There are times when reading the Bible that I have to sit back and laughingly say to myself, “You can’t make this stuff up!” The events that take place and the people involved provide for comic relief and sobering self-reflection, among many other thoughts and feeling. The book of Exodus is one such book that draws upon the reader a wide array of thoughts and feelings. Its characters, like Moses and Pharaoh, seem larger than life and the events that take place send ripples throughout the rest of history.
As part of the Preaching the Word series, edited by R. Kent Hughes, pastor and theologian Philip Graham Ryken has has written Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory. Theses commentaries are the book form of sermon series preached on the books of the Bible. They are written by pastors for pastors. As such they are intensely tied to the text of Scripture with plenty of relevant application that is personally and socially aimed. For those familiar with Philip Graham Ryken you will not be disappointed. Ryken provides the insightful commentary that he is known for which is tied closely to the text. He shows an adept ability to draw the reader into the text through commentary and contemporary observation.
Theologically, Graham is Evangelical, Reformed, and his outlook on Exodus is that it points to the glory of God in the salvation of His people and points towards Christ at very turn. Graham sees the life of Moses and Jesus as intimately tied together. Also, “the exodus set the pattern for the life of Christ.” (23) Just as Moses came out of Egypt so did Jesus. Just as Moses led God’s people through the wilderness so did Jesus. Further, because the exodus is a pattern of what Christ has done for His people, it is also a pattern of the Christian life. “Since the exodus is a story of deliverance from bondage through the work of a savior, it is the story of the Christian life.” (24) Thus, Graham affirms with Paul that Exodus is practical for the Christian life (1 Cor. 10:11).
Historically, Graham does not shy away from dealing with the vast array of competing historical views on the various events like the plagues in Egypt, the Exodus event itself, and the Mt. Sinai account. While seeing a good case to be made for an early or late date of the exodus, Graham favors the early date (22). He views the plagues as a picture of the battle between God and Satan which has played itself out in history. For Graham, all of the plagues actually happened as they are presented. While some are happy to see the first plague (river of blood) as the water turning into something like blood, Graham is insistent that it was literal blood (219-20). The crossing of the Red Sea, the death of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai and the golden calf incident are all events that happened in history. They are not myth, they are not legend, and they are not metaphorical stories made up in order to make sense of Israel’s past and give them hope for a future.
Practically, Graham weaves the lessons learned about God and His people into the lives of his readers. Since Moses and the exodus are a pattern of Christ’s person and work and the exodus is a pattern of the Christian life, Graham is equipped to make ample application for us today. Just as God brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt so He brings His people today out of bondage from sin. It is through Jesus that this is accomplished. Graham sums up the book of Exodus in the last paragraph of the book:
Once we we re in bondage to sin, enslaved by its tyranny. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – our Passover Lamb – God has delivered us from the Egypt of our sin. Now he is leading us through our earthly wilderness, with all its difficulties and dangers. The great God of the exodus will never leave us or forsake us. In the church he has set up a sanctuary where even now we may enter his presence for worship. And one day son Jesus will come down in glory to take us up into the glory that will never end. Everyone who trusts in him will be saved for the glory of God. (1164)
For more reasons than I can list here I heartily recommend Graham’s commentary on Exodus. It is a faithful mix of exegetical and biblical groundedness and theological sharpness. Graham shows that even a book like Exodus is not boring and is full of spiritual life for the church today. This commentary reaches to both the needs of pastors and layman alike and I recommend it for all to use.
I received this book for free from Crossway for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”