I think the reason the exodus story is so important is partly that it is so foundational to the whole Old Testament. It is so clear to Israel’s identity that the Old Testament is really the story of Israel, and the exodus story is the most formative narrative in the whole thing.
It’s like this:
“Who are you, Israel?”
“Oh, we are the people who got redeemed from Egypt.”
“Who is God?”
“He is the God who brought us out of Egypt.”
Who We Are
The exodus is so central to the biblical understanding of who God is and of who God’s people are. But it’s also, then, hugely important to the way in which the New Testament writers (who are mostly Jews themselves) tell the story of what Jesus has done, and it is central to the way in which Jesus actually saves them.
So it’s not just an interesting detail about history. It's not just that they came out. They were redeemed by the Passover Lamb, came out through the Red Sea, and went on to the Promised Land.
The whole story of the Christian life is effectively an exodus story in a different key.
This story of going into slavery, experiencing difficulty and suffering, being rescued—often with blood, often overnight—coming out of water, and then to a place of safety and inheritance, mirrors a repeated biblical narrative, both before Exodus and Genesis, through the Gospels, and into Revelation.
And so the exodus is crucial because it both defines Israel's story and it defines the way in which the New Testament presents the story of Jesus. It says this is what God has done for you.
Modern Participation in the Exodus Story
Even to this day when we take the Lord’s Supper, baptize a person, disciple a person, preach the gospel, or we talk about resurrection, we are doing exodus-like things. We’re communicating that the Lord’s Supper echoes this communion meal that they had, and baptism echoes this experience they had through the sea. Your future hope is based—like theirs was—on reaching a land flowing milk and honey.
The whole story of the Christian life is effectively an exodus story in a different key. And so it’s massive to understanding the Old Testament and to understanding everything that scripture is telling us about what Jesus has done and who we are.
- Why Study the Book of Exodus? (Matthew R. Newkirk)
- When the Sun Rose, the Son Rose (Andrew Wilson)
- 10 Things You Should Know about the Exodus (Alastair J. Roberts)