This article is part of the Christ in All of Scripture series.
Good News to Captives
Exodus offers the greatest paradigmatic redemption event in the Bible prior to Christ’s incarnation. As such, it is profoundly good news to captives, to those who labor in bondage to sin and misery. In addition, it shapes Christians’ continued understanding of and hope for redemption. In the redemption gained through the life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and continued ministry of Jesus, we have a new exodus, a fulfillment of what Exodus pictured for the people of God.
Exodus tells us that redemption begins with God remembering his covenant promises offered in Genesis: the promise of the death blow to our ancient Enemy through the offspring of the woman (Gen. 3:15); the promise to Abraham of an offspring through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed (Gen. 12:1–3); and the promise that Abraham’s offspring will be in captivity for a time, but will return to the Promised Land (Gen.15:13–14). Exodus opens with God remembering his covenant with Abraham (Ex. 2:23–25) and coming down to redeem his people through his chosen mediator, Moses (Ex. 3–4). Through Moses, God goes forward to redeem his people “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2).
In Jesus the Messiah, God acts because he remembers his covenant.
Central to this redemption is judgment and salvation: judgment on the gods of Egypt and especially on their representative, Pharaoh, through the plagues; salvation amid the death of the firstborn of Egypt, of both humans and beasts, through the substitutionary death of spotless lambs for Israel (Ex. 7–13). In the final contest between God and Pharaoh, God as the true King of the world crushes his enemy in the floods of the Red Sea and delivers his people through the waters of salvation. No wonder Moses’ song ends, “The Lord will reign forever and ever” (Ex. 15:18).
Redemption to Come
Having redeemed his people, God then guides them through the wilderness and brings them to Mount Sinai to instruct them in his ways. That is always the order of the Bible: redemption, then response; grace, then law. However, the Mosaic covenant could not deliver people from their sins; it was not meant to do so—rather, it served to point beyond itself to One who would come to fulfill all the foreshadowings in the tabernacle and all the requirements of the law’s “rules” (Ex. 21:1).
This Old Testament paradigm of redemption in Exodus, then, helps Christians see more clearly the ultimate redemption that God works out through Jesus, his Mediator between God and mankind (1 Tim. 2:5). In Jesus the Messiah, God acts because he remembers his covenant. His earliest promises to Adam and Eve and to Abraham find their fulfillment in Jesus (Gal. 3:7–18). And so, in Jesus, God himself comes down to deliver his people (John 1:14–18). Jesus is the Lamb of God whose blood serves as the redemption-price to deliver his people from God’s wrath and the Enemy’s captivity (John 1:29; Rom. 3:24–26; 1 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 1:7; 2:1–10). Those who trust in him are delivered from death itself—displayed in baptism—and brought to new life in Christ through his power (Rom. 6:1–11; 1 Cor. 10:1–4). That is why New Testament saints sing Moses’ song as well (Rev. 15:3): Jesus has thrown the Evil One into the sea of God’s wrath.
The ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible features 375,000+ words of gospel-centered study notes, book introductions, and articles that explain passage-by-passage how God’s redemptive purposes culminate in the gospel and apply to the lives of believers today.
Moreover, as God’s redeemed people, we live our lives in the wilderness as we make our way to the Promised Land, looking for a permanent city built by God (Heb. 11:10–16; 13:14). As we go through this world, God’s Word and Spirit guide us as God’s people under the oversight of elders (cf. Exodus 18 with Acts 15; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). We know God’s presence. We are instructed in God’s ways: his law no longer condemns us, but serves as a guide for our lives as we pursue holiness (Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:16) as those already viewed as holy to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:11).
Thus, Exodus offers a paradigm for God’s redemption gained for us in Jesus Christ. As we read and meditate on this book, we are drawn into the drama of God’s working that helps us to see and delight in the work of Jesus, with the result that we love even more the One who first loved us.
This article is adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. Browse other articles in this series via the links below.
Genesis • Exodus • Leviticus • Numbers • Deuteronomy • Joshua • Judges • Ruth • 1–2 Samuel • 1–2 Kings • 1–2 Chronicles • Ezra • Nehemiah • Esther • Job • Psalms • Proverbs • Ecclesiastes • Song of Solomon • Isaiah • Jeremiah • Lamentations • Ezekiel • Daniel • Hosea • Joel • Amos • Obadiah • Jonah • Micah • Nahum • Habbakuk • Zephaniah • Haggai • Zechariah • Malachi
Matthew • Mark • Luke • John • Acts • Romans • 1 Corinthians • 2 Corinthians • Galatians • Ephesians • Philippians • Colossians • 1 Thessalonians • 2 Thessalonians • 1 Timothy • 2 Timothy • Titus • Philemon • Hebrews • James • 1 Peter • 2 Peter • 1–3 John • Jude • Revelation