Introduction: Throughout the Bible, the story of Exodus is a story of Israel’s deliverance from slavery into the freedom of belonging to God, expressed in those famous words in Exodus 20:1-2: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” News of this redemption reaches all Egypt’s neighbors, who tremble at the power of this God to put down mighty Pharaoh in order to rescue His own. My prayer as we begin this great book, therefore, is that we also would behold with awe God’s willingness to “stretch forth His arm” to pluck us out of our darkness and bondage, just as He snatched the suffering Hebrews out of the clutches of Pharaoh. May we tremble with joy at the news of our redeeming God, as Isaiah 52:9 commands us to do: “Burst into songs of joy together… for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.” May the Lord indeed comfort us as He shines the light of Redemption into the darkness of our day, the very same light which shown through Moses in that dark land of Egypt many centuries ago.

Monday: read Exodus 6:6 and Psalm 77:13-20. The good news of Exodus is that, “with His mighty outstretched arm” (Ex. 6:6), God will bring His people out from under the yoke of Egyptian slavery. The Psalmist also refers to God’s mighty “arm” redeeming His own from Egypt in Psalm 77:15. What does this physical depiction of the “arm of God’s power” tell us about what redemption means? Surely it is a description not only of the effort but of the cost which God is willing to pay in order to redeem. “Arms bared for labor”; “sleeves rolled up,” are equivalent expressions of hard work in our day. Though God is omnipotent in all His works, and the strength of the nations is counted as nothing in His eyes, the redemption which God works always comes at a cost. Just as slaves cannot be redeemed without being purchased; just as lost property cannot be reclaimed without putting money down at the pawn shop, so God cannot justly rescue hell-bound sinners like Israel or us without paying the price for our sinful bondage. God’s people, under the arm of Pharaoh’s power, cannot be saved except with “an outstretched arm” by a God willing to come down and intervene in their plight. This, God rejoices to do. God “lays bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations” in order to save a people for Himself (Isaiah 52:10).

Meditate and Pray: How thankful we should be that God the Father considers us to be His treasure, worth the price of costly redemption. Even though the world has always been willing to take away the freedom of God’s people, enslaving them “for nothing” (Isaiah 52:5), God is willing to stretch forth His arm to save us at great cost to Himself. May the Lord use these Exodus notes in coming months to remind us of the great effort God puts forth to save us for Himself. As the Apostle Peter says, we have been redeemed by something worth far more than silver or gold, the very blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Tuesday: read Genesis 45:25-46:7 and Exodus 1:1-5. If the first theme of Exodus is the great power of God to redeem, the next theme focuses on the great weakness of Israel to do anything in his own strength to improve his situation. Time and again, Exodus focuses on the profound weakness, in affliction and sin, of God’s people. Even when Moses comes to them with the good news that their salvation draws nigh, they refuse to believe him because of “their discouragement and cruel bondage” (Ex. 6:9). Even Jacob himself, the heroic patriarch who comes down to Egypt in Ex. 1:1-5, is at first so fearful of Egypt and sojourning there that he refuses to go. Only after God appears to him in Gen. 46:3, saying, “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt,” is Jacob willing to continue the journey and go by faith to sojourn in that foreign land. Thus all through the Bible, it is the weakness of God’s people which comes to the fore. Even when they are victorious, it is only because “in weakness they were made strong” (Heb. 11:34). No wonder it is especially the cries of the Hebrews which God points to as the reason He has come down to redeem (see Ex. 3:7). He is a God moved to show the might of His outstretched arm precisely because He takes pity on weakness! He cannot help the autonomous, self-confident and self-empowered.

Meditate and Pray: Let us be humbly content to associate with the persecuted people of God, knowing that we share their weakness. How important it is for us to understand that, each day, there are “mercies anew” precisely because each day there are new evidences of our weakness which call for mercy! May God remind us in such times that the humiliation of discovering our weakness is always a blessing when by faith we learn thereby to more closely and constantly depend for our support on God Himself. As J. Wilbur Chapman’s lyrics express it in hymn # 498 in our hymnals:

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.

Wednesday: read Genesis 15:12-17 and 1 Peter 4:12-14. The fiery furnace of Egyptian slavery depicts for us what is often the state of God’s people. God told Abraham, the ancestor of those who went down to Egypt and into eventual enslavement, that it would be this way (Gen. 15:13): “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.” The Lord then walked in the midst of Abraham’s sacrifice in Gen. 15:17, symbolizing Himself by a smoking fire pot or oven – a way of showing Abraham that, despite their fiery trials in the land of Egypt, He Himself would be with them in the “oven” of slavery in that far-off land! In the same way, are we not to be comforted today in all our fiery trials (which Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:12 to expect), knowing Christ Jesus walks with us in our suffering, even “participating with us in them,” as 1 Peter 4:13 amazingly declares? We, like Moses before Pharaoh, have an amazing message to declare to the hostile world around us: “When you persecute me, you persecute my Lord, who is standing here with me, even in the midst of my fiery trials”!

Meditate and Pray: “Lord Jesus, when we are frail and weak, “tempted, tried and often failing,” lift our spirits by the fellowship which we can enjoy with you in our sufferings. May you make your presence real, precisely when the “oven” of daily life is the hottest. Moreover, in the interest of Gospel witness to the world even while we suffer, please help our unsaved loved ones and neighbors to say of us: “I see suffering Christians, there in the fire… but who is that other one with them, who looks like “the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25)?

Thursday: read Genesis 46:26-27 and Exodus 1:1-7. In obedience to the call of the Lord and the invitation of Joseph, Jacob entered Egypt with his family, seventy in all. But it is amazing to see such a small number after five generations in Canaan! Had not God promised Abraham that his offspring would be like “the stars of the sky” in number in Gen. 15:5? Yet, according to scholars, Abraham had to wait 25 years until the birth of Isaac. Then Isaac lived 60 years before Jacob was born. Then Jacob nearly reached the age of eighty before his marriage. All told, it was about 240 years before more than 2 offspring were born in this family which was to number “as the stars in the heavens” and “the sand of the seashore”! But such are God’s patient ways. He is content to work through small numbers, and through weak means – yet all the time working to produce the “great company” of God’s people promised in Genesis 46:3!

Meditate and Pray: Ask God to give you the patient faith which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob needed as they waited for God’s promises to be fulfilled. It would take hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt before God’s people would come out of that land as an “exceedingly numerous people” (Exodus 1:7). So, do not be discouraged in the day of small things. Remember the words of hymn # 74, verse 1:

God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year: God is working his purpose out, and the time is drawing near; nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be, when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

Friday: read Exodus 1:1-7 and Psalm 105:7-13. What is it that makes God ally Himself day-by-day and year-by-year with those who can only be described in the most lowly of terms as “strangers,” “wanderers” (Ps. 105:12-13) and even slaves? No wonder world history doesn’t even record the existence of Joseph as a Prince in Egypt! No wonder many liberal scholars dismiss the Exodus through the Red Sea as a “mere” local flash flood through which God delivered His people from a small military sortie of a few Egyptian soldiers! The world doesn’t appreciate what they mistakenly view as “the small scale” of God’s works! But underneath our “insignificant” lives lies the bedrock of God’s covenant – see Psalm 105:8-9 – which He remembers and confirms in each generation. Time and again, all God’s saving work (including the stupendous miracle of parting the ‘Red Sea’) is traced back to this root: “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Ex. 2:24). Nor can we underestimate its impact, though we live in a world which scorns God’s promises! Want proof? Well, why did the families of the Hebrews “exceedingly multiply” in number in Exodus 1:7? It was, as Stephen said hundreds of years later, because the “time drew near for God to fulfill His promise to Abraham” (Acts 7:17)! God made promises to those two aged saints, Abraham and Sarah, and, in a sense, all that unfolds in the tumultuous events of Exodus is because God remembers his promise to that solitary couple! Let us never forget the large-scale grace of God applied to the lowly, small-scale existence of our lives!

Meditate and Pray: At this Thanksgiving time of the year, as you enjoy God’s blessings – it may be the gift of children, grandchildren or a more general providing for your needs – do not forget that all such blessings come upon us only because of God’s unconditional Covenant of Grace, because He has chosen to be our God, and the God of our children. Let us beware of the trap of ever proudly saying to ourselves that “our own hands or efforts” have earned us these good things. Moreover, let us be thankful that times of humiliation, want and smallness in the eyes of men will not endure forever. God’s blessings will compensate us for all the trials – even if, at this time, we live in a fiery furnace of affliction! As hymn # 74 goes on to say:

All we can do is nothing worth
Unless God blesses the deed;
Vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
Till God gives life to the seed;
Yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
The time that shall surely be,
When the earth shall be filled
With the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea.