Themes – The story of Exodus is the story of God fulfilling his promises to the patriarchs of land and nationhood. The book centers on two important events, the Israelite deliverance from slavery in Egypt through God’s mighty act of salvation at the Sea of Reeds (Ex. 1-18), and the establishment of his lordship through the covenant at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19-40). The general themes of deliverance and the promise land create the high point of OT redemptive history. We see a God who loves His people and who is powerful and fulfills His promises. The Book of Exodus tells of God and how He touches mankind in history to reveal Himself to us.
Time – It is thought that the time of Exodus is somewhere between 1300 – 1250 BC. If this is true, the Pharaoh of oppression would be Seti I (1305-1290) and the Pharaoh of Exodus would be Ramses II (1290-1224). The precise date cannot be stated with certainty.
Route – There is no certain route since there is no direct evident. However, a few likely sites have been identified. Here is a brief summary.
Raamses, the starting point is almost certainly Tanis or Qantir.
Succoth, the next stopping point is shown on the map.
The “Red Sea” is really translated “Sea of Reeds” is somewhere near the Bitter Lakes.
The location of Mt. Sinai is uncertain but the traditional site is Jebel Musa and seems the most plausible.
Exodus 1-2 – Moses’ Birth and Flight to Midian
Sharing Question: What are some of the dreams that you would like to fulfill within the will of God?
What was the reason the Israelites were in Egypt?
In verses 8-10, what was the Pharaoh fearful about concerning the Jews? What was his main motivation?
Why would enslaving the Israelites achieve his purposes? What was life like for an Israelite under slavery?
From verses 15-17, how did the Pharaoh try to control the population growth of the Jews? How effective were Pharaoh’s actions? What was Pharaoh’s next tactic to control the Israelite population?
In verses 2:1-4, how did Moses’ mother save him from death? In verses 5-10, how did the circumstances provide Moses with a good background for understanding his heritage? What would the Egyptian background provide him with?
In verses 11-15, what does the killing of the Egyptian reveal about Moses? What would have happened to him if he did not flee?
In verses 16-25, how would you describe Moses’ life after escaping Egypt? How well off was he in his new circumstances? What would have happened to Moses if God did not redirect his life?
In verses 23-25, what was on God’s heart? How was God preparing Moses throughout his life? How does He do the same for us?
Exodus 3 – Moses and the Burning Bush
Sharing Question: What is most meaningful to you these days, the God of holiness, the God of compassion, the God of protection, or the God of foreknowledge? Explain.
How prepared was Moses to meet God through the burning bush? What attracted Moses to the site? Who did the initiating here, Moses or God?
Why did Moses have to take off his sandals? What is meant by holy ground? What does this reveal about God?
Why does God introduce Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What was on God’s heart according to verse 7? What does this reveal about God’s personality?
What is his command to Moses in verse 10? What is Moses to do?
How reasonable is Moses’ first objection in your opinion? How does God’s answer alleviate Moses’ objection?
Why did Moses make the second objection? What is so important about finding a name?
God responses twice to this question. Why is God’s first response unusual? What characteristics are reflected in the term “I AM?” What is God affirming in the second answer?
How is Moses to communicate to the people of Israel? How is Moses to communicate to the Pharaoh? How will they respond? What does this section reflect about God?
What aspect of God from this passage touches you the most? What aspect of Moses do you most identify with?
Sharing Question: How has your faith in God helped you do or say things that you would not have been able to do on you own?
How reasonable is Moses’ objection in verse 1? What is the first sign that God gives Moses? How did Moses react to the snake?
What was the second sign? How does this sign compare with the first in terms of difficulty? Which is more convincing to you?
What was the third sign? Why did God give him this sign? What is so remarkable about this sign?
In verse 10, Moses again objects due to his abilities? How does God answer his objection? What was wrong with Moses’ viewpoint?
In verse 13, what is the basis of his objection? Why is God angry with Moses this time? How does God deal with Moses? Why do you think God is so patient with Moses? What is the role of Aaron?
What was the purpose of God’s message to Moses in verse 21? Note – verses 24-26 are difficult to interpret but has something to do with circumcision. One thought is that Moses is not circumcised and Zipporah circumcises his son and transfers the rite to Moses through touching him with the foreskin.
In verse 29, what is the result of the people to the signs that God gave Moses?
How much of Moses’ objection was reasonable in you opinion? How much can you identify with him? What can we learn from Moses? What can we learn about God in this passage?
Exodus 5-6:13 – Moses Goes to Pharaoh
Sharing Question: How does the belief that God is in control helpful to you? At this point in your life, how hard is it to believe in this fact?
What is the tone that Moses uses when he approaches Pharaoh? How would you describe Pharaoh’s response? After Pharaoh’s response, what is the new tone that Moses takes in verse 3?
In verses 6-9, how does Pharaoh show his authority and power over Moses? How is Pharaoh’s orders carried out?
In verse 20, why were the people angry with Moses and Aaron? In verse 22, how did Moses respond to the confrontation? How does God respond to Moses? Why does God allow these events to happen?
In verses 6:2-3, what does God reiterate about Himself? In verse 4, what does God reiterate about His feelings? In verses 6-8, what does God reiterate about what He is going to do? Why does God use the phase “I am Yahweh” several times?
What is the covenant that God is referring to in verses 2-8? Why is the covenant binding to God? What does the covenant indicate about God?
What strikes you about God in these passages? From a human viewpoint, who has the upper hand in these passages? How does God make a terrible situation good?
Exodus 6:28 -7:24 – Plague of Blood
Sharing Question: When was a time that your heart was especially soft to God?
How does the passage in 6:28-7:6 repeatedly emphasize that it is God’s work and not Moses work? How are we to understand the phrase “hardening Pharaoh’s heart?”
Why was the miracle of the staff turning to a snake not impressive to Pharaoh? How can the magicians have the ability to copy this miracle? What are the similarities and what are the differences? How good was the copy?
What was the demand to Pharaoh? In verses 17-18, what were the elements of the prediction? How did it come true in the subsequent verses? What were the consequences of the water into blood? Why didn’t Pharaoh listen?
What is the purpose of the miracles? How does this passage give us a better understanding of God? How does the miracles of God get copied today? How do we tell the difference?
Pharaoh’s Hard Heart - By R.C. Sproul
Martin Luther struggled greatly with the relationship of God's sovereignty and human free will and sin. In fact, one of the greatest books ever written on the subject, entitled The Bondage of the Will, is from Luther's pen.
I have taught before that when evil acts are committed by human beings, the full fault and responsibility rests with the person, not with God. When Luther grappled with this issue, he especially struggled with the Old Testament passages where we read that God hardened Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 4:21; 7:3-4, 13-14, 22-23; 8:15, 19; 30-32; 9:27-10:2; 10:16-20; 24-28).
When we read these passages, we tend to think, Doesn't this suggest that God not only works through the desires and actions of humans, but that He actually forces evil upon people? After all, the Bible does say that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. When Luther discussed this, he observed that when the Bible says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, God does not create fresh evil in the heart of an innocent man. It may seem as if Pharaoh were innocent until God planted this seed of evil within him and forced him to do something bad, and then after he did it, God blamed him. God sent Moses to Pharaoh with His message, "Let My people go." When Pharaoh said no, some suggest that God arbitrarily punished him. They contend that the reason Pharaoh said no is because God hardened his heart.
Again, Luther says that God doesn't harden people by putting evil in their hearts. All that God must do to harden anyone's heart is to withhold His own grace; that is, He gives a person over to himself. In fact, we are warned not to allow ourselves to become hardened because if we look at the whole concept of hardening in its biblical perspective, we see that something happens to us through repeated sins. Our consciences become seared. The more we commit a particular sin, the less remorse we feel from it. Our hearts are recalcitrant through repeated disobedience. When God hardens the heart all He does is step away and stop striving with us. For example, the first time I commit a particular sin, my conscience bothers me. In His grace, God is convicting me of that evil. God is intruding into my life trying to persuade me to stop this wickedness. If He wants to harden me all He has to do is stop rebuking me, stop nudging me, and just give me enough rope to hang myself.
What we see in Scripture is that when God hardens hearts, He does not force anyone to do sins; rather, He gives them their freedom to exercise the evil of their own desires (James 1:13-15).
Exodus 8-9 – Plagues Continue – Study 7
Sharing Question: Has there ever been a time where you knew the right thing to do but refused to do it? How did you eventually soften and repent?
Which of the plagues were the most troublesome to Pharaoh in your opinion?
How successful were the magicians in discrediting the miracles?
What are the different reactions that Pharaoh had to Moses? How did Pharaoh view God?
What ways did Pharaoh use to try to compromise without yielding?
Why did Pharaoh repent and then change his mind?
What was the root reason that prevented Pharaoh from yielding?
In what ways are we similar/different than Pharaoh?
Festering boils on men and animals on Egyptian only
Could not stand before Moses because of the boils
a) Would not listen to Moses and Aaron
Hailstorm on Egyptian only
a) This time I have sinned. The Lord is right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer b) Pharaoh’s heart was hard
Sharing question: Perhaps none of us have seen what the Israelites saw during this time, but in what ways do you think you have witnessed God’s mighty hand at work?
10:16: What do you think “true repentance” is? Do you think Pharaoh is truly repentant here? Why or why not?
11:17: What is so unique or distinctive about this last plague?
12:1-13: Why do you think the Lord’s instructions to the Israelites regarding this final plague were so specific? What would you say is the significance of the Lamb? Why is Christ called “The Lamb of God?”
12:14-20: What is the purpose of the “Memorial Day” as stated especially in verse 12:17?
12:21-27: In Moses’ instructions to the Israelites, what second reason is given for an annual Passover observance? (See especially verse 12:23).
12:31-36: What examples are given in this section to illustrate the total defeat of the Egyptians following the last plague?
12:42: What third reason is given here for the Passover observance?
12:50: What are we to remember about the Passover? As Christians, what does it mean to us today?
Exodus 14 – 15:20 – Crossing the Sea
Sharing Question: How busy or stressful is your life right now? How do you draw strength (peace) from God?
Read Exodus 14.
What was the reason that Pharaoh pursued the Israelites? What were the people feeling when they found out about it?
How did Moses assure the people? In verses 15-20, what are the various ways that God assured the people that He was in control and would take care of things? What was the function of the pillar of cloud?
How is the parting of the sea described? In your opinion, could there be natural explanations for this miracle? Explain.
As the Egyptian pursued, how did God slow them down? How did Moses close the waters? In verses 29-31, what is being emphasized in these verses?
Read Exodus 15:1-20
What is the tone and message of verses 1-12? What characteristics about God are brought out in verses 13-18?
What was the mood of the people after this great miracle?
What aspects of God do you most appreciate in this account? Looking at the people of Israel, how can you identify with them?
Exodus 15:22-16 – The People Grumble, the Lord Provides
Sharing Question: When are you most prone to complaining and how does your belief in God help when you do complain?
How long can people go without water? After three days and finding bitter water, how did the people react? How did the Lord perform a miracle for the people? How did God exceed the need?
In verse 26, what is the Lord requiring of the people? What is His promise?
In verses 16:1-3, what was the second complaint of the people? In verses 4-5, how will the Lord again provide for the people? What is His test?
In verses 6-8, what is the warning that Moses gives the people? How did the Lord provide meat and bread for the people?
What were the instructions given to the people about the bread? Why did some of the people disobey? How were the instructions different on the Sabbath? How did some disobey?
What is the purpose of the tests that God gives?
Why do you think God has so much patience with the people? How does God prove His faithfulness to the people? How can we learn from this account?
Sharing Question: How hard is it for you to believe that God performed the miracles outlined in Exodus? Explain.
In verses 17:1-7, How did the people express their dissatisfaction this time? How did Moses react? How did God come through for them?
What prevented them from trusting God? Why did they have so little faith in God after all that He had done for them?
How did Moses prepare for the coming of the Amalekites? Why do you think the status of the war was dependent on Moses’ staff position? What was the promise that God gave the people concerning the Amalekites? Who is the central figure in this story?
Why does Jethro come to visit Moses? From what facts does he draw the conclusion in verse 11, “now I know that the Lord is greater that all the other gods?”
What was the two-part advice that Jethro gave Moses? Why was it necessary? What is the role that Moses is to take? What is the criterion for choosing the judges? How did the plan work?
What are the various ways that God takes care of the people? What prevents the people from recognizing God’s provisions? How can we be people who remember rather than forget God’s caring hand in our lives?
Exodus 19 – At Mount Sinai
Sharing question: When are times that you appreciate the power and strength of God?
In verses 1-6, what is God’s intent for the people of Israel? What is the meaning of priest and holy nation? What was the response of the people to God’s intent?
In verse 9, why was it necessary for God to come personally to Moses?
In verses 10-14, what did the people have to do to consecrate themselves? What was the purpose of this? What was the purpose of the restriction against touching the mountain?
In verses 16-19, what were the physical manifestations of the God’s presence? How did the people react?
In verses 20-25, why do you think God repeats Himself about the warning against going up the mountain?
Why does God take such great care in establishing His holiness? What happens to people who do not appreciate God’s holiness? How can we appreciate God’s holiness more?
Exodus 20 – Ten Commandments
Sharing question: How familiar are you with the Ten Commandments and how has it influenced you?
What does God first establish before speaking the commandments? How is the first commandment an overarching commandment? What does this commandment imply about the relationship that God wants with His people?
Why does God prohibit the use of idols? How does it limit God and our view of Him?
In verse 3, what is the intent behind this commandment? What does it say about how the people were to view God?
What is the reason for resting on the Sabbath? What is the meaning of resting? Why are these first four command focused on God? How precise or specific are these commandments? How are the first four commandments relational rather than mechanical?
What is the meaning of giving “honor” to our parents? How important is the inclusion of the mother here?
What is the meaning of “killing” here? What are the motives behind killing?
What is the meaning of “adultery?” What are the motives behind adultery?
What is the meaning of “stealing?” What are the motives behind stealing?
What is the meaning of “false testimony?” What are the motives behind false testimony?
What is the meaning of the last commandment? What is the motive behind this wrongdoing? What does it imply about property and belongs?
What is a good summary of the Ten Commandments? How are the Commandments more guides to living rather than rules? What is your personal opinion of the Ten Commandments? How important have they been in your life?
Exodus 21:1- 28 – Guiding Decisions
Sharing Question: In your opinion, what is the purpose of laws in our society? What are their limitations?
The term “slave” here has a meaning of temporary servitude. What rights do male slaves have according to verses 1-6? What are the male slave’s options? How could he forego his rights? As an owner, how do these laws incentivize to treat the slave well?
Verses 7-11: Since the verses direct the owner to treat the slave as daughter or wife, what are the expectations on the owner? How can the female slave gain freedom?
From verses 12-14, how is the punishment against killing different according to the intention?
In verses 15-17, what other offenses are capital punishments?
In verses 18-27, what happens when there is harm to the other as a result of fighting? With the rule of “an eye for an eye” in place, how effective would this be in restraining harm?
How do these laws compare with our present day laws? How are they similar? How are they different? How do they provide rights to the weaker party? What is your overall assessment of these laws in terms of fairness?
Exodus 21:28 – 22:15 – Guiding Decisions
Sharing Questions: In your experience, have you ever had your property stolen? How did you handle the loss?
In the rules about bulls, what responsibilities do owners have concerning their property? How is the punishment increased due to purposeful negligence?
In verses 33-37, how are accidents on one’s property to be treated? What happens if one bull kills another? How is the punishment increase by purposeful negligence?
What are the provisions for killing due to protecting property in verses 22:1-2? What is the penalty for stealing?
In verses 4-5, what are the laws concerning destruction of one’s property? In verses 6-14, what are the rules about loss due during safekeeping?
What are the overall principles about the right to property set in these laws? What are the general guidelines set here about fairness? What do these laws reveal about God?
Exodus 22:16-23:9 – Social Responsibility
Sharing Question: In your opinion, what is the utility of studying the laws laid out in Exodus? What stands out to you about these laws?
What is to happen to a man who seduces a virgin? What is the “bride-price?” What if the man is unsuitable for the woman according to her father? What is you overall assessment of this law?
What three offenses are listed for the death penalty in verses 18-20? What do they have in common that make them so serious?
In verses 21-27, who are listed as the disadvantaged here? How can money lending be oppressing? (Is this a ban on lending with interest?)
What is God’s personal reaction to the oppressors? What does this indicate about God’s character?
In verses 28-30, what is the point of giving offering here? Why the firstborn? How does this relate with being a holy people?
In verses 23:2, what is meant by do not follow the crowd in verse 2? What is meant by not giving advantage to the poor? How is being “just” the overarching principle here? What other activities are forbidden that violate being “just?”
Exodus 24 –25:9 – Covenant Confirmed
Sharing Question: When do you most feel the presence of God?
In verses 1-2, what was the purpose of the people worshipping at a distance? How did the people response to the command in verse 3? What was the purpose of recording it?
What is the book of the covenant? Why is the response of the people reiterated here? What was the purpose of the sacrifice especially the blood?
Where did the seventy elders come from and what was their function? What did the elders see of God? Why is the focus on His feet? Why is there mention of God not raising His hand against them?
How is it that Moses has the privilege to come up to the mountain with God? What is on the tablets of stone? What did Moses see at the mountain? What is the “glory of God?” What does the description “consuming fire” evoke?
In verses 25:1-9, what is the criterion for the material used for the tabernacle. What is the purpose of the tabernacle in verse 8?
How applicable is this picture of God now that we are on the other side of the cross? How does this picture of God correlate with your understanding of a holy God?
Exodus 25-28 – Tabernacle
Sharing Question: In your opinion, what is your definition of worship and why is it important?
What was the purpose of the tabernacle as outlined in verses 1-9? What was the purpose of the Ark? What was the promise in verse 22?
What was on the table in the tabernacle? Why do you think there was to be food on the table at all times? What is the meaning of the “bread of presence?”
Why do you think there is a consistent theme of buds and flowers and blooming in the lamp stand?
In the long description of the tabernacle, why do you think there are veils and curtains dividing the rooms?
In verses 28:1-5, what was the purpose of the priestly garments? What is the purpose of the breastplate in verses 29-30? What was the purpose of the bells according to verses 31-33?
Why do you think God created this physical representation of His power and presence? How is this tradition still true today as we worship God in our service?
Exodus 32:1-35 – God’s Faithfulness To His People Is Forever
Sharing question: When is your faith in God the weakest and the strongest?
What motivated the people to create the golden calf in verse 1? How could this have happened right after they promised to worship God alone?
What was Aaron’s role in this in verses 2-6? Why would he do such a thing? (See his own explanation in verses 22-24)
What is God’s reaction in verses 7-10?
Why does Moses bother to defend them in verse 11? What arguments does Moses use in prayer to intercede on behalf of the people of Israel in verses 11-14?
If it is not possible to talk God out of something He has resolved to do, why does God even bother to hear Moses’ arguments in verse 14?
What is Moses’ own reaction to the people when he sees the rebellion himself in verses 15-20?
How just is Moses’ decision when he orders the deaths of 3,000 men in verses 25-29?
How does God demonstrate both His justice and His mercy in verses 30-34?
How strongly do you identify with the people of Israel? What can we do to be different from them?
Exodus 33 – 34:14 – A New Covenant
Sharing Question: Has there been a time when you did not feel the presence of God and what was it like?
In verses 1-3, what did God promise to give the people and when did He say he would withdraw? How did the people react in verses 4-6?
How is this withdrawal of God’s presence contrasted with Moses in verses 7-11?
How does Moses argue on behalf of the people? What is the reason that God changes in verse 17? Why can’t Moses see God face to face? What is granted Moses?
In preparation for a renewed covenant, Moses is told to chisel out stone tablet. Why was this done in your opinion?
In verse 6, what are the characteristics that God declares to Moses? How is there a mixture of love and justice here? What is the demands of God in the covenant?
Why do you think the presence of God is such a central theme in these verses? How do these verses help us appreciate God’s presence in our lives?