Show me Your glory, I pray.
The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites,
and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick
and in every kind of labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that
they imposed on them. The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives,
one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah. When
you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them
on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.
“Tell us a story, Daddy! Tell us a story!” How I miss those nights when my sons begged for a story. What you need for a good bedtime story, or any story, is a problem, a struggle and a resolution. And that is the arc of the Exodus story that begins with the bondage of Egypt, followed by the struggle of the wilderness wandering, and concluding with resolution in the Promised Land where everything turns around.
It is important for our understanding of the Exodus story to know that the Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzraim, meaning “double straits”. Egypt is a straitjacket existence, constrained, bound by bitterness and misery. The land of double straits is in vivid contrast to the Hebrew Scriptures’ understanding of salvation. Salvation is God saving His people from being trapped, hemmed in, oppressed by double straits, and brought into a wide-open space. It’s a shepherd saving his sheep from trouble and bringing them into a free and open pasture. The psalmists express delight in God saving them and leading them into a broad and open space where they can breathe and come alive. Consider:
- Psalm 4:1 “You gave me room when I was in distress.”
- Psalm 18:18-19 “They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a broad place.
- Psalm 31:7-8 “I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have taken heed of my adversities, and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.”
- Psalm 118:5 “Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.”
When the second book of the Bible was translated into Greek it was titled Exodus, (ex “out of” + odos “road”); that is, “road out of.” On a spiritual level the road out of Egypt takes us on a journey from boundaries and constrictive straits into God’s good, broad land. “In every generation, and in every day, a person is obligated to see himself as having today exited Egypt.” (Talmud, Pesachim 116b)
Early Christians called themselves “people of the Way” (Acts 9:2), as they followed Jesus who is the way (John 14:6). Jesus is Exodus, our way out of the double-straits bondage of sin and death into God’s wide-open spaces of freedom and joy.
- Does being a Christian feel like life and freedom to you, or does it feel like rules and bondage? Why?
- Take a few moments to talk with God about your answers.