Week Four: Exodus 20-40

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 (Exodus 19: 5-6): Ifyou will be my people, thenI 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). 


Historical Situation 

Moses had marched the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, and the people are now at Mount Sinai.


Important Passages

Many laws are given in this section of Scripture. The most common message in these chapters is to not worship other gods. But there are many others, from what priests should wear to how to live when they get to the land of Canaan. 

Check out some of these laws:

·     Exodus 22:21: You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

·     Exodus 22:22: You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.

·     Exodus 23: 6: You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in their lawsuits

In Exodus 32, we see the story of the Golden Calf. The people lost faith in Moses while he was up on Mount Sinai, so they decided to take religious matters into their own hands, by building a golden calf. This may have been a representation of the Egyptian gods Apis or Hathor… or perhaps the Canaanite god Baal. The golden calf didn’t work out well for them. 

In this section of Scripture we see two places where God meets his people: the tabernacle and the tent of meeting. The tabernacle looks like a massive mobile structure, made of poles and curtains and precious metals; it was meant to be carried around to be built and then torn down for travel. The tent of meeting appears to be a small, simple tent where God would come and talk to Moses. The difference between the two is muddled in Scripture. We actually don’t have a record of them building or carrying the tabernacle. No mention of the tabernacle being assembled or disassembled. In the last chapter of Exodus, it simply combines the two structures into one.

In Exodus 40, the cloud covered the tent of meeting. The cloud and pillar of fire signify the presence of God. We call it the theophany—the visible sign of the presence of God.



Faith Insights 

God took them into the wilderness to teach them to rely solely on him. In fact, throughout the Old Testament we’ll see them looking back on the wilderness time as when they were really close to God. Sometimes we have wilderness times too, when life is difficult. Perhaps, when we have those times, we can think of the ancient Israelites, and how it was their job simply to rely on God. God provided for all their needs, and he does the same to us today.


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, and then click on the most recent reading guide. You can also feel free to email the question to me.

Our next face-to-face meeting is on February 14, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.