1. God is still the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
The expression “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (3:6, 15; 4:5) occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament. God is identified as their God because of the covenant He made with them. That very covenant is the reason He moves to deliver Israel from Egypt (2:24). As the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a continuity is maintained: the God of Israel who is about to deliver them from Egypt is the same God Almighty who worked so powerfully in the lives of the patriarchs. “This is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will lift Him up” (15:2b). Being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also suggests that He is the living God. Hundreds of years later, He is still their God. That He is still their God implies that they—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—are still alive, as Jesus deduces in his discussion with the Sadducees: “He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt. 22:32).
2. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the eternal I AM
Exodus 1-18 deepens our understanding of Yahweh (or Jehovah) as the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God has multiple titles or appellations: God, God most high, God almighty, Lord, Lord of hosts, and many others. But He has only one name—Yahweh—and that name is clearly revealed in the Exodus from Egypt in a way that it had not been revealed before. The name Yahweh is related to the Hebrew verb of being. That’s why God explained His name to Moses at the burning bush as “I am that I am” (3:14). Essentially, the name Yahweh means “He is.” And if He is, then He is always the same. He is what He was and He is what He will be. He is the same God who made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and is now at work to fulfill the promises He made to them. “I have remembered My covenant; therefore, tell the children of Israel, I am Yahweh, and I will bring you out from under the forced labor of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from bondage to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment” (6:5b-6).
3. The eternal I AM is greater than Pharaoh and all the gods of Egypt
Pharaoh stands between God’s promises to the patriarchs and the fulfillment of those promises. But Exodus 1-18 reveals that Pharaoh is no obstacle at all to the eternal I AM who, through a succession of plagues, humbles Pharaoh and brings Egypt to its knees. The Egyptians themselves voice their concern to Pharaoh, “Do you not yet realize that Egypt is destroyed?” (10:7). Nothing but divine power could break the obstinacy of Pharaoh’s heart. “I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go except by a powerful hand” (3:19). God’s was the powerful hand that freed Israel from Pharaoh and from their bondage (see 13:3, 9, 14, 16). In the climactic tenth plague, God killed the firstborn of every household that had not slain a lamb and applied its blood to the doorposts. Every year, Israel was to commemorate this event as the Passover (12:24-27). All the might of ancient Egypt proved no match for Israel’s God. Even Moses’ father-in-law Jethro comes to faith in Israel’s God as a result of the acts of great power poured out on Egypt: “now I know that Yahweh is greater than all the gods of Egypt” (18:11).
4. Just as He promised Abraham, God delivers Israel from her oppressors.
God’s humbling of Egypt was exactly what God had promised Abraham He would do hundreds of years earlier (Gen. 15:14). And His bringing Israel out of Egypt is frequently heralded in the Old Testament as one of His greatest works on behalf of Abraham’s descendants. “Out of Egypt, I called My son” (Hosea 11:1). What God did in bringing Israel out of Egypt and delivering them from the Egyptian army at the Red Sea was intended by Him to foster unwavering confidence in Him. If He could deliver them from Egypt, then He can provide for them during their travels and He can surely bring them into the land He promised to their forefathers. Too often in its history, Israel forgot the realities they celebrated so joyfully after their escape at the Red Sea, “Who is like you, O Yahweh, among the gods? Who like you is glorious in holiness, being revered with praises, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them. You will lead with your faithful love this people you redeemed. You will guide them by your strength to your holy habitation” (Exod. 15:11-13).
- What promise at the end of Genesis does Joseph expect God to fulfill?
- To whom did God make that promise? (Should we expect the fulfillment of all God’s promises during this lifetime?)
- Think of two or three promises in the Bible that apply to you and that you especially feel the need of?
- Do you expect God to fulfill these promises to you?
- How can meditating on what God did for Israel in Exodus 1-18 help you to more fully trust Him to fulfill His promises to you?
- Just as He did for Israel in the exodus from Egypt, God wants to reveal Himself and His ways as He works toward the fulfillment of His promises to us. Think of a promise God has fulfilled for you or maybe a promise the fulfillment of which is still unfolding. What is God revealing to you about Himself and/or His ways through His fulfillment of that promise?
- Can mighty, obstinate Pharaoh keep God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from being fulfilled? What do you see as obstacles to God’s promises to you? Are they really obstacles?
- How should God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt assure them of His care of them in their travels?