Roberts, Alastair J. and Andrew Wilson. Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption through Scripture. Wheaton: Crossway, 2018. 173 pp.
My oldest son is four years old. As a four year old, he spends a few hours every day in school working through a few pages of his pre-k books, and recently he’s been learning about patterns. He’s learning to look back on the rhythms of the past to predict what will come next in the series as he fills in the blank spaces in his workbook. As a Christian dad, I love the fact that he’s learning about patterns so early because I want him to be able to rightly understand the Bible, a book filled with patterns and themes about creation and fall and redemption that grow and heighten throughout history as they find their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ and his consummated kingdom.
In Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption through Scripture, Alastair Roberts and Andrew Wilson employ a musical reading of Scripture to demonstrate how Israel’s defining moment in their exodus from Egypt is part of a greater pattern of redemption for the people of God found throughout the entire Bible pointing to and culminating in Christ. The first movement focuses on the redemption of the people of God seen most clearly in Israel’s exodus from Egyptian bondage and deliverance to serve the LORD in the promised land. The second movement goes back in time to trace the themes of redemption through the book of Genesis while the third movement carries the song forward through the remainder of the Old Testament. The fourth and final movement captures the crescendo of the redemption theme by connecting full and final redemption for God’s people to Christ in his deliverance of us from the kingdom of sin and Satan into his eternal kingdom of light.
The main thesis of the book that the “exodus is central to the Scriptures, central to the gospel, and central to the Christian life” is clearly proved (9). In the midst of an evil generation worthy of the judgment of God, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord and was delivered through the watery wrath of God, just as Israel was delivered through crossing the Red Sea. The authors conclude, “Just as God remembered Israel and led them to a mountain where he gave them a new covenant, new laws, and ultimately rest, so God remembers Noah (8:1) and brings him safely to a mountain, where he receives a new covenant, new laws, and a place of rest” (59).
The same exodus parallels at the beginning of the Bible are also present at the end, which is why one needs less of prophecy charts and more of Exodus in order to understand Revelation. The book of Revelation “begins, like the story of Moses, with awe-inspiring visions of God (chaps. 1, 4) alongside promises of the rescue that will come at the end of the church’s sufferings (2-3). This rescue comes through a slain Lamb, like the Passover lamb, who appears in response to the cries of God’s people, ransoms them, and makes them kings and priests (5)” (154). The authors continue, “The people of Israel are sealed, so that they cannot be destroyed by the judgment coming on the world (7); those “coming out of the great tribulation” (like Egypt; Rev. 7:14) include people from every tribe and nation (like Israel), and they are guided by a shepherd (like Moses) to streams of living water and to serve God in his temple (like the exodus)” (154). This ending is fitting because it reveals to us that the Bible is a “redemption story”, “a cosmic exodus, stretching from Eden to the New Jerusalem” (155).
In the midst of this almost overwhelming whirlwind overview of the themes of redemption found on repeat throughout the Bible, the most helpful contribution of this book is the way that it seeks to ground Christians in the redemptive story of the Bible. The Bible is not a book of systematic theology or merely a Christian reference book. “We are to read about the exodus like we might read about the D-day landings: as a defining history that explains who we are. The exodus is our family story” (10). And as exodus people, being free from sin to serve God in Christ shapes how we live.
“Exodus people know what it is to be ground into the dust by those with power. So whenever we see it happening to others—racial minorities, slaves, trafficked women, the poor, unborn children, refugees, the homeless, those with disabilities, sojourners, orphans, widows—we act….We use our power to serve the interests of those without it, because the exodus was never just for us. Free people free people. And of course, we tell this story” (162). As Christians, we are exodus people called to live in light of the cosmic exodus being fulfilled in Christ as we seek the redemption of people from every nation with the gospel of King Jesus.
Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption through Scripture is another helpful biblical theology book that helps the bride of Christ understand the story into which we’ve been adopted through Christ, which roots us in the story of redemption that God has been telling since creation and shapes our lives in light of it. May this book help us grasp that we are exodus people, and may it help us live as people of redemption in a world in bondage to sin.