The New Exodus
An Introduction to the Bible's Great
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Part Two (printable)
In Part One
we showed how the New Exodus is God's epic plan to redeem humanity
and lead us into the Promised Land of the New Creation. The original
exile took place when Adam and Eve were forced to leave the Garden
of Eden, but our Father in heaven has sent his son Jesus to seek out
the lost children of Adam and Eve and lead us back to the Tree of
Life. This amazing redemption story is intricately woven into
the story of Israel. Like Adam and Eve, the Israelites once occupied
a Promised Land, and like Adam and Eve they disobeyed God and
suffered the consequences of exile. Yet the Lord promised, beginning
with Moses in Deuteronomy 30:1-6, that the faithful remnant of
Israel would one day be gathered out of their worldwide exile and
brought back home. However, when the prophets of old looked forward
to this end-times restoration of Israel they were shown that this
New Exodus would be much greater than anyone had imagined and would
grow into a movement offering redemption and restoration to all
The children of Israel at the time of Isaiah
At the time of the prophet Isaiah the nation of Israel had long been divided. In the north ten Israelite tribes had come together and established a monarchy and a nation with its capital at Samaria. This nation took the name of Israel but is also referred to as Ephraim. In the south the tribe of Judah and Benjamin had come together and established a monarchy and a nation with its capital at Jerusalem. This kingdom retained control of the Temple and provided for the Levites who oversaw the cultic responsibilities involving the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Covenant. The southern kingdom became known as Judah (which was far more numerous than the tribe of Benjamin) and their people became known as Jews. Both of these kingdoms traced their lineage back to Abraham and both of them retained a memory of the exodus from Egypt and the covenant with God that was established through Moses at Mount Sinai. Yet in Isaiah's day both of these nations were quickly sliding into apostasy.
Moses had warned Israel that the consequence of disobedience to God would be exile from the Promised Land. As foretold, the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered, taken captive, and dispersed by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The southern kingdom of Judah was invaded by Babylon in 597 BC and again in 586 when Solomon's Temple was destroyed and many Jews were taken captive to Babylon.
Isaiah was raised up as a prophet to remind the children of Israel of their covenant with God and to predict the judgment that would come as a result of breaking that covenant. Isaiah's message was harsh and direct. He did not hold out repentance as a way to avoid the forthcoming exile because this punishment was already divinely decreed. Instead Isaiah looked to the future and extended a ray of hope by saying to the children of Israel that after they find themselves in exile, if they turn to the Lord, then the Lord will hear their cries and respond by gathering them from the nations and restoring them to their land.
Bible scholars often have a hard time with Isaiah and some believe that the book of Isaiah was written by three different authors at three different times. First Isaiah is said to include Isaiah 1-39 and was written prior to the Babylonian exile. Second Isaiah (40-55) was allegedly written during the Babylonian exile, while Third Isaiah (56-66) was allegedly written after the Babylonian exile was over. These theories are proposed because Second Isaiah uses the language of exile and looks forward to a new exodus back to the Promised Land, while Third Isaiah speaks of the blessings that will come after the return from exile has been completed such as a glorified Zion and a new heaven and new earth. Yet these theories of multiple "Isaiahs" become unneccessary if we simply recognize that the writings of Isaiah are all part of a much greater New Exodus story, a story that began in Genesis and ends in Revelation. Isaiah acts as the bridge between Old Covenant and New Covenant, looking back briefly to Israel's first exodus, but looking forward with great expectation to the glorious New Exodus that will be led by the long-awaited "Servant of the Lord" who will fulfill the expectation of a new "prophet like Moses" (Deut. 18:15-19) leading Israel back into an eternal covenant with God.
The New Exodus is far greater than the old!
The section known as Second Isaiah is also known as "Deutero-Isaiah" because it is here where Isaiah picks up where the "exile" predictions found in Deuteronomy 28-31 left off. Isaiah does indeed write as if Israel is already living in exile, but he is simply projecting into the future based on the coming exile that he knew was inevitable. This section begins and ends with allusions to the New Exodus that was first predicted in Deuteronomy 30:3-4. In Isaiah 40 we hear words of comfort and hope, with a voice speaking of a "way in the wilderness" that will be established for God to begin his redemptive process, gathering Israel like a shepherd gathers his sheep (v.11). In Isaiah 55 we find that, in contrast to the chaos of the first exodus (also note 52:12) in this new exodus Israel will be led forth gently "in joy and peace," with the mountains, hills and trees chearing them on. These passages act as bookends for this section of Isaiah dominated by the New Exodus theme.
Isaiah 43 records the most astonishing (and even subversive) announcement of the coming new exodus found in the entire Old Testament. Note the context in which this "new thing" is predicted to happen:
says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty
(17) who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
(18) "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
(19) Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
(20) The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,
(21) the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise..."
In this passage Isaiah introduces the word of the Lord by referring back to the first exodus and the miraculous rescue performed by God on behalf of His people at the Red Sea. At that time, confronted with an advancing hostile army and with their backs to the Red Sea, Israel had faced certain destruction. Yet God intervened miraculously and opened up a way through the sea for Israel to escape, luring Pharaoh's pursuing army after them, and then burying them in the waters as the Israelites watched it all, awestruck at their miraculous last-second rescue by the hand of God!
After this brief but spiritually deep introduction the Lord then announces that the "former things" and the "things of old" will pale in comparision to the new act of God that will soon be revealed. Just as the Lord made a way through the sea that led to Israel's forty-year journey through the wilderness in the first exodus, the Lord is planning a similar exodus that will be far greater in scope, establishing a new "way in the wilderness" for the people "whom I formed for myself." This "people" speaks of Israel, but on another level it points to all the children of Adam whom God originally "formed from the dust of the ground" (Gen 2:7).
After declaring this New Exodus movement the Lord then refers back to Israel's sins in verses 22-28, justifying the coming judgment that will result in Israel's exile that will create the need for the Lord's new exodus program. As far as the Lord is concerned the root of this judgment against Israel goes back to the very beginning that is summed up in the short but profound word in verse 27a: "Your first father sinned..." This is a reference, not to Abraham, but to Adam, and it is the sin of Adam that must be atoned for as the foundation of the New Exodus restoration program.
The old exodus was the movement in which Israel's national identity was established and everything about their culture revolved around the celebration of that forty-year event. In fact, the very first song recorded in the Bible is the song that was sung by Moses and the Israelites in the aftermath of the Red Sea crossing found in Exodus 15:1-21. After singing that song Moses directly turns to the problem of finding water in Exodus 15:22-27, just as Isaiah 43:20 speaks of the Lord providing water in the wilderness for the people of the New Exodus. From a New Covenant perspective we can recognize that this New Exodus water is the living water provided by Christ. The New Exodus is not referring to a literal movement of Jews moving back to the Middle East after 1948. The New Exodus is a spiritual exodus until the very end, and is much bigger than anything a literal interpretation of these prophecies can claim to offer!
The Lord is very clear that the New Exodus is an entirely new thing that will totally overshadow everything He has done in the past. The Israelites were constantly taught that they must "remember" the events of the old exodus, but here the Lord commands them to forget the former things, and to stop considering the things of old! This is a radical and subversive challenge to Israel's established traditions that is intended to shock the children of Israel and get their attention!
The commandment to "remember" was at the very heart of the Old Covenant. For instance, simply look at a few of the occurrences of the word "remember" in the book of Deuteronomy:
Deut. 5:15 -
You shall remember
that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God
brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched
Deut. 7:18 - you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt,
Deut. 8:2 - And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
Deut. 9:7 - Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness.
Deut. 15:15 - You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
Deut. 16:3 - You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.
Deut. 16:12 - You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
Deut. 24:9 - Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.
Deut. 24:18 - but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.
Deut. 24:22 - You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.
Deut. 25:17 - Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt,
Deut. 32:7 - Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.
At the time of Isaiah the children of Israel had already broken the covenant given during the old exodus, an event that they were commanded to remember as part of their covenant! Here in Isaiah when the Lord speaks to Israel declaring, "Remember NOT the former things nor consider the things of old!" the Lord is strongly implying that the old traditions established during the first exodus will not apply to Israel in the New Exodus. As we move forward in this study we will see that all four of the major categories that established Israel's old identity become radically re-defined as Israel enters into God's ultimate restoration program dealing with the original problem of sin inherited through Adam. The former things will be eclipsed by the new things that the Lord has in store for the New Exodus movement:
"Behold, I am doing a new thing!"
A new People - A new Covenant - A new Temple - A new Land
Isaiah's new "Servant of the Lord"
At the time of the old exodus the mediator between God and the children of Israel was Moses. Throughout the Pentateuch there are about forty times where Moses is referred to as the "servant of the Lord" or "my servant Moses." For Israel Moses was the great "servant of the Lord," yet Moses himself was told that there would be a new "prophet like Moses" who would appear to Israel in the future. Moses foresaw this new prophet and he also foresaw the New Exodus that would occur after the breaking of the covenant and Israel's worldwide exile, but Moses was not shown that this new "Moses" would lead the New Exodus. However, Isaiah is given further revelation of God's plan and he prophesies of a new "servant of the Lord" who will come on the scene to rescue Israel, gathering and guiding them back to the Promised Land.
It makes perfect sense that a New Exodus would demand a new "Moses" to lead Israel on their new wilderness journey. Like Moses, he would act as a mediator and establish a covenant between God and the children of Israel. Isaiah's new "servant" is shown doing all of these things and more in the five "Servant Songs" found within Isaiah 40-55. These passages can be read here before we refer back to them in our summaries moving forward.
1. Offspring of Abraham - Isaiah
Isaiah introduces the new end-times servant of the Lord in verse 8, referring to him as "Israel" the offspring of Abraham, called from the ends of the earth, and chosen and protected by God. If this was the only "servant" passage then we would be led to think that this "servant" is simply the nation of Israel, yet that is not the whole story.
2. Covenant to the People - Isaiah
In this next passage Isaiah declares that the Lord will place His Spirit upon His servant, who will faithfully bring forth justice, showing mercy to many by not breaking the bruised reeds or extinguishing the dimly burning wicks. This is the passage referred to in Matthew 12:18-21 which is said to be fulfilled by Jesus. In verse 4 we are told that he will establish justice on the earth and deliver his torah (law) to the "coastlands," and in verse 6 we are told that he will be appointed as a covenant to the people and a light to the nations. In this sense Jesus is the covenant of the New Exodus and His teachings are the new torah. Notice how the identity of this new "servant" shifts from appearing to refer to Israel as a whole in Isaiah 41 but now referring to a singular Spirit-filled individual in Isaiah 42.
In light of the coming of this new "servant" we are told in verse 9, "Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things." Then in verse 10 Israel is encouraged to "Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise from the end of the earth!" The New Exodus brings forth a new song in praise for what God has done. This new song, which is the Song of the Lamb of the New Covenant, is also shown in Revelation 5:9 and 14:3, and in Revelation 15:3 where the saints sing it along with the Song of Moses. Just as the original song of Moses praised God for Israel's redemption from Phaoraoh's armies at the time of the first exodus (see Exodus 15:1-21), so does the Song of the Lamb praise God for the even mightier redemption of the New Exodus:
"Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." Revelation 15:3-4
3. Redeemer of Jeshurun - Isaiah 44:1-23
In this passage once again the "servant" is referred to as Israel and also as Jacob. Then in verse 2 the servant is referred to as Jeshurun, which is a poetic name for Israel that means "righteous." Other than this passage in Isaiah this name appears only three other times in the Bible, and all near the end of Deuteronomy (32:15, 33:5, 33:26). In verse 3 there is another prophecy about water being poured out in the desert which is linked to the pouring out of the Spirit upon the offspring of the servant. In verse 4 we are then shown a picture of Spirit-filled people springing up like trees that sprout up around streams in the desert. These people will identify themselves as descendents of Jacob and Israel through their connection with the Spirit-filled servant.
From a New Covenant perspective we can look back and realize that the Spirit-filled offspring of Israel includes both Jews and Gentiles whose identity is drawn solely from Jesus (rather than from Moses). They are all part of a spiritual bloodline rather than a literal genetic bloodline, yet they ALL identify themselves as Israelites. In Galatians 6:16 Paul refers to this new Spirit-filled nation of Israel, composed of Jews and Gentiles perfectly united in the body of Christ, as the "Israel of God."
4. Savior of the Nations - Isaiah
If there are any doubts that Gentiles are meant be gathered and adopted into Israel's New Exodus, then this passage should be enough to erase them all. The New Exodus first predicted by Moses, revealed more fully through Isaiah, and then finally inaugurated by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, is not a return to the Promised Land reserved only for Jews. No indeed, it is the final redemption plan that is offered to all humanity! In this fourth servant song, as in the previous servant songs, Isaiah introduces the new servant of the Lord as "Israel":
Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." But I said, "I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God." Isaiah 49:1-4
The servant is introduced as Israel, yet in the very next verse it is He who is given the task of gathering Israel back to the Lord. However, the Lord has more in mind than simply gathering the genetic decendents of Abraham back to their ancient land because the Lord also gives Him the job of gathering and redeeming the nations:
And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him-- for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength --he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: "Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you." Isaiah 49:5-7
The Lord's salvation must reach to the ends of the earth because the entire earth and all its families are corrupted by sin and in need of redemption. From Israel's perspective the greatest tragedy was their own breaking of the covenant and the exile from their land, yet from heaven's perspective the greatest tragedy took place long before Isaiah's time when Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden. The new servant predicted by Isaiah will indeed solve Israel's problems, but Israel's restoration will encompass all of humanity and be accomplished in a much bigger way than anyone had ever imagined!
Thus says the LORD: "In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners, 'Come out,' to those who are in darkness, 'Appear.' They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; (10) they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. And I will make all my mountains a road, and my highways shall be raised up. Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene." Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. Isaiah 49:8-13
The word of the Lord through Isaiah continues with another vivid description of the New Exodus movement led by the servant of the Lord back to the Promised Land. It is He who is given to the world as a "covenant" and it is He who offers freedom to prisoners and calls out those who are in darkness. Followers of this faithful servant are being led out of this world that is passing away and on to a New Earth within a New Creation that is uncorrupted by sin. This conclusion is proven by verse 10 above, which is a description repeated almost word-for-word in Revelation 7:16-17. Israel's New Exodus that is predicted by Isaiah is the very same movement that was inaugurated for all peoples by Jesus, which is not finally consumated until the end of the age when the redeemed enter joyfully into the New Jerusalem.
5. A Sacrifice for All - Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12
The final servant song of Isaiah introduces a terribly ironic twist into the story of the faithful servant sent by God to save Israel. Christians are usually quite familiar with the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, but many do not recognize the greater context of this prophecy as the last of five intimately-related "servant songs." If we back up to Isaiah 52:1 and read from there we can identify the clear New Exodus context of this passage. It speaks of a glorified (new) Jerusalem restored from its desolation, standing as a testimony of God's faithfulness. In verses 11-12, just before the suffering servant is announced in verse 13, the Lord calls for Israel to begin their New Exodus journey saying that this time will be different than the old exodus. This time Israel will not go out in haste as if being pursued, because God Himself will lead them and be their rear guard.
As we begin to read the final servant
song we find that there is another profoundly important theme that
is hidden just under the surface. In the time of Moses the first
exodus was initiated by every Israelite family slaying a lamb and
painting blood over their doorposts. When the law was later
delivered to Israel through Moses the families of Israel were each
required to sacrifice a lamb every year to God in memory of this
first Passover. Isaiah reveals that the New Exodus is also initiated
by a sacrificial death, and remarkably this sacrifice is offered by
Isaiah's mysterious "servant of the Lord" Himself. Like a "lamb that
is led to the slaughter" (v. 7) the servant-leader of the New Exodus
is predicted to offer up his very own life as an atoning sacrifice
for the sins of the world. The New Exodus journey of redemption
could have never been started without this initial divine sacrifice:
But he was
pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his
wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have
turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the
iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5-6 The New
Exodus program that is revealed to Isaiah is progressively magnified
over the course of the five "Servant Songs." At first the Lord
speaks to the problems of a nation that has been exiled from its homeland. They were called
to faithfully serve the Lord but
they failed and suffered the consequences of disobedience. However, the Lord will raise up another Israelite, a
descendent of Abraham who will be faithful to fulfill what Israel
was originally called to do. This new Spirit-filled servant will be
"Israel-in-person," and the Spirit poured out on Him will
be poured out on His offspring. He will be sent to gather Israel but
His mission will also extend to the nations of the earth, calling
out to every lost child of Adam and Eve to follow Him on a "way
through the wilderness" back to the Tree of Life. The end-point of
this journey is a renewed Creation and a renewed Family of God, made
possible only by the atoning sacrifice of the servant Himself on our
behalf! To be continued... Peter D. Goodgame Kailua, Hawaii August 22, 2015 ---------------------------------------------------- New Exodus
"Servant Songs" of Isaiah
: An overview of these five important
Isaiah quoted in the New Testament
list of references from Isaiah that are found in the New Testament.
Exodus Typology in Second Isaiah : A
short and concise overview of the New Exodus theme in Isaiah.
A Glorious New Passover Exodus: The New Covenant Deliverance in
: A free 60-page e-book by John Dunn that
explains how the story of the Exodus is God's template for the
message of the Gospel.
Covenant Theology: Questions Answered
: An excellent theological overview that explains the transition
from Old Covenant to New Covenant, and the nature of the
relationship between Israel and the Church, while
avoiding the errors of both Dispensationalism and classic
"Replacement Theology" (also known as Covenant Theology).
Back to Part One
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6
The New Exodus program that is revealed to Isaiah is progressively magnified over the course of the five "Servant Songs." At first the Lord speaks to the problems of a nation that has been exiled from its homeland. They were called to faithfully serve the Lord but they failed and suffered the consequences of disobedience. However, the Lord will raise up another Israelite, a descendent of Abraham who will be faithful to fulfill what Israel was originally called to do. This new Spirit-filled servant will be "Israel-in-person," and the Spirit poured out on Him will also be poured out on His offspring. He will be sent to gather Israel but His mission will also extend to the nations of the earth, calling out to every lost child of Adam and Eve to follow Him on a "way through the wilderness" back to the Tree of Life. The end-point of this journey is a renewed Creation and a renewed Family of God, made possible only by the atoning sacrifice of the servant Himself on our behalf!
To be continued...
Peter D. Goodgame
August 22, 2015
New Exodus Resources
The Five "Servant Songs" of Isaiah : An overview of these five important Messianic passages.
Isaiah quoted in the New Testament : A partial list of references from Isaiah that are found in the New Testament.
Exodus Typology in Second Isaiah : A short and concise overview of the New Exodus theme in Isaiah.
A Glorious New Passover Exodus: The New Covenant Deliverance in Jesus Christ : A free 60-page e-book by John Dunn that explains how the story of the Exodus is God's template for the message of the Gospel.
New Covenant Theology: Questions Answered : An excellent theological overview that explains the transition from Old Covenant to New Covenant, and the nature of the relationship between Israel and the Church, while avoiding the errors of both Dispensationalism and classic "Replacement Theology" (also known as Covenant Theology).