In yesterday’s post on Genesis, I tried to explain the contrast between Genesis 4 and the way the Abraham’s family treated each other toward the end of the book. God said that he was going to do something special with Abraham’s family, and you can see his work, at the very least, in the way Esau forgave Jacob and the way Joseph forgave his brothers.
I want to ask the question again in relation to Exodus? What is God doing with Abraham’s family that is so special?
Through difficulties and desert days, he is forming this people into a reflection of his image. Listen to the way the Lord describes his own character in light of the Esau/Joseph/Cain comparison:
Yahweh passed before Moses and proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who by no means clear the guilty …” (Exodus 34:6–7)
I found another passage striking in this same way. The people gathered manna for only six days, not seven. Before an official Sabbath day was instituted, it says,
So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:30)
That sounds just like Genesis 1:3:
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 1:3)
Presence leading to reflection
What is he doing with Abraham’s family? God is drawing nearer and nearer. In Genesis, God drew near as he made covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They encountered him in strange visions and messengers. In Exodus, he draws nearer with more strange appearances (for example, the burning bush) but more notably via miraculous deliverance and judgment — by the plagues, by appearing in the cloud and the pillar of fire, and by parting the Red Sea.
At Sinai, he drew so close that his presence was like thunder and lightning and the people said, “Speak no more! We can’t take it.” Moses got so close that his face shown like a light bulb and he had to wear a veil. At Sinai, he gave the people specific instructions for how to live a good life and thereby reflect his image.
Finally, in the last portion of the book, the tabernacle was finished, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. As God’s presence among his people increases so increases the reflection of his character in his people.