This post is the second in a series on the book of Exodus. Here's Exodus Part 1.
Exodus introduces the patterns and instructions for building the Tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the order of the Israelite camp. The book contains very little “law,” but it is critical in furthering our understanding of God’s presence and what that looked like for Israel. Several key aspects to the latter half of Exodus (chapters 19-40) are discussed below.
The Role of Moses
Moses served as a prophet, intercessor, and leader (Exodus 19, 24). His relationship with God and the people foreshadows Christ’s role in the New Testament. Jesus is our advocate before God just like Moses was for the Israelites (1 John 1).
The Purpose of the Ten Commandments
God constantly reminded Israel that he brought them out of Egypt to have a relationship with Him. He reminds them repeatedly, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt,” then proceeds with giving instructions. However, we know from reading the rest of the book that the human heart is not easily swayed into obedience, even based upon past experiences with God. As we will see later in the book, it is not enough to see the physical presence of God. Our obedience to God is completely dependent upon him changing our hearts.
In Chapter 24, Moses and the elders of Israel eat a covenant meal on the mountain with God, which establishes God’s covenant with Israel. We see another covenant meal in the Gospels when Jesus initiates the New Covenant of his blood, which we now call communion.
The Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle are similar to the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was a literal garden within the land of Eden. Outside the land of Eden was the surrounding world resulting in three layers (Garden, Eden, world). There are three layers as God relates with Israel: the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, and the people of Israel. The Temple in 1 Kings 8 reflects this same idea.
Giftings of God’s People
Chapter 31 introduces Bezalel and Oholiab, who designed, created, and built the various items that made up the Tabernacle. These two men most likely already had the training needed to develop the items for the Tabernacle and gave them opportunities to advance their skill set in Egypt. Similarly, God bestows each of his children with various gifts to build up the body of Christ.
In Chapter 32, Israel demanded that Aaron make false gods for them to worship. Israel decided to take matters into their own hands when Moses did not appear in their timeframe. Aaron made cast images of God to go before them – something tangible. Moses interceded for the people of Israel and punished them for their idolatry.
The book ends with God’s glory filling the Tabernacle as a physically visible and tangible message to Israel that God was with them.
Israel served as a precursor to the Church. God chose Israel because of his mercy and grace in the same way he chose the Church. Today, we have far greater contact and a more intimate relationship with God than Israel ever did. The tearing of the curtain in the Temple at Jesus’s death symbolized our constant access to God. We no longer need a high priest to intercede for us because, as the book of Hebrews reminds us, Christ serves as a great high priest forever.
The Old and New Testaments center around the presence of God, which is expounded upon in the story of the Exodus. Moses was completely dependent upon the presence of God and witnessed an even greater Exodus through the death and resurrection of Christ.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.