Valerius Herberger's commentary on Exodus led me to ponder the many different ways in which the Lord Jesus Christ is "in" Exodus.
Lutheran Commentaries on Exodus
Luther (sermons, 1524–1527)
David Chytraeus, 1556.
Victorinus Strigel, 1566.
Valerius Herberger, 1606–7
David Runge, 1614.
Georg Calixt (!), 1641.
Joh. Georg Hagemann, 1738.
Is Jesus in Exodus?
Yes and no. “Jesus” is the name given by the angel after He had been conceived by His mother Mary (Matt. 1:21). So if we ask, “Was the 2nd person of the Trinity, the eternal Word of God, in Exodus,” then the answer is yes. But at the time He had not yet taken on human nature, and He had not yet taken on the name “Jesus.” If we keep that in mind, then it’s fine to speak of “Jesus” being in Exodus, since our Jesus is the same one who was with Israel in the book of Exodus.
In what ways is Jesus in Exodus?1. As God; 2. in theophanies; 3. as typified in the Passover lamb; 4. as typified in the exodus; 5. as typified in Moses; 6. as typified in Israel; 7. as typified in the tabernacle; and 8. as commentator.
How is Jesus in Exodus as God?Wherever Exodus speaks of God, it is speaking of God the holy Trinity, and Jesus is the 2nd person of the Trinity. John 14:10, “I am in the Father, and the Father [is] in Me.” John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word with with God, and the Word was God.”
Here V. Herberger notes that when God does something in Exodus, Jesus is doing that with His Father and the Holy Spirit: “JESUS, with His heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, comes to the aid of the Israelites when they pray (Exod. 2:24)” (sermon 4, cf. sermons 27–36, 42–44, 46).
How is Jesus in Exodus in theophanies?God appears to Moses and Israel several times in Exodus, such as in the burning bush and in the pillar of cloud and fire. But John 1:18 says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” So when God appears to people and is seen by them, I think we should agree that God the Father was not who appeared, but rather God the Son. Exod. 23:20: “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.”
And so V. Herberger notes: “JESUS speaks with Moses from the burning bush (Exod. 3:4)” (sermon 5; cf. sermons 6–19). Also, “JESUS, the LORD, went before the Israelites in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exod. 13:21)” (sermon 41; cf. sermons 47–48).
How is Jesus in Exodus as typified in the Passover lamb?The warrant for seeing Jesus as typified in the Passover lamb comes from several places in the NT. One of the clearest is 1 Cor. 5:7: “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” And liturgical Christians sing the words of John the Baptist from John 1:29: “[O Christ] The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
So V. Herberger says, “JESUS, the perfect Passover Lamb (Exod. 12:3, 5, 8)” (sermon 38; cf. sermons 39).
Was Jesus the angel of death?Exod. 12:12. The Lord Himself will strike the firstborn. By doing this He is also punishing the false gods. How so?
Cf. v. 21. A big issue is that God actively does the destruction. He does not just permit it. Distinction between evil of fault and evil of punishment. (We make the distinction between evil and bad.) Doctrine: God's punishment. Antecedent and consequent will of God. Warning: repent when calamity strikes. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. Antithesis: much Lutheran thinking; universalism.
23. God will not allow the destroyer to strike you. So now it seems that God Himself is not doing the killing.
Val. Herberger seems to say both yes and no: yes in work, no in person. “JESUS, the LORD, passes through Egypt at midnight by a strong angel of death, and strikes all the firstborn, and prepares a great joy for His people (Exod. 12:12, 29)” (sermon 37).
How is Jesus in Exodus as typified in the exodus (the departure from Egypt)?The departure from Egypt is the exodus. This is a type of Jesus’ work of salvation toward us. The warrant is 1 Cor. 10:1–6: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples.”
So the passing through the Red Sea with the destruction of the Egyptians and bring the Israelites into freedom in the wilderness to worship God at His tabernacle: that all is a type of Christ’s work of saving us through His suffering, death, resurrection, and our Baptism.
And so V. Herberger writes: “JESUS, the LORD, helped Israel out of the hand of the Egyptians dry-footed through the Red Sear, and still helps all godly Christians today through the red sea of Holy Baptism to the freedom of the children of God (Exod. 14:29[-30])” (sermon 49).
With this also goes the feeding with Manna in the wilderness. Jn 6:32–33: “32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.””
V. Herberger: “JESUS, the mighty bread of heaven (Exod. 16:32)” (sermon 57).
Also, the miraculous water from the rock in Exod. 15. The old LCMS Bible commentator Kretzmann on 1 Cor. 10:1-5 sees the water and manna as types of the Eucharist: "In this respect the food and drink of the Eucharist are fitting, and likewise surpassing, antitypes of the miraculous food and drink of Israel in the wilderness. Now as then it is the Word of God which gives effectiveness to the meal, but with varying success in believers and unbelievers. The miraculous water is further explained by Moses: For they were drinking, during the entire course of their wilderness journey, from the spiritual Rock accompanying them; but that Rock was Christ. While their mouths partook of the water flowing at their feet, their spirits were refreshed through faith in Christ, present with them as the Rock of their salvation."
How is Jesus in Exodus as typified in Moses?The basic warrant for seeing Moses as a type of Christ comes from Moses’ prophecy about Christ in Deut. 18:15: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”
Here V. Herberger notices that “JESUS is carried by Mary into Egypt as Moses is carried by Miriam to the daughter of the king of Egypt. Again, Jesus preserves all believers in the communion of the Christian Church as He preserves Moses in the ark of bulrushes (Exod. 2:3, 10)” (sermon 2).
How is Jesus in Exodus as typified in Israel?The basic warrant for seeing Israel collectively as a type of Christ comes from Hos. 11:1, quoted by Matt. 2:15: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son” (Hos. 11:1).
Here Valerius Herberger notices similarities between the people of Israel and the Lord Jesus. “JESUS is sought by Pharaoh, the cruel-hearted king of Egypt, among the sons of the Israelites, just as He is sought by Herod among the children of the Bethlehemites” (sermon 1).
How is Jesus in Exodus as typified in the tabernacle?The answer is vast. The tabernacle was “the copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb 8:5) and had “a shadow of the good things to come” (Heb. 10:1; cf. Col. 2:17). We must remember that the real reason (not a pretend reason) for why God wanted to bring Israel out of Egypt is so that they could worship Him. Exod. 3:18: “The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.” Exod. 5:1: “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’ ” And so the last half of the book is seemingly boring details about the construction of the tabernacle, and the conclusion of the book is not Passover, not the Red Sea, not the manna, but when the tabernacle is set up and God’s glory fills it (Exod. 40). The goal of divine liberation is true divine worship.
V. Herberger: “JESUS, the pure, golden mercy seat of the Church, which overlies, adorns, and covers the wooden (that is, earthly) arks of our hearts with blood as costly as gold, so that His eternal Father is pleased to make an everlasting covenant of peace with us (Exod. 25:10–17)” (sermon 31).
“JESUS, the worthy Church’s blessed showbread and memorial bread, who is laid before us on the table of the Holy Gospel and the most worthy Sacraments for the feeding of our souls (Exod. 25:23–30)” (sermon 32).
“JESUS, the lampstand of gold in the sanctuary of His Church and of our hearts, with the ever-burning light of His consolation (Exod. 25:31)” (sermon 33).
“JESUS builds and inhabits the holy Christian Church, just as He did the tabernacle among the Israelites long ago (Exod. 26:1; 27:9)” (sermon 34).
How is Jesus in Exodus as commentator?Besides being “in” Exodus as that which is written about, Jesus in the Gospels also comments on the text of Exodus. In this way He is “in” Exodus by means of being the best, most authoritative commentator on the text. The Jews have their Targums, Talmud, and Midrash given them what they think are the authoritative comments on the text of Moses, but we have the comments of the eternal son of God, so by means of Jesus’ mouth, we have the key to Exodus.
The Lord Jesus commented on Exodus 20 in the Sermon on the Mount, for example (Matt. 5–7).
Also, He spoke of the meaning of what God said at the Burning Bush (Matt. 22:32). “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
V. Herberger: “JESUS speaks the words when the holy Ten Commandments are given from Mount Sinai (Exod. 20:1–2)” (sermon 3). “JESUS, the Mediator of the new covenant, must comfort us when the holy Ten Commandments have terrified us (Exod. 20:18)” (sermon 4).