Who is the Lord


A book about knowing God through personal experience.
The main plot - the development of relationship between God and Israelites.
It begins in Ex 3:1-4:17 - God reveals Himself
and ends in Ex 40:34-38 - the glory of God fills the tabernacle.

God’s attributes

Sovereign majesty;
His holiness;
His power to perform signs and wonders;
His awesome glory;
His righteousness;
His compassion
In the entire story God always takes initiative.

An overview of Exodus

1. Exodus picks up where Genesis finished - with Jacob’s family coming to Egypt and becoming fertile there.

2. The first half of the book - the theme - coming to a personal knowledge of God.

The burning bush - the Lord (Ex 3:1-4-17).
Then, Pharaoh asks: “Who is the Lord?” (Ex 5:2).
Slowly the Egyptians (and Israelites also) come to know “who is the Lord”.
Ex 14:4,18 - the Egyptians need to know how powerful God is.
But, the Israelites are also “surprised” by the power of God and so they sing (Ex 15:11).
The second half - establishing a special relationship between God and the Israelites. How?
1. The making of a covenant;
Decalogue (Ex 20:3-17);
The book of the covenant (Ex 20:22-23:33);
The breaking of the covenant (Ex 32-34)
2. The construction of the tabernacle.
The tabernacle is for God’s presence to dwell among His people.
When God takes up his residence there, the book ends (Ex 40:34-38).

The Israelites in Egypt

Since Joseph, the descendants of Abraham do not have a direct encounter with God.
Since Joseph, God plays the role of an offstage director.
God controls the destiny of both Joseph and his wider family without revealing himself directly.
Ex 2:23-25 - however - prepare us for a “new” revelation of God.
Ex 1 - points to Gen 1:28; 9:2 and to the promise given to Abraham (Gen 15:5).
But, the Israelites are forced to build cities for Pharaoh.
Then, when they shall be free, they shall build the tabernacle for God.
However, before this can take place, there has to be a confrontation between the Pharaoh and God (Ex 5-15).
Ex 2 - events regarding the early life of Moses.
His miraculous survival and growing up within the household of Pharaoh (an irony?).
His concern for oppressed Israelites slaves;
His intervention on behalf of Jethro’s daughters.

The Lord reveals himself to Moses

1. Moses encounters God in a burning bush.
2. Moses acknowledges God’s holiness by removing his sandals. In Leviticus, the concept of God’s holiness will be a major theme.
3. The desert of Horeb. First, Moses led his father-in-law’s flock there (Ex 3:1). Later, he will lead Israel there (Ex 3:12; 19:1-2). They will also witness God’s holy presence revealed through fire.

God’s name

Gen 14:18-20 - El Elyon “God Most High”;
Gen 16:13 - El Roi “God who sees me”;
Gen 17:1 - El Shaddai “God Almighty”
Gen 21:33 - El Olam “God Everlasting”
Finally Ex 3:15 - “YHWH” “I am who I am” - the Lord.

יהוה - YHWH - אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה - (ehyeh)I am

This name is derived from the verb “to be”.
This name does not restrict God to any particular characteristic.
He simply “is” - see Rev 1:8;
Later, 1 John 4:8 will add that He “is” “love - agape”.
Ex 3:18 - God’s order;
Ex 3:19 - God’s awareness that Pharaoh will not allow them to go unless he is forced to do it.
Ex 3:20-22 - God will show His might and the Egyptians will send the people out with the gifts to compensate for their slave work (Ex 11:1-3; 12:35-36).

What if they do not believe me?

Three signs:

Ex 4:2-4 - Moses’ staff becomes a snake - witnessed by Moses;
Ex 4:6-7 - Moses’ hands becomes leprous - witnessed;
Ex 4:9 - the Nile will become blood - accepted in faith.

Pharaoh’s contempt (Ex 5:2)

(Ex 5:2) - This will change soon.
Pharaoh and the Egyptians will soon know the Lord (see Ex 7:5,17; 8:10, 22; 9:14,16,29; 10:2;14:4,18).
The whole section Ex 7-14 will let Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and also the Israel to know who God is.

Signs and wonders in Egypt


1. The Lord said to Moses (Ex 7:8, 14; and others) - each sign is God’s initiative;

2. “Hardening” or “strengthening” Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 7:13,22; and others).

The “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart comes after the plague subsided.
Was God trying to convince Pharaoh to release the Israel of his own will?
But, it seems that from the beginning till the end, Pharaoh did not change his heart.
He was unwilling to set Israel free and he remained like that till the end.
On the other hand, the magicians (Ex 8:19) and the officials (Ex 10:7; see also Ex 11:3) were willing to let the people go.
Pharaoh makes some concessions in the process but very often goes back on this promise (Ex 8:8;15).
Ex 8:25-28; Ex 9:28
Ex 10:8-11; Ex 10:24
He let people go only because of fear that the entire population of Egypt may die (Ex 12:31-33).
But, then he again changes his mind (Ex 14:5-8).
And it let to the final disaster (Ex 14:28-30).
From Ex 5:2, we arrived at Ex 14:31.
The mighty power of God is celebrated with song (Ex 15:1-18).

The Sinai Covenant

Ex 3:12 - the promise.

Ex 19:1 - Israel reached its destination

The principle of the covenant
If the people obey God, they will be his treasured possession.
Then, the instructions are given for the construction of a suitable dwelling place for the Lord.
God will come to dwell on the earth.
At Sinai, God reveals himself in a new way to the Israelites.
1. God is holy and so people had to be properly prepared to meet him (Ex 19:14-15).
A boundary is established around the mountain (Ex 19:23; Ex 3:5)
2. God’s presence is felt by all the people.
3. God spoke to all those gathered at the foot of the mountain (Ex 20:1-17).
4. Only after that, the people asked Moses to mediate with God on their behalf (Ex 20:22-23:33).
Ex 24:3-8 - the actual covenant takes place.
After that, Moses gets instructions to build a tent.
The tent reflects (1) God’s sovereignty and (2) holiness.
God’s sovereignty is reflected by the precious metals (gold in particular) and bluish fabrics - both signify royalty.
The appointment of priests and the consecration of all the furnishings underline the holiness of God.
While Moses is with God, the people make a golden calf.
They even worship that golden calf.
This is the degradation of God and wrong worship.
Worship must be based on a right perception of God.
It is important to know God as he truly is, and not as we imagine him to be.
Even Moses cannot look at the divine face of God (Ex 33:20).
Mercy and justice are the two main characteristics of God (Ex 34:6-7).
This passage is referred to in Num 14:18; Neh 9:17; Pss 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2.
But, Moses enjoys a unique relationship with God at a tent, pitched at some distance from the main camp, known as the “tent of meeting” (it is different from the tabernacle).
That “tent of meeting” is eventually replaced by the tabernacle (Ex 40:34).
In the first (small) “tent of meeting” Moses could enter in (probably because God was outside) (Ex 33:9).
In the tabernacle, when the glory of God entered it, Moses could not enter (Ex 40:35).
Then, God guides the journey of Israel (Ex 40:36-38).

New Testament Connections

1 Tim 1:17 - God “the King eternal” - sovereignty of God (see also 1 Tim 6:15-16).
Hebr 4:14-16 and 12:28-29 - proper worship of God

John’s Gospel and Exodus

1. Water to wine (John 2:2-11);
2. Healing of an official’s son (John 4:46-54);
3. Healing of paralysed man (John 5:1-15);
4. Feeding of 5000 (John 6:1-14);
5. Walking on water (John 6:16-21);
6. Healing of blind man (John 9:1-41);
7. Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44);
8. Jesus’ own death and resurrection.
These sign refers to Jesus’ divine nature (John 20:30-31).
Unlike Exodus, John’s sign are all positive.
For example:
Water into blood is replaced by water into wine;
The death of the firstborn is replaced with a firstborn raised from death.

“I am” sayings

John 6:35 - the bread of life;
John 8:12 - the light of the world;
John 10:7,9 - the gate (door);
John 10:11 - the good shepherd;
John 11:25 - the resurrection and the life
John 14:6 - the way and the truth and the life;
John 15:1 - the true vine
And there is also just “I am” (John 8:24,28,58; 13:19)
Rom 9:17 - Ex 9:16
God’s freedom and sovereignty.
Hebr 12:18-24
A vivid contrast with the revelation of God at Sinai in Ex 19