ImmerseBeginnings NLT - Page 95



IMMERSED IN EXODUS
T H E B O O K O F E X O D U S D E S C R I B E S H O W G O D makes
his third covenant
with humanity. Abraham’s descendants multiply into the ancient nation
of Israel, and God appoints Moses to serve as the mediator of Israel’s
covenant relationship with God. The Bible describes this covenant in
such detail that its story and provisions make up the rest of the first five
books, a sign of how crucial it is for what follows.
Exodus continues the story from the book of Genesis. It explains how
the descendants of Jacob’s sons, after settling in Egypt, multiply into a
nation and become enslaved by Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt. God sees
the suffering of his people and intervenes to save ­them—­a move that
establishes the pattern for God’s future acts of rescue. Moses is chosen
as the leader who will deliver the Israelites from slavery and bring them
to their own land. Through a series of terrible plagues, God convinces
Pharaoh to release the people. The plagues represent the Lord’s “judgment against all the gods of Egypt.” God reveals his name to Moses
(Yahweh, meaning “I Am Who I Am”), and shows himself to be more
powerful than these false gods and powers. (These stories are told in
the same chiastic arrangement as many of the stories in Genesis.)
Once they are free from slavery, the Israelites set off toward Canaan,
the land God had promised to Abraham. God goes with them along
the way, and at Mount Sinai he renews his covenant with them. If the
people obey God’s instructions, they will be God’s “special treasure
from among all the peoples on earth,” his “kingdom of priests,” and
his “holy nation.” The implication of this covenant ceremony is that
Israel is not being chosen merely for their own sake. They are being
given a special vocation as part of God’s mission to restore the world.
At Mount Sinai, God begins to deliver the ­laws—­starting with the Ten
­Commandments—­that will shape the Israelites into his community.
Many of these laws teach the way of life that God intends for his
people by explaining what to do in specific situations. For example,
one law states: “If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you
has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help”
(and perhaps make a friend out of an enemy). Other laws speak in
more general terms, for example: “You must not mistreat or oppress
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