How the Storyline of the Bible is Summarized in Exodus 1-2

I’m starting my summer series on Exodus this coming Sunday, and it struck me how the first two chapters of the book are a microcosm of sorts for the storyline of the Bible.

Creation (1:1-7): The book kicks off by painting Israel with colors from the palette of Genesis 1, “But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly (literally, “swarmed,” cf. Gen. 1:20-21); they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land (or, “earth,” cf. Gen. 1:28) was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7).

The Effects of the Fall (1:8-22): Although Moses describes Israel as a new humanity, we quickly see that the curse of Genesis 3 remains in full force. First, the Egyptians enslave Israel and force them to do hard work, among other places, in a field (1:14; cf. Gen. 3:17-19). Second, the women experience turmoil as the bear children from Pharaoh’s attempts to kill the male babies (1:15-22; cf. Gen. 3:15-16).

God appoints a savior (2:1-10): Moses is born, bearing all the characteristics of both savior figures seen so far in the narrative of the Bible: Joseph and Noah. Like Joseph, he’s a good looking kid (2:2; cf. Gen. 39:6) who ascends from condemnation to Pharaoh’s royal court. Like Noah, he escapes drowning by means of a basket. The Hebrew here for “basket” only appears elsewhere in Genesis 6-9 as the word for “ark”. Moses, the author, wants us to make this connection.

Israel rejects God’s appointed savior (2:11-15): But when Moses visits God’s people to save them, they reject him. Some say that Moses was a murderer, but Stephen interprets this passage differently, “He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand” (Acts 7:25).

Therefore, the 40 years that Moses was in Midian before the Exodus took place (Acts 7:30) was not a punishment for Moses but for Israel. God made them wait to enter the Promised Land. They’ll have to wait another 40 years later.

The Gentiles receive God’s appointed savior (2:16-22): Moses doesn’t put his calling as a savior on airplane mode. When shepherds mistreated the daughters of the priest of Midian, Moses “saved them” and “delivered [them] out of the hand of the shepherds” (2:17-18; see Ex. 3:8). Moses is then welcomed into this Gentile family and marries one of the daughters.

God stays faithful to his covenant (2:23-25): When Israel cries out to God for help, he hears them and remembers his covenant.

This account is strikingly similar to the flow of the entire biblical narrative. God creates, people fall, the Father sends his Son to save them, but God’s people reject the Son, which opens the door for the Gentiles to receive the Son. But, if the Jews put their faith in God’s Son, they can be grafted back in (Rom. 11:23).