A new exodus
Updated: Apr 29, 2022
We all have pivotal moments in our lives that provide major changes from which there is no going back – a marriage, a birth, a death, a relocation, a new job. The greatest pivotal moment in the Old Testament for the nation of Israel was the exodus. God foretold it to Abraham. He told him that his descendants would move to another nation and spend four hundred years there in affliction (Gen 15:13-16). Afterward, God would bring them out of there and back into the promised land. Abraham’s grandson Jacob and his family moved to Egypt because of a famine (Gen 39-45). God had sent his son Joseph ahead to put him in position next to Pharaoh to provide for them all. Later, another pharaoh oppressed the Israelites and brought them into hard bondage (Ex 1-2).
Just as God told Abraham, four hundred years later He raised up Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt to the promised land. First, God had to send ten plagues on Egypt before they would let them go (Ex 7-12). Then, Pharaoh hardened his heart again and went out to bring Israel back into bondage. They thought Israel was trapped by the wilderness and the Red Sea, but God parted the sea and they walked through it on dry ground (Ex 14). When the Egyptians tried to follow them, God closed the Red Sea upon them. That moment changed everything for Israel. They were no longer in bondage. Egypt was rendered powerless to bring them back. They were en route to the land God had promised Abraham.
This event became a major marker for Israel, their history, and their future from that point. It is mentioned 227 times, even into the New Testament. God is identified 85 times as the God that brought them out of Egypt. Israel was to never go back that way again (Deut 17:16). They were to forever keep the commandments of God and always move forward spiritually. The fear of God was upon the surrounding nations because of this. Balak, the king of Moab (Num 22:5), the inhabitants of Jericho (Josh 2:10), the Gibeonites (Josh 9:9), and the Philistines (1Sam 4:8) were all terrified of Israel and their God because of the exodus. However, as is the history of man in general, Israel failed God over and over.
There are many lessons to be learned from the exodus that apply to us today. We need to understand the value of the pivotal moments God gives us. We need to use them as spiritual markers to look back to and to point us forward. Sin and the devil do not let us go willingly. Some people expect that when they turn to God their problems and battles will just resolve themselves. Sometimes the opposite happens. When we become Christians, we switch sides in the spiritual war between God and Satan. We should not be surprised when the enemy gets upset with that. We must make up our minds to fight the good fight of faith until the end. God kept reminding Israel how He brought them out of Egypt. That is because they kept forgetting what God had done for them as they put their focus on their circumstances and their sin instead of God. God not only brought them out of physical slavery, but spiritual bondage as well. They had been worshipping idols in Egypt, but God forgave them and delivered them (Josh 24:14, Eze 20:4-10). They wished they had not left Egypt and plotted to return several times in the wilderness (Ex 14:12, Ex 17:3, Ex 32:1, Num 11:5, Num 14:2-4, Num 20:5, Num 21:5). After the Babylonians destroyed the land because of their sins, they actually did return to Egypt against the advice of the prophet Jeremiah to their own destruction (Jer 41-44). Once God has saved us, we must not look back to our old life of slavery in sin (Jn 8:31-36, Rom 6:16-18). We need to remember how bad it was and how gracious God has been to us.
We need to keep our focus on the coming kingdom (Heb 3-4). We must decide that there is no going back, or we will eventually look back and go back like Lot’s wife (Gen 19, Lk 9:62, Lk 17:32). There will be adversity, but just when the enemy thinks he has us trapped, God makes a way of deliverance for us (1Cor 10:13). When we become fearful, we can remember that the enemy is afraid of us operating in faith and obedience to the word of God. He knows how powerful that can be, so he tries to get us to freeze in fear instead. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is not letting fear freeze us into inaction. Just as Egypt had no power to bring Israel back into bondage because of the deliverance of God, the enemy of our souls has no power to bring us back into sin if we choose to follow Jesus. There was a man in Gadara that had 6,000 demons inside him, but when he chose to run to the feet of Jesus and be delivered, they could do nothing to stop him (Mk 5:1-17). Never underestimate the power of choice. Sometimes we make excuses for our failures as though we are helpless. Sometimes things do happen that are beyond our control and not necessarily our fault, but we have more power to choose than we like to take responsibility for sometimes.
The Lord is still the God of the exodus. He had to judge Israel for their repeated backslidings by sending their enemies to conquer them as He warned them He would (Lev 26. Deut 28). Even after they were led captive to many other nations, God was able to give them another exodus and bring them back to their land. Jeremiah predicted both their captivity and the fact that they would look at their return as a new exodus (Jer 16:14-15). This came to pass in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Even after they rejected and murdered their own Messiah and have been judged since, the Lord still has plans for them after 2,000 years (Mt 23:37-39, Lk 21:24, Rom 9-11). They once again have seen their homeland restored to them.The grace of God is no excuse to sin, but it does give us hope that we can return to Him and have a new exodus. One day He will return for His people for the final great exodus from this dark world of sin into His glorious eternal kingdom (1Cor 15:50-58, 1Thes 4:13-18).