What does Exodus have to do with the Gospel?

Part 1 of an interview with Kristen Hatton,
Author of The Gospel Centered Life
in Exodus for Students

The first in a series of small group studies for teens and young adults that traces God’s story of redemption through the whole Bible, The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students is a twelve-lesson resource written by Kristen Hatton to teach students how to study God’s Word and connect it to their lives.

As students come together to read and discuss they will discover that, just like the ancient Israelites, we all need a Redeemer. As the Israelites grumble, complain, disobey, worship false gods, and try to be their own Savior, teens and young adults will see that they too do those same things. But they will also see how God gives grace to the guilty and over and over again comes to the rescue, pointing to the deliverance of God’s people that is later fulfilled in Christ and the gospel.

Q: What are some of the parallels between Exodus and the gospel message?

With the Israelites’ thankless grumbling and idol worship, it’s easy to see why they needed a redeemer. However, when we read Exodus through the lens of God’s bigger redemption story, we see it’s not just a story about the Israelites; it’s our story. We too turn away from the rule and reign of God, and bow down to false gods instead. So Exodus shows us we’re all more sin-sick than we thought and in deep need of recuing.

The good news of Exodus is sin is not the end of the story. Over and over, God intervened on Israel’s behalf. Instead of rejecting them for their continued failure, God did something shocking. He established a permanent relationship through a covenant that declared him to be their God and they his people. In other words, he bound himself to them. This is what Christ does in uniting himself to those who have faith in him. Throughout Exodus, we see a God who fights for his people and will not let them go, not because they are worthy, but because he set his affection on them. He is a God who loves to give grace to the guilty, who loves to give gifts to his children.

Q: Did you have a favorite lesson in the book?

Well, some lessons were harder to write than others, perhaps making them not my favorite! I mean, how do you do justice to God’s plan of redemption as seen in the Red Sea, or sum up ten plagues in one hour’s time? I love the whole book of Exodus. It was fun to teach to my small group and rework for the lessons in this book, so I can’t say I have an absolute favorite.

What I can say is I find it so interesting that God has had me in a season of life where the truths of this book were just what I needed to remember personally. Not necessarily at the time I wrote them, but during the editing process as I reread back through them, my own writings ministered to me. Page after page, the application just fit to things our family was going through. Isn’t it cool how God does that?

In particular, something I will share is that for over nine years we have been working to plant a church. We have not had our own facility and that has hindered us from living out our church vision for our community as fully as we would like to. Some seasons over this nine-year period have been so discouraging that my husband has considered leaving the ministry or pursuing a new call. In many ways we had felt abandoned, as if God had forgotten us, just as the Israelites did. So I cannot tell you how reassuring it is to read about who God is for his people. Even when we cannot see how his timing or ways are best, I know because of his truth in Exodus that he is with us and never leaves us.

Q: Before writing The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students, you taught Exodus in one of your teen Bible studies. Was there a time when one of the girls in the group had an “aha” moment that surprised even you?

To be honest, what was most surprising to me was the Bible illiteracy among so many in the group despite being churched. Realizing this in conjunction with the lack of Bible study resources for teens is really what drove my passion to write for teens.

With that said, there were plenty of “aha” moments throughout Exodus, which made doing the study so exciting. Perhaps one of the most memorable light bulb moments from our study came in Exodus 17 (Lesson 7 in the book) when the people were quarreling in the wilderness because they were thirsty and had no water. God told Moses to strike the rock that He would stand on, and when Moses did water gushed out. What this scene depicted for us is the judgment brought against none other than THE ROCK of our salvation—Jesus. He took the judgment upon himself so that his children would receive the outpouring of his grace. As the Israelites drank the water and were satisfied so are we in Christ. Jesus went thirsty so that we could drink deeply from the waters of his grace. I can still remember the surprised looks on my girls’ faces when I connected these dots.

Q: In your own study, has there been a time when you read a passage of scripture and found a connection to the gospel that was unexpected?

As I mentioned, my husband is a pastor, and he is so gifted at uncovering the gospel in every passage. He has really helped me in my own study of God’s Word. He’s helped me learn to look for what he calls the “fallen condition focus” in every passage. This would be the sin, or the need for the gospel, which is always met with the “Big Truth” or the gospel punch in the passage. Discovering those two elements are essential to our proper application of the text.

With this view, I go to God’s Word expecting to find the gospel written across the pages from Genesis to Revelation. However, we all know it’s not always plain to see and it takes time, study and the work of the Spirit to show us. Most recently, I’ve been blown away in my husband’s preaching through Revelation to see how everything behind the heavenly curtain that John pulls back points to Christ. Read as a picture book instead of puzzle makes so much more sense of an otherwise confusing book!

Q: What is the most important thing you would like students to take away from this study?

As with my first book, Get Your Story Straight, I hope students who use this study come away from it with a greater understanding of the gospel and see more of who God is as revealed in his Word. From there, I hope this will lead them to a deeper worship of him and a growing desire to be in his Word, not just as something they check off their Christian to-do list, but because they see his Word, Jesus, as the bread we must feast on for life.

Learn more about Kirsten Hatton and The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students at www.kristenhatton.com. She is also active on Facebook (@kristenbhatton), Twitter (@Hattonkb) and Instagram (@kristen_hatton).