The Exodus Pattern

By Rick Brunson
The story of the exodus is a pattern. In fact, it is a pattern that has been repeated by many groups since the children of Israel left Egypt. Some of these additional groups include:
  1. Lehi’s journey to the Promised Land. 
  2. The Latter-day Saints journey from Nauvoo to Utah.
  3. The High Priest’s journey into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement (note: click here or here for more information on the Day of Atonement). 
  4. Our journey to the Celestial Kingdom.
It is interesting to note that if you study these stories carefully, you will notice striking similarities with each of them. Consider the following:

The Pre-Existence

Before each exodus story began, each group had a land where they previously lived. This first land is meant to represent our pre-existent home. By leaving this pre-existent home, we pass through a veil into a new land:

The Pre-Exsistence
  • Jacob, the father of the House of Israel, dwelt in Palestine before taking his family to dwell in Egypt. 
  • Lehi’s ancestors were from the tribe of Manasseh, who had their inheritance north of Jerusalem; however, Lehi dwelt at Jerusalem when the Book of Mormon opens, which means his family at some point made the journey south.
  • The Latter-day Saints lived in states such as Ohio and Missouri before traveling to Nauvoo. 
  • The High Priest would walk from the outside camp, through a gate, as he entered into the Tabernacle on the Day of Atonement. 
  • As for us, we lived with our Father in Heaven in the pre-existence before we passed through the veil and came to this earth.
Leader of Exodus

With each exodus there has been a leader:

  • Moses led the children of Israel. 
  • Lehi and Nephi lead their families. 
  • Brigham Young lead the Latter-day Saints. 
  • The High Priest was the person designated by the Lord to preform all of the ordinances in the Tabernacle on the Day of Atonement.
  • Our leader is Jesus Christ.
Opposing Leader

In each of these stories, there has been a man who has opposed the followers of God:
  • Pharaoh tried to keep Israel in bondage and refused to let them go. 
  • Nephi and his brothers encountered Laban. 
  • While there were many who opposed the Latter-day Saints, perhaps their greatest enemy was the apostate William Law, whom Joseph Smith called “a Judas in our midst.”[1] It was William Law who apostatized and published the slanderous newspaper known as the Nauvoo Expositor, which was later destroyed under the order of the Nauvoo city council; the result of this removal ultimately lead to the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. William Law was also a member of the mob that martyred the Prophet.
  • Our enemy is Satan, who will do anything in his power to prevent us from reaching the Celestial Kingdom. 
The Altar

In each case, blood was shed before the exodus began:
  • The Israelites introduced the Passover, in which they were to kill a lamb and spread the blood on the door of their house.
  • Nephi slew Laban.[2]
  • Joseph Smith was martyred before the Saints left Nauvoo. 
  • The High Priest offered sacrifices on the altar on the Day of Atonement.
  • The blood of our Savior Jesus Christ was shed for us in Gethsemane, and again on the cross of Calvary. 
Revelation Prior to the Exodus
  • With each case, there has been a revelation given on how the exodus was to take place. For instance: 
  • The Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush where he received instructions relative to the exodus. 
  • Before Lehi led his family out of Jerusalem, he saw of a pillar of fire and was also carried away in the spirit and beheld a vision.
  • Before the Latter-day Saints left Nauvoo, the Lord gave Brigham Young a revelation (D&C 136) and told him how the exodus was to be achieved. 
  • In Leviticus 23, the Lord revealed in great detail how the Day of Atonement was to be preformed each year. 
  • The instructions for our personal exodus from this telestial world are found in all our scriptures.
Miracle of the Exodus

With each exodus there was a miracle involved before the journey began:
  • The Israelites witnessed ten plagues. 
  • Nephi and His brothers were somehow able to escape Laban’s servants who tried to overtake them, then saw an angel, and later had Laban delivered into their hands which enabled them to get the brass plates. 
  • The Latter-day Saints were able to move thousands from their Nauvoo homes in a very short notice. 
  • Our miracle is overcoming sin and death through the atonement of Christ, something no man could do by himself.
Opposing Army

We have already discussed the evil leaders who have opposed the Saints of God during the exodus; we will now consider the armies who followed them:
  • Pharaoh had an army of Egyptians pursue the Israelites until they reached the Red Sea. 
  • Laban sent his servants to overtake Nephi and his brothers. 
  • The Latter-day Saints were heavily persecuted by mobs. 
  • The army that follows Satan is his 1/3rd of evil spirits from the pre-existence, who are here to tempt and try us. 
Destruction of Opposing Army

It is also interesting that in each of these cases, there is a destruction of this opposing leader and/or his army:
  • Pharaoh and his Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea. 
  • Laban was slain by Nephi. 
  • The majority of people who participated in the mobs that drove out the Saints suffered horribly the remainder of their lives.[3]
  • Satan and his host of wicked spirits will eventually be cast into outer darkness, where they will suffer as sons of perdition. 
Body of Water

When leaving their home, each group passed over water of some sort:
  • The Israelites crossed the Red Sea. 
  • Lehi and his family passed by a river of water, which Lehi named Laman. 
  • The Latter-day Saints crossed over a frozen Mississippi River. 
  • The High Priest was washed in the Laver of Water before leaving the outer courtyard of the Tabernacle.
  • The water in each of these stories seems to represent the veil that currently covers our earth. At the Second Coming, as we leave this telestial world, “the veil…which hideth the earth, shall be taken off” (D&C 101:23). We will then pass through this veil and the earth will enter into a Terrestrial state during the Millennium.[4]
Divine Guidance

Each group received divine guidance after they left their home:
  • The Israelites were lead through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 
  • Lehi’s family was lead by the Liahona. 
  • Brigham Young was no doubt lead by revelation, for he saw the Salt Lake Valley in vision, and recognized it upon their arrival.[5]
  • Mankind is to look to the Holy Ghost for our inspiration. Alma the younger said that our spiritual Liahona guides us when we heed to the words of Christ: "For just as surely as [the Liahona] did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise" (Alma 37:45). 


In each case, there were those who murmured during the journey:
  • The Israelites murmured to Moses as soon as they were faced with thirst and hunger. 
  • Laman and Lemuel murmured countless times throughout their journey. 
  • Perhaps there were some less faithful saints who murmured when they had to leave their homes in Nauvoo and travel on foot across the Great Plains. 
  • As for us, there are certainly those who murmur about doing all that is required of them by the Lord. 
Fed Miraculously

Each group was feed miraculously during their journey:

  • The Israelites had their thirst quenched by water that came from the rock that Moses smote with his rod, and they were also feed miraculously by quails and manna from heaven. 
  • It is interesting that the Lord repeated the miracle of quails and manna for the early Latter-day Saints. A flock of quails fell in a camp of hungry saints traveling from Nauvoo to Salt Lake,[6] and in the 1850’s, manna fed saints for two weeks in modern Provo.[7]
  • The Lord blessed Lehi’s family by telling them they did not need to cook their food while in the wilderness. Instead, the Lord would make their raw meat become sweet. 
  • The High Priest always passed by the Table of Showbread while in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.
  • As for us, it is the Bread of Life, the very person that manna represented, that sustains us spiritually. We are also invited to drink of the Living Water and never thirst again. 


In each case, there was new scripture given:
  • The Israelites received the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of the Lord. 
  • Lehi’s family got the brass plates, which proved very valuable to their civilization. 
  • The Latter-day Saints were given the Book of Mormon, as well as the newly published revelations of the church. 
  • In our exodus, we are given the writings of all God prophets as found in the scriptures. 

The Period before the Promised Land

After each exodus, the Lord did not allow these groups to immediately enter into his rest:
  • The Israelites were required to dwell in the wilderness for forty years. 
  • Lehi’s family had to cross the Arabian Desert. 
  • The Latter-day Saints had to cross the Great Plains. 
  • The High Priest could only enter into the Holy of Holies through the Holy Place once each year (on the Day of
    Atonement), and only after a great deal of preparation and ceremonial cleansing occurred.[8]
  • Mankind will live 1,000 years during the Millennium before this earth becomes a Celestial Kingdom.
Crossing the Veil

At the end of their respective journeys, each group crossed what would come to represent a veil:
  • Joshua parted the Jordan River, and the children of Israel crossed dry shod.
  • The family of Lehi crossed the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Latter-day Saints crossed over the Rocky Mountains into the Salt Lake Valley.
  • The High Priest crossed a veil as he entered into the Holy of
    Holies. Interestingly enough, this veil had two cherubim embroidered on it with the purpose of symbolically guarding the Holy of Holies from unworthy trespassers. 
  • At the end of the Millennium the righteous will also cross a veil guarded by angles, and will enter into the presence of the Lord in the Celestial Kingdom.[9]
The Promised Land

Finally, our groups arrive at their final destination:
  • The Israelites settled in Palestine. 
  • The family of Lehi arrived in the Americas. 
  • The Latter-day Saints made it to the Salt Lake Valley.
  • The High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies.
  • As for mankind, we have the opportunity to be exalted in the Celestial Kingdom if we follow the examples set before us. Each of these final destinations proved to be a better place than the land from whence they came. And although the journey was hard, each proved to be worth it. 

Other Groups to Follow this Same Pattern

In addition to the groups mentioned above, there are other groups who have followed (and will yet follow) this same exodus pattern. For example, when the Saints return to the New Jerusalem to build Zion in the latter-days, it will be done in similitude of the children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, for the Lord has told us that “as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be” (D&C 103:18). We can therefore conclude that this same pattern will again be replicated once more.

The Exodus of the Lost Ten Tribes

Furthermore, the lost ten tribes also seem to have followed this same exodus pattern during their journey from Assyria into the north countries beginning in 721
B.C. (Note: the following information is better understood in the full context of the story, which is explained in my new book entitled, Before the Second Coming).

Preexistent Home - The Ten Tribes lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel before being taken captive to Assyria.
The Ten Tribes are taken captive to Assyria

The Second Estate - The Ten Tribes were taken captive into the land of Assyria, representing their second estate, or the telestial world.

Leader of the Exodus - The Ten Tribes no doubt had a prophet who led them out of Assyria.[10]

Opposing Leader – Sargon II was the king of Assyria who captured the Northern Ten Tribes and put them under bondage.

Revelation Prior to the Exodus - While it is unrecorded, we can assume that one of the prophets among the Ten Tribes received a revelation concerning their departure. This might have included instructions on when to depart, as well as the details about their journey, else why would thousands of Israelites travel thousands of miles to the frozen regions of the north? They were no doubt following a prophet who had received divine revelation from the Lord.

Opposing Army - When the Ten Tribes escaped, perhaps the Babylonians sent an army after them to keep them from getting away.[11] If this were true, it would explain why the Israelites fled in the direction of their homeland before turning their course to the north, thus throwing off any who were following after them.

Miracle of the Exodus - The miracle of the Ten Tribes exodus was that they were somehow able to escape, and move thousands of Israelites a very long distance, with very short notice.

Body of Water - The Ten Tribes crossed the Euphrates River,[12]
The Ten Tribes cross the Arctic Ocean
then journeyed until they reached the Arctic Ocean, which they likely crossed.[13]

Divine Guidance - There were also prophets among the Ten Tribes, who were directing them out of Assyria. They no doubt, received some kind of revelation as to how to travel, and where their final destination would be. As George Reynolds said, "[The ten tribes] were doubtless guided by inspired leaders, who, by Urim and Thummim, or through dreams and visions, pointed out the paths ahead. Perhaps, as in the days of the deliverance from Egypt, a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night guided their footsteps."[14]

Murmuring - According to George Reynolds, "Is it altogether improbable that in that long journey of one and a half years…some of the backsliding Israel rebelled, turned aside from the main body, forgot their God, by and by mingled with the Gentiles and became the leaven to leaven with the promised seed all the nations of the earth?" [15]

Fed Miraculously - Perhaps the Lord did something similar for the Ten Tribes who had to travel thousands of miles to the frozen regions of the north.

Scripture - The Ten Tribes kept a record, a third scriptural witness of Christ, which we will someday be able to read.[16]

Period Before the Promised Land - The Ten Tribes left Assyria close to 2,500 years ago, and still have not been allowed to arrive in their final destination of the New Jerusalem.

Crossing the Veil - The Ten Tribes will cross an ocean called the “great deep”[17] by a highway cast up for them.

The Promised Land - The Ten Tribes will someday arrive in the New Jerusalem and receive their Endowment’s and Second Anointing’s from the hands of Ephraim.[18]


[1] History of the Church, 6:152.
[2] In addition, Lehi also offered sacrifices during their Journey (1 Nephi 2:6-7).
[3] See Lundwall, The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith, chapter 16.
[4] D&C 88:95.  For more information on this veil as it pertains to the Second Coming, see Brunson, Before the Second Coming.
[5] Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, July 27, 1880, p. 2
[6] Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 135-136.  See also: Allen, Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, pp. 230-34; Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 317-19.
[7] Cannon, Ensign, Feb. 1986, The Grasshopper War of 1855 and the Provo Sugar Miracle, pp. 60-61.  See also Van Orden, Tops, The Lord of the Gospels: The 1990 Sperry Symposium on the New Testament, p. 34.
[8] For more information, see Brunson, “The Temple – Reversing the Fall,” located at: 
[9] D&C 132: 19.  See also Journal of Discourses 2: 31
[10] See for example, McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 457; Reynolds, Are we of Israel?, p. 30.
[11] The Babylonians conquered Assyria, which allowed the Israelites to flee. 
[12] 2 Esdras 13: 40-50.
[13] Reynolds, Are we of Israel?, p. 136 .
[14] Reynolds, Are We of Israel, p. 30.
[15] Reynolds, Are We of Israel, pp. 10-11; Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, p. 165; Old Testament Student Manuel, 1 Kings – Malachi, p. 115, (D-6).
[16] 2 Nephi 29: 12-13.
[17] D&C 133: 27.
[18] D&C 133: 32.