The Book of Exodus is full of history, personalities, action, miracles, and theological important teaching. Many people associate this book with Moses and the 10 commandments and in doing so, they are mostly correct; however, the Book of Exodus is more than an exciting story with interesting characters who did some amazing things by the power of God. Exodus reveals God’s salvation plan, one that focuses on the people of Israel. Moreover, it is a story that continues to have great importance for us today. Philip Ryken, in his contribution to the excellent commentary series Preaching the Word, shares with the reader the message of deliverance for the glory of God.
Ryken’s commentary on Exodus is rather lengthy and rightly so given all the important events and information found throughout the Book of Exodus. At over 1200 pages, some may be initially taken aback and scared away from tackling this commentary. To those concerned over its length, remember this is a commentary. Most commentaries are not intended to be read from beginning to end. A work such as this should be used as a valuable resource when engaging elements of Exodus that may require additional insight.
Furthermore, while Ryken is most certainly a scholar and approaches the Book of Exodus in a scholarly manner, this commentary is one that is highly accessible to all believers. The goal of the Preaching the Word commentary series is after all to provide pastors with salient theological insight on the books of Scripture that they in turn may share with their parishioners. This means those parishioners should also feel quite comfortable tackling even a commentary as large as this particular volume. There may be aspects of Ryken’s discussion that will force the reader to grow in their knowledge of Scripture which is yet another positive aspect of this commentary.
At the outset of this commentary, Ryken aptly notes in regards to the story found in Exodus, “Once heard, the story is never forgotten. For Jews it is the story that defines their very existence, the rescue that made them God’s people. For Christians it is the gospel of the Old Testament, God’s first great act of redemption.” The significance of the Exodus and events such as the Passover and the giving of God’s Law at Mt. Sinai cannot be overstated. Throughout this vital biblical book, we find that underlying biblical message of redemption from bondage.
Ryken correctly states this book must be understood as completely historical in nature. The events that are noted throughout Exodus actually took place in history. They are not mere symbolism to note how much God loves His people. God actually and actively worked within history and we should have the utmost confidence that He actually delivered a real people (Israel) from a real country (Egypt) and took them across a real body of water (Red Sea) towards a real land of promise (the land of Israel). Ryken does an excellent job of noting the historical “difficulties” that have been asserted by those who desire to question the historical validity of the Exodus account. He aptly interacts with historical research and archaeological accounts to demonstrate what we should not to be true already, namely that the biblical account is completely accurate.
There are certain areas of every book of Scripture that seem to cause a great deal of debate. When it comes to Exodus, it seems the continued validity of the Law falls into that category of fervent debate. Ryken does a great job of first affirming that God’s Law is still applicable for us today. He then focuses on the moral law, that aspect of the law that demonstrates exactly how we are to love God and love others. He correctly notes “The more clearly we see what God’s law requires, the more obvious it becomes that we cannot keep its commands, which is exactly why we need the gospel.”
In the Book of Exodus, we find a magnificent demonstration of salvation from bondage. We see the message of the gospel revealed. Furthermore, we find what Ryken clearly notes as an important “connection between God’s grace and God’s law.” God has delivered His people from bondage by His grace. In response to that grace, God’s people are provided with what God expects from His people, namely holiness. Ryken avers “As believers in Christ, we are called to live in a way that is pleasing to God, which means living according to his perfect standard.” Thus, within the pages of Exodus, believers must recognize God’s standard of behavior as well as noting that through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s Law will be written on our hearts so we can live for His glory.
This is a commentary I highly recommend for all believers to sink their teeth into. Ryken covers a wide range of important topics, all of which are highly important for us to understand not only within the context of the book of Exodus, but also within the grand scope of Scripture and the message of redemption and salvation that resides within its pages. If you are looking to begin an in-depth study of Exodus, this is most definitely a commentary to have as part of your Bible study tool belt.
Buy the book at Exodus (Redesign): Saved for God’s Glory (Preaching the Word), WTS, or from the publisher Crossway by clicking here.