Read the Bible in a Year
This week, read: Exodus 1-19
At Least Know This:
God leads his people out of Egypt, and he leads the people to Mount Sinai. There, God gives
people a two-way covenant: If you will be my people, then I will be your God.
Author and Date:
Jesus once referred to the first five books of the Bible as the “Books of Moses” (Mark 12:26).
So, through most of church history, people assumed that Moses wrote those books. Modern
analysis of the ancient Hebrew text shows that there were many people (or many groups) that
edited the book.
The date that Moses led the people out of Egypt is debated. Some scholars suggest the date of
the Exodus was 1446 BC. Other scholars prefer the date of 1290 BC. Advocates of both dates
cite clues in the biblical literature as well as archeological evidence. Personally, I lean toward
the later date, just because the Pharaoh would have been Ramsees II, the biggest, meanest,
most powerful Pharaoh ever.
Exodus was probably put in its final form during the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC).
The children of Israel were living in Egypt, and had been enslaved by the Egyptian government
when they became a security risk. Moses, unwillingly at first, led the people out of Egypt, and
down to Mount Sinai. Here, the children of Israel would receive the covenant.
Pharaoh was disinclined to let the slaves go. So, in chapters 7-11, God causes a series of 10
plagues on Egypt. These were not just random events. This was God taking on the Egyptian
gods, one by one. Plague #1 was turning the waters of the Nile into blood—that was an attack
on the Egyptian gods Khnum and Hapi, the gods of the Nile. The plague of locusts was an attack
on the Egyptian god Seth, the protector of the crops.
If you recall the belief of the ancient peoples that gods were gods over geographic areas, then
this is really significant. The God of the Children of Israel shouldn’t have been able to beat up
the Egyptian gods.
In chapter 12, they have the Passover as they waited for the word to leave. They were
instructed to celebrate the Passover every year to remember how God rescued them from
In chapter 13:21-22, we see that God is leading his people, with a pillar of fire and smoke.
Throughout the Old Testament, and into the New, we always fire, smoke, thunder, and
lightning as the presence of God. We call it “the theophany,” and it represents that God is
present and active in their midst.
In chapter 19: 3-6, we see God offer the two-way covenant: Now if you obey me fully and keep
my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession. Notice the if-then.
The people had to obey God to get the covenant. This is different than the covenant of
Abraham—the one-way covenant—where God made a promise and didn’t require anything in
In Exodus 19:6, God says You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. They were
called to be servants to the world, unifying all people back to God through their service to the
hungry, the homeless, the widowed and the orphans. However, too often the people saw their
“chosenness,” as an excuse to separate from others, rather than engage with them. The
prophets tried to correct them, but frequently the prophets spoke to deaf ears. Today, does the
church see themselves as separate? Or do we try to engage with the most vulnerable?
For the people of Israel, the Exodus was one of the central events in their history. For the rest
of the Old Testament, they remembered the exodus as the primary event that defined
them—they were chosen by God. This lasted until they were about to leave Babylon (Isaiah
43:19) in 538 BC, when the prophet Isaiah said “Don’t look back on the Exodus. God is doing a
new thing right now!” God continues to do new things for us today!
Our relationship with God today is a one-way covenant. Jesus has redeemed us and called us to
be his. There’s nothing we have to do to be righteous. God already pronounced us righteous.
We don’t have to perform feats of obedience to get God’s approval. We already have His
approval. The staggering truth of the gospel is that God loves us right now; not as we should be,
or as we ought to be—He loves us right now.
If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions (or
insights that you have received from the Bible reading), then please click here.
Our next face-to-face meeting is on February 14, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.