Wednesday 11 February 2009

Stephen G. Dempster on Exodus and Biblical Theology 2

Stephen J. Dempster, ‘Exodus and Biblical Theology: On Moving into the Neighborhood with a New Name’, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 12, 3 (2008), 4-23.

Dempster divides the book of Exodus into three major sections:

• Deliverance (1:1-15:21)
• Covenant (15:22-24:18)
• Presence (25:1-40:38)

Deliverance (Exodus 1:1-15:21)
The first section comes to a climax in the deliverance of the people, with the Lord’s power celebrated in the Song of the Sea (15:1-21).

Covenant (Exodus 15:22-24:18)
The second section leads to the mountain where God makes a covenant with the people. The family of Abraham has now become a nation, and the covenant God makes with the people is a continuation of the covenant made with the patriarchs. Exodus 19:5-6 is programmatic, stressing ‘that obedience to the covenant will lead to a unique relation to Yahweh and a unique relation to the rest of the nations’ (13). Israel is to be a kingdom of priests ‘whose congregation is nothing less than the globe’ (14). Israel is a ‘holy nation’ – set apart for God and ‘visible as such to the rest of the world’ (14).

Presence (Exodus 25:1-40:38)
The final section establishes the theme of the Lord’s presence taking up residence with the people – one of the main goals of the covenant (25:8; 29:42-46). Garden of Eden imagery is used in paraphernalia of the tabernacle showing that what is at stake ‘is a model of a new world with God at the center, living with his people’ (18). When the tent is finished, the new year begins (40:17). Exactly a year before Israel was in bondage in Egypt; now they begin the new year ‘with the most important reality of all: the divine presence’ (19).

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