Day 3: Exodus 1 – 30

Our faith is based on a history of God’s dealings with humanity. However, history has meant many things to many people – ancient authors would not recognize our insistence on facts, thinking it more important to persuade people to do good. So, while Genesis records a history, it is not a history we can verify or date. In Exodus we come to another phase in the story of God’s dealings with us. For the events in Exodus start to be placeable alongside the recorded history of other nations. Not with certainty – there is still a lot of nation building mythology going on, and what seemed important to the nascent nation of Israel may have beneath the notice of other nations! The Egyptians in particular usually failed to record reverses in their history; the plagues of Egypt would be quietly omitted from their records. So, we have to be cautious in our acceptance of the story of Exodus as “fact”, but we can see that it is probably underlain by a stratum of historical fact. But take the numbers with a pinch of salt!

Exodus tells us much that we need to know about God and His relationship with humanity, and the episode of Moses and the burning bush sets the scene for the relationship between God and the Israelites, as well as telling us some fundamental truths about the nature of God. The time spent in the Wilderness tells us of God’s goodness – and also humanity’s sinfulness. And finally, the giving of Laws shows us something of the nature of God’s justice; though as Christians, we should always bear in mind our Lord’s summary of the Law.

Paul Cooper

Read the Bible on line at Bible Study Tools. Today’s passage (NRSV) is here:


6 Responses

  1. Thanks Paul for giving us the big picture. The long series of plagues tires a bit – but not when they are remembered in Seder style with chanted responses. I love the technical descriptions of the tabernacle and priestly gear, but then my own work wardrobe is full of dressing up clothes too.

  2. Even Moses did not feel up to the task God set him – we’re in good company there. 6 chapters or so of detailed instructions for the tabernacle, tents and priestly clothes. Jesus’ simplicity must indeed have been radical against this background.

  3. God was clearly involved in the detail in those days. Maybe we don’t look for Him enough in the detail of our day to day lives today.

  4. I enjoyed writing this – but had to reign myself in when I realized that what I had been going to say went way over the word-limit! Much more to say than I have; for me the Burning Bush is one of THE critical passages for understanding (as well as we can) the nature of God – it ties in amazingly well with modern understanding of the nature of the universe!

  5. I have an incense burner as a souvenir from my time as Anglican Chaplain in Kuwait. Like all other incense burners in the Middle East it is a miniature of the Altar of Incense described in chapter 30. Incense is burnt at the end of an evening’s entertainment to remind the honoured guest that it’s time he went home.

  6. The detailed instructions for the tabernacle are likened to those of our insurance policies.. and do we rest on the seventh day…. very rarely especially now all shops are open 7 days.

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