The book of Exodus picks up where Genesis left off. We learn that Israel has become a numerous people but they are facing a challenge. A new king has arisen and he does not know the story of Israel and how Joseph rescued his people from famine. Pharaoh only sees the national security threat that this mass group of immigrants could be if they sided with an invading army. They become slaves and the conditions sound something like slavery we know in America. The people cry out and God hears there cry and remembers his covenant he made with Abraham (Ex. 2:23-25).
God will deliver Israel out of Egypt in a mighty way by bringing 10 plagues on Egypt that will demonstrate that he is the God above all gods. God will give Pharaoh a chance to let his people go but Pharaoh hardens his heart over and over (Ex 7:13, 22; 8:15, 9, 32; 9:7, 34-35). A change in language will occur in chapter 10 as God is now going to harden Pharaoh’s heart. It is important to note that God is not predestining Pharaoh to be an evil person or keeping him from repenting. Pharaoh has hardened his own heart over and over and God will now use his callous and hardened heart against him. How this is done we don’t know but David may give us a clue in Psalms 53 when he asks that God not remove his Holy Spirit from him. This contrasts with King Saul who had this happen to him when he refused to repent and lead to his demise.
The final plague will target Pharaoh’s own law to kill the Israelite baby boys when they are born. God will now bring death to the first-born males in Egypt and the only way to escape death is to keep what will become known as the Passover (Ex 12). The Passover meal will be celebrated every year to remember how God saved Israel and rescued them from slavery. The New Testament writers will pick on this theme by calling Jesus our Passover Lamb who saves us from the slavery to sin (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 and Revelation 5:6-10).
Israel is set free after the tenth plague, they cross the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army is destroyed, and the people break out in worship in chapter 15. The Israelites travel to Sinai to enter a new covenant with God and all is well except much like in Genesis the people sin. They complain and rebel in Ex 16 and worship the golden calf in Ex 32. God is faithful to his promise even though the people are not faithful to their commitment.
We begin to get a glimpse as to how God plans to solve this problem of a people who are unfaithful in the construction of the Tabernacle. It is designed in many ways to reflect the Garden of Eden. The garden was the place God originally created for God and man to commune with one another but sin caused man to have to leave the garden. The tabernacle will become the new place for God and man to commune but sin is keeping them from being able to enter. Exodus ends with Moses unable to enter the Tabernacle just like man was unable to enter the garden in Gen 3. Leviticus will pick up and tell us how God will provide a way for man to enter the tabernacle and commune with him.
Bonus – 6 ways that the Tabernacle is designed to reflect the Garden of Eden.
1. The tree of life served as a model for the lampstand (Gen 2:9, 3:24; Ex 25:31-6).
2. The entrance to the Tabernacle and to Eden were to the east (Gen. 3:24, Ex 38:13)
3. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the ark of the covenant both were accessed or touched only on pain of death. Also, both were sources of wisdom.
4. Just as a river flowed out of Eden (Gen 2:10), there is a laver that holds water at the entrance of the sanctuary (Ex 38:8)
5. The stones mentions in Eden (Gen 2:12) are the stones used for the priest’s vestments (Ex 25:13, 18, 14; 25:7; 27:; 28:912).
6. Cherubim guarded the entrance to Eden (Gen 3:24) and figures of cherubim were used to decorate the inner curtains of the tabernacle (Ex. 26:1, 31) and two of them were part of the ark of the covenant (Ex. 25:17-22).