InterVarsity Press Academic recently published Exodus Old and New: A Biblical Theology of Redemption by Dr. L. Michael Morales (Professor of Biblical Studies). The second volume in the recently launched Essential Studies in Biblical Theology series, Exodus Old and New presents the key elements of three major redemption movements in Scripture: the exodus out of Egpyt, the second exodus foretold by the prophets, and the new exodus accomplished by Jesus Christ. Far from a commentary on the biblical book of Exodus, this new book is an accessible volume of biblical theology which will help readers to grasp one of the major motifs of the Bible. A team of editors and key contributors for The Gospel Coalition (TGC) has recognized Exodus Old and New with a 2020 Book Award in the category of Academic Theology (for more info, click here).
To mark the release of the book, Dr. Morales sat down for an interview on the Seminary’s podcast, Confessing Our Hope. The following interview excerpt is drawn from the episode, which is online at both sermonaudio.com/gpts and anchor.fm/gpts.
Why did you choose to unpack a biblical theology of redemption by focusing on the exodus out of Egypt, the second exodus foretold by the prophets, and the new exodus accomplished by Jesus Christ?
I was wanting to follow the movement of the canon itself. So broadly, from the Torah, through the Prophets, and then moving into the New Testament. One of the forms of unity is history itself; that’s one of the main lines of unity in the canon. So, I was following those three major movements of history. There are other avenues I could have chosen. For example, one approach could have been to look at the exodus motif for every book in the Bible, which of course would have taken many volumes. The simplest way to offer a brief overview of the canon was to focus on those three historical movements you’ve mentioned. That being said, I did include some additional material, including a chapter on the exodus motif in the life of Abraham. In doing that, I tried to show that even before the Exodus event, we see these motifs – Abraham could be said to have lived an exodus-shaped life.
What are the major themes of the exodus out of Egypt that then find expression in both the second exodus in the prophets and then the new exodus in Christ? Specifically, what thematic or textual parallels do you find particularly compelling?
There is a large variety of different aspects to the exodus motif. When we think about the exodus movement comprehensively, it involves more than just the exodus out of Egypt, but the wilderness traditions, even the entry into the Land. So really, the first exodus pattern is out of Egypt all the way to the Promised Land, and it culminates with Solomon’s temple. But speaking of the Exodus proper – just the exit out of Egypt – the main glorious theme of the exodus out of Egypt is the knowlege of Yahweh. The way that He delivered His people brings glory to His Name. We see that coming up in the prophets. Ezekiel, for example, has very similar statements scattered throughout his prophecies that when God acts again in redemption anew that it will lead to greater knowledge of the Lord.
The deliverance out of exile is another theme. We know again that Israel wound up back in exile, and it was in God’s wisdom that He orchestrated events for Israel to wind up down in Egypt and to deliver them from exile as the great pattern, and even His pattern of deliverance of the nations out of exile. Ultimately, the true exodus, the definitive exodus will lead us out of exile – as in, separation from God – and we see that reiterated in the New Testament as well.
Other motifs include the fact that the Lord uses a shepherd to bring His people out. Obviously, He used Moses. Interestingly, He encountered Moses while he was shepherding sheep. He eventually raised up David as the shepherd over His people. For the second exodus prophesied, we find out that the new Moses will be a new David. Again, this we find scattered throughout the prophets – Ezekiel is one of the obvious ones.
But another theme is seen in the fact that this deliverance is a redemption. Passover is a huge theme. Without the Passover, the deliverance out of Egypt would have been reduced to a political release. But through the Passover – through the shedding of blood – the whole theology becomes a ransoming from death. The fact that God refers to Israel as His firstborn in confronting Pharaoh through Moses leads us to look at the exodus out of Egypt as the redemption of God’s firstborn son from death. That’s an idea that of course culminates with the resurrection of God’s true and eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from the dead. A lot of these motifs get reiterated by the prophets and then taken up by Christ in the New Testament.
What difference ought a close examination of the theme of redemption as expressed in these three exodus movements have on Christian living, and especially according to the Apostle Paul?
I refer to Paul as the Apostle of the Resurrection, and incorporating material from Paul’s epistles was a great inspiration and delight to me. Again, it just ministered to my own soul in working through the material. It made me realize afresh how central to Paul’s thinking the resurrection of Christ was. Of course, along the Road to Damascus he encountered the risen Christ and that changed everything for him. He himself tells the church in Corinth that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). But through the resurrection, because it is the reality, God’s people have hope.
The resurrection is the great hope that Israel’s ancestors had in the Old Covenant, and it is the great hope that we have now through the assurance that Christ indeed has been raised. It is a great comfort in the face of death. In fact, Paul says in his letter to the Philippians that “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21b). Christ’s death and resurrection relates to every aspect of Paul’s theology. So in terms of sanctification, we are united to Christ and so we are raised up with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), and we are also called to die with Christ, to put to death more deeply our old sinful flesh, to mortify the flesh. Paul will even boast in the cross at the end of Galatians because he says that the cross is that mechanism by which the world is crucified to him and him to the world, and all of this is for the sake of bolstering his resurrection hope. Again, in his letter to the Philippians, he talks about himself being conformed to Christ’s death if by any means he might attain to the resurrection of the dead. That really is the key. The resurrection of the dead is the remedy to all the problems that God’s people face in this life. It is an important reminder that in this life we are to be crucifed with Christ, to die to this world and our sinful desires and the flesh, and we have this unshakeable hope that through the power of the resurrection we are enbled to put to death the deeds of the flesh. But it also reminds us that this life is full of suffering, and our ultimate hope is not for this age, but is to be raised up bodily with Christ and to enjoy everlasting life in a new creation. That is when we will really experience the true culminating exodus.
From beginning to end in Paul’s theology – all of his admonitions to Christians to suffer well and to be willing to suffer with Christ so as to be raised up in glory – it really seems to be the north star of his pastoral counsel. Again, for me, these were important reminders for my own soul as well, and so I hope that it will be a blessing to God’s people.
Exodus Old and New: A Biblical Theology of Redemption is available for purchase wherever books are sold, including at gpts.edu/shop. Ω