Lesson 13: Bondage, Passover, and Exodus

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 56–61


Purpose

To encourage class members to (1) trust the Lord to fulfill his promises, (2) increase their appreciation for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, and (3) make the sacrament more meaningful in their lives.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Exodus 1–3. The children of Israel are made slaves by the Egyptians (1:1–14). Pharaoh orders that all sons born to the Israelites be killed (1:15–22). Moses is born and is raised by Pharaoh’s daughter (2:1–10). Moses kills an Egyptian and flees to Midian, where he marries Zipporah (2:11–22). The Lord appears to Moses at the burning bush and calls him to deliver Israel from bondage (3:1–22; note that in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, the phrase “the angel of the Lord” in Exodus 3:2 is changed to “the presence of the Lord”).

    2. b.

      Exodus 5–6. Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh to free Israel, but Pharaoh refuses and places greater burdens on the people (5:1–23). The Lord promises to fulfill the covenant he made with Abraham (6:1–8). (Note: Chapters 7–10 tell of Moses approaching Pharaoh many more times, asking him to free Israel. Despite many signs, wonders, and plagues, Pharaoh refuses. In the Joseph Smith Translation of these chapters, the phrase “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” is changed to “Pharaoh hardened his heart.”)

    3. c.

      Exodus 11–13. The Lord promises to send one more plague on Egypt in which the firstborn in every home will die (11:1–10). The Lord instructs Moses in the preparation of the Passover, which will protect Israel from the plague (12:1–20). The firstborn in Egypt are killed (12:29–30). Pharaoh tells Moses to take his people from Egypt, and the Israelites leave (12:31–42). Moses tells the children of Israel to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the future as a memorial of their deliverance (13:1–16). The Lord goes before the camp of Israel in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (13:17–22). (Note that the titles “Feast of the Passover” and “Feast of Unleavened Bread” are often used synonymously; the Passover is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.)

    4. d.

      Exodus 14. Pharaoh and his army pursue the children of Israel (14:1–9). The people are afraid, and Moses appeals to the Lord for help (14:10–18). The children of Israel are delivered from the army and cross the Red Sea on dry ground; Pharaoh’s men pursue them and are drowned (14:19–31).

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: Exodus 4; 7–10; 15.

  3. 3.

    Ask a class member to prepare to present a brief overview of Exodus 1 and Exodus 2.

  4. 4.

    Prepare wordstrips of the words Passover and Sacrament.

  5. 5.

    If the following audiovisual materials are available, you may want to use some of them as part of the lesson:

    1. a.

      “Animal Sacrifice and the Atonement,” a nine-minute segment from Old Testament Video Presentations (53224).

    2. b.

      The pictures Jesus the Christ (62572; Gospel Art Picture Kit 240); Moses in the Bulrushes (62063; Gospel Art Picture Kit 106); Moses and the Burning Bush (62239; Gospel Art Picture Kit 107); and The Crossing of the Red Sea (62100).

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Ask class members if they have ever been rescued from a dangerous situation. Invite one or two of them to briefly share their experience, or relate one of your own. Ask class members how they felt toward the ones who rescued them.

Explain that this lesson is about one of the most dramatic rescues that has ever occurred—the deliverance of the children of Israel from the plague of death and from Egyptian slavery. Explain also that in many ways this rescue symbolizes an even greater rescue—our deliverance from sin and death through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

After Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, the Israelites lived there for 430 years. During that time, a Pharaoh arose who enslaved them and imposed heavy burdens on them. As Joseph had prophesied, the Lord raised up Moses to deliver the children of Israel (2 Nephi 3:10).

1. The Lord calls Moses to deliver Israel from bondage.

Have the assigned class member give a brief overview of Exodus 1 and 2; then teach and discuss Exodus 3.

  • How did the Lord call Moses to deliver Israel from bondage? (See Exodus 3:1–4.) What did the Lord tell Moses while calling him? (See Exodus 3:5–10.) What can we learn about the Lord from his calling of Moses? (Answers could include that the Lord knows his people, is merciful to them, wants to bless them, and keeps his promises to them.)

  • Invite class members to imagine they are the children of Israel living in Egypt. For generations they have been taught that they are God’s covenant people and that he will fulfill the promises he made to Abraham. Yet now they are slaves, living in oppression and bondage. What can we learn from this circumstance that can help us when we experience adversity? (God does not forget us in our adversity, as he showed by calling Moses and eventually delivering Israel. But usually he does not deliver us from trials immediately. No matter how long the trial, we should continue to pray to him, trusting that he loves us and will have all things work together for our good if we obey him. See D&C 90:24; 98:3; Mosiah 24:14–15.) How have you received comfort and help from the Lord during times of adversity?

  • What did Moses say when the Lord called him to deliver Israel? (See Exodus 3:11; 4:1, 10.) In what ways did Moses feel inadequate? What assurances did the Lord give him? (See Exodus 3:12; 4:11–12.) How do you feel when you receive a calling from the Lord? Why might some feelings of inadequacy be good? How has the Lord helped you in callings for which you felt inadequate?

  • What did Moses sacrifice by accepting the call to lead his people? (See Hebrews 11:24–26.) What do we sacrifice by accepting calls to serve the Lord? Why is it important that we be willing to sacrifice for the Lord?

2. The Lord sends plagues upon Egypt.

Teach and discuss Exodus 5–6. You may also want to give a brief overview of Exodus 7–10, explaining that Moses approached Pharaoh many times and asked him to free Israel. Despite signs, wonders, and plagues, Pharaoh refused. You probably should not take class time to review the individual signs, wonders, and plagues.

  • How did Pharaoh respond the first time Moses and Aaron asked him to let the children of Israel go? (See Exodus 5:1–9.) How did the children of Israel respond to this trial? (See Exodus 5:15–21.) How did Moses respond to it? (See Exodus 5:22–23.) What can we learn from this account? (One thing we can learn is the need for patience in adversity. The Lord will fulfill his promises, though he may not do so at the time or in the way we expect.)

  • After Pharaoh increased Israel’s burdens, the Lord repeated His promises to Moses. What were these promises? (See Exodus 6:4–8.) How did the children of Israel respond when Moses reminded them of these promises? (See Exodus 6:9.) Why do some of us stop listening to the prophets and believing God’s promises during times of trial? How can we maintain faith in God during adversity?

  • How did Moses respond when the Lord asked him to go before Pharaoh a second time to request Israel’s freedom? (See Exodus 6:10–12.) Point out that we also may sometimes feel reluctant to do what the Lord asks because of fear or because we do not think it is possible. How has the Lord helped you when you have felt doubt or fear?

3. The Lord instructs Moses in the preparation of the Passover.

Teach and discuss Exodus 11–13.

  • What was the purpose of the first Passover? (See Exodus 12:12–13, 22–23.) Why did the Lord want Israel to continue to keep the Feast of the Passover in future years? (See Exodus 12:24–27, 42; 13:1–10.)

  • Explain that in addition to reminding Israel that God had protected them from the plague of death and delivered them from the Egyptians, the Passover also symbolized an important future event. What was this event? (The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, which delivers us from sin and death. See 1 Corinthians 5:7.) How did the Passover symbolize the Atonement?

    You may want to show the following similarities between the Passover and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ:

    1. a.

      The children of Israel were to use a firstborn male lamb without blemish in the Passover (Exodus 12:5). The Savior is the firstborn Son of God, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19).

    2. b.

      The children of Israel were to sprinkle the blood of the lamb on their doorposts to save their firstborn from death (Exodus 12:7, 22–23). The Savior’s blood, which he shed in Gethsemane and on the cross, cleanses the faithful and saves them from spiritual death (Mosiah 4:2).

    3. c.

      The children of Israel were to eat unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8, 15–20). “Leaven, or yeast, was seen anciently as a symbol of corruption because it so easily spoiled and turned moldy. … For the Israelites, eating the unleavened bread symbolized that they were partaking of the bread which had no corruption or impurity, namely, the Bread of Life, who is Jesus Christ (see John 6:35)” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel [1981], 119). The removal of leaven also suggested repentance, or the removal of sin from a person’s life.

    4. d.

      The children of Israel were to eat the Passover meal in haste (Exodus 12:11). Like the Israelites, we need to respond eagerly and immediately to the deliverance that the Savior offers us.

  • At the Last Supper, the Savior instituted the sacrament in place of the Passover (Matthew 26:19, 26–28). Display the picture of the Savior, placing the wordstrip Passover on the left side and the wordstrip Sacrament on the right. What similarities are there between the Passover and the sacrament? (See Exodus 12:14; 13:9–10; D&C 20:75–79.)

    Elder Howard W. Hunter taught that at the Passover meal that is now known as the Last Supper, “the bread and wine, rather than the animals and herbs, [became] emblems of the great Lamb’s body and blood, emblems to be eaten and drunk reverently and in remembrance of him forever.

    “In this simple but impressive manner the Savior instituted the ordinance now known as the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. With the suffering of Gethsemane, the sacrifice of Calvary, and the resurrection from a garden tomb, Jesus fulfilled the ancient law and ushered in a new dispensation based on a higher, holier understanding of the law of sacrifice. No more would men be required to offer the firstborn lamb from their flock, because the Firstborn of God had come to offer himself as an ‘infinite and eternal sacrifice’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 22; or Ensign, May 1985, 19).

  • Elder Howard W. Hunter said that just as the Passover was a covenant of protection for ancient Israel, the sacrament is a “new covenant of safety” for us (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 24; or Ensign, May 1974, 18). How is the sacrament a covenant of safety for us? (The sacrament reminds us of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, which brings eternal safety by freeing us from the bonds of sin and death. The covenants we renew as we partake of the sacrament also help provide us eternal safety.)

    Elder Jeffrey R. Holland asked:

    “Do we see [the sacrament] as our passover, remembrance of our safety and deliverance and redemption?

    “With so very much at stake, this ordinance commemorating our escape from the angel of darkness should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is. It should be a powerful, reverent, reflective moment. It should encourage spiritual feelings and impressions” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 89; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 68).

  • In his instructions about the Passover, the Lord emphasized the need for parents to teach their children its significance (Exodus 12:26–27; 13:8, 14). Why was it important that Israelite parents do this? How might this apply to our day? (Like ancient Israel, we should teach our children the significance of the sacrament and other ordinances that remind us of the Lord’s hand in delivering us from sin and death.)

4. The children of Israel cross the Red Sea.

Teach and discuss Exodus 14.

  • After Pharaoh let the children of Israel leave Egypt, he turned against them and sent his army after them (Exodus 14:5–9). What did the children of Israel do when they saw the advancing army? (See Exodus 14:10–12.) What did Moses tell the children of Israel when their faith faltered? (See Exodus 14:13–14.) How can we develop faith that is strong enough to sustain us when we are filled with fear?

  • How did the Lord save the children of Israel from the advancing Egyptian army? (See Exodus 14:21–31.) How can this story help us in times of trial?

Conclusion

Testify that just as the Lord fulfilled his promise to deliver the Israelites from bondage, he will fulfill his promises to us. Encourage class members to increase their appreciation for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and to partake of the sacrament worthily and thoughtfully, keeping the covenant to “always remember him” (D&C 20:77).

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Satan counterfeits God’s power

  • What did Pharaoh do when Moses and Aaron were showing him signs of God’s power? (See Exodus 7:8–12, 17–22.) What can we learn about Satan from these verses?

  • What are some ways Satan counterfeits God’s power and blessings today? What gifts has the Lord given us to help us discern between good and evil? How can we increase our ability to discern between good and evil?

2. The plagues

3. The Passover

As you teach how the Passover is a symbol of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you may want to obtain the following items to illustrate the symbols of the Passover:

  1. a.

    Pictures of a lamb and a door.

  2. b.

    Tortillas, crackers, or matzoth (to represent flat, unleavened bread).

  3. c.

    Horseradish or romaine lettuce (for bitter herbs).

  4. d.

    A pair of shoes or sandals (the Israelites ate the meal with their shoes on, symbolizing the haste with which they left Egypt).

4. “All were baptized … in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2)

You may want to read 1 Corinthians 10:1–4, where Paul teaches that the children of Israel were baptized in the cloud and in the sea. Explaining the significance of this, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “[Paul] is saying that even as Israel, when they passed through the Red Sea, fled from the worldliness of Egypt, so their Christian descendants, through baptism, are to forsake the lusts of the flesh and live godly lives” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 2:355).