Most people ever only make it about halfway through the book of Exodus. Why is that? Well, the first half is action packed narrative, the second part is legislation. We all enjoy a good story, but most of us don’t thrive on reading legal works. So how can we enjoy all of Exodus, not just the first half? Well, here are a handful of tips how to get more out of the second book of the Bible:
- Situate it in its proper context: familiarize yourself with the events of Genesis, especially the covenant God made with Abraham (Genesis 12 and 15). Exodus references this covenant many times because God now begins to fulfill his promise to Abraham. That sets the tone for the book: it deals with what God is doing rather than what man is doing. God is the protagonist, the hero, the main character.
- Think big: Rather than trying to work out the many details of the both the narrative and the law parts, try to first understand the flow of each major section of the book. For instance, notice that the law is given after Israel was saved. Notice that the ten commandments are the core of the covenant of Sinai and that these are expounded on in the subsequent chapters. Notice that the book begins with Israel in slavery and it ends with Israel in the presence of the glory of God. Ask yourself why the material is arranged the way it is and what message Moses wants to communicate.
- Look for the principle: In the Mosaic law, we often find specific case laws that illustrate a general principle. Look for these principles. What do they teach about God’s character and God’s ways?
- Learn about God and man: As you read, study how God acts and how man (Israel) acts. You’ll be amazed at what you find. God is infinitely better than you’d expect and Israel is utterly failing.
- Look for Jesus, for Moses wrote of him (John 5:46): As you read, think of people, places, and events that prepare for, point to or typify the Christ event. For example, when Moses pleads to the Lord after Israel made the golden calf, he asked that God would blot him out instead of the people (32:31-32).
A lot more could be said, and I keep these tips a bit general, even vague at times, simply because I don’t want anyone to be content with the material I offer and not read the actual biblical text. Still, hopefully, this helps to get started with Exodus.