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Exodus: God’s Plan, God’s People Copyright © 2008 by Back to the Bible Published by Crossway Books a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers 1300 Crescent Street Wheaton, Illinois 60187 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, except as provided by USA copyright law. Cover photo: iStock First printing, 2008 Printed in the United States of America

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version®. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added by the author. Produced with the assistance of The Livingstone Corporation ( Project Staff: Neil Wilson

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Table of Contents How to Use This Study. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Lesson One: God Has a Plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Lesson Two: God Molds His Man . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Lesson Three: Irrevocable Promises, Irreversible Purposes. . . . . . . . . . 23 Lesson Four: Plagues and Purposes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... . 30 Lesson Five: Passover Grace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Lesson Six: Signs of God’s Sovereignty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Lesson Seven: Songs and Complaints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 Lesson Eight: Meeting God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Lesson Nine: The Ten Commandments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Lesson Ten: The Covenant and the Tabernacle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 76 Lesson Eleven: Divine Designs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Lesson Twelve: A Shameful Episode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 91 Lesson Thirteen: The Gift of Creativity.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Lesson Fourteen: Worship Workshop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 Lesson Fifteen: God’s Exit Strategy.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..112

How to Use This Study Selected passages of Exodus from the ESV are printed before each day’s devotional reading, so that everything you need is in one place. While we recommend reading the Scripture passage before you read the devotional, some have found it helpful to use the devotional as preparation for reading the Scripture. If you are unfamiliar with the English Standard Version (on which this series of studies is based), you might consider reading the included Bible selection, then the devotional, then the passage again from a version that is more familiar to you. This will give you an excellent biblical basis for considering the rest of the lesson. After each devotional, there are three sections designed to help you better understand and apply the lesson’s Scripture passage.

Consider It—Several questions will give you a better understanding of the Scripture passage of the day. These could be used for a small group discussion.

Express It—Suggestions for turning the insights from the lesson into prayer.

Go Deeper—Throughout this study, you will benefit from seeing how the Book of Exodus fits with the rest of the Bible. This additional section will include other passages and insights from Scripture. The Go Deeper section will also allow you to consider some of the implications of the day’s passage for the central theme of the study as well as other key Scripture themes.

Exodus: God’s Plan, God’s People



God Has a Plan Things in this world have a way of looking like they are completely out-of-hand! But appearances, as convincing as they may seem, can be misleading. God remains in control even when things seem out of control. Exodus shows us that God is always working out His plan.



Read Exodus 1:1–2:10 1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. Pharaoh Oppresses Israel 8

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. 15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him,

Key Verse Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph (Ex. 1:8).

but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” The Birth of Moses 2 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young

11 women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.”

So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Go Deeper We don’t know how many boy babies died under Pharaoh’s program to prevent Israel from growing as a nation (Ex. 1:22). We don’t know how many were killed in and around Bethlehem under Herod’s effort to eliminate the child Jesus, “born king of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2, 16–18). We do know that people have often gone to extreme and horrible lengths to derail God’s plans. We also know (or ought to) that God’s plans cannot be thwarted. Psalms 1–3 contrast the lives of those who willingly cooperate with God’s plan and those who don’t. The principles from these psalms apply to individual lives

(Ps. 1) as well as to nations, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” (Ps. 2:1). The situation may be desperate and the outlook may seem hopeless, but as David put it, “Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!” (Ps. 3:8). Those who live their lives in faithful acknowledgment of God’s plan discover the deep truth that, “the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Ps. 1:6). We may not know God’s plan or strategy in any given situation, but we can be certain that God does have a plan, and He will accomplish it in us!



our hundred years is a long time. The lessons of the past are easily forgotten in that many years. Thus the Book of Exodus opens with the ominous note that Joseph, the rescuer of Egypt, had been forgotten. Within a generation or two after Jacob’s sons died, their descendants in Egypt had been “fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them” (Ex. 1:7). But the Egyptians forgot Joseph and began to fear the nation growing within their borders. And the Israelites forgot a footnote from their own history. God had told their patriarch, Abram, that his descendants would suffer: “Then the LORD said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years’” (Gen. 15:13). Apparently no one was keeping track of time. God’s warning to Abram included two promises: “I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Gen. 15:14). God would judge the abusers and reward those who had suffered. Remembering God’s promises might not have made the suffering easier, but it would have given the people a clearer reason for hope. Instead, they settled into Egypt, and they might gradually have lost their identity if God had not set them apart through suffering. God had a plan. Seti I (Sethos), who many think was the Pharaoh who “did not know Joseph” (Ex. 1:8), built magnificent structures. He built the Hall of Columns at Thebes. He built a temple at Abydos. He also carried out extensive buildings projects in the Nile Delta region. History remembers Seti as a ruler who built impressive buildings with rich colors and striking architectural features. But these structures, which still inspire awe today, were built with the blood, sweat, and lives of countless slaves—many of them Israelites. Seti’s son, Ramesses II, not only followed him onto the throne but also inherited his father’s fondness for lavish construction projects. This was a period in which a great deal of building activity took place in Egypt. The taskmasters, who were responsible to get the work done, were hard bosses. As a result, the Israelites were deprived of any personal rights and afflicted to the point that their lives were bitter.


Viewed from eternity’s perspective, how many events will we have chalked up to accidents or coincidence that will turn out actually to have been God’s deft touch at accomplishing His purposes?

These slave masters made the people’s burdens even more difficult than they really had to. The reason for this is clear from some of the other actions taken by Pharaoh’s officials. They didn’t just want to use the Israelites as slaves; they wanted to use them up and destroy their national, tribal identity. This is why the attempt was made to impose the killing of male babies at birth. Why kill the next generation of workers? Apparently the Egyptians didn’t think they would run out of slaves, but they had a deep-seated fear of the Israelites. Moses was born during a dangerous time for Hebrew babies. Since the midwives had not cooperated with the plan to kill the Israelites’ male babies at birth, Pharaoh issued a blanket order that all Egyptians were supposed to “cast into the Nile” (1:22) any Hebrew baby boy they found. Moses’ parents kept his birth secret as long as possible, but by the time he was three months old, the risk was too great. So, Moses’ mother decided literally to place her child in God’s care. Instead of casting her son into the Nile, she set him in a floating basket on that same river, trusting God with the outcome of his voyage. God had a plan. Viewed from eternity’s perspective, how many events will we have chalked up to accidents or coincidence that will turn out actually to have been God’s deft touch at accomplishing His purposes? God used the apparent coincidence of Moses’ basket bobbing in the reeds, a young woman’s curiosity and mothering instincts, and a

14 sister’s courageous suggestion to advance His plan. God appointed an impromptu committee of at least four women (Pharaoh’s daughter, her servant girl, Miriam, and Moses’ mom) to thwart Pharaoh’s plan. What better place to hide God’s choice for the man who would lead His people out of bondage than in the very household of those who were in charge of the bondage? God’s plans, then and now, flourish in the face of the unlikely, the doubtful and the impossible. We should never be surprised by God’s ability and sovereignty, but He delights to surprise us with His creativity. Our task is never to figure out how God will accomplish His purposes; our task is to unswervingly trust that He will! When God had accomplished His purposes for Israel in Egypt, He set in motion an exit strategy. When the people were finally ready to trust God, they discovered He had a plan. And that plan succeeded!

Express It When Exodus opens, Israel has been in crushing bondage for several generations. They are reaching the point of understanding that their only hope rests in God’s intervention. They are beginning to cry out to God for help. As you pray today, think about what it takes for you to trust God with the “enslaving” aspects of your life. Ask God to show you areas of your life where you may still be trying to work things out on your own rather than cooperating with the plan He has in mind for you. Trust Him with those areas He shows you.


Consider It As you read Exodus 1:1–2:10, consider these questions: 1) What vivid mind pictures does the content of this Bible book stir up? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 2) When Joseph’s generation died, what happened to the extended family they left in Egypt? _________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ 3) How did Pharaoh rationalize enslaving the Hebrew people in Egypt? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 4) What happened when the Egyptians began to treat the Israelites harshly? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 5) In what ways did the Hebrew midwives boldly defy the death order of the Pharaoh? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 6) What do you think Pharaoh hoped to accomplish by killing Hebrew boys but allowing the daughters to live? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 7) What are some of the unpredictable events surrounding Moses’ early survival? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 8) How have you personally discovered “God has a plan”? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________


No matter how bad it looks—God has a plan. After 430 years of slavery, things couldn’t get much worse for the Hebrew people. After being chased from Egypt and rejected by his own people, things couldn’t get much worse for Moses. And standing on the shore of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army right behind, things couldn’t get much worse for God’s people. But it’s when things are at their worst that we as believers have the cause for greatest hope. In Exodus: God’s Plan, God’s People, we’ll see how God came through for His chosen people and how He can come through for us today. We’ll learn that only in the presence of God can we fully experience His provision, protection, and power. Let these fifteen lessons encourage you always to hope and trust in God’s perfect plan.

WOODROW KROLL is president and Bible teacher for the international media ministry Back to the Bible. As the voice of Back to the Bible radio, he is heard on over a thousand stations across the world. He and his wife, Linda, live in Nebraska and have four married children and thirteen grandchildren.


Exodus: God's Plan, God's People  
Exodus: God's Plan, God's People  

This new Back to the Bible Study Guide features president and senior teacher Woodrow Kroll using the ESV text to walk small groups and indiv...