This part camps out in the second book of the bible, Exodus. We explore the story of Moses, Pharaoh, and the liberation of the Israelites that all culminates in the night of Passover. This was one of the most important foundation stories for the Israelite people in ancient times, and its crucially important for understanding Jesus. He timed his arrival into Jerusalem for the Passover feast and at the Last Supper he used the Passover symbols to explain the meaning of his coming death.
From there we move on to learning about the covenants between God and Israel and the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. This is, again, a core idea that Jesus picked up and developed in his own teaching .
Speaker in the audio file:
Tim: Hey everybody! I’m Tim Mackie, and this is my podcast, Exploring My Strange
Bible. I am a card-carrying, Bible, history, and language nerd who thinks that
Jesus of Nazareth is utterly amazing and worth following with everything that you
On this Podcast, I’m putting together the last ten years’ worth of lectures, and
sermons where I’ve been exploring this strange, and wonderful story of the Bible
and how it invites us into the mission of Jesus and the journey of faith. And I
hope this can be helpful for you too.
I also helped start this thing called, The Bible Project. We make animated videos,
and podcasts about all kinds of topics on Bible, and Theology. You can find those
resources at thebibleproject.com.
With all that said, let’s dive into the episode for this week.
Alright. So this is going to be part 2 of a three-part series called The Torah Crash
Course. If you haven’t listened to part 1, I really recommend you go and do that.
That covered the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. In this second
lecture which was again, a Friday night lecture that I did at Door of Hope church
where I served as a teaching pastor, I did this many years ago.
The second part just comes up in the second book of the Bible, Exodus, and
specifically we cover the famous story of Moses and Pharaoh and liberation of
the Israelites. They all culminates in the night of Passover and the deliverance of
the people through the waters of the sea and so on. This was one of the most
important foundation stories for the people of Israel in ancient times. But also
this was the foundation story that Jesus Himself connected into.
He very intentionally chose His arrival into Jerusalem for the timing of the
Passover feast. He timed His last supper, right. The famous last supper is a meal
connected to Passover. And so understanding the Exodus story and Passover, it’s
absolutely crucial for understanding Jesus. And so that’s why we’re camped out
here for a whole part of the Torah crash course.
And then from there we move on through the wilderness into Mount Sinai where
we move into this important foundational concept of the covenants. And again,
this is a core idea that Jesus picked up and saw Himself developing. It was part of
the overall biblical story and so the covenant between God and Israel and Mount
Sinai, those are the key things that we explore. The Exodus and the covenant
constantly showing how they connect us up to the big overall story that Jesus
saw himself fulfilling. So there you go. Torah Crash Course Part 2. Exodus. Ready
for adventure. Let’s go for it.
The authorship of these first five books, if you would actually read through them
carefully, nowhere do you have a clear statement of, Dear Reader, Here I am,
Here’s my name, and I wrote this book. There’s nothing like that so technically
the authorship of these books is anonymous. The key figure that’s connected
with the origin or the writing of multiple different little parts of these first five
books is the famous figure Moses who’s not in the story yet. So whatever Moses
wrote, he clearly didn’t write or originate this stuff because all of this is
happening like hundreds of years before he was ever born. So for this part of the
story, he clearly inherited these materials from the generations passed. So Moses,
it’s clear as you read from later, he had a key role to play in the collection of the
material that we now have in the Torah. But as we’re going to see, the last
chapter of the Torah was a whole chapter about his death and he definitely didn’t
write that. Someone else has had their hands on the Torah for its final editorial
shape but we don’t know who that person is. So that’s why I say, just the author
or the storyteller because we don’t know who he is. But whoever that person was,
Moses and that person along with him was a brilliant, brilliant storyteller because
this whole theme of tov and ra of humans doing ra and God keeping His mission
to bless and bring tov out of human ra, so I like that. That’s clearly the theme of
this book. So God’s going to somehow do something with his family to restore
blessing to all of the nations, how’s the story going to move on, Exodus chapter
1, we walk into the next big part of part 2 of the story which is Yahweh and the
family of Abraham. Oh yes, maybe, and one of the quick notes, just because I’m
assuming something and I probably shouldn’t, when you see in your English
translations the word LORD like that, in all capital letters, that’s a clue to you, the
reader, from the translators that the Hebrew word being translated right there is
the personal name of the God of the Bible or the God of Israel, Yahweh.
So that’s why I’m saying Yahweh when I see LORD in translations here just to be
clear. Okay. Chapter 1.
These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each
with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin;
Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy
and all; Joseph was already in Egypt.
Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died. There you go, just
usher them right off the stage. And the Israelites they were fruitful and they
multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous. The land was filled with
them. Does this ring any bells? Where? Where is it ringing bells? From Genesis 1.
So look at my markers everywhere, right? So, we have right here, this is the
language of blessing. God blessed them and said, be fruitful and multiply, fill the
earth. And so just right here, even without using the word bless, the author
reminds us that this family is now the vehicle and the carrier of His great promise
to bless. So here they are. So this is again, repeated words of the way that the
author strings together the story here. So if they’re flourishing here in Egypt.
Now a new king arose who didn’t know about Joseph, he came to power in
Egypt, and he said, “Look,” he said to his people, “These Israelites are becoming
way too numerous for us. So come on, let’s deal shrewdly or craftily with them
where they will become even more numerous if war breaks out, they will join on
our enemies and fight against us and leave the country. So what’s happening
here? This is a story that has been retold many times in human history. You have
a family, a group of people that immigrates to another country looking for food
or work. They become very numerous, they’re a significant number of the
population and then people start to get scared and so on. And so they act out of
fear right here. They’re acting out of fear towards the Israelites who were
different than them.
So verse 11. They put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor,
made them build the city’s Pithom and Ramses as store cities for whom? For
Pharaoh. I think that’s the first time he’s called that. So Pharaoh, he’s the king.
That’s the name of this king. He’s never given a name in these narratives. He’s
just given his royal name, Pharaoh, King of Egypt.
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. What?
So I’ve seen this theme before, haven’t I? Humans do ra, God turns it into tov. It’s
precisely what’ happening. So the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and
worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor, with brick
and mortar, and all kinds of work in the fields and all of the hard labor the
Egyptians used on them ruthlessly.
The King of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives whose names were Shiphrah and
Puah, he said, “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe
them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him. If it’s a girl, let her live.” So
they’re going to literally grind these people group into the ground through work
and begin a slow, extermination of this people group. The midwives however
feared God, they didn’t do what the King of Egypt told them to do. They let the
The King of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “What are you
doing? Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the boys live?” This is such a
good line. The midwives answered “Pharaoh, these Hebrew women they’re not
like the dainty Egyptian women, they’re vigorous and they give birth before the
midwives even get there. We can’t help it.” That’s a great story. Alright. God was
kind to the midwives, and the people increased and became even more
numerous, and because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their
own. So Pharaoh’s gave this order to all the people, “Every boy that’s born must
be thrown into the river, let every girl live.” So let’s pause real quick here. So is
God at work in this very dark chapter of Israel’s story?
How is God at work? Through whom? Through—how is God’s will to rescue the
Israelites taking place? Through the obedient actions of these women. So again,
this category of, why doesn’t God intervene? Well, what are you doing? That’s
what the story makes you think in dark seasons where it seems like God is not up
to anything. Where are you, God? And the stories of the Bible continue to press
on us this question of like, what are you doing in response to this very dark
situation that you’re in?
So Pharaoh’s going to keep turning the heat and the pressure and the oppression
on and everything he does is going to explode in his face. So now all the boys are
going to be thrown into the river. And then one little boy does get thrown into
the river, and what’s his name? Moses. The very thing Pharaoh does for evil, God
turns into good. And so you get this figure Moses who’s rescued and he ends up
being brought up in the household of Pharaoh and so on. I mean literally the very
thing Pharaoh’s trying to prevent is the very thing that happens in his own house
under his nose. Go to chapter 2 verse 23.
During that long period the king of Egypt died and the Israelite’s groaned in their
slavery. God heard their groaning. The groan in their slavery, they cried out and
their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their
groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God
looked on the Israelites, and He was concerned about them.
So in other words, what this little story’s doing is it’s linking, remember this, this is
a flash forward from Abraham to the story right here. And then here in chapter 2,
we remember God’s promises, I’m just going to say Abe right here. Remember
God’s promises to Abraham? So why is humanity off the track again? The story’s
going horribly again. What is God up to? This time God is responding because
His reputation and His promise and covenant is on the line. God has obligated
Himself to rescue and save this family, why? Always remember why? Why is He
going to pay attention to and rescue this family? Just because He likes Israelites
more than anybody else? Remember His covenant. And what’s the purpose of His
covenant? To ratify His promises to bless all nations through them. So always
have to remember that.
Whenever God is acting for Israel, it’s always in the interest of this greater,
greater plotline about Yahweh and all of the nations. What God is doing with
Israel, He is doing for the nations. So He’s going to redeem and bless them. And
so what happens in these stories, Moses raises up and He raises Moses to rescue.
And go to chapter 6 with me. Chapter 6 verse 2.
God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh, I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El
Shaddai, God almighty. But by my name Yahweh, I did not make myself known to
them. I established my covenant with them,” yeah Genesis 15, “to give them land
of Canaan where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I’ve heard the groaning of the
Israelites, the Egyptians are enslaving. I remembered my covenant.
Therefore, say to the Israelites, I am Yahweh, I will bring you out from under the
yoke of the Egyptians, I will free you from being slaves to them,” and I will do
what? What’s the word there? You have that redeem? Redeem. So This is the first
word, time that word occurs in the Bible. The word redeem. In Hebrew it’s the
word ga’al. And so, you know, when you hear the word redemption, we typically
think of a much broader idea of just turning bad into good. But technically, the
way the word is used here in the story, this story becomes the biblical archetype
of what God’s redemption looks like. So again, this is not just a story about
ancient times and ancient people. This whole story becomes a model or an
archetype of how God’s justice and rescue and redemption takes place in the
world which is why Pharaoh was never given a name., because he’s just like the
archetype bad guy of all humanity and this is God’s redemption. So literally, in
this story it means to set free from slavery. So I’m going to redeem you with an
outstretched arm. Yahweh’s going to roll up His sleeves. With mighty acts of
judgment, I’m going to take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then
you will know that I am the LORD your God who brought you out from under the
yoke of the Egyptians.”
So right here in chapter 2 we’re firing another arrow out, it’s going to happen in,
excuse me, this is chapter 6, isn’t it? What did He say right there? I’m going to
rescue you and do what? So that I’m going to take you to Myself. That’s firing an
arrow out to the next big part of the story which is about Mount Sinai where He’s
just going to come meet with His people.
But first he has to bring judgment on Pharaoh. And so essentially what this story
does, because again, we’re flying 30,000 feet. There’s a whole bunch of little
stories. God is going to bring judgment on Pharaoh, and Pharaoh continually
hardens, ooohh… this is interesting. Chapter 7.
So the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I made you like God to Pharaoh, your brother
Aaron will be your prophet. You’re going to talk to Pharaoh. You’re going to say
everything I command you. Your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the
Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I
multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he’s not going to listen to
you.” Go to verse 10.
In verse 10, Moses does this miracle in front of Pharaoh. He throws a stick down;
it becomes a snake It’s pretty incredible. Verse 10. Moses and Aaron went to
Pharaoh just as the LORD commanded Aaron. Aaron threw his staff down in front
of Pharaoh and his officials, then it became a snake. What?
Verse 11. Pharaoh summoned his wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian
magicians did the same thing by their secret art. Each one threw down his staff
and it became a snake. Touche, right back at you. But then Aaron’s staff
swallowed up their staffs. Touche, touche. Then what happens?
Verse 13. Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he wouldn’t listen. The LORD said to
Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.” Now who
harden Pharaoh’s heart? Well Yahweh said He was going to harden Pharaoh’s
heart and here it just says, “Pharaoh’s heart became hard,” or “is hard.” Go to
Go to the next chapter. Chapter 8 verse 12. The plague. The ten plagues start
going here. This is after the plague of frogs. Verse 12. Moses and Aaron left
Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the LORD about the frogs he brought on Pharaoh.
The LORD did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards
and in the fields. They were piled up into heaps, and the land reeked of rotting
frog corpses. When Pharaoh saw there was relief, what did he do? Who hardened
his heart this time? He hardened his heart and wouldn’t listen to Moses now.
Now wait. So who’s hardening whose heart?
If you read through the story, sometimes Yahweh harden Pharaoh’s heart,
sometimes Pharaoh hardens his own heart. What is happening here? Remember
so this story is Pharaoh gets no name here and he becomes yet the next
character study in human ra. In humans doing ra. In all humanity, here’s the
stupidity and folly of Abraham and his children. Here, it’s Pharaoh who’s the bad
guy and he just literally, he runs the entire country down into the ground because
of his hard heart. And so Pharaoh, it’s like Pharaoh becomes this another example
of what’s wrong with humans. And so here we’re told that Pharaoh sometimes
hardens his own heart. He just gives God the finger, whatever. He’s not going to
yield and so here’s a story where God doesn’t redeem his character. Pharaoh’s
heart is hardened. And so you have this interplay of God responding to a human
being who’s completely closed himself off in ra in their own evil and doesn’t want
to be redeemed. And so with this kind of figure, Yahweh plays hardball and even
He turns ra into good because He’s going to rescue his people. But this is a story
that makes us uncomfortable especially as modern westerners because we think
that everybody should have a chance and actually in the story, it’s very clear that
Pharaoh had ten chances to recognize what was happening here. And every time
he hardened his heart, and so Yahweh in response, in some sort of synergy,
pardons His heart as well. And these are scary stories, I think. The point of the
story is not like, how unfair for Pharaoh. It’s like no, this guy’s a jerk. Look at what
his people are doing. We’re not meant to like these guys. But at the same time,
Pharaoh is yet another portrait of broken humanity and we are to see these
stories as our own stories being played out here. And so Pharaoh becomes a very
disturbing glance, in other character study and the brokenness of the human
And if I perpetually would say no to God, God will play hardball. It’s the
challenging message of the story. And that’s a part of His redemption.
And so, we have these ten plagues, the ten acts of justice that are brought on
Egypt. And that’s the tenth and final one? It has to do with the first born son.
What did Pharaoh do? What plan did he enact to exterminate the Israelites? Kill
all of the sons. And so Yahweh exacts justice on the sons of Egypt for the evil that
they did to the sons of Israel. And so this is where the tenth and final plague or
strike on Egypt, this theme here. So Yahweh redeems in different ways in the
story. He redeems through bringing justice on Pharaoh who plays hardball. But
then He also provides a way to escape or a way to be spared from justice. And it’s
this image of the Passover lamb. Go to chapter 12 with me.
This is where the Hebrew tradition of Passover comes from. It’s from this story
right here. Go to chapter 12.
So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the
first month, the first month of your year.” In other words, their whole calendar as
a people is going to be set by the Exodus. By this foundational event of salvation.
So this is Day 1 now as they go on. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the
tenth day of this month each one is to take a lamb for his family, one for each
household. If your household is too small for a whole lamb, then why don’t you
go share one with your neighbor. That’s a nice thing to do and take account the
number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in
accordance with that everybody’s going to eat there. The animals you choose
need to be a year-old male without any defect, you may take from them sheep or
a goat, doesn’t matter. Take care of them until the fourteenth day. Take care of it,
you know. You care for this little lamb. Give it a name maybe. When all of the
people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are
to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and the tops of the door frames
of the house when they eat the lamb. That same night they are to eat the meat
roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.
Don’t eat the meat raw of cooked in water, but roast if over the fire—head, legs,
internal parts. Don’t leave any of it till morning; if some of it left till morning,
make sure you burn it. It’s pretty detailed you know. This is how you are to eat it:
with your cloak tucked into your belt, sandals on your feet and staff in your hand.
Bags packed. You’re supposed to eat this meal bags packed. Eat it in haste; it is
the LORD’s Passover.
“On that night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every first born man and
animal, and I will bring judgment on whom? On the gods of Egypt.” It’s really
interesting. So I actually provide the interesting backward glance here because
many of the ten plagues, like the darkening of the sun or the Nile river are—these
are things in Egyptian world view or religion that deified as gods. And so for God
to have power over the Nile and over the sun isn’t just like He’s powerful, it’s like
He’s showing that our gods are not powerful. In Egypt, the kings were deified.
They were called the Sons of God. They actually believed that they were the
embodiment of the god. The God Himself. And so for Yahweh to take out the son
of the king, first and foremost, is to strike at the heart of their idolatry of power
and of kingship. So it’s a way of bringing judgment on the gods of Egypt. I am
“The blood is the sign for you on the houses where you are, when I see the blood
I will pass over.” That’s where the name comes from. “No destructive plague will
touch you when I strike Egypt.”
There’s two themes here. This story is providing all of these images that are going
to get picked up and used again in the rest of the story of the Bible. How does
Yahweh redeem His people from a world of sin and injustice? He’s going to bring
justice and set things right. But he’s also going to provide a substitute, a lamb.
And those who put themselves literally under the blood of the lamb find
themselves rescued and spared from justice. Do you see that here in the story?
So we’re all thinking, Jesus, Jesus, and that’s right. That’s good. Think that. But
remember, Jesus’ name is spelled every fourth letter or something?
That’s not like some code or something. The point is that the broad sweep of the
story is giving you language and categories and ideas for how God works in the
world. And then all of a sudden when Jesus is having a pass over meal with his
followers, the night before he dies and he sang my blood is the new covenant,
right? He is picking up all of these individual portraits from the story and He’s
arranging them now come into fulfillment around His death.
So you don’t need Jesus’ name here in Exodus chapter 12. You just need to
remember the images and then let them be picked up again later on in the story.
Does that make sense? I think of this as another metaphor but I think of the Old
Testament works a lot like a little pot. A little flower pot. And you often have the
first time am image occurs, I need green. Where’s my green? Right here. So this is
the first time—the story is the first time the word redemption is used. It’s like the
seed gets planted. And then all throughout the rest of the stories of the Bible
then, this idea of redemption is going to grow and become more developed and
more multi-faceted. And so grow the leaf here, its tree always justice. The little
leaf here takes place through the Passover lamb, we should make that one red,
it’s a red leaf. Little red leaf, you know. And the Poinsettia so it keeps growing
and then all of a sudden it’s in the stories of the Gospels and the New Testament
then, it comes to flower. It’s organically connected to everything that came
before. This is a lot like these in the Bible. When you’re reading something and
the New Testament when you hear covenant or blood or something like that that
Jesus says, He’s just baiting you to follow the trail back down and trace the theme
backwards into the seed pot of the Old Testament. This is a very important story,
these Exodus stories.
Chapter 14, the last image of redemption here is they passed through the waters.
Now we’re just going to glance really quick here. So chapter 14, Pharaoh chases
them, he lets them go after the death of the first born son. And then after they
leave he’s like, “Dang it. I shouldn’t have.” So he chases after them. So the Red
Sea, the Sea of Reeds before them and it tears the Israelites and they’re scared
that his armies charging down after them and it’s the same scene, the parting of
the waters. And they walk through the dry ground. Look at chapter 14 verse 21.
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove
back the sea with a strong east wind and He turned it into dry land.
By the way, can you think of any story where the seas part and dry land emerges?
We didn’t read it today but Genesis chapter 1 is precisely the same words used
here. It’s like Yahweh’s doing another act of creation here as He saves these
The waters were divided and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground
with a wall water on their right and wall of water on their left and then the
Egyptians pursue after them. And then they get engulfed in the sea.
Now this is really interesting thing here in the Bible. Chapter 14 is a narrative
account of the story. Flip the page to chapter 15. It’s a musical, right? So you
have the same story told in poetry. So in chapter 14, you have a narrative. In
chapter 15, you have a poem, they’re chapters referring to the same event. And
the poem’s way more interesting I think.
Chapter 15, Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
I’ll sing to Yahweh, he’s highly exalted the horse ride he’s hurled into the sea.
Yahweh he is my strength, my song. He has become my salvation. He is my God, I
will praise him, my father’s God, I’ll exalt him. Yahweh’s a warrior, Yahweh’s his
name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he’s hurled into the sea. Even the best of
Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. Deep water’s covered them; they
sank to the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Yahweh, majestic in power. Your
right hand, Yahweh, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You
unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. By the blast of
your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters firm like a wall the deep
waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
Let’s pause real quick here. A lot of these imagery is bothersome to us about
God. Fiery nostrils and burning wrath and anger. So that’s okay. I mean, I’m a
child of this culture too. It bothers me. And the reason it bothers me is because I
have some conception that God should never be angry. So what this story forces
you to do is to say, are there things in human history worth getting very, very
And the answer to that is, if you have a bone in your body that has any sense of
goodness and justice, absolutely. We should be outraged at ourselves and what
we are a part of as a human race. And so Yahweh’s wrath and His angry in this
story is not just because He’s volatile, chip on His shoulder ticked off at any
moment. Yahweh’s wrath is always His loving, good response to what humans do
to His world and sometimes, much of the time, He responds with a short blessing
and setting into motion plan to save. But His plan to save will not happen at the
expense of justice and setting right all things. And so the story forces you to hold
this intention that Yahweh is going to bless and redeem but at the same time He
won’t do that at the expense of His justice and setting things right. Did you see
that there? The esteems in the story? So it kind of sets the question here. Well so
I guess there is only one way it seems that people are provided for to escape
justice and that’s through the blood of the Passover lamb. That’s how people are
spared in this story of salvation. And so all of this, this is against seed bed. All of
these themes are hanging there. These are the main images that were meant to
take away. Go down to verse 13.
“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.” There’s that
word again. “In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Where’s
that? Where is God’s holy dwelling? “The nations will hear and will tremble;
anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the
leader of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt
away; terror and dread will fall upon the. By the power of your arm they’ll be still
as a stone—until your people pass by your people whom you bought. You’ll
bring them in and you’ll plant them.” Speaking of flower pots, “You’ll plant them
in the mountain of your inheritance—the place, oh LORD, you made for your
dwelling, the sanctuary, oh LORD, your hands established.
Yahweh will reign forever and ever.”
What is this talking about? Is this talking about the past, what just happened
anymore? The parting of the Red Sea? This is the last moment here of this part of
the story, chapter 15. It’s a poem and so it cast a backward glance. Retelling the
story of the deliverance from Egypt but now it’s casting a forward glance to the
story of the Israelites going into the land of what? The Book of Joshua, Land of
Canaan. Did you see that here?
Verse 15. This is another moment of flash forward here where it’s about the
fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham to bring these people into the land and
chapter 15 comes along and picks up that theme again. Because somehow these
people being in this land is part of the way that He’s going to bring blessing to all
nations, however that’s going to happen yet we don’t know. And so this is
another forward theme here that God’s going to take these people and bring
them out of Egypt and into the Promise Land. And so this part of the story comes
to a close, almost, chapter 15.
Look at verse 22. Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went to the
Desert of Shur. And for three days they traveled in the desert and they didn’t
have any water. When they came to Marah, they couldn’t drink the water because
it was Marah. It’s a word play, marah means bitter. That’s why they called the
place Marah. So the people did what? They grumbled. They grumbled at Moses
saying, “What are we supposed to drink?” So Moses cried out to Yahweh and the
Lord showed him. This is such a strange story. Showed them a piece of wood.
And so he threw it in the water. And then the water became sweet. The Lord
made it a decree and a law for them. There He tested them. He said, “If you guys
listened carefully to the voice of Yahweh your God, you do what’s right in His
eyes, if pay attention to His commands and keep His decrees, I won’t bring on
you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians. I’m the Lord. I want to heal
you.” So they came and there were 12 springs there and 70 palm trees. Great
please to set up camp and so they camped near the water.
Now the whole Israelite community set up from Elim and came to the Desert of
Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. and the 15th day of the month they came out
of Egypt, in the desert the whole community, what did they do? They grumbled
against Moses and Aaron, and the Israelites said, “Oh, if only we had died by
Yahweh’s hand in Egypt! I mean there we at least got pots of meat and ate all the
food we wanted, but you brought us out in this desert to starve this whole
assembly to death.”
So again, big story, little story. Why is this story here? Two stories of grumbling
right after they have been redeemed. I mean they were like praising Yahweh in
one chapter and now they’re like hating on Him the next. So what’s the storyteller
doing here? This is so brilliant. This is like, if you’re listening to a symphony, super
high crescendo or something and then all of a sudden… Scenes are introduced
and then you’re like, “No. Wait. No.” These are the people who have been
redeemed. I mean He redeemed them. They saw His justice and power and
miracles and might. Surely they, if any human beings are going to respond and
obey and do the right thing. It’s going to be these ones, right? That’s what they’re
thinking in the story. And then all of a sudden it’s like, “No. These guys too? They
have the little snake inside of them too? That’s what we’re thinking. Their hearts
are screwed up and broken too? No. What? I thought these are the people
somehow, all the nations are going to be blessed. No, no.” And then just the
story goes on. So tuck that away. This is going to be a very important theme for
the message of the Torah about the human heart and with this second main part
of the story, the Torah draws to a close. So go to chapter 19 and we’re just going
to start reading at the top and these next two parts of the story are really, really
Part 3. So that was the story of Yahweh and the world. Yahweh and the family of
Abraham. Now we have Yahweh, the Torah, and the Sinai covenant. Let’s just read
chapter 19 here.
In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to
the Desert of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai,
and they camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
We’re going to draw a big, big mountain here. Even though Mount Sinai would
not have snowy caps. It’s the middle of a hot desert, but just so you get the idea.
All the Israelites kind of down here, camped at the bottom of the mountain from
Exodus 19, all the way to Numbers chapter 10, they’re camped at the foot of
Mount Sinai. You’re just stuck here for a while. The rest of Exodus, all of Leviticus,
and the first ten chapters of Numbers. And not only that, but if you pay attention
to the dates that are given in the story, this whole span of time, they’re camped
at the mountain is one calendar year. So again, just stop and think about that.
Genesis 1 through 11, thousands of years all throughout humanity. Genesis 12
through 50, a couple of hundred years, one family. Exodus 1 through 15, we had
a 400-year gap and then just about a year or so, and then we’re going to spend
the equivalent of two entire books focused in one place on one year. Is this
important for the storyline? Slightly. This is like slow-mo or something. That’s the
idea here. So what’s going to happen here at this mountain? Would people want
Verse 3. Then Moses went up to God, and Yahweh called to him from the
mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the House of Jacob and what
you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt
and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.’” It’s like a
powerful metaphor. What’s that at reference to? It’s reference to the Exodus isn’t
it? The story that you just read in chapters 1 through 15, but it’s said through this
metaphor. I often wondered if this isn’t where token God, His character with the
eagles rescue the characters right, in middle earth at all the right moments.
“So I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” Now, so, This
passage is as important as those words in Genesis 12. “Now if you obey me fully
and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you would be my treasured
possession. Although, or some of you have in your translations, for, the whole
earth is mine, you all are going to be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy
nation.” These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.
Okay, we got to camp out here and do some work. So we have kingdom of
priests and you have a holy nation. Notice it doesn’t say a kingdom with priests.
Does it say that? Look in. So it’s a kingdom of priests. Meaning everyone in the
people of Israel has this priestly role and a holy nation. So let’s kind of play it out
What do priests do? What’s the role of the priest? So priests, yeah, if I’m a
mediator or a go-between. Priest go-between whom and whom? So God on one
side, you know priest and many religions. So God or the gods. And then whom
on the other side? People. So priests are go-betweens people and the gods.
That’s the basic role of priests in the Bible, and in any culture anywhere else. So
this is the storyline here. Who are the priests and the verses we just read? So the
nation like everybody in Israel. Who is the God? Yahweh. Who are the people?
Now does it say explicitly here? No. If you look down, it doesn’t. Say whom. How
are you supposed to know? Big story, little story?
So you know, oh, we lost the drawing. You know that God’s purpose is to use this
nation to be a vehicle of His blessing and salvation to whom? Genesis 12. This
story assumes you have Genesis 12 echoing at the back of your mind. Blessing for
all of the nations. And so, it’s the nations. Israel is called to be a nation that is this
go-between. They’re somehow called to represent Yahweh to the nations or
mediate Yahweh to the nations. Now look back at verse 5 and 6. So this is Israel’s
identity. There are kingdoms of priests for the nations and the effectiveness, their
status as priests, this holy set-apart nation to be priest. Is it just because Yahweh
likes them? Do they have this no matter what? Look at verse 5, what is everything
hinged on? What kind of sentence is verse 5?
If then, if you obey then this is the honored status and role that you’re going to
play. But it begs the question, what if they don’t? Because what story is ringing in
your ears, what if they don’t obey? Well these grumbling stories at like, it seems
like they’re as screwed up as everyone else. And so, here you go. Here’s the plot
conflict that’s going to drive this whole year at Mount Sinai, is Yahweh’s going to
spend a year shaping, guiding, giving Torah, teaching and instruction to His
people so that they can play this role to mediate Yahweh to all of the nations.
Just as a little forward glance here Numbers chapter 11. So when did they leave
Mount Sinai? Chapter 10. If you read chapter 10, they leave Mount Sinai, the year
What’s the first story you’re told after the Israelites leave Mount Sinai? Numbers
chapter 11. And what do the people do the moment they leave Sinai? They
complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord. When He heard
them, His anger was roused. Fire from Yahweh burned among them and
consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to
Yahweh. He prayed to Yahweh, the fire died down. So the place was called,
taberah, it means burning because from the LORD burned among them. Happy
face, sad face story? What? No, no. What? Then the rabble with them began to
crave other food and the Israelites started wailing and said, “Oh. If only we had
meat to eat, we remember the fish we ate in Egypt for no money, and the
cucumbers were great, and the melons, and the leaks, and the onions, and the
garlic. That Egyptian garlic, like you know. But now we’ve lost our appetite, we
don’t have anything to eat but there’s manic. What’s happening here? You’re like,
what? Deja vu. We’ve already been here, you know what I’m saying? Do you see
what’s happening here? What the author is doing here, we’ll just call this sad face.
This is big, big sad face. And right here before they camped out on the mountain
was a big sad face. These grumbling stories. Grumbling, grumbling, grumbling.
And these grumbling stories are going to continue all the way to the rest of the
Book of Numbers. So just stop again, 30,000 feet. Yahweh is going to reveal 613
commands of the Torah to His people to shape them and guide them to be His
priests to the nations. And the storyteller is trying to give you a clue about how
this is all going to go. Once you see it, it’s a very obvious clue, isn’t it? See what
I’m saying? Once you back up and you say, “Oh you put grumbling stories
immediately after and grumbling stories immediately before.” What is the
storyteller trying to tell you? Is Israel any different in their hearts than any of the
rest of the nation that they’re supposed to be priests to? No, they’re just as
screwed up as everybody else.
And so this becomes another major plot conflict then in the Bible. First Yahweh
had all of humanity screwed upness on His hands, and then He chooses special
people to whom they’re going to be a vehicle of blessing to the nation.
But they’re just as screwed up as anybody else. Now there are two problems on
His hands. There’s two plot lines now that have to get resolved. So that’s the big
picture of what’s happening here. But all of the same, He’s calling them to obey.
So Chapter 19 then. He’s going to reveal himself. He gives them the call to obey.
And then flip to chapter 20. What’s Exodus chapter 20? Famous part of the Bible.
This is the ten commandments. Which is interesting. They’re never actually
referred to in the Bible as the ten commandments. They are always called the ten
words in Hebrew. The ten words. And so these are the first commands given to
the people of Israel. And then it just kind of—a whole bunch of things happen
after this. So here’s how we’re going to work this.
So in Exodus 19 through 23, the color black is going to symbolize laws where
Israel is being given laws. And you read through the section and it’s just, all these
laws about how to treat each other and how you shouldn’t cheat your neighbor
and if somebody’s ox falls into a pit, you know your neighbor has like a cow and
it falls into a hole, you should probably go help them out. You should make little
parapets, little basically guardrails on the roof of your house so kids don’t fall off.
This is like really all mundane stuff. The ideas that all of their life is supposed to
be a life of generosity. Their community life of generosity, and justice, and equity,
and people looking out for each other because he wants them to be a nation that
models Yahweh’s character to the nations. And so they’re going to get a whole
bunch of vows right here. Look at chapter 24 with me.
Chapter 24. The God says to Moses, “Come up to Yahweh, you and Aaron, Nadab
and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel. You are to worship at the distance,
but Moses alone is to approach Yahweh; and the other guys shouldn’t come near.
And the people may not come up with them.” So Moses went up.
He told the people all of the LORD’s words and laws, and the people responded
with one voice. “Oh, everything Yahweh said, we’re going to do it. We’re going to
do it.” They wrote down everything. he wrote down, everything Yahweh said. He
got up early the next morning, he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, he
set up 12 stone pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel. He sent Israelite men,
they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls. Fellowship offerings to
the Lord. Moss took half the blood and put it in bowls, the author half he
sprinkled on the altar. And he took the Book of the Covenant and he read it to all
of the people. This is referring to the laws right here. There’s all these laws
Yahweh just gives us, He wants us to be a nation that mediates Him to all the
other nations and so on. And the people respond? What do they say, “We’re
going to do everything, Yahweh has said. We’ll obey. We’ll obey.” Moses said,
“Alright. You’re signing on the line.” So he took the blood, he sprinkled it, and he
said, “This is the blood of the covenant. The blood of the covenant. That the
LORD has made with you with accordance with these words.”
And here’s the idea, Yahweh has come down. He came down in chapter 19 over
the mountain in cloud, and fire, and lightning and smoke. This is the idea really.
Bad lighting right there. So here they are, they’re in camp here at the foot of the
mountain. They can see up the mountain the cloud in Yahweh’s presence up
there. And so here’s just a little story right here of chapter 24. They’re like, “Sign
us up. We are down for this, like we’ll obey. We’ll totally do this.” And so
Yahweh’s like, “Great.” It’s not just that Yahweh wants them to obey.
Chapter 25. This is about the building of the tabernacle. This tent. So Yahweh
wants them to build this tent. And inside the tent is going to be another tent and
the ark of God’s presence and so on. And look at chapter 25 verse 22.
There, above the cover between the two cherubim, which are not naked babies,
they’re fierce, terrifying, and animal-like creatures that will kill you if you get too
close, these cherubim. Over the ark of the testimony, there I will do what? I’ll
meet with you and give you my command to the Israelites.
So Yahweh is going to come and He’s going to swell among His people in meet
with them. He wants to have a relationship with them. And all of 25 through 31 is
all about this tent and how Yahweh wants to dwell among His people and meet
Go to chapter 32 with me. The story about what? Golden cow. They make a
golden cow. They make a tselom. They make an image. So Moses has gone up
the mountain like smoking mountain, just right there, smoking mountain God is
right there. You know what I’m saying? And Moses has gone for 40 days and
they’re like, “Where is that guy?”
“I don’t know. We don’t know what happened to him. So let’s make an idol. That’s
a good idea.”
It was the first of the ten commands that they just said, everything Yahweh says
we’ll totally do it. It’s almost comical because we’re thinking, these people and so
on. And that’s precisely what the author wants you to do. To be like, “Oh, these
idiots,” you know. And this is the way good storytelling works as you portray
characters whose folly and failures seem utterly ridiculous to you. And the author
wraps his arm around you like, “Yeah, these guys. Like these idiots.” You know
what I mean? Can’t get it right until you realize that he’s telling the story to you.
You know what I’m saying. That’s the idea right here. These stories are about
humanity. And if there ever was a group of people who had the chance to get it
right, smoking mountain God is right before their eyes. You know what I mean?
He just told them exactly what he wants them to do. And they’re incapable of it.
Powerful story. If you never let it strike right here, I don’t know what to say.
You’re reading with blind eyes because this is a story about how dark the human
32 through 34. This dark story about deceive and deceiving the Israelites are. And
so this the story of Moses breaking the tablets and so on, but chapter 34, Yahweh
brings judgment on the idolaters and they’re wiped out of the people. Chapter
34, go to chapter 34. This is key.
Yahweh said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablet like the first ones, and I’ll
write on them the words that were on the first tablet, the ten words, the ten
commands, the ones that you broke because he was ticked off at the people. Be
ready in the morning then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there
on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the
mountain; not the flocks or the herds they may graze in front of the mountain.”
So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount
Sinai early in the morning, just as Yahweh commanded him; he carried the stone
tablets in his hands. Yahweh came down in the cloud and stood there with him
and he proclaimed his name, Yahweh. And he passed in front of Moses,
proclaiming, “Yahweh, Yahweh, the compassionate and gracious God, he’s slow
to anger, he abounds in love and faithfulness, he maintains his love to thousands
and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. “
This is another one of those key moments in the story where you can just tell like
we’re raising above, just this story and casting a glance at all the stories around.
What is Yahweh’s ultimate character and purposes in history? He’s going to bless
his enemies. He’s going to turn human ra into tov. Even Israel’s idiotic rebellion at
the foot of the mountain, He brings justice, but His ultimate will is to heal and to
forgive. He’s sort of like, when Yahweh is in His judge human ra mode, that’s not
his most natural mode. What he desires to do most and foremost is to forgive
and to redeem. But when human beings continually, like Pharaoh, just give the
finger to God, He will bring justice which is what he says next here. He’s not
going to leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their children
for the sins of the fathers in the third and the fourth generation. This is the verse
that’s often misunderstood. What he’s not saying is, innocent Bobby, grandson is
going to pay for what grandpa Jack did, it’s not what He’s saying. The idea is, he’s
going to be attentive to each generation’s obedience or disobedience. The
actions of the father and so one are going to have huge ramifications on what
happens for the character, and the ability to obey or disobey for each generation
that comes after them.
With each generation, Yahweh will maintain His character. He wants to forgive,
but if people will keep giving the finger, He’ll bring justice. But what He loves to
do, He maintains love to whom? Any ideas? Thousands of generations. But He
will bring justice on the third and the fourth generation. You see the imbalance
here? What does Yahweh love to do most? To forgive and to redeem and to heal
soft, humble, repentant human beings who come to Him. But He won’t do so at
the expense of justice. So same twin themes we saw in the Exodus story. And so
what you’re going to get from here then is another big group of laws here.
Chapter 40 verse 33. Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and
altar and put the curtain at the entrance of the courtyard. And so Moses finished
the work. He finishes the tent. Finally, right?
Yahweh forgives, the tent is setup, He’s redeemed His people, now He’s going to
come dwell with them, It’s going to be awesome, it’s going to be perfect. Cloud
moves from the mountain, it’s Yahweh’s personal presence, as the cloud moves
from the mountain to the tent of meeting, and the glory of Yahweh filled the
tabernacle. Imagine being there for that sight. But Moses couldn’t go in to the
tent of meeting because the cloud had settled upon it and the glory of Yahweh
filled the tabernacle. Now you might say, well of course you couldn’t go in. It’s
like a thunderstorm with the tent. But no, what was the whole point of the tent in
the first place? To me, it was Moses and the people there. So there’s this problem
again what Yahweh’s come to dwell among His people so He made a way and a
place, here he is now, hovering over the tent. He wants to be with His people, but
now all of a sudden, Yahweh’s here and they can’t. Not even Moses can go near
His presence. Now, does it say why? Does it say why? And you’ll look in vain right
here. This is why. Big story, little story. You have to sit and reflect. This is where
you sit down with a cup of tea. You just finished the book of Exodus and you’re
like, “Hmmm… why wouldn’t Moses and the Israelites be able to go in to the
tent?” Oh, then it begins to dawn on you like they’re super screwed up people.
Like here’s the direct presence. The purity and power of the creator and the
redeemer God. And you have these screwed up people with dark, dark hearts.
How is it that screwed up, selfish, sinful people can come and meet in the direct
presence of the Holy God? Leviticus chapter 1. So Yahweh called to Moses when
he spoke to him from the tent of meeting, right? Do you see that? Because
Moses, he’s not inside the tent, he’s outside. He can’t go in. He called him from
the tent of meeting. He starts talking to him. And the Book of Leviticus is one
long divine speech outside the tent. Put your thumb here. Go to the next book,
what’s the name of the next book?
Go to Numbers, chapter 1. And what does the first words of Numbers tell you?
The LORD, Yahweh, He spoke to Moses, where? In the tent. How did Moses get in
the tent? I thought he couldn’t go into the tent. How did Moses get in the tent?
So this is about much plot tension as you get in the story. I mean you know,
we’re just camped out in the mountain. It’s not going to be that exciting. So this
is as exciting as it gets. How did Moses get into the tent? How can broken,
screwed up, selfish, sinful people come into the presence of the Holy God?
Outside the tent, into the tent. Well apparently you’re going to learn about that
in the book of Leviticus which is all about sacrifices.
Alright. Thanks for listening to Exploring My Strange Bible podcast. That was the
story of the Exodus and the journey to Mount Sinai. Holy cow. What a complex
story. But really profound and significant. You can just see illuminates so much of
what Jesus said and did. We’re going to keep exploring in the last of the third
part of this three-part series on Crash Course of the Torah that’s going to come
up next exploring the Book of Deuteronomy and the hope that lay beyond. So
see you next time.
[End of transcription 58:47]