Everybody Needs an ExodusBy Blair Cushman
October 7, 2020
Everybody loves a good story, don’t they? Kids’ imaginations are held captive by thrilling tales of pirates and princesses. We sit spellbound by movies whose storylines grip our emotions. I am willing to bet that most of us know and could retell with accuracy the story of Exodus. We could recount Moses at the burning bush, the great and grievous judgments of God upon Egypt, and the Red Sea rescue. Yet, Exodus is more than just an eventful story. It is a story of redemption, of deliverance and presence. It reveals and demonstrates God’s character and power. It reveals and demonstrates humanity’s bondage and problem with sin.
These themes permeate the story and teach us today. Since Eden, everybody has needed an exodus—a deliverance from sin into the presence of God. The Israelites of Exodus needed it and we need it today. Those who lead need it. Those who follow need it. Exodus 1 makes this clear. As our world groans today under the weight of injustice and threat of a virus, Exodus 1 instructs us in the way forward.
Forget not the promises of God.
The second book of the Pentateuch begins with this reminder. The Israelites were experiencing God’s faithfulness to multiply this family of exiles. He was making them a great nation even though they were in Egypt and not the Promised Land.
We are a pretty forgetful people aren’t we? Time goes by and we move on to other things. Sunday worship is a distant memory by Tuesday. Times get tough and we forget all evidence of God’s goodness. A pandemic hits and all we can see is what is changing and what we are losing. We miss what God is doing, the fruit that is bearing, the disciples that are multiplying, and faith that is strengthening.
Let us not treat the promises of God like social media posts and scroll on by them but let us stand on their rock-solid foundation. Let us not forget Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16:18, “I tell you…I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Hell, nor a virus, will stand against the success of the church. What God is doing among us is beyond us. Let us not forget, and proceed with faith.
Face opposition with faith.
When things are going great guess who else notices? The enemy. Note this: when we get serious about the Lord, the enemy gets serious about us. The enemy loves lazy, ineffective believers but when we start taking God’s promises seriously and start living out the Great Commission then the opposition starts to attack. These attacks are strangely comforting because they remind us that God is at work.
The Egyptians feared that the Israelites would be too many and too mighty so they ruthlessly enslaved them and made life bitter. This has happened over and over throughout history and culture. It is not a societal problem nor a political problem but a sin problem.
Facing opposition with faith then teaches us several things. First, hatred is distinctly evil and is rooted in fear. Since Cain killed Abel, hatred for others because of what they do or how they look or what they have has caused people to lash out in hate. Therefore, we understand what is happening in our world today and we lament. Second, diversity is a distinctly Christian value rooted in eternity. From being created in the image of God to our commissioning with the Gospel to the nations to the culmination of our eternal worship of the Lamb there is a beautiful diversity that together reflects our Triune God. Therefore, we who love the Lord, love the diversity of His creation. Third, love is a distinctly Christian solution rooted in the Gospel. Because Jesus loved us to the point of death, we too love one another in how we relate and in how we reconcile. Therefore, we recognize the solution to today’s problems are found in the Gospel, so we seek justice and reconciliation. These are daunting lessons with daunting implications.
Fear God not man.
There is so much wrong in the opening chapter of Exodus. Both genocide and homicide have not only been legalized but also mandated by Pharaoh himself. Only a heart hardened by hatred could command killing. Logical reasoning could not prevent this atrocity; only the fear of God could.
I love how it is the obscure midwives that are our examples of faithfulness. These are God-fearing women who sacrifice their time, always on call, ready to serve, profuse with encouragement, and witnesses to new life and God’s work on a regular basis. These women have a keen awareness about who really is in control. Despite a mandate from Pharaoh King of Egypt, they choose instead to obey orders from The King of the Universe so that even when they are called to account they do not back down. God blesses them for their faithfulness by giving them their own families.
Dire situations, like the Israelites enslavement to Egypt and the injustice and pandemic of 2020, drive us to our knees in fear of God. The bitterness of bondage makes us sick and leads us to the sweet remedy of Christ. The daunting task of ministry keeps us tethered to the Word, in step with the Spirit, and eyes fixed on Christ.