The Theological Significance of the Exodus -- By: Irwin W. Reist

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 12:4 (Fall 1969)
Article: The Theological Significance of the Exodus
Author: Irwin W. Reist


The Theological Significance of the Exodus

Irwin W. Reist, Th.M.*

*Associate Professor of Bible, Houghton College, Houghton, New York.

I. Introduction: The Doctrine of Revelation and Historical Fact

(i.e., THE EXODUS)

Different periods of church history have found the Church grappling with various theological problems. The early Church struggled to recognize the biblical canon; the fourth century found her defining the person of Christ; in the eighth century she was engaged in the iconoclastic controversy; in the sixteenth century, Christ’s body fought over the order of salvation; in the nineteenth century she wrestled with the relation of the scientific method to the Scriptures. The primary task of the Church in the twentieth century has been to formulate a correct view of revelation or religious epistemology.

The older Protestant theologians focused their attention on Holy Scripture as God’s revelation. They

... analyzed revelation in terms entirely of God’s communicating truths about Himself.... The focal centre of their doctrine was the Bible; they viewed the Holy Scripture as revealed truth in writing...1

However, revelation is also historical and personal, in addition to being propositional.

... God is represented in the Bible as revealing himself in his actions and in his designs.... It is in history... that God’s design is mostly to be perceived, and this is how he chooses to reveal himself... ultimately, revelation is in relationship, “confrontation,” communion, rather than by the communication of facts.2

If this statement over-estimates and somewhat distorts the place of historical and personal revelation in relation to rational, propositional, and biblical revelation, it rightly declares that God reveals Himself personally through and in history.

II. The Exodus and God’s Self-Revelation in History

A. God as Lord of History

If revelation is propositional, historical and personal, great, decisive

significance must be given to the great events of the biblical revelation. The Exodus was an event of history, a fact.3 At the beginning of Israel’s corporate life was an event - the Exodus.4

The Israelite knowledge of God was not founded in the first instance on the numinous awareness... it was based on historic event.... No one aspect of nature was more characterist...

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