Torah Crash Course: Exodus

This is part two of a three part series called Torah Crash Course. This episode explores the important stories of the exodus and giving of the law at Mt. Sinai.

Episode 2
Aug 20, 2017
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Show Notes

This part camps out in the second book of the bible, Exodus. We explore the story of Moses, Pharaoh, and the liberation of the Israelites that all culminates in the night of Passover. This was one of the most important foundation stories for the Israelite people in ancient times, and its crucially important for understanding Jesus. He timed his arrival into Jerusalem for the Passover feast and at the Last Supper he used the Passover symbols to explain the meaning of his coming death.

From there we move on to learning about the covenants between God and Israel and the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. This is, again, a core idea that Jesus picked up and developed in his own teaching.


Speaker in the audio file:

Tim Mackie

Tim: Hey everybody! I’m Tim Mackie, and this is my podcast, Exploring My Strange

Bible. I am a card-carrying, Bible, history, and language nerd who thinks that

Jesus of Nazareth is utterly amazing and worth following with everything that you


On this Podcast, I’m putting together the last ten years’ worth of lectures, and

sermons where I’ve been exploring this strange, and wonderful story of the Bible

and how it invites us into the mission of Jesus and the journey of faith. And I

hope this can be helpful for you too.

I also helped start this thing called, The Bible Project. We make animated videos,

and podcasts about all kinds of topics on Bible, and Theology. You can find those

resources at thebibleproject.com.

With all that said, let’s dive into the episode for this week.

Alright. So this is going to be part 2 of a three-part series called The Torah Crash

Course. If you haven’t listened to part 1, I really recommend you go and do that.

That covered the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. In this second

lecture which was again, a Friday night lecture that I did at Door of Hope church

where I served as a teaching pastor, I did this many years ago.

The second part just comes up in the second book of the Bible, Exodus, and

specifically we cover the famous story of Moses and Pharaoh and liberation of

the Israelites. They all culminates in the night of Passover and the deliverance of

the people through the waters of the sea and so on. This was one of the most

important foundation stories for the people of Israel in ancient times. But also

this was the foundation story that Jesus Himself connected into.

He very intentionally chose His arrival into Jerusalem for the timing of the

Passover feast. He timed His last supper, right. The famous last supper is a meal

connected to Passover. And so understanding the Exodus story and Passover, it’s

absolutely crucial for understanding Jesus. And so that’s why we’re camped out

here for a whole part of the Torah crash course.

And then from there we move on through the wilderness into Mount Sinai where

we move into this important foundational concept of the covenants. And again,

this is a core idea that Jesus picked up and saw Himself developing. It was part of

the overall biblical story and so the covenant between God and Israel and Mount

Sinai, those are the key things that we explore. The Exodus and the covenant

constantly showing how they connect us up to the big overall story that Jesus

saw himself fulfilling. So there you go. Torah Crash Course Part 2. Exodus. Ready

for adventure. Let’s go for it.

The authorship of these first five books, if you would actually read through them

carefully, nowhere do you have a clear statement of, Dear Reader, Here I am,

Here’s my name, and I wrote this book. There’s nothing like that so technically

the authorship of these books is anonymous. The key figure that’s connected

with the origin or the writing of multiple different little parts of these first five

books is the famous figure Moses who’s not in the story yet. So whatever Moses

wrote, he clearly didn’t write or originate this stuff because all of this is

happening like hundreds of years before he was ever born. So for this part of the

story, he clearly inherited these materials from the generations passed. So Moses,

it’s clear as you read from later, he had a key role to play in the collection of the

material that we now have in the Torah. But as we’re going to see, the last

chapter of the Torah was a whole chapter about his death and he definitely didn’t

write that. Someone else has had their hands on the Torah for its final editorial

shape but we don’t know who that person is. So that’s why I say, just the author

or the storyteller because we don’t know who he is. But whoever that person was,

Moses and that person along with him was a brilliant, brilliant storyteller because

this whole theme of tov and ra of humans doing ra and God keeping His mission

to bless and bring tov out of human ra, so I like that. That’s clearly the theme of

this book. So God’s going to somehow do something with his family to restore

blessing to all of the nations, how’s the story going to move on, Exodus chapter

1, we walk into the next big part of part 2 of the story which is Yahweh and the

family of Abraham. Oh yes, maybe, and one of the quick notes, just because I’m

assuming something and I probably shouldn’t, when you see in your English

translations the word LORD like that, in all capital letters, that’s a clue to you, the

reader, from the translators that the Hebrew word being translated right there is

the personal name of the God of the Bible or the God of Israel, Yahweh.


So that’s why I’m saying Yahweh when I see LORD in translations here just to be

clear. Okay. Chapter 1.

These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each

with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin;

Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy

and all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died. There you go, just

usher them right off the stage. And the Israelites they were fruitful and they

multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous. The land was filled with

them. Does this ring any bells? Where? Where is it ringing bells? From Genesis 1.

So look at my markers everywhere, right? So, we have right here, this is the

language of blessing. God blessed them and said, be fruitful and multiply, fill the

earth. And so just right here, even without using the word bless, the author

reminds us that this family is now the vehicle and the carrier of His great promise

to bless. So here they are. So this is again, repeated words of the way that the

author strings together the story here. So if they’re flourishing here in Egypt.

Now a new king arose who didn’t know about Joseph, he came to power in

Egypt, and he said, “Look,” he said to his people, “These Israelites are becoming

way too numerous for us. So come on, let’s deal shrewdly or craftily with them

where they will become even more numerous if war breaks out, they will join on

our enemies and fight against us and leave the country. So what’s happening

here? This is a story that has been retold many times in human history. You have

a family, a group of people that immigrates to another country looking for food

or work. They become very numerous, they’re a significant number of the

population and then people start to get scared and so on. And so they act out of

fear right here. They’re acting out of fear towards the Israelites who were

different than them.

So verse 11. They put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor,

made them build the city’s Pithom and Ramses as store cities for whom? For

Pharaoh. I think that’s the first time he’s called that. So Pharaoh, he’s the king.

That’s the name of this king. He’s never given a name in these narratives. He’s

just given his royal name, Pharaoh, King of Egypt.

But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. What?

So I’ve seen this theme before, haven’t I? Humans do ra, God turns it into tov. It’s

precisely what’ happening. So the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and

worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor, with brick

and mortar, and all kinds of work in the fields and all of the hard labor the

Egyptians used on them ruthlessly.

The King of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives whose names were Shiphrah and

Puah, he said, “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe

them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him. If it’s a girl, let her live.” So

they’re going to literally grind these people group into the ground through work

and begin a slow, extermination of this people group. The midwives however

feared God, they didn’t do what the King of Egypt told them to do. They let the

boys live.

The King of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “What are you

doing? Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the boys live?” This is such a

good line. The midwives answered “Pharaoh, these Hebrew women they’re not

like the dainty Egyptian women, they’re vigorous and they give birth before the

midwives even get there. We can’t help it.” That’s a great story. Alright. God was

kind to the midwives, and the people increased and became even more

numerous, and because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their

own. So Pharaoh’s gave this order to all the people, “Every boy that’s born must

be thrown into the river, let every girl live.” So let’s pause real quick here. So is

God at work in this very dark chapter of Israel’s story?


How is God at work? Through whom? Through—how is God’s will to rescue the

Israelites taking place? Through the obedient actions of these women. So again,

this category of, why doesn’t God intervene? Well, what are you doing? That’s

what the story makes you think in dark seasons where it seems like God is not up

to anything. Where are you, God? And the stories of the Bible continue to press

on us this question of like, what are you doing in response to this very dark

situation that you’re in?

So Pharaoh’s going to keep turning the heat and the pressure and the oppression

on and everything he does is going to explode in his face. So now all the boys are

going to be thrown into the river. And then one little boy does get thrown into

the river, and what’s his name? Moses. The very thing Pharaoh does for evil, God

turns into good. And so you get this figure Moses who’s rescued and he ends up

being brought up in the household of Pharaoh and so on. I mean literally the very

thing Pharaoh’s trying to prevent is the very thing that happens in his own house

under his nose. Go to chapter 2 verse 23.

During that long period the king of Egypt died and the Israelite’s groaned in their

slavery. God heard their groaning. The groan in their slavery, they cried out and

their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their

groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God

looked on the Israelites, and He was concerned about them.

So in other words, what this little story’s doing is it’s linking, remember this, this is

a flash forward from Abraham to the story right here. And then here in chapter 2,

we remember God’s promises, I’m just going to say Abe right here. Remember

God’s promises to Abraham? So why is humanity off the track again? The story’s

going horribly again. What is God up to? This time God is responding because

His reputation and His promise and covenant is on the line. God has obligated

Himself to rescue and save this family, why? Always remember why? Why is He

going to pay attention to and rescue this family? Just because He likes Israelites

more than anybody else? Remember His covenant. And what’s the purpose of His

covenant? To ratify His promises to bless all nations through them. So always

have to remember that.

Whenever God is acting for Israel, it’s always in the interest of this greater,

greater plotline about Yahweh and all of the nations. What God is doing with

Israel, He is doing for the nations. So He’s going to redeem and bless them. And

so what happens in these stories, Moses raises up and He raises Moses to rescue.

And go to chapter 6 with me. Chapter 6 verse 2.

God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh, I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El

Shaddai, God almighty. But by my name Yahweh, I did not make myself known to

them. I established my covenant with them,” yeah Genesis 15, “to give them land

of Canaan where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I’ve heard the groaning of the

Israelites, the Egyptians are enslaving. I remembered my covenant.

Therefore, say to the Israelites, I am Yahweh, I will bring you out from under the

yoke of the Egyptians, I will free you from being slaves to them,” and I will do

what? What’s the word there? You have that redeem? Redeem. So This is the first

word, time that word occurs in the Bible. The word redeem. In Hebrew it’s the

word ga’al. And so, you know, when you hear the word redemption, we typically

think of a much broader idea of just turning bad into good. But technically, the

way the word is used here in the story, this story becomes the biblical archetype

of what God’s redemption looks like. So again, this is not just a story about

ancient times and ancient people. This whole story becomes a model or an

archetype of how God’s justice and rescue and redemption takes place in the

world which is why Pharaoh was never given a name., because he’s just like the

archetype bad guy of all humanity and this is God’s redemption. So literally, in

this story it means to set free from slavery. So I’m going to redeem you with an

outstretched arm. Yahweh’s going to roll up His sleeves. With mighty acts of

judgment, I’m going to take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then

you will know that I am the LORD your God who brought you out from under the

yoke of the Egyptians.”


So right here in chapter 2 we’re firing another arrow out, it’s going to happen in,

excuse me, this is chapter 6, isn’t it? What did He say right there? I’m going to

rescue you and do what? So that I’m going to take you to Myself. That’s firing an

arrow out to the next big part of the story which is about Mount Sinai where He’s

just going to come meet with His people.

But first he has to bring judgment on Pharaoh. And so essentially what this story

does, because again, we’re flying 30,000 feet. There’s a whole bunch of little

stories. God is going to bring judgment on Pharaoh, and Pharaoh continually

hardens, ooohh… this is interesting. Chapter 7.

So the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I made you like God to Pharaoh, your brother

Aaron will be your prophet. You’re going to talk to Pharaoh. You’re going to say

everything I command you. Your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the

Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I

multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he’s not going to listen to

you.” Go to verse 10.

In verse 10, Moses does this miracle in front of Pharaoh. He throws a stick down;

it becomes a snake It’s pretty incredible. Verse 10. Moses and Aaron went to

Pharaoh just as the LORD commanded Aaron. Aaron threw his staff down in front

of Pharaoh and his officials, then it became a snake. What?

Verse 11. Pharaoh summoned his wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian

magicians did the same thing by their secret art. Each one threw down his staff

and it became a snake. Touche, right back at you. But then Aaron’s staff

swallowed up their staffs. Touche, touche. Then what happens?

Verse 13. Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he wouldn’t listen. The LORD said to

Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.” Now who

harden Pharaoh’s heart? Well Yahweh said He was going to harden Pharaoh’s

heart and here it just says, “Pharaoh’s heart became hard,” or “is hard.” Go to

chapter 8.

Go to the next chapter. Chapter 8 verse 12. The plague. The ten plagues start

going here. This is after the plague of frogs. Verse 12. Moses and Aaron left

Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the LORD about the frogs he brought on Pharaoh.

The LORD did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards

and in the fields. They were piled up into heaps, and the land reeked of rotting

frog corpses. When Pharaoh saw there was relief, what did he do? Who hardened

his heart this time? He hardened his heart and wouldn’t listen to Moses now.

Now wait. So who’s hardening whose heart?

If you read through the story, sometimes Yahweh harden Pharaoh’s heart,

sometimes Pharaoh hardens his own heart. What is happening here? Remember

so this story is Pharaoh gets no name here and he becomes yet the next

character study in human ra. In humans doing ra. In all humanity, here’s the

stupidity and folly of Abraham and his children. Here, it’s Pharaoh who’s the bad

guy and he just literally, he runs the entire country down into the ground because

of his hard heart. And so Pharaoh, it’s like Pharaoh becomes this another example

of what’s wrong with humans. And so here we’re told that Pharaoh sometimes

hardens his own heart. He just gives God the finger, whatever. He’s not going to

yield and so here’s a story where God doesn’t redeem his character. Pharaoh’s

heart is hardened. And so you have this interplay of God responding to a human

being who’s completely closed himself off in ra in their own evil and doesn’t want

to be redeemed. And so with this kind of figure, Yahweh plays hardball and even

He turns ra into good because He’s going to rescue his people. But this is a story

that makes us uncomfortable especially as modern westerners because we think

that everybody should have a chance and actually in the story, it’s very clear that

Pharaoh had ten chances to recognize what was happening here. And every time

he hardened his heart, and so Yahweh in response, in some sort of synergy,

pardons His heart as well. And these are scary stories, I think. The point of the

story is not like, how unfair for Pharaoh. It’s like no, this guy’s a jerk. Look at what

his people are doing. We’re not meant to like these guys. But at the same time,

Pharaoh is yet another portrait of broken humanity and we are to see these

stories as our own stories being played out here. And so Pharaoh becomes a very

disturbing glance, in other character study and the brokenness of the human



And if I perpetually would say no to God, God will play hardball. It’s the

challenging message of the story. And that’s a part of His redemption.

And so, we have these ten plagues, the ten acts of justice that are brought on

Egypt. And that’s the tenth and final one? It has to do with the first born son.

What did Pharaoh do? What plan did he enact to exterminate the Israelites? Kill

all of the sons. And so Yahweh exacts justice on the sons of Egypt for the evil that

they did to the sons of Israel. And so this is where the tenth and final plague or

strike on Egypt, this theme here. So Yahweh redeems in different ways in the

story. He redeems through bringing justice on Pharaoh who plays hardball. But

then He also provides a way to escape or a way to be spared from justice. And it’s

this image of the Passover lamb. Go to chapter 12 with me.

This is where the Hebrew tradition of Passover comes from. It’s from this story

right here. Go to chapter 12.

So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the

first month, the first month of your year.” In other words, their whole calendar as

a people is going to be set by the Exodus. By this foundational event of salvation.

So this is Day 1 now as they go on. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the

tenth day of this month each one is to take a lamb for his family, one for each

household. If your household is too small for a whole lamb, then why don’t you

go share one with your neighbor. That’s a nice thing to do and take account the

number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in

accordance with that everybody’s going to eat there. The animals you choose

need to be a year-old male without any defect, you may take from them sheep or

a goat, doesn’t matter. Take care of them until the fourteenth day. Take care of it,

you know. You care for this little lamb. Give it a name maybe. When all of the

people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are

to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and the tops of the door frames

of the house when they eat the lamb. That same night they are to eat the meat

roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.

Don’t eat the meat raw of cooked in water, but roast if over the fire—head, legs,

internal parts. Don’t leave any of it till morning; if some of it left till morning,

make sure you burn it. It’s pretty detailed you know. This is how you are to eat it:

with your cloak tucked into your belt, sandals on your feet and staff in your hand.

Bags packed. You’re supposed to eat this meal bags packed. Eat it in haste; it is

the LORD’s Passover.

“On that night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every first born man and

animal, and I will bring judgment on whom? On the gods of Egypt.” It’s really

interesting. So I actually provide the interesting backward glance here because

many of the ten plagues, like the darkening of the sun or the Nile river are—these

are things in Egyptian world view or religion that deified as gods. And so for God

to have power over the Nile and over the sun isn’t just like He’s powerful, it’s like

He’s showing that our gods are not powerful. In Egypt, the kings were deified.

They were called the Sons of God. They actually believed that they were the

embodiment of the god. The God Himself. And so for Yahweh to take out the son

of the king, first and foremost, is to strike at the heart of their idolatry of power

and of kingship. So it’s a way of bringing judgment on the gods of Egypt. I am


“The blood is the sign for you on the houses where you are, when I see the blood

I will pass over.” That’s where the name comes from. “No destructive plague will

touch you when I strike Egypt.”

There’s two themes here. This story is providing all of these images that are going

to get picked up and used again in the rest of the story of the Bible. How does

Yahweh redeem His people from a world of sin and injustice? He’s going to bring

justice and set things right. But he’s also going to provide a substitute, a lamb.

And those who put themselves literally under the blood of the lamb find

themselves rescued and spared from justice. Do you see that here in the story?

So we’re all thinking, Jesus, Jesus, and that’s right. That’s good. Think that. But

remember, Jesus’ name is spelled every fourth letter or something?


That’s not like some code or something. The point is that the broad sweep of the

story is giving you language and categories and ideas for how God works in the

world. And then all of a sudden when Jesus is having a pass over meal with his

followers, the night before he dies and he sang my blood is the new covenant,

right? He is picking up all of these individual portraits from the story and He’s

arranging them now come into fulfillment around His death.

So you don’t need Jesus’ name here in Exodus chapter 12. You just need to

remember the images and then let them be picked up again later on in the story.

Does that make sense? I think of this as another metaphor but I think of the Old

Testament works a lot like a little pot. A little flower pot. And you often have the

first time am image occurs, I need green. Where’s my green? Right here. So this is

the first time—the story is the first time the word redemption is used. It’s like the

seed gets planted. And then all throughout the rest of the stories of the Bible

then, this idea of redemption is going to grow and become more developed and

more multi-faceted. And so grow the leaf here, its tree always justice. The little

leaf here takes place through the Passover lamb, we should make that one red,

it’s a red leaf. Little red leaf, you know. And the Poinsettia so it keeps growing

and then all of a sudden it’s in the stories of the Gospels and the New Testament

then, it comes to flower. It’s organically connected to everything that came

before. This is a lot like these in the Bible. When you’re reading something and

the New Testament when you hear covenant or blood or something like that that

Jesus says, He’s just baiting you to follow the trail back down and trace the theme

backwards into the seed pot of the Old Testament. This is a very important story,

these Exodus stories.

Chapter 14, the last image of redemption here is they passed through the waters.

Now we’re just going to glance really quick here. So chapter 14, Pharaoh chases

them, he lets them go after the death of the first born son. And then after they

leave he’s like, “Dang it. I shouldn’t have.” So he chases after them. So the Red

Sea, the Sea of Reeds before them and it tears the Israelites and they’re scared

that his armies charging down after them and it’s the same scene, the parting of

the waters. And they walk through the dry ground. Look at chapter 14 verse 21.

Famous scene.

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove

back the sea with a strong east wind and He turned it into dry land.

By the way, can you think of any story where the seas part and dry land emerges?

We didn’t read it today but Genesis chapter 1 is precisely the same words used

here. It’s like Yahweh’s doing another act of creation here as He saves these


The waters were divided and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground

with a wall water on their right and wall of water on their left and then the

Egyptians pursue after them. And then they get engulfed in the sea.

Now this is really interesting thing here in the Bible. Chapter 14 is a narrative

account of the story. Flip the page to chapter 15. It’s a musical, right? So you

have the same story told in poetry. So in chapter 14, you have a narrative. In

chapter 15, you have a poem, they’re chapters referring to the same event. And

the poem’s way more interesting I think.

Chapter 15, Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

I’ll sing to Yahweh, he’s highly exalted the horse ride he’s hurled into the sea.

Yahweh he is my strength, my song. He has become my salvation. He is my God, I

will praise him, my father’s God, I’ll exalt him. Yahweh’s a warrior, Yahweh’s his

name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he’s hurled into the sea. Even the best of

Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. Deep water’s covered them; they

sank to the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Yahweh, majestic in power. Your

right hand, Yahweh, shatters the enemy.

In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You

unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. By the blast of

your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters firm like a wall the deep

waters congealed in the heart of the sea.

Let’s pause real quick here. A lot of these imagery is bothersome to us about

God. Fiery nostrils and burning wrath and anger. So that’s okay. I mean, I’m a

child of this culture too. It bothers me. And the reason it bothers me is because I

have some conception that God should never be angry. So what this story forces

you to do is to say, are there things in human history worth getting very, very

angry about?


And the answer to that is, if you have a bone in your body that has any sense of

goodness and justice, absolutely. We should be outraged at ourselves and what

we are a part of as a human race. And so Yahweh’s wrath and His angry in this

story is not just because He’s volatile, chip on His shoulder ticked off at any

moment. Yahweh’s wrath is always His loving, good response to what humans do

to His world and sometimes, much of the time, He responds with a short blessing

and setting into motion plan to save. But His plan to save will not happen at the

expense of justice and setting right all things. And so the story forces you to hold

this intention that Yahweh is going to bless and redeem but at the same time He

won’t do that at the expense of His justice and setting things right. Did you see

that there? The esteems in the story? So it kind of sets the question here. Well so

I guess there is only one way it seems that people are provided for to escape

justice and that’s through the blood of the Passover lamb. That’s how people are

spared in this story of salvation. And so all of this, this is against seed bed. All of

these themes are hanging there. These are the main images that were meant to

take away. Go down to verse 13.

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.” There’s that

word again. “In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Where’s

that? Where is God’s holy dwelling? “The nations will hear and will tremble;

anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the

leader of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt

away; terror and dread will fall upon the. By the power of your arm they’ll be still

as a stone—until your people pass by your people whom you bought. You’ll

bring them in and you’ll plant them.” Speaking of flower pots, “You’ll plant them

in the mountain of your inheritance—the place, oh LORD, you made for your

dwelling, the sanctuary, oh LORD, your hands established.

Yahweh will reign forever and ever.”

What is this talking about? Is this talking about the past, what just happened

anymore? The parting of the Red Sea? This is the last moment here of this part of

the story, chapter 15. It’s a poem and so it cast a backward glance. Retelling the

story of the deliverance from Egypt but now it’s casting a forward glance to the

story of the Israelites going into the land of what? The Book of Joshua, Land of

Canaan. Did you see that here?

Verse 15. This is another moment of flash forward here where it’s about the

fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham to bring these people into the land and

chapter 15 comes along and picks up that theme again. Because somehow these

people being in this land is part of the way that He’s going to bring blessing to all

nations, however that’s going to happen yet we don’t know. And so this is

another forward theme here that God’s going to take these people and bring

them out of Egypt and into the Promise Land. And so this part of the story comes

to a close, almost, chapter 15.

Look at verse 22. Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went to the

Desert of Shur. And for three days they traveled in the desert and they didn’t

have any water. When they came to Marah, they couldn’t drink the water because

it was Marah. It’s a word play, marah means bitter. That’s why they called the

place Marah. So the people did what? They grumbled. They grumbled at Moses

saying, “What are we supposed to drink?” So Moses cried out to Yahweh and the

Lord showed him. This is such a strange story. Showed them a piece of wood.

And so he threw it in the water. And then the water became sweet. The Lord

made it a decree and a law for them. There He tested them. He said, “If you guys

listened carefully to the voice of Yahweh your God, you do what’s right in His

eyes, if pay attention to His commands and keep His decrees, I won’t bring on

you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians. I’m the Lord. I want to heal

you.” So they came and there were 12 springs there and 70 palm trees. Great

please to set up camp and so they camped near the water.

Now the whole Israelite community set up from Elim and came to the Desert of

Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. and the 15th day of the month they came out

of Egypt, in the desert the whole community, what did they do? They grumbled

against Moses and Aaron, and the Israelites said, “Oh, if only we had died by

Yahweh’s hand in Egypt! I mean there we at least got pots of meat and ate all the

food we wanted, but you brought us out in this desert to starve this whole

assembly to death.”


So again, big story, little story. Why is this story here? Two stories of grumbling

right after they have been redeemed. I mean they were like praising Yahweh in

one chapter and now they’re like hating on Him the next. So what’s the storyteller

doing here? This is so brilliant. This is like, if you’re listening to a symphony, super

high crescendo or something and then all of a sudden… Scenes are introduced

and then you’re like, “No. Wait. No.” These are the people who have been

redeemed. I mean He redeemed them. They saw His justice and power and

miracles and might. Surely they, if any human beings are going to respond and

obey and do the right thing. It’s going to be these ones, right? That’s what they’re

thinking in the story. And then all of a sudden it’s like, “No. These guys too? They

have the little snake inside of them too? That’s what we’re thinking. Their hearts

are screwed up and broken too? No. What? I thought these are the people

somehow, all the nations are going to be blessed. No, no.” And then just the

story goes on. So tuck that away. This is going to be a very important theme for

the message of the Torah about the human heart and with this second main part

of the story, the Torah draws to a close. So go to chapter 19 and we’re just going

to start reading at the top and these next two parts of the story are really, really


Part 3. So that was the story of Yahweh and the world. Yahweh and the family of

Abraham. Now we have Yahweh, the Torah, and the Sinai covenant. Let’s just read

chapter 19 here.

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to

the Desert of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai,

and they camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

We’re going to draw a big, big mountain here. Even though Mount Sinai would

not have snowy caps. It’s the middle of a hot desert, but just so you get the idea.

All the Israelites kind of down here, camped at the bottom of the mountain from

Exodus 19, all the way to Numbers chapter 10, they’re camped at the foot of

Mount Sinai. You’re just stuck here for a while. The rest of Exodus, all of Leviticus,

and the first ten chapters of Numbers. And not only that, but if you pay attention

to the dates that are given in the story, this whole span of time, they’re camped

at the mountain is one calendar year. So again, just stop and think about that.

Genesis 1 through 11, thousands of years all throughout humanity. Genesis 12

through 50, a couple of hundred years, one family. Exodus 1 through 15, we had

a 400-year gap and then just about a year or so, and then we’re going to spend

the equivalent of two entire books focused in one place on one year. Is this

important for the storyline? Slightly. This is like slow-mo or something. That’s the

idea here. So what’s going to happen here at this mountain? Would people want

to know?

Verse 3. Then Moses went up to God, and Yahweh called to him from the

mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the House of Jacob and what

you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt

and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.’” It’s like a

powerful metaphor. What’s that at reference to? It’s reference to the Exodus isn’t

it? The story that you just read in chapters 1 through 15, but it’s said through this

metaphor. I often wondered if this isn’t where token God, His character with the

eagles rescue the characters right, in middle earth at all the right moments.

“So I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” Now, so, This

passage is as important as those words in Genesis 12. “Now if you obey me fully

and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you would be my treasured

possession. Although, or some of you have in your translations, for, the whole

earth is mine, you all are going to be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy

nation.” These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.

Okay, we got to camp out here and do some work. So we have kingdom of

priests and you have a holy nation. Notice it doesn’t say a kingdom with priests.

Does it say that? Look in. So it’s a kingdom of priests. Meaning everyone in the

people of Israel has this priestly role and a holy nation. So let’s kind of play it out



What do priests do? What’s the role of the priest? So priests, yeah, if I’m a

mediator or a go-between. Priest go-between whom and whom? So God on one

side, you know priest and many religions. So God or the gods. And then whom

on the other side? People. So priests are go-betweens people and the gods.

That’s the basic role of priests in the Bible, and in any culture anywhere else. So

this is the storyline here. Who are the priests and the verses we just read? So the

nation like everybody in Israel. Who is the God? Yahweh. Who are the people?

Now does it say explicitly here? No. If you look down, it doesn’t. Say whom. How

are you supposed to know? Big story, little story?

So you know, oh, we lost the drawing. You know that God’s purpose is to use this

nation to be a vehicle of His blessing and salvation to whom? Genesis 12. This

story assumes you have Genesis 12 echoing at the back of your mind. Blessing for

all of the nations. And so, it’s the nations. Israel is called to be a nation that is this

go-between. They’re somehow called to represent Yahweh to the nations or

mediate Yahweh to the nations. Now look back at verse 5 and 6. So this is Israel’s

identity. There are kingdoms of priests for the nations and the effectiveness, their

status as priests, this holy set-apart nation to be priest. Is it just because Yahweh

likes them? Do they have this no matter what? Look at verse 5, what is everything

hinged on? What kind of sentence is verse 5?

If then, if you obey then this is the honored status and role that you’re going to

play. But it begs the question, what if they don’t? Because what story is ringing in

your ears, what if they don’t obey? Well these grumbling stories at like, it seems

like they’re as screwed up as everyone else. And so, here you go. Here’s the plot

conflict that’s going to drive this whole year at Mount Sinai, is Yahweh’s going to

spend a year shaping, guiding, giving Torah, teaching and instruction to His

people so that they can play this role to mediate Yahweh to all of the nations.

Just as a little forward glance here Numbers chapter 11. So when did they leave

Mount Sinai? Chapter 10. If you read chapter 10, they leave Mount Sinai, the year

is over.

What’s the first story you’re told after the Israelites leave Mount Sinai? Numbers

chapter 11. And what do the people do the moment they leave Sinai? They

complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord. When He heard

them, His anger was roused. Fire from Yahweh burned among them and

consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to

Yahweh. He prayed to Yahweh, the fire died down. So the place was called,

taberah, it means burning because from the LORD burned among them. Happy

face, sad face story? What? No, no. What? Then the rabble with them began to

crave other food and the Israelites started wailing and said, “Oh. If only we had

meat to eat, we remember the fish we ate in Egypt for no money, and the

cucumbers were great, and the melons, and the leaks, and the onions, and the

garlic. That Egyptian garlic, like you know. But now we’ve lost our appetite, we

don’t have anything to eat but there’s manic. What’s happening here? You’re like,

what? Deja vu. We’ve already been here, you know what I’m saying? Do you see

what’s happening here? What the author is doing here, we’ll just call this sad face.

This is big, big sad face. And right here before they camped out on the mountain

was a big sad face. These grumbling stories. Grumbling, grumbling, grumbling.

And these grumbling stories are going to continue all the way to the rest of the

Book of Numbers. So just stop again, 30,000 feet. Yahweh is going to reveal 613

commands of the Torah to His people to shape them and guide them to be His

priests to the nations. And the storyteller is trying to give you a clue about how

this is all going to go. Once you see it, it’s a very obvious clue, isn’t it? See what

I’m saying? Once you back up and you say, “Oh you put grumbling stories

immediately after and grumbling stories immediately before.” What is the

storyteller trying to tell you? Is Israel any different in their hearts than any of the

rest of the nation that they’re supposed to be priests to? No, they’re just as

screwed up as everybody else.

And so this becomes another major plot conflict then in the Bible. First Yahweh

had all of humanity screwed upness on His hands, and then He chooses special

people to whom they’re going to be a vehicle of blessing to the nation.


But they’re just as screwed up as anybody else. Now there are two problems on

His hands. There’s two plot lines now that have to get resolved. So that’s the big

picture of what’s happening here. But all of the same, He’s calling them to obey.

So Chapter 19 then. He’s going to reveal himself. He gives them the call to obey.

And then flip to chapter 20. What’s Exodus chapter 20? Famous part of the Bible.

This is the ten commandments. Which is interesting. They’re never actually

referred to in the Bible as the ten commandments. They are always called the ten

words in Hebrew. The ten words. And so these are the first commands given to

the people of Israel. And then it just kind of—a whole bunch of things happen

after this. So here’s how we’re going to work this.

So in Exodus 19 through 23, the color black is going to symbolize laws where

Israel is being given laws. And you read through the section and it’s just, all these

laws about how to treat each other and how you shouldn’t cheat your neighbor

and if somebody’s ox falls into a pit, you know your neighbor has like a cow and

it falls into a hole, you should probably go help them out. You should make little

parapets, little basically guardrails on the roof of your house so kids don’t fall off.

This is like really all mundane stuff. The ideas that all of their life is supposed to

be a life of generosity. Their community life of generosity, and justice, and equity,

and people looking out for each other because he wants them to be a nation that

models Yahweh’s character to the nations. And so they’re going to get a whole

bunch of vows right here. Look at chapter 24 with me.

Chapter 24. The God says to Moses, “Come up to Yahweh, you and Aaron, Nadab

and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel. You are to worship at the distance,

but Moses alone is to approach Yahweh; and the other guys shouldn’t come near.

And the people may not come up with them.” So Moses went up.

He told the people all of the LORD’s words and laws, and the people responded

with one voice. “Oh, everything Yahweh said, we’re going to do it. We’re going to

do it.” They wrote down everything. he wrote down, everything Yahweh said. He

got up early the next morning, he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, he

set up 12 stone pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel. He sent Israelite men,

they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls. Fellowship offerings to

the Lord. Moss took half the blood and put it in bowls, the author half he

sprinkled on the altar. And he took the Book of the Covenant and he read it to all

of the people. This is referring to the laws right here. There’s all these laws

Yahweh just gives us, He wants us to be a nation that mediates Him to all the

other nations and so on. And the people respond? What do they say, “We’re

going to do everything, Yahweh has said. We’ll obey. We’ll obey.” Moses said,

“Alright. You’re signing on the line.” So he took the blood, he sprinkled it, and he

said, “This is the blood of the covenant. The blood of the covenant. That the

LORD has made with you with accordance with these words.”

And here’s the idea, Yahweh has come down. He came down in chapter 19 over

the mountain in cloud, and fire, and lightning and smoke. This is the idea really.

Bad lighting right there. So here they are, they’re in camp here at the foot of the

mountain. They can see up the mountain the cloud in Yahweh’s presence up

there. And so here’s just a little story right here of chapter 24. They’re like, “Sign

us up. We are down for this, like we’ll obey. We’ll totally do this.” And so

Yahweh’s like, “Great.” It’s not just that Yahweh wants them to obey.

Chapter 25. This is about the building of the tabernacle. This tent. So Yahweh

wants them to build this tent. And inside the tent is going to be another tent and

the ark of God’s presence and so on. And look at chapter 25 verse 22.

There, above the cover between the two cherubim, which are not naked babies,

they’re fierce, terrifying, and animal-like creatures that will kill you if you get too

close, these cherubim. Over the ark of the testimony, there I will do what? I’ll

meet with you and give you my command to the Israelites.

So Yahweh is going to come and He’s going to swell among His people in meet

with them. He wants to have a relationship with them. And all of 25 through 31 is

all about this tent and how Yahweh wants to dwell among His people and meet

with them.

Go to chapter 32 with me. The story about what? Golden cow. They make a

golden cow. They make a tselom. They make an image. So Moses has gone up

the mountain like smoking mountain, just right there, smoking mountain God is

right there. You know what I’m saying? And Moses has gone for 40 days and

they’re like, “Where is that guy?”


“I don’t know. We don’t know what happened to him. So let’s make an idol. That’s

a good idea.”

It was the first of the ten commands that they just said, everything Yahweh says

we’ll totally do it. It’s almost comical because we’re thinking, these people and so

on. And that’s precisely what the author wants you to do. To be like, “Oh, these

idiots,” you know. And this is the way good storytelling works as you portray

characters whose folly and failures seem utterly ridiculous to you. And the author

wraps his arm around you like, “Yeah, these guys. Like these idiots.” You know

what I mean? Can’t get it right until you realize that he’s telling the story to you.

You know what I’m saying. That’s the idea right here. These stories are about

humanity. And if there ever was a group of people who had the chance to get it

right, smoking mountain God is right before their eyes. You know what I mean?

He just told them exactly what he wants them to do. And they’re incapable of it.

Powerful story. If you never let it strike right here, I don’t know what to say.

You’re reading with blind eyes because this is a story about how dark the human

heart is.

32 through 34. This dark story about deceive and deceiving the Israelites are. And

so this the story of Moses breaking the tablets and so on, but chapter 34, Yahweh

brings judgment on the idolaters and they’re wiped out of the people. Chapter

34, go to chapter 34. This is key.

Yahweh said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablet like the first ones, and I’ll

write on them the words that were on the first tablet, the ten words, the ten

commands, the ones that you broke because he was ticked off at the people. Be

ready in the morning then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there

on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the

mountain; not the flocks or the herds they may graze in front of the mountain.”

So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount

Sinai early in the morning, just as Yahweh commanded him; he carried the stone

tablets in his hands. Yahweh came down in the cloud and stood there with him

and he proclaimed his name, Yahweh. And he passed in front of Moses,

proclaiming, “Yahweh, Yahweh, the compassionate and gracious God, he’s slow

to anger, he abounds in love and faithfulness, he maintains his love to thousands

and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. “

This is another one of those key moments in the story where you can just tell like

we’re raising above, just this story and casting a glance at all the stories around.

What is Yahweh’s ultimate character and purposes in history? He’s going to bless

his enemies. He’s going to turn human ra into tov. Even Israel’s idiotic rebellion at

the foot of the mountain, He brings justice, but His ultimate will is to heal and to

forgive. He’s sort of like, when Yahweh is in His judge human ra mode, that’s not

his most natural mode. What he desires to do most and foremost is to forgive

and to redeem. But when human beings continually, like Pharaoh, just give the

finger to God, He will bring justice which is what he says next here. He’s not

going to leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their children

for the sins of the fathers in the third and the fourth generation. This is the verse

that’s often misunderstood. What he’s not saying is, innocent Bobby, grandson is

going to pay for what grandpa Jack did, it’s not what He’s saying. The idea is, he’s

going to be attentive to each generation’s obedience or disobedience. The

actions of the father and so one are going to have huge ramifications on what

happens for the character, and the ability to obey or disobey for each generation

that comes after them.

With each generation, Yahweh will maintain His character. He wants to forgive,

but if people will keep giving the finger, He’ll bring justice. But what He loves to

do, He maintains love to whom? Any ideas? Thousands of generations. But He

will bring justice on the third and the fourth generation. You see the imbalance

here? What does Yahweh love to do most? To forgive and to redeem and to heal

soft, humble, repentant human beings who come to Him. But He won’t do so at

the expense of justice. So same twin themes we saw in the Exodus story. And so

what you’re going to get from here then is another big group of laws here.

Chapter 40 verse 33. Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and

altar and put the curtain at the entrance of the courtyard. And so Moses finished

the work. He finishes the tent. Finally, right?


Yahweh forgives, the tent is setup, He’s redeemed His people, now He’s going to

come dwell with them, It’s going to be awesome, it’s going to be perfect. Cloud

moves from the mountain, it’s Yahweh’s personal presence, as the cloud moves

from the mountain to the tent of meeting, and the glory of Yahweh filled the

tabernacle. Imagine being there for that sight. But Moses couldn’t go in to the

tent of meeting because the cloud had settled upon it and the glory of Yahweh

filled the tabernacle. Now you might say, well of course you couldn’t go in. It’s

like a thunderstorm with the tent. But no, what was the whole point of the tent in

the first place? To me, it was Moses and the people there. So there’s this problem

again what Yahweh’s come to dwell among His people so He made a way and a

place, here he is now, hovering over the tent. He wants to be with His people, but

now all of a sudden, Yahweh’s here and they can’t. Not even Moses can go near

His presence. Now, does it say why? Does it say why? And you’ll look in vain right

here. This is why. Big story, little story. You have to sit and reflect. This is where

you sit down with a cup of tea. You just finished the book of Exodus and you’re

like, “Hmmm… why wouldn’t Moses and the Israelites be able to go in to the

tent?” Oh, then it begins to dawn on you like they’re super screwed up people.

Like here’s the direct presence. The purity and power of the creator and the

redeemer God. And you have these screwed up people with dark, dark hearts.

How is it that screwed up, selfish, sinful people can come and meet in the direct

presence of the Holy God? Leviticus chapter 1. So Yahweh called to Moses when

he spoke to him from the tent of meeting, right? Do you see that? Because

Moses, he’s not inside the tent, he’s outside. He can’t go in. He called him from

the tent of meeting. He starts talking to him. And the Book of Leviticus is one

long divine speech outside the tent. Put your thumb here. Go to the next book,

what’s the name of the next book?

Go to Numbers, chapter 1. And what does the first words of Numbers tell you?

The LORD, Yahweh, He spoke to Moses, where? In the tent. How did Moses get in

the tent? I thought he couldn’t go into the tent. How did Moses get in the tent?

So this is about much plot tension as you get in the story. I mean you know,

we’re just camped out in the mountain. It’s not going to be that exciting. So this

is as exciting as it gets. How did Moses get into the tent? How can broken,

screwed up, selfish, sinful people come into the presence of the Holy God?

Outside the tent, into the tent. Well apparently you’re going to learn about that

in the book of Leviticus which is all about sacrifices.

Alright. Thanks for listening to Exploring My Strange Bible podcast. That was the

story of the Exodus and the journey to Mount Sinai. Holy cow. What a complex

story. But really profound and significant. You can just see illuminates so much of

what Jesus said and did. We’re going to keep exploring in the last of the third

part of this three-part series on Crash Course of the Torah that’s going to come

up next exploring the Book of Deuteronomy and the hope that lay beyond. So

see you next time.

[End of transcription 58:47]

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