I think anyone who has read the Bible will agree that Moses and the Israelites is one of biggest, if not the biggest, stories recorded. We all know about the Ten Plagues, parting of the Red Sea, pillars of fire and smoke, the golden calf, and the 10 Commandments. In addition to reading about it, most of us have probably seen the great movie, Prince of Egypt, which cinematically takes us through God delivering the Israelites from Pharaoh’s hand. While it is an awesome story full of magnificent and miraculous events, we also have a lot in common with the Israelites.
What makes the Exodus one of my favorite stories in the Bible is what God says to the Israelites after they are rescued. When God is talking to Moses on the top of Mt. Sinai, he says this:
“And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”-Exodus 20:1-2
God preceded any commandment he gave the Israelites by declaring who he is and what he has done. He never said, “Do this BECAUSE I SAID SO.” He always said, “DO THIS BECAUSE OF WHAT I’VE DONE FOR YOU.” He declared laws and asked things of them because of who he is and what he has done. He gave before he commanded. In my humble opinion, this is one of the coolest characteristics of God. He will never ask anything of us without first giving something of himself.
As Christians today, we also have an Exodus. Jesus death, burial, and resurrection is the exact moment in history we can look back on and know with complete certainty we are free. How cool is that? Just like the Israelites could look back at the time God delivered out of slavery in Egypt, we can look back at the time when God delivered us from slavery to sin. Jesus says in the book of John,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”-John 8:34
But now, through Jesus, we have been adopted as sons and daughters and made heirs with Christ!
We still forget sometimes, though. I don’t know about you, but there have been many times when I’ve read the story of the Israelites and thought, “How silly can they be? Do they not remember what God did?” “They built a golden calf because they were impatient that Moses was on Mt. Sinai for so long?” I quickly begin to criticize them and think how fickle they were. However, how often do I do the same thing? Whenever, he doesn’t answer my prayers in what I think is a “timely manner,” I become frustrated with him or I look to other things for answers. The things I look to are no more alive and able to eternally sustain me than the golden calf was for the Israelites.
Three years ago, I had opportunity to study in Greece for a summer. While I was there, we went to Egypt for a week and one of the days we spent on the Red Sea. I don’t know where I got the idea of the size of the Red Sea from, but I was completely wrong. I guess I always pictured Moses seeing the other side as if it were the size of a really big pond. Silly, silly me. The Red Sea is HUGE! We spent the whole day on a boat, snorkeling and wrapping our minds around the fact we were ON the Red Sea, but we never came close to seeing the other side. The Israelites could not have crossed the Red Sea on their own. There was no possible way, especially since Pharaoh and his army were now pursuing them. They needed divine intervention, and God answered Moses when he held his staff out above the water. There was a gap between the Israelites and their freedom, and God provided the way for them. Just like he did for the Israelites, God has bridged the impossible gap between us and freedom through Jesus.
So if you ever doubt, think about your Exodus. Think about how God created a way when there was no way to live with him. He brought you from slavery to freedom in Jesus. We were dead in our transgressions. There was no life in us. Now, we have eternal life! We are no longer slaves to the flesh. Praise God!