Jesus & the Exodus

The events of the Exodus are so momentous they echo through the rest of the Bible. You can see them in the life of Jesus – over a thousand years after the crossing of the Red Sea.  Matthew’s Gospel in particular selects events which present Jesus as a new Moses, bringing his people out of spiritual Egypt.

Later, Paul draws on the same imagery. He recalls how the Israelites “were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2) and uses their subsequent faithlessness as a powerful warning to Christian believers. Peter borrows the language of God’s covenant with Israel to describe the church: “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9; cf. Exodus 19:5-6).

What’s the point of these comparisons? As Paul says, “these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11). The Exodus story is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Exodus gives us a glimpse of the purpose of God to rescue people from spiritual darkness, suffering and death; it gives us a picture of God’s judgment on those who oppose him, of the creation of a community of people who love him, and of the first steps in bringing them into the land he promised them.

Exodus is a glimpse of a bigger picture, a bigger story. That story involves not just one nation at a particular point in history, but God’s plan for the whole of humanity. The record of the Exodus tells us that God can and has done this, giving us assurance that he is doing and will continue to do it until his purpose is complete.

For more on the message of Exodus, see this page.

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