With Exodus we move from the world of the patriarchs into the second of the five books Genesis to Deuteronomy, called by Jews the Torah and in Greek the Pentateuch (book in five volumes). Moses is here the dominant and unifying figure and Exodus tells of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, their deliverance by God and the journey through the wilderness towards the Promised Land. They will not arrive there until after Moses’ death and Joshua leads them across the Jordan, but Exodus details the Covenant with God and the ordinances of worship which will form the basis of the Israelites’ religious life once they are established in Canaan.
It is easy to see a reflection of our own lives in the experience of God’s people of old. Slavery to sin, longing for freedom but often mistrusting the One who leads us out (Chapter 5.20-22). God’s miraculous deliverance from powers which are too strong for humans to overcome (Chapters 12-14). His sustenance of His people in the dry and cheerless desert (Chapters 16-17). The revelation of His law on Sinai (Chapters 20-23). Relapse into sin through impatience at the time God takes to reveal His will (the Golden Calf, ch.32). His forgiveness and the reassurance of His promise (Chapter 34). And the concluding sixteen chapters (25-40), which remind us of the importance of the Church’s worship if we are to be true to our inheritance as members of the People of God.
A prayer as we begin to read through Exodus: Lord God, as you delivered your people long ago from slavery and sustained them in the desert, help us to trust your promises, keep your laws and to be diligent in the worship of your House, that at the last we too may attain that Promised Land, with whose joys no pleasure on earth can compare. Through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Guide through all adversity. Amen.