Between Then and Now


At the end of the book of Genesis, the future looks bright for the Israelites. They have a covenant promise from God that he will bless them, and that he will also use them to bless the nations (Genesis 12:1-3). They have a fruitful piece of land down in Egypt, where their people are flourishing. Joseph, one of their own, is in a position of authority over the entire country. Life couldn’t be going any better.

But, as we turn the page in our Bible to Exodus, something has gone terribly wrong. Four hundred years have passed, and the Israelite people have fallen from a position of strength into a position of slavery. The new king of Egypt has no allegiance to the Israelites, and he sees them as a foreign and threatening people who need to be subdued.

Back in Genesis, God never mentioned anything about being enslaved. He never mentioned that the men and women of Israel would spend their days building cities for Pharaoh. What kind of covenant is this, after all?


(Genesis 47:4-6)

4 They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” 5 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

(Exodus 1:8-11)

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, 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.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.


Thankfully, we serve a God who redeems.

The story of Exodus is sewn into our hearts, as all of us cry out for someone to save us, and to offer us a new beginning. God raises up two Israelite men named Moses and Aaron to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt and into the land he promised to Abraham long before. The Egyptians learn, painfully, that the God of Israel has a severe love for his people. God unfolds an amazing and miraculous story of rescue, which ultimately sets the stage for another great rescue that comes with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But just because God sets the people free, it doesn’t mean they will follow him. People are sinful and cannot stand up to a righteous God. After the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, they have to manage the burden of independence as a nation, and learn the need for dependence on God’s leadership. So begins a long and tumultuous relationship between the Israelites and God that carries on for the entirety of the Old Testament.

  • Take some time to thank God that he keeps his promises, and that he has a redemptive love for all his people.
  • Pray that God will use the study of the book of Exodus to help you grow closer to him.