Exodus in the Gospel Part 1 of 3

This is the holy time of the year for Jews and Gentiles alike: Passover, Good Friday, Resurrection Day and (for some) Lent. So, we’re going to spend a little time in Exodus because it is the key to this part of the calendar.

In the early church, up until the 4th Century, Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection were celebrated at the same time as Passover. That changed at the Council of Nicaea when it was changed to the Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox. This was to break Christianity away from the religion of the Jews. However, Exodus and Passover are fundamental to understanding why Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection took place at Passover. Exodus and Passover are essential to understanding the monthly commemoration of the Lord’s Supper and Revelation.

The Grand Book of Exodus
Exodus is the brief stop of a narrative that begins in the Garden of Eden, reaches across Abraham and Jacob, then to David, Jesus and finishes in Revelation. God makes a covenant with Abraham’s family. By the end of Genesis, the family has grown with the sons of Jacob aka Israel. By the exodus out of Egypt, the family can be rightly called a nation.

Up until the exodus out of Egypt, the relationship between God and the Israelites generally was one where the people get what God gives them. After the giving of the Law, the people start giving back to God – building the tabernacle, worship, etc. God interacts with individuals until the Law. After the Law is given, God dwells with the Israelites every day.

Francis Danby, The Delivery of Israel out of Egypt, 1825. Oil on canvas. Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, U.K.
Francis Danby, The Delivery of Israel out of Egypt, 1825. Oil on canvas. Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, U.K.

The exodus is the pivot point for the nation. After the Law is given, God is the focus of every waking moment and the children of Israel know what God expects of them. The Law and the commandments contained in it is reveals who God is, His essence of Holiness and the expectations He has for His chosen people.

The Defining Event for Jews
Passover is the moment Jews become Jews. Even today Passover is celebrated as the day defining what it means to be Jewish. It is the day God liberated them from slavery, brought them into the close relationship with Him and the father-child relationship blossomed for all of the children of Israel.

Egypt and slavery were nothing new for that family. As you recall, Abraham and Sarah were in Egypt. Jacob was essentially enslaved by Laban and gained his freedom. Pharaoh was forced to let the nation go at the cost of soldiers being swallowed up by the Red Sea. Slavery and freedom would continue to be the story of Israel – the Exile, the antisemitism of the Roman church, the Holocaust.

The Defining Moment for Messiah Jesus
As we go on this Exodus journey for the next few weeks, we’ll see that Passover was the week Jesus was crucified, buried and raised from the dead. The blood of the Passover lamb saved the first-born of the Israelites who were slaves in Egypt. The blood of Jesus saves everyone who puts their trust in Him from the spiritual death found in slavery to a sin nature.

The Passover Seder was the Last Supper where we find Jesus sharing the unleavened bread and the third cup of the Passover meal – the cup of redemption. The fourth cup, the Elijah or Messiah’s cup, is the one Jesus refers to as the cup He’ll share at the wedding feast described in Revelation.

The Bible
The Holy Scriptures are so special, so marvelous. Scripture reveals who God is and what He expects from us. It tells a story from the beginning of Earthly time to its end and beyond. The narrative is one of God’s interactions with His creation. He spoke the universe into existence, He spoke to Noah, Abraham, Moses, through His prophets and in the flesh as Jesus. He speaks to us today through His Holy Scriptures, through prayer and the prodding of the Holy Spirit.

Everything in Scripture is interconnected to weave the full revelation of God. Everything God has allowed to be written is there for a reason. Although we too often read it as ancient history, Exodus is a glorious book, rich in history and revelation.