Jesus and Exodus

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I just finished a series on Exodus, “Exit Strategy: The Gospel of Jesus in the Book of Exodus,” with “the Dean’s Class” at Ninth and O Baptist Church. The mp3s of the whole series are available here. I believe, as I do about the whole Bible, that the second Book of Moses is about Jesus of Nazareth, every syllable. The most striking thing about the Second Book of Moses, to me, as I moved through it every week is how it consistently reminds us that our God is personal.

The book is laid out between two arks and two fires. It starts with an ark in the water, carrying young Moses away from destruction, with God everywhere active but hidden. It ends with an Ark of the Covenant, carrying the Presence of Yahweh Himself, not vulnerable to attack but condescending to be with His people in their wandering. It begins with a fire speaking from a bush to the soon-to-be prophet/mediator, Moses. It ends with the fire of God’s glory over the Tabernacle, leading the people personally to the promise.

Sometimes I think that Christians of a more doctrinally-aware stripe (and, please Lord, increase the tribe!) are prone to a different kind of strategy from Screwtape and his ilk. We are often quite aware of the majesty and glory of God (to the degree that an Adamic sinner can be) that we can begin to think of God as an idea or, even worse, as a position that we hold. That’s why, I think, the most terrifying temptation for many of us is a sluggishness in prayer.

Exodus reminds us of the awful sovereignty of God, but also of His personal mercy. He reveals His glory to a mediator, listens to him when he intercedes for us, builds a dwelling place among us, and Spirit-equips His people to join in the construction, whether that is the men hammering out bronze angel wings for the Ark or women sewing together goat-hair for the Tabernacle covering. He is no golden-calf, true. But He is no cosmic Pharaoh either.

Exodus trails off, just as Genesis and every other Old Testament text does, with a bitter sense of longing. And all these longings find their way to Emmaus in the final Israel, the final Prophet, the final Mediator, the final Tabernacle. We can’t find Moses’s grave to this day, but we know there is the dust of his decayed bones somewhere in the Middle East. Some can identify what they believe to be Jesus’s grave, but no one can produce his bones.

Like Israel, He was baptized, through the waters of the wrath of God. Like Israel, He was tested in his wilderness wanderings. Like Israel, He is given an inheritance. And we’re with Him. Now that’s an Exodus.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.