Story of the Old Testament - Lesson 4

By Glen Pemberton

Title: The Exodus

Text: Exodus 1-18

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. To help the student grasp the basic story line of the Old Testament as it develops in Exodus 1-18.
  2. To impress the student with the reliability and power of God.
  3. To help the student understand that God’s greatest desire is for all people (Israel and Egypt) to know Him and live in a close relationship with Him.


  1. A Bible for each student.
  2. A chalkboard or marker board.
  3. Copies of Student Handout #4 (“The Exodus”)


God is true to his promises. After many years in Egypt, the family of Israel has grown immensely - a great blessing and also the source of a new threat from the Pharaoh. God summons Moses to deliver the people and, after a series of excuses, Moses heads for Egypt. The Lord uses ten plagues to free the people and to demonstrate to Pharaoh, Egypt, Israel and the whole world that he is the only true God.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class:

Introduction: (about 5 minutes)

  1. Welcome visitors, make any necessary announcements.
  2. Spend time taking prayer requests & leading the class in prayer.

Learning Experiences: (about 30 minutes)

  1. Review & set the stage for today’s study.
    1. Review
      1. Q. What is the story of Genesis? (Immediately break this question into the previous units of study)
        1. Q. What happened in Genesis 1-2? (good creation)
        2. Q. What happened in Genesis 3-11? (sin)
        3. Q. What happened in Genesis 12-50? (God initiates a plan composed of 3 basic promises: great nation, land, bless the world through Abraham)
      2. Q. At the end of Genesis, what is the status of God’s plan to fix the crisis of sin?
    2. As we begin to read Exodus, we discover that many years have elapsed since the end of Genesis. (Read Exod 1:1-8) Quickly identify and list the new developments:
      1. Joseph & brothers have died. (1:6)
      2. The family has grown tremendously (1:7). God is keeping his promise to this family!
      3. There is a new Pharaoh (a new regime) who is afraid of the Israelites!
        1. Q. Why is Pharaoh afraid? A. He fears their size & possible rebellion.
        2. Consequently, Pharaoh employs three strategies to check the expansion of Israel and control them (summarize the following information):
          1. Pharaoh oppresses them with forced labor to curb their expansion (1:11-14). But the more they are oppressed, the more the Israelites increase (1:12).
          2. Pharaoh initiates a secret plan involving midwives to kill all the male Israelite babies to control the population and the threat of revolt (1:15-21). Again, the plan does not work because the midwives respect God and refuse to cooperate.
          3. Pharaoh orders all the people to throw Israelite male infants into the Nile (1:22). The plan is no longer secretive, but is an open and public attack upon the people of Israel.
    3. Q. What is the situation as the book of Exodus opens? (Answer in terms of the 3 promises)
      1. Great Nation: They have become a numerous people, but are not yet a nation.
      2. Land: They have no land of their own. They are oppressed slaves living in a foreign land.
      3. Blessing: God’s chosen instrument for blessing the world has great need of God’s blessing/salvation!
    4. Enter Stage Left: A man named Moses
  2. Body of the Lesson:
    1. Moses was uniquely prepared by God to lead the people out of Egypt. (Summarize Exodus 2:1-22)
      1. Born as an Israelite (NB: The term “Israelite” may need some explanation - “a descendant of Israel and member of the growing nation.”)
      2. Saved from death in Nile and adopted by a daughter of Pharaoh (2:1-8)
      3. Raised by Israelite parents (2:9-10)
      4. Trained by the Royal Court (2:10)
      5. Fails in an initial attempt to help his people (2:11-
      6. and runs away.
      7. He lives in the land of Midian (2:15e-22), learns to live in the wilderness, marries & has children.
    2. A long time passes (2:23), until one day God summons Moses to lead the people out of Egypt (3:1-4:17).
      1. God gets Moses' attention with a burning bush that does not burn up (3:1-6).
      2. Then, God explains to Moses what he wants him to do (Read 3:7-10).
      3. Moses responds with a series of 5 excuses:
        1. Read 3:11-12
          1. Q. What is excuse #1? A. Who am I (Moses)? (3:11)
          2. God’s Response: I will be with you (3:12).
          3. The issue is not “who you are” but “whose you are”
        2. Read 3:13-15
          1. Q. What is excuse #2? A. Who are you? (3:13)
          2. God’s Response: Revelation of the divine name “Yahweh” (the LORD [most English translation] or Jehovah [NASV]; 3:15-16)
        3. Read 4:1
          1. Q. What is excuse #3? A. What if they don't believe me? (4:1)
          2. God's Response: 3 signs
            1. Moses’ staff turns into a snake (4:2-5)
            2. Moses’ hand turns Leprous (4:6-8)
            3. Moses is instructed to turn the water into Blood (4:9)
        4. Read 4:10-12
          1. Q. What is excuse #4? A. I cannot speak well (4:10)
          2. God’s Response: I made your mouth & I will teach you what to say (4:11-12)
        5. Read 4:13-16
          1. Q. What is excuse #5? A. Send someone else (4:13)
          2. God is furious with Moses (4:14) but agrees to send Aaron as a helper (4:14-16).
      4. So, to make a long story short, Moses heads out for Egypt to lead the people out of slavery and to the “promised” land.
    3. As one might expect, the Pharaoh was not too excited about letting the Israelite work force leave his country! Consequently, the Lord performs ten “plagues” against Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to let the people go.
      1. Why does the Lord use ten plagues?
        1. Q. Use your imagination, in what ways (other than plagues) could God have delivered the people from Egypt? A. God could have killed all the Egyptians, put them to sleep while Israel left, or transported Israel in another miraculous way.
        2. But God uses plagues. Why?
          1. These chapters suggest 4 important reasons the Lord used plagues to deliver his people.
            1. When Moses first approaches Pharaoh, the Pharaoh asks Moses a key question. (Read Exod 5:2)
              1. Q. What does the Pharaoh ask? A. Who is the Lord? (The Pharaoh will now receive a ten lesson correspondence course on the identity and power of “the Lord.”)
              2. Read Exod 9:13-15. Q. Why does the Lord send plagues against Egypt? A. So that Pharaoh will know the Lord is the only true God!
            2. Read Exod 7:5; 14:4
              1. Q. What is a second reason that God sends plagues? A. So that the Egyptians will know the Lord.
            3. Read Exod 10:1-2
              1. Q. What is a third reason that God sends plagues? A. So that Israel may know that the Lord is the true God.
              2. Read Exod 9:16
                1. Q. What is a fourth reason that God sends plagues? A. So that the world may know that the Lord is God.
        1. Summary: God used plagues, not to be cruel to Egypt, but in an attempt to reach out to Egypt and the whole world!
          1. Recall the promise of Genesis 12:3. Clearly, God is working through Israel to bless and bring the world back to him.
          2. Some, in fact, respond and “convert” because of the plagues. Read Exod 9:16-21 (especially notice vv. 20-21).


(about 5 minutes; select one or more of the following topics) 1. Moses is a reluctant servant. He does not want the task of leadership, but God is determined that he will lead the people out of slavery. Q. When is the last time it seemed that God was determined for you to do a job that you really did not want? How did you respond? What excuses did you make? What do you think God would say in response? 2. God clearly wants to do more than just deliver the Israelites out of slavery. God wants the whole world to know him, including Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Q. Does God have the same desires today? (cf. Matt 28:18-20) What should be our role in teaching the world about God? Are we doing this? Why or why not? 3. God is reliable and powerful enough to keep his promises. Q. Do you think the Israelites wondered about God’s love and concern for them? Why do we sometimes struggle with believing that God loves us?


Read Exod 20:1-21


Prayer that:

  1. Thanks God for being true to his promises - in the past and in the present.
  2. Acknowledges our struggle to trust God.
  3. Asks God to help us trust him and teach the world about his love.

Additional Resources:

There are several films that cover this era of the Old Testament story (e.g., The Ten Commandments and The Prince of Egypt). Because of their interpretive and entertaining nature, these films take liberties with the story line. Nonetheless, they may be helpful as convenient and interesting tools to watch and then discuss as a group.

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