The name of the book is also the main subject of the book: the exodus of Israel from Egypt.
In Genesis we have a richness of different topics. These topics are often only touched upon there in order to be further elaborated on in the following bible books. The redemption is an example of this. Only in Genesis 49 the redemption or salvation is mentioned (Gen 49:1818“For Your salvation I wait, O LORD.
), while in the book of Exodus we have an elaborate description of that subject. In fact, Exodus has only two objects:
1. The redemption of the people of Israel from slavery (Exodus 1-24);
2. The dwelling place of God, the tabernacle, among His people (Exodus 25-40).
Another difference with Genesis is that Genesis gives us general histories, which are mainly connected with detailed biographies of various persons. Exodus is entirely dedicated to the history of the people of Israel. The only biography we find in it is that of Moses.
There are still a few important events in this book. We see that the law is given (Exodus 20) as the foundation of God’s relationship with His people. We also see that the priesthood (Exodus 28-29) is given on the basis of the grace of God for His people. Through the priesthood, it is possible to maintain the relationship between the people and God if the people fail in the holiness appropriate to God’s dwelling among His people.
God did not dwell with Adam or Abraham. He can only dwell in the midst of a redeemed people. That is why it is necessary for Israel to be redeemed. This is expressed in the song of redemption that Moses and the Israelites sing after redemption from Egypt and from the Egyptians (Exo 15:13,1713“In Your lovingkindness You have led
The people whom You have redeemed;
In Your strength You have guided [them]
to Your holy habitation.17“You will bring them and plant them
In the mountain of Your inheritance,
The place, O LORD,
Which You have made for Your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord,
Which Your hands have established.).
In the redemption of Israel from Egypt, God shows a picture of the real redemption we find in the Lord Jesus. Moses, used to deliver the people, is a type or picture of the Lord Jesus. Stephen clearly shows this in his speech to the Council or Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court, which is mentioned in Acts 7.
Everything that happens to the people in Exodus has happened to them as examples for us (1Cor 10:6,116Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.11Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.). Through all that has happened to Israel, God wants to make clear to us Christians what redemption is. Redemption means that God frees a people from any form of slavery and brings them to a place where He can have them all for Himself.
Before we know what salvation is, we must know what oppression is, what slavery is. You only long for salvation when you need to be saved from something. That is why the first chapters of Exodus are so important.
Exodus is the book of the “smoking oven and a flaming torch” (Gen 15:1717It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, [there appeared] a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.). The oven speaks of oppression and the torch speaks of hope. God brings tribulation upon the people, that they may learn to call to Him. If God wants to redeem a man, he must first realize his oppression and the bondage of sin. At the time when the Israelites are doing well in Egypt, they do not feel the need of salvation. Those who enjoy sin and all that the world has to offer, do not long for salvation.