When Genesis ends, God seems to be everywhere. The story of Joseph, son of Jacob, is the longest personal narrative in Genesis and closes out the last thirteen chapters of the book. When Joseph was kidnaped and sold as a slave, the Bible says the Lord was with Joseph and caused him to prosper. When Joseph was falsely accused and imprisoned, the “Lord was with Him and showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” God caused Joseph to be released from prison and elevated him to second in command over all Egypt. God is there at every turn, and through all the hardships, Joseph honored God with an exemplary life.
When Exodus begins, however, God seems nowhere to be found. Four hundred years pass between Genesis and Exodus, and at the beginning of Exodus, all of God’s people are enslaved. You can only imagine how the Israelites felt: God had let them down. While they had once been “the head and not the tail,” they are now at the bottom.
But the story of Exodus affirms that God has not disappeared, nor has He ceased watching over His people. In what will be the greatest story in the Old Testament, He delivers His people from Egyptian bondage so that they can worship Him.
In the Hebrew Old Testament, Exodus is called “Names” from the first line of the book: “These are the names.” Exodus 19:1 mentions “going out” (or “exiting”) of Egypt, and when the Old Testament was translated into Greek, this became the new name of the book. The book can be divided into the following parts:
I) God delivers the descendants of Jacob (known as the “Israelites” because Jacob’s other name was “Israel”). Exodus 1:1 – 13:16.
II) Israel journeys under the protection of God to Sinai. Exodus 13:17 – 19:2
III) God tells Israel what he expects of them – both in how they live and how they approach him in worship. Exodus 19:3 – 34:28
IV) Israel’s obedience to God illustrated in their building a place for worship. Exodus 34:29 – 40:38.
Sometimes, our lives look and feel like God is nowhere to be found. But He is there, planning our deliverance and bringing it to pass. That was surely the way it must have seemed for Jesus. Perhaps that’s why his death is called, in the New Testament, an “Exodus” (or “departure” in Luke 9:31). And yet, God was there for Him, just as he is for us. Between now and our own exodus, God calls us to a lifestyle that honors Him in obedience, and worships him in praise.