gold plate on the high priest’s turban (vv. 30, 31) was engraved with the words “holiness to the Lord” so that he might bear the iniquity of the holy things (Exod. 28:38). All that we do is stained with sin, but our worship and service are purged from all imperfection by our Great High Priest before they reach the Father.

When the people finished the work and brought the parts of the tabernacle to Moses, he inspected them and found that they had been made exactly according to God’s specifications. Then he blessed the people (vv. 32-43).

Chapter 40

God commanded that the tabernacle would be erected on the first day of the year (vv. 1, 2).

In verses 9-15, instructions were repeated for anointing the tabernacle, its furnishings, and the high priest and his sons. The instructions were carried out on the first day of the first month, almost one year after the Israelites had left Egypt (vv. 16, 17).

The glory cloud descended on and filled the tabernacle so that Moses was not able to enter. [As a member of the tribe of Levi, Moses was apparently qualified to perform priestly functions until Aaron and his sons were invested with this responsibility (Lev. 8).] This cloud was to accompany the people on their journeys. They were to move only when the cloud moved. When it stopped, they were to stop also (vv. 34-38).

And so Exodus is the history of God’s people during the year between their deliverance from Egypt and the erection of the Tabernacle at Mount Sinai. The book is filled with beautiful pictures of Christ and His moral perfections. It is our responsibility to worship this Christ, of glory and to live in the light of His holiness.

28 Daily Notes of the Scripture Union, further documentation unavailable.

29 C. H. Mackintosh, Genesis to Deuteronomy, p. 144.

30 J. O. Sanders, further documentation unavailable.

31 C. F. Pfeiffer, Baker’s Bible Atlas, p. 73, 74.

32 Dr. H. C. Woodring, unpublished notes.

33 D. L. Moody, Notes from My Bible, pp. 33, 34.

34 George Williams, The Student’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, p. 54.

35 Archbishop Beveridge, further documentation unavailable.

36 Hywel R. Jones, further documentation unavailable.

37 G. Morrish, New and Concise Bible Dictionary, p. 754.