Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Humans Bent on Evil while God is Mysterious in Mercy: A Survey of the Book of Exodus

After my survey on the book of Genesis, I decided to read through the book of Exodus and write another survey. A survey of a biblical text is one of the first steps in exegetical practice and biblical scholarship. In the survey process one reads the text and records initial thoughts, reactions, and questions. Now, I shall do so for the book of Exodus.

The Exodus narrative begins the story of Moses and tells the events of how the people of Israel were delivered form the land of Egypt. Unlike the book of Genesis, the book of Exodus focuses primarily on one central figure (Moses) and how he interacts with God, the Israelites, the Egyptians, and the Pharaoh.

The story of Exodus is a battle for the first born son (whether that be Egypt or Israel). One thing is very evident in this text the LORD (the “I AM THAT I AM”) is in control. God has a plan and Moses, a simple man, was chosen to be the face of this plan to the people of Israel. In this narrative, God is seen as so powerful that no one can see the divine face and live. Usually God is veiled behind a cloud when communicating with Moses.

As literature, I found the Genesis story more engaging than the Exodus story, but this might be due to the fact I can’t help but see images of Charlton Heston whenever I read the book of Exodus. However, some very interesting things develop in the book of Exodus. The Israelites wander in the wilderness of Sin (which I suspect has influence on the origins of how we use the word “sin” today, but it had a specific significance to its context). Another striking observation, I saw in this most recent reading of Exodus, was the fact that Moses instructed the people not to offend the Egyptians with their sacrifices to the LORD (8:26).

The book of Exodus (while not my favorite biblical text) establishes at least two major elements of the faith, the Law and tradition (namely Passover). On one hand we have the Law (in the form of the Ten Commandments and their explanations) which illuminates the brokenness of humanity and on the other hand we have the Passover, which celebrates the deliverance of God’s people by the work of the Lord.

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