Exodus from Egypt was 'type and shadow' of plan of salvation

Among the events recorded in sacred writ, few have had greater effect on the House of Israel than the exodus from Egypt, the glorious Sinai revelations, the wearying wilderness wanderings and the dramatic entry into the promised land. One commentator aptly noted: "It was that faith received in the exodus which shaped all of Israel's understanding of history. It was only in light of the exodus that Israel was able to look back into the past and piece together her earlier history. It was also the exodus which provided the prophets with a key to the understanding of Israel's future. In this sense, the exodus stands at the center of Israel's history. (James Plastaras, The God of Exodus: The Theology of the Exodus Narratives, (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing, 1966), p. 7.)

. . . The exodus "was not only a real event, but also `a type and shadow of things,' representing both escape from the wicked world and redemption from the bondage of sin." (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), p. 116.) As type, the exodus not only had value in its distinctive lessons, but testified of greater events, patterns, and persons far beyond its own historical bounds. It is one of the most prevalent typological motifs employed by the prophets throughout the scriptures.Old Testament prophets focused on both the theological and typological meaning of the exodus. Often they accomplished this through ceremonializing the experience for purposes of instruction. Even prior to the escape of the Children of Israel from Egypt, the Lord instituted the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread "for a memorial . . . throughout your generations . . . by an ordinance for ever." (Ex. 12:14, 17.) Moses directed the people to catechize the exodus for their children so as to teach eternal principles. (Deut. 6:20-25.) Special days of remembrance were instituted by the Lord even before they entered the Promised Land. (See Deut. 26.) An aged Joshua, in his final public discourse, led his people into a renewal of the covenant to always remember the exodus. (Josh. 24:1-18.) The exodus, particularly the Sinai covenant experience, was later remembered regularly in the temple liturgy.

. . . The exodus experience was no less ingrained in the identity and instruction of the ancient Israelites of the Book of Mormon lands.

. . . Exodus imagery was called upon by Book of Mormon prophets to teach and illustrate numerous truths, including trusting in God (1 Ne. 17:23-35), the final gathering (2 Ne. 6:14-18), spiritual bondage and deliverance (2 Ne. 9:8-11), the resurrection (Alma 36:28-29), and the power of God (Hel. 8:11-15). The early American prophets also made reference to various aspects of the exodus as types of the Savior. Alma cited Zenock as proclaiming that Jesus Christ was prophesied by Moses when "a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live" (Alma 33:19; See also Hel. 8:11-15; Compare with Num. 21:9). Crowning the exodus types of the Book of Mormon was the Savior's own declaration during His glorious appearances to the ancient Americans: "Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people" (3 Ne. 20:23; see also 3 Ne. 23:1-3).

Scholars have previously demonstrated that a "typological understanding of scripture governed the interpretation of New Testament writers." (See Leonhard Goppelt, Typos: The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids: 1982), p. 1.)

. . . An important reason for the abundant use of exodus themes and symbols throughout the scriptures is that it presents, in pattern and type, the eternal plan of redemption and the central role of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, within that plan. Every aspect of the story of Moses and the exodus of Israel typify Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father's plan (See Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:25-35; 1 Ne. 17:41; Alma 36:28; Mosiah 13:30-31; John 6; 1 Cor. 5:7-8; 10:1-5).

. . . The exodus and the Plan are both reminders that there is a way out of darkness and bondage, and that way is by design and power of God. Our Heavenly Father loves us and has sent His son, our Redeemer, to show us the way back home, "beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise." (Alma 37:45.)

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed