In this session, we’ll look at the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. We’ll tell the story of the enslavement of God’s people in Egypt, and the way that God rescued them by sending plagues on the Egyptians, and leading them out of Egypt through the Sea of Reeds.
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Leader’s Guide for group study
This Group Study Guide contains three questions, with Bible passages to read, together with some notes to help the group leader to guide the discussion.
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God reinforced and expanded on His promises to Abraham recorded in Genesis 12.1-3. He did this a number of times over many years: (1) Genesis 12.7; (2) Genesis 13.14-17; (3) Genesis 15.1-21; (4) Genesis 17.1-21; (5) Genesis 18.9-15; (6) Genesis 21.12; (7) Genesis 22.15-18.
►A paradise. God sent Abraham to Canaan. Canaan was like a new Garden of Eden (see Deuteronomy 8.7-10, 11.10-12).
►A people. God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. God promised Abraham that he would be fruitful and multiply. He was going to father a great nation (Genesis 12.2). Abraham fathered the nation of Israel. Later, God promised that Abraham would be “the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17.4). As well as Israel, Abraham fathered the Ishmaelites through Hagar (see Genesis 17.20, 21.13, 25.12-18), the Midianites (among others) through Keturah (Genesis 25.1-4), and the Edomites through Isaac and Rebekah (see Genesis 25.19-26, 36.1-43).
►A blessing. God blessed Adam and Eve. God promised that He would bless Abraham. And Abraham would himself be a blessing (Genesis 12.2); through him all the nations of the Earth would be blessed (Genesis 12.3, 18.18, 22.18).
What’s the significance of these three links? It’s this: Abraham was another new Adam. Abraham’s call launched a whole new phase in God’s rescue plan for humanity and for this planet. Adam was the father of rebellious humanity. Abraham was the father of a new humanity – God’s people. That includes us Christians!
►In Genesis 15.7-21 we read about how God sealed His covenant with Abraham. In those days, when two kings made a covenant, they would offer a sacrifice. If one of the kings was less powerful, he might have to walk between the pieces of the sacrifices. This act signified that if he ever broke the covenant, he would have to die. Abraham was the junior partner in this covenant with God. He should have walked between the sacrifices. But instead God walked between them. It seems quite possible that God was saying, in effect, “if this covenant is ever broken, I myself will suffer the penalty of death.” Abraham’s descendants, God’s people, did break the covenant. They should have suffered the penalty of death. But – as we’ll see later in our journey – the Son of God, Jesus Christ, paid that penalty for them. He died in their place.
►God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on a mountain in the land of Moriah (Genesis 22.2). Solomon built the Temple “in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3.1). The mountain in the land of Moriah may well be the Mount Moriah at Jerusalem. This was close to where Jesus was crucified. But in any case, Moriah and mount (or mountain ) link the two events. Abraham’s sacrifice of his only son looks forward to the sacrifice of God’s only Son on the Cross.
►Joseph is a picture of Jesus. Joseph was rejected by his family. Jesus was rejected by his own nation. Joseph saved people from starvation. Jesus saves people from spiritual death – that is, from being cut off from relationship with God for ever.
►Before he died, Jacob prophesied over his son Judah: “The sceptre will not depart from Judah, . . . until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.” (Genesis 49.10 NIV). A King was going to come, who would be a descendant of Judah. This King would rule the world. Ultimately, this prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus.
►The Passover meal (Exodus 12.1-13) points forward to Jesus. He is our Passover Lamb. The Passover lambs died instead of the firstborn sons. Jesus died instead of us. Jesus died to save us from spiritual death. And He released us from slavery – not from slavery to human masters, but from slavery to sin. We’ll look at this more later in our journey.
On all three occasions God brings about a new land and a new people through water.
►At the original creation, dry land emerged from the waters covering the Earth (see Genesis 1.9-10 and 2 Peter 3.5). And God created the first humans.
►After the great Flood, dry land emerges from the waters covering the land. And, as we learned in session 5, Noah was a new Adam. He was the father of a new humanity. The Flood, so to speak, brought about a new creation.
►At the Exodus, God’s people “passed through the sea” (1 Corinthians 10.1). Paul calls it a baptism (1 Corinthians 10.2). At the Passover and Exodus, God created a new people – Israel. For the first time in the Bible, we read of “the congregation of Israel” (Exodus 12.3,6,19,47). God’s nation, Israel, was born. God appointed the month in which Passover occurred as the first month of their calendar year (Exodus 12.2). We celebrate our birthdays every year. God’s people celebrated their national birthday every year at the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread (see Exodus 12.14-20,24-27, Leviticus 23.5-8). And the Promised Land that God was leading Israel to was a new paradise.
In these three events, we can see this wonderful truth: God is the God of new beginnings. We’ll see this time and again through the Bible. And believers are new creations, too. Paul writes “. . . if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5.17) We’ll explore this truth more in session 12.
One Hebrew word links all three occasions. God’s Spirit (Hebrew rûach) moved over the Earth at the beginning (Genesis 1.2). After the Flood, “. . . God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” (Genesis 8.1). The Hebrew word for “wind” here is rûach. At the Exodus, God sent a “wind” (Hebrew rûach ) over the sea (Exodus 14.21).
CREDITS ► Text copyright © 2017 Robert Gordon Betts ► Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ► Scripture quotations marked ‘NIV’ are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.