This fall, we will be working our way through the Book of Exodus for our fall sermon series.
The Book of Exodus is filled with familiar stories: the Burning Bush, the 10 Plagues, the 10 Commandments (without Charlton Heston), the Golden Calf, and the Tabernacle. But it is also a book that tells the wonderful story of redemption.
In Exodus, we read the story of the redemption of the people of God from slavery in Egypt. It is a story of awe and wonder. It is the story of God’s amazing deliverance of the people of God from the oppression of Pharaoh. But that is only the first part of the story. Before we are even halfway through the book of Exodus, the people are free of Pharaoh, and he is a distant memory. The days of God's people being oppressed are over. At least, that's how it looks.
The reality is that their journey of Redemption had only just begun. As they left Egypt, each of them brought as many of their possessions as they could carry. Kind of like carry-on luggage. At first glance their possessions appear to be only physical items: clothing, important heirlooms, livestock, etc.
But they were also carrying something else – their personal baggage. Baggage that would hinder their ability to move forward as God’s people. In this we find some common ground with the people of the Exodus.
Chuck De Groat, writes in his book, "Leaving Egypt: Finding God in the Wilderness Places, “Egypt was not always a place of slavery. It was a place that offered hope during a famine, and God had flourished his people while they were there.” Of course, it did not stay that way.
To be sure, their oppression is never presented as occurring because they had sinned. Yet, they had "settled in" to a land that was not intended to be their home. A land that worshipped other gods. It gave them what they needed, and it was comfortable, so, they stayed. But eventually, God’s favor began to run parallel to increased suffering and oppression.
The saddest part of what happened to the people of God while they were in Egypt, was that they forgot who God was, who they were, and the beautiful Covenant that they enjoyed with YHWH. Their time in Egypt had also re-shaped and distorted their identities. The Exodus would re-establish these important truths as a part of their story and identity. As De Groat states, “the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land was the journey of exposing the lies that they had come to believe during their time in Egypt, and reminding them of who they were as the people of God.”
The Book of Exodus tells the story of the extent to which our covenant God has gone, and will go, to bring us out of slavery, and into the fullness of our Redemption. It is a story of the power and majesty of God. It is the story of our frailty, shortcomings, and confused sense of identity. It is the story of the steadfast love and faithfulness of God for a people that he chose to love.
It is the story of God’s love for you, and his desire for you to experience and extend his life-changing love.
I look forward to the journey of Redemption that lies ahead for all of us.