I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. Exodus 20:1, 2
When we come to the first chapter of Exodus, several hundred years and a few generations had passed since their bondage had begun. That’s a long time to be in a foreign land with strange customs and stranger gods. I imagine after the first couple of decades, the lines had begun to blur–traditions forgotten, promises broken and fuzzy compromises made. After all, they were only human, without a leader, probably feeling very detached from a once-tangible God.
So when God and Moses paired up to lead the people of Israel out of bondage and into the Promised, I imagine they needed some intensive orientation about who they were, where they were going and what they were called to be. When you look at it that way, you can sort of understand the need for 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
But what impresses me the most about the deliverance and the exodus is God’s planning and pouring of grace. It is only in the 20th chapter that God finally spells the terms of the contract between His people and Him.
He could have easily handed out copies of the commandments the same night the families gathered around tables over unleavened bread, inside the blood-stained foyers where packed bags stood ready for the journey. To me, that would have been the optimal time to hand out the policies and procedures, the do’s and don’ts. Then there would have been no room for misunderstandings and whining.
Yet the fact that God waited till chapter 20 says so much to me about how infinitely more caring and loving God is than me. Before He gave them the Law on Sinai, God rescued them from slavery. Before God expected obedience, God poured out his saving grace. In God’s order of things, His grace is the horse that comes before the cart. His grace is the force that pulls us into salvation.