The Exodus is full of examples of God’s power and provision. First we saw how He provided manna and quail. Last week was pillars of cloud and fire. This week wraps up this three-part series with promises and peace—the most enduring provisions God made for His people.
Canadian schoolteacher Everett R. Storms spent a year-and-a-half reading the Bible to determine that God gave 7,487 promises directly to man. (An additional 1,323 fall into other categories.) By either total, it’s pretty amazing. If each promise were only one verse, one-fourth of the whole Bible would be promises. (Some promises were more than one verse, so use your imagination with that.)
Promise by another name
Interestingly, Old Testament Hebrew had no word that corresponds to our English word “promise.” Instead, God’s Word, by definition, was a promise. It was an obligation He willingly imposed upon Himself for the sake of His people. And He promised some extraordinary things.
In Exodus 6, before Moses and Aaron ever talked to Pharaoh, God promised:
- I am your God.
- I hear you.
- I am with you.
- I will show you My power.
- I will deliver you.
Is one promise above all?
Every promise God makes precious. But if push came to shove, would we truly need more than “I am with you”?
That blankets all other promises and ties them into a bundle.
The Apostle Paul wrote all of God’s promises are “yes” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). In my mind, “I am with you” is the Old Testament equivalent. All of God’s Old Testament promises are “yes” because He is always true to Himself.
Did God’s promises give the Israelites any reason to doubt Him?
But I do the same (argh). Do you?
Throughout history, God has repeated His promises. For example, think of what these words from Isaiah 43:10-13 (BSB) must have done for the Israelites in Babylonian exile:
Before Me no god was formed, and after Me none will come.
I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no Savior but Me.
I alone decreed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
‘So you are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I am God.
Even from eternity I am He, and none can deliver out of My hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?’
One feature about God’s promises stands out to me above all: many of them are unconditional. God’s fulfillment of them does not depend on any action from me. (Yes, some promises are conditional: “If you ___, then I will ____.” But if you read all of His promises, you’ll see many of them don’t come with conditions.)
Where did God promise peace in Exodus?
It’s easy to overlook the fact that Leviticus was written during the Exodus while the Israelites were camped at Mount Sinai. While Leviticus seems like a dusty collection of do’s and don’ts, it’s God instructing His people how to live in peace and favor with Him. God wanted to dwell in the Tabernacle. But even Moses couldn’t get near it because of God’s holiness. So God showed the Israelites (by dictating Leviticus) how they could live in peace and favor with a holy God.
From that we got “thank you” and “I’m sorry” sacrifices to God. Seven feasts to remind the Israelites who they were and whose they were. Purity rituals to reinforce that God is holy and requires His people to be morally pure.
Woven through all that are verses like Leviticus 26:6 (BSB): “And I will give peace to the land, and you will lie down with nothing to fear.” Among the blessings God bestows for obedience, peace ranks at the top. If the Israelites lived in peace with God, He’d bring peace to the land.
God brought the Israelites out of physical and spiritual bondage to a Canaan rest that was both physical and spiritual. Hebrews 4:1-11 exhorts us to make every effort to enter His Sabbath rest in a larger sense—the Canaan rest He has planned for us. The rest that comes when we abandon our Egypt, ask God to lead us through our wilderness, and focus all the moments of our lives on doing His will.
The Puritan Thomas Watson said, “The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.”
The world needs peace today more than ever. Yet mankind is intent on making his own version of heaven on earth in the hope it will bring him peace. How much simpler would life be if we turned to the only One who can bring true peace?
Can anything bring us peace more than the words “I am with you”?
I think not.
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A fun, visual way to learn about Leviticus in 7 minutes, courtesy of The Bible Project: https://bibleproject.com/learn/leviticus/