I just finished the book of Exodus, as part of my 2018 reading plan and I wanted to share with you my most important takeaway. There are certainly a lot of things which could be said about this book and there were several things I noticed this time I had not noticed before, but I consider this to be the most important.
It’s About Slaves
The book of Exodus is the story of how a faithful God heard the cries of an oppressed group of slaves and rescued them in order to crown them with glory and honor, make them a holy people, and dwell in their midst.
Think about it. Of all the people groups in the whole world, of all the mighty empires that would ever rise, the God who created everything, chose to take up residence with this one band of slaves. From that moment on, if a foreigner wanted a relationship with the one true God, he had to go through this family. They were God’s firstborn son.
As you read through the story, you MUST bear that in mind:
- When they celebrate and worship, after crossing the Red Sea, you have to see the significance of that moment. The God of heaven just brought the world’s mightiest and most oppressive nation to its knees, crippling them militarily and economically on behalf of a group of slaves.
- When God gives them instructions for the tabernacle, He isn’t just trying to give them a list of complicated rules to see if they’ll obey them. He is crowing them with honor and beauty by filling craftsmen with the Holy Spirit and having them create a beautiful and intricate tent, so God can live with His people.
- When they worship the calf, they are breaking God’s heart. He has given them such a marvelous gift and they have shown disdain for His gift, for God Himself. But even after that, God still filled the tent with His glory at the very end of the book.
I Am Not One of these People
Ok, so here is where it gets personal. I have to realize this book isn’t about me. I am a white, middle-class, American. I have no personal experience with oppression or slavery. Even in my collective memory, my people have never been oppressed slaves.
Of course, to be honest, my people have been the oppressors. My people have been the slave-holders. My people built their nation on the backs of slaves. That’s true of my nation and it has been true of many nations: The United Kingdom, Rome, Greece, Babylon, etc.
So, I have to recognize I am going to naturally have a difficult time, sitting on a padded church pew with a suit and tie, identifying with a story of how slaves felt after 400 years of oppression. But I don’t know that I’m supposed to identify with the Jews.
I am a Gentile
I’m a Gentile and I am supposed to identify with the Gentiles. I have to put myself in the story as an Egyptian or a Canaanite. I have to ask myself if I lived at this time, if I would have said, “This group of slaves is favored by God. Even though their road looks like it might be filled with struggle and sorrow, I think I would be better off hitching my wagon to theirs.”
I have to break allegiance with my gods, the idols of my people, and swear allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have to be one of the Egyptians who left the mighty empire of Egypt and went along with this group of slaves. I have to be like Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, who betrayed her people and gave her allegiance to the God of these foreigners.
Jesus, God’s True Son
This is why the Exodus is a beautiful picture of the Gospel. When Jesus showed up on the Earth, Rome was the new Egypt. But sadly, some of the Jews had become like Gentiles. They manipulated and oppressed their fellow man. They were filled with hatred, bitterness, and violence. They were not loyal, in their hearts, to the God of Israel.
So Jesus became the new Israel. The true Israel. God’s true firstborn Son. He offered to lead anyone, Jew or Gentile out of bondage and into freedom if they would follow Him. And He is still making that offer. The only way to the Father is through Him.
But in order to be rescued by Him and become God’s people, we have to break allegiance with the gods of our nation. We have to join ourselves to a lowly and oppressed slave man, who died a shameful death. We have to be willing to follow Him even to our own shameful deaths, knowing that on the other side – when He returns – we will be crowned with glory and honor.
The only way to the Father is through Israel’s Messiah. Are we willing to forsake our idols and clothe ourselves in His shame and lowliness? If we are, we get to become children of God, heirs of the promises God made to Abraham. We get to become living stones in the glorious, beautiful, and intricate temple of God.
That’s it, if you want to become God’s child, you have to become a slave. Period. That’s the story of Exodus and that’s the Gospel story.
I love you and God loves you,