The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Exodus

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Very different from the first is the second book of the Pentateuch. Here, instead of the vast variety which meets us in Genesis, we have in the main one great truth developed, with the antecedents which made its necessity felt, and with the most characteristic consequence which ensued in God's wisdom and goodness. For here in a way peculiar to itself we have redemption accomplished for Israel, the foreshadow of an eternal one in Christ, in its foundation, its display, and its effects. The basis one must be blind not to see typified in the Paschal sacrifice; and the displayed power in the passage of the Red Sea: the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The effect is seen in God's tabernacling in their midst. What lends the greater force is that, multifarious as are the counsels and the ways of God which Genesis presents to us in germ, redemption is wholly absent from its contents. The very word occurs only once toward the close in its general or figurative application to Jacob's life; and thus is quite distinct from that precise sense which the type in Exodus vividly supplies. Can any proof of specific design on God's part be asked more powerful than this, supposing the facts to be made out clearly and without violence? Let us then examine the evidence.
Chap. 1 opens with the sons of Israel after Joseph's death waxing many and mighty but, under a king that knew not Joseph, bitterly oppressed. The then king of Egypt sought even to destroy the males. This was counteracted at first; but in chap. 2 the murderous aim was pressed so far that Moses could not be longer hid. Him when exposed, Pharaoh's daughter found and brought up as her son: who, when not only grown up but going out to see his afflicted brethren, slew an Egyptian evildoer, but finding no right feeling in the objects of his care, had to flee the king's resentment. The time was not yet come; and Moses in Midian protects the daughters of its priest king, one of whom he marries; and his son “Gershom” witnesses that he was no settler there, but a sojourner, who remembered his brethren, as God did His covenant with their fathers as He heard their groans.
In chap. 3 when “Jehovah” saw that he turned to see the bush that burnt, unconsumed with fire, “Elohim” called to him (vers. 4). How irrational as well as unspiritual to imagine more than one writer! Jehovah is relative name, God or Elohim in nature. Compare verses 7 and 14, where He adds “I AM THAT I AM” as the name to assure His despairing people, and sends Moses and their elders with the petition to let them go. Then in chap. 4 Jehovah gives two signs and even a third for his mission, and makes Aaron to be his spokesman when hesitating as once too precipitate. So Moses bids his father-in-law farewell, and with wife and sons returns to Egypt, but not without a solemn reminder of a neglected duty for both husband and wife. Aaron meets him at Jehovah's command on the mountain of God, and the people bow and worship when they heard. Next in chap. 5 they lay Jehovah's message before Pharaoh, who scornfully flouts it, and cruelly aggravates the burden of the Israelites under penalty; so that they suffer more than ever, and Moses pours out His plaint.
But Jehovah (chap. 6) assures him that He would act so that Pharaoh should drive them out of his land. And here He formally inaugurates “Jehovah” for Israel, in contradistinction from the patriarchal revelation of “El-shaddai” (God Almighty), as the pledge of also bringing them into the promised land. But the people hearkened not for anguish, as Moses told Jehovah, when He bade him speak to Pharaoh. Both Moses and Aaron He charged with the same errand. Thereon follows a remarkable genealogy, as in Genesis; but as each there has its own character, so has this, which, starting with Reuben and Simeon, stops at Levi and his sons, giving prominence to “Aaron and Moses” (20-26) in natural order first, but lastly (ver. 27) in spiritual power “Moses and Aaron.” Is this then man's folly, or God's wisdom and design? For men have not been wanting to blow on it in their ignorant presumption. Let them learn His mind and give thanks.
After the preliminary sign in chap. 7 the plagues follow God's demand refused: — 1, The river which they gloried in and adored was turned to blood for seven days at the time when even a red appearance never occurs; 2, Frogs swarmed so as to torment them in their houses, beds, ovens, everywhere; 3, The dust became lice or some equally noisome insect on man and beast; 4, So did flies swarm yet more grievously, but none in Goshen; 5, A deadly murrain overspread Egypt, but not Israel's quarter; 6, A boil broke out on all in Egypt, man and beast; 7, Hail followed, and fire mingled, and thunder, without example in that land; 8, Locusts beyond parallel; 9, Darkness for three days that might be felt; 10, The firstborn slain of man and cattle from the king to the slave, but Israel untouched (8-11).
Then came redemption by the blood of the lamb, chap. 12. Without this, as Israel's ground before Jehovah, He could not go with a people sinful and degraded. But where He saw the blood, He would pass over (ver. 13). On His own estimate of that blood, which pointed to the one efficacious sacrifice, He acted; as they at His word had sprinkled it on the door-posts of each house. Pilgrims now, they fed on the lamb's flesh with bitter herbs (repentance) and without leaven (the emblem of corruption rejected). There is no type of redemption so clear and comprehensive. Who but God could have given it? or would have put it here, the most suited time and place in all the Bible? Israel, not the priest yet, was separated to Jehovah by it; and this marked by their firstborn of man and beast, as well as by the feast of unleavened bread (chap. 13) continually, in remembrance of the slain firstborn of Egypt and judgment executed against all their gods. Chap. 14 completes the picture: redemption by power, which brought Israel dry-shod through the waters of death when they engulphed the flower and forces of Egypt. The song in chap. 15 celebrates their salvation and their enemies overwhelmed, but Jehovah's holiness glorious. But they pass through a desert world, where the bitter waters need the tree cast in to sweeten them; but where they come to springs and palms in all fullness for refreshment by the way. The sabbath, figure of rest, is marked by the manna that typified Christ; as the living water, i.e. the Spirit, was given from the smitten rock (chaps. 16, 17), followed by conflict with the enemy, where victory depends on the continued intercession of the Mediator. This series of grace closes (chap. 18) with the type of the orderly government of the kingdom; where the Gentile worships and eats bread with Israel, confessing Jehovah greater than all gods.
From this reign of grace to glory we turn in chap. 19 to law accepted as the condition of blessing and finding themselves under curse, instead of owning their sinfulness and pleading the promises. All is changed to menace of death, to thunder, lightning, and thick cloud; to trumpet's sound exceeding loud, and a voice of words more awful still, so that Moses quaked. Then the Ten Words were spoken; and national judgments were given afterward (chaps. 20-23). Blood sealed this covenant on the ground of the people doing all the words Jehovah had spoken: death was the solemn sanction of all; and Israel's elders eat and drink in God's presence. But Moses ascends higher to receive the tables, and abides on high forty days and nights.
In chap. 25 Moses is directed that the Israelites should bring Him a heave-offering, as their heart prompted, of all the requisites in precious metals and stones, in dyes, skins, wood, oil, fine cotton or byss, incense and aromatics, for the priesthood and the sanctuary, with all the parts and vessels of which He would show the patterns. They represented heavenly things, as we learn in Hebrews. Of these the ark is first with the mercy-seat and the cherubim in the holiest; then in the holy place the table, and the lamp-stand. Thus did Jehovah provide for manifesting Himself in His dwelling in the midst of His people. For to this grand effect of redemption are we now come. The ark was His seat in relationship with Israel, but in truth as the Judge of all; there divine righteousness was attested. For on the day of atonement the blood was sprinkled upon it once, before it seven times. Christ Who alone glorified the Father in living obedience glorified God about sin on the cross. But there was also in the supporters the witness of judicial authority that would make Him respected. The table with its loaves set forth divine nourishment in man, as the lamp-stand divine light in the Spirit; of both which Christ is the fullness and witness.
Chap. 26 presents the tabernacle itself with its curtains, boards, bars, and veil which severed the holy place from the most holy. Christ too was the true tabernacle or temple, though it had a wider application too. Next in chap. 27 we have the copper-laid altar of Burnt offering, and the court of the tabernacle with the requirement of oil for the light. This altar represents God's righteousness in Christ, as far at least as man's sin thoroughly judged, but in grace to the sinner, where he is and can come before Him freely.
To rationalistic eyes it seems unaccountable disorder that the order for the consecration of the priesthood should be given in chaps. 28, 29. It is really divine wisdom; for thus is separated that part of these patterns of the heavenly which relates to God's manifestation of Himself to man, from what brings out the presenting of man to God in the sanctuary, though some may partake in a measure of both. But there is a true distinction; and the priesthood is the transition, as they were the medium which represented Israel therein. Aaron and his sons represented those of the heavenly calling in the grace of Christ minutely displayed and throughout those two chaps., as is plain enough to every instructed believer. Then in chap. 30, the due place for it, comes first the altar of incense, as the type of Christ in intercession for the saints, a continual sweet savor, on the horns of which too the atoning blood was put. Next came the atonement-money, the same half-shekel for every one rich or poor; then the laver of copper for purifying Aaron and his sons; the holy anointing oil also for them; and the perfume of aromatics holy to Jehovah. All these are types of what Christ is for us; not the manifestation of God to us, but the means needful for our being presented to Him. But who could have initiated this but Jehovah? Then in chap. 31 comes the qualifying of the workmen by Jehovah for the construction of all; the sabbath too here again appears as the sign that God's rest is His people's hope; and Jehovah gave Moses the tables of testimony.
Below, how sad the contrast! The people of Israel corrupted themselves away from Jehovah; and Aaron helped them in it. Hence Jehovah bids Moses go down to his people, corrupt as they were, and offers to make of him a great nation. But Moses pleads, and not in vain. Yet when he saw the golden calf and heard their songs, he shattered the tables in his indignation and summoned those that stood for Jehovah. When the sons of Levi responded, he called on them to consecrate themselves in His name, and they slew about 3,000 men. The same Moses turns to Jehovah in intercession the next day, and offers to be blotted out for them. But God, accepting his mediation, modifies the terms by His long-suffering goodness while still leaving them under His law, and bids Moses lead them on with His angel going before. It is thus no longer law, pure and simple as at the first, but now a mixture of grace with law, to which 2 Cor. 3 refers as a ministry of death and condemnation, even though Moses' faith shone as only on the second time (33. 34). It is at this time too that Moses left the camp and pitched the tent outside, calling it the tent of meeting, whither went every one that sought Jehovah, anticipating the tabernacle that was to be established. There God revealed His merciful name on that separation from corruption.
In chap. 35. Moses again speaks of the sabbath, and enjoins the heave-offering on all the willing; to which they answered promptly. He told them once more that Jehovah called Bezaleel and Aholiab in chief to the work. In chaps. 36. 37. it proceeds with abundant zeal, set out in detail, not only there but in chaps. 38. 39. “as Jehovah commanded Moses.” Is this true? If anyone bearing the Lord's name dare to say it is false, it is well that Christians should know with what they have to do. Chap. 40 tells of the tabernacle set up and of the priesthood consecrated according to the command of Jehovah, all anointed. The cloud then covered the tent and the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle. How true is the book to the divine design of showing redemption, and the worthy end of God dwelling in the midst of His own then realized in type, as the effect of redemption!