What is Happening?
The book of Exodus picks up right where Genesis, the book before it, left off. The two books are tied together by a genealogy, which is a list of fathers and their children, kind of like a family tree.
GOD’S FAMILY TREE
Back in Genesis, which is the first book of the Bible, God makes a promise to Adam and Eve about how he is going to fix all the sin that has come into the world and make a way for people to come back and live with him in the Garden. Here’s how he would do it: one of Adam and Eve’s children will stomp out evil forever.
So, throughout, Genesis we get genealogy after genealogy, list after list, tracing God’s promise through the different branches of Adam and Eve’s children. All the while, we are looking for the one descendant who will defeat sin and open up a way for people to live with God again.
God continues this promise to one of Eve’s children, a man named Abraham, and then repeats the promise to Abraham’s son and grandson, Isaac and Jacob. God promises that their family tree will grow so large, that their descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky.
But by the end of Genesis, the promise isn’t fulfilled and Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, is in Egypt, farther from God’s land than he’s ever been. To make matters worse, there are only 70 people in all who are apart of Jacob’s family - pretty far from the uncountable sum promised. And then, to cap it all off, at the end of Genesis, Jacob dies.
Which is what makes the opening of Exodus so important and engaging. On the opening pages, we find that the story isn’t over and the promise is not lost. Because the genealogy that opens the book of Exodus Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s family tree. The promise is still active. The world is still waiting for God to end evil and bring people back to himself.
GOD WORKS THROUGH SUFFERING
What we find is that about 400 years have passed since the end of Genesis and God’s promised people are still stuck, waiting in Egypt. And while they have started to multiply greatly, there is a bigger problem. They are enslaved by Egypt, tortured by their captors, and their children are being systematically killed by that nation’s leader Pharaoh.
But what we should notice in these first two chapters is that not even the Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, can prevent the promise God has for his people to grow abundantly and produce the promised descendant of Adam and Eve.
Through Pharaoh’s oppression, in fact even because of it, God raises up the deliverer for his people - a man named Moses, whom God will use to save his people, deliver them from death, and bring them to himself.
Exodus lets us see behind the scenes of suffering and hopelessness. It shows us that, even when things look so terrible that they must be outside of God’s plan, God is still working to provide for his people and make good on his promises.
Where is Jesus?
There is another place in the Bible that feels very similar to turning the page from Genesis to Exodus. It’s when we turn the page from what we know as the Old Testament to the New Testament.
JESUS’S FAMILY TREE
God’s people are, again, far from their promised land and are under oppression from a foreign power. There is, again, around 400 years of waiting. All this time has passed and we are still waiting on the promise God made to Eve to be fulfilled. And what happens when we turn the page and read the first words of Matthew in the New Testament? We see a genealogy.
Matthew and Luke, two of the New Testament Gospel books, start with family trees, like Exodus. The point is to show us that God has made good on his promise to Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because Jesus has come from this same family tree. Jesus is the one descendant of Eve, who defeats evil and brings us back to live with God.
GOD WORKS THROUGH JESUS’S SUFFERING
And he did so through so much suffering that it surely must have been outside of God’s plan. But through a murderous a king, a flight to Egypt, rejection by his people, mockery and torture by the political powers, and ultimately through dying on a cross, Jesus showed that God’s plan was still working, even in the worst circumstances.
Nothing can stop God’s plans. Not Pharaoh, not a cross, and not anything else going on in your life. Exodus is an invitation to see God’s powerful work, accomplishing everything he promised through the very things that try to stand in his way.
See For Yourself
May the Holy Spirit give you eyes to see the God who works all things, even the worst things, together for good. And may you see Jesus as the one who fulfills God’s promises despite everything evil did to try to stop him.