God rescues the Israelites from slavery and confronts Pharaoh’s evil.
How does God respond when his people cry out to him? The first part of the book of Exodus recounts a powerful confrontation between God and the injustice of Pharaoh. This section is a fast-paced narrative that leads to divine justice, rescue, and deliverance.
Exodus 1-18 Overview
Let My People Go
Abraham’s family has fulfilled God’s original command to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Exodus 1:7). But instead of ruling alongside God in his good world, the Israelites find themselves enslaved to a cruel Pharaoh in the land of Egypt.
In response to their cries, God raises up Moses as his representatives to deliver the Israelites. Moses confronts Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt through ten plagues, culminating in the Passover. God strikes down the firstborn sons in the land but provides a way of escape through the blood of lambs.
When the Egyptians pursue the fleeing Israelites, God parts the waters of the sea for the Israelites to cross and swallows the armies of Pharaoh behind them. The first song of praise exalts God as king and redeemer. Yet shortly after, the Israelites begin grumbling, showing their own hardness of heart.
Slavery in Egypt
Pharaoh is depicted as the most evil character in the story so far. He enacts forced labor and child murder. The Israelites cry to God for help, and God raises up Moses.
God vs. Pharaoh
God offers Pharaoh many chances to let the Israelites go. He brings ten plagues that show his power of all creation and Egypt’s feeble gods.
The introduction of the Passover festival accomplishes Israel’s redemption through the offering of a sacrificial substitute, a spotless lamb.
The Sea Crossing
God works a mighty miracle, and Israel worships God for his deliverance. They sing and look forward to the Promised Land.
The Wilderness Wanderings
Once free, God’s people begin to grumble themselves, showing their hard hearts toward the God who delivered them.