The Lord’s commitment to make Himself known throughout the nations is the overarching missionary theme of the Bible and the central theological concern of Exodus.
Ross Blackburn counters scholarly tendencies to fragment the text over theological difficulties by contending that Exodus should be read as a unified whole, and that an appreciation of its missionary theme in its canonical context is of great help in dealing with the difficulties that the book poses. For example, how is Exodus 6:3 best understood? Is there a tension between law and gospel, or mercy and judgment? How should we understand the painstaking detail of the tabernacle chapters? From a careful examination of Exodus, he demonstrates that the Lord humbled Pharaoh so the world would know that only God can save, that the Lord gave Israel the law so that its people might display His goodness to the nations by living in a state of order and blessing, and that the Lord dealt with Israel’s idolatry severely, yet mercifully, for His goodness cannot be known if His glory is compromised. In the end, Exodus not only sheds important light on the church’s mission, but also reveals what kind of God the Lord is, one who pursues His glory and our good, ultimately realizing both as He makes himself known in Christ Jesus.
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“The God Who Makes Himself Known will argue that the Lord’s missionary commitment to make himself known to the nations is the central theological concern of Exodus.” (Page 15)
“I will argue that the fulfilment of the patriarchal promises, while important, is not what ultimately distinguishes the significance of the name Yahweh from Genesis to Exodus, but rather that, in the light of the narrative context of 1:1–15:21, what is new in 6:3 is the revelation of the Lord as Redeemer, the God who, being supreme over all creation, is willing and able to deliver his people.” (Page 28)
“As we shall see, the Lord desires to be known as God, and, further, as a particular kind of God, a God who is both supreme and good. In other words the Lord seeks to be known for who he is, and (the corollary, while obvious, needs to be said) not for who he is not. Knowing the Lord implies honouring him for who he is.” (Page 18)
“Secondly, the recognition of God’s larger missionary purposes sets up the coming conflict with Pharaoh in the broadest terms possible. It is precisely Israel’s multiplication that Pharaoh seeks to restrain.” (Page 30)
“First, Seitz (2001) has suggested that mission, biblically understood, fundamentally involves God’s seeking to put right what has gone awry; that is, the evil inclination of the human heart.” (Page 16)
Blackburn deserves our thanks for skillfully steering us through the whole of Exodus, enabling us to see not only the trees but also the forest itself. Not only does the text of Exodus come alive in a new way, but the God of whom it speaks becomes more clearly known. To this end, Blackburn truly guides his readers to the missionary heart of Exodus.
—T. Desmond Alexander, Evangelical Quarterly
Blackburn’s book is a stimulating study that will provide those who plan to preach or teach through the book of Exodus with much useful material.
I recommend this book to anyone with a desire to better understand the book of Exodus, especially the missionary theme of Exodus.
—Kadija Hedley, Missiology
W. Ross Blackburn serves as the rector of Christ the King, an Anglican Fellowship in Boone, North Carolina, and teaches biblical studies at Appalachian State University.