7 Exoduses (Part 3)
In the previous two posts in this series (see here and here), I sought to set out the Exodus principle as we observe it applied both to individuals and to the nation of Israel. Before moving on to the theological center of the Exodus principle, namely, Christ and his experience, we should briefly take stock of two other matters.
First, the overarching themes of the Exodus principle are hardship, deliverance and blessing. We might also label them as, suffering, salvation and glory. We observed how both certain individuals in redemptive-history and the nation of Israel experienced a displacement, of sorts. They were removed from the place of blessing – the promised land or the promised people in Peter’s case. In their time away from the place of blessing, they find themselves amongst pagans and suffering at the hand of pagans. God’s people cry out to him and he delivers them from oppression, granting them great material and or spiritual blessing as they are saved.
It is now important for us to consider this paradigm in light of one matter of interest: Exodus is both a corporate and individual experience; but, before it was a corporate experience it was an individual experience. We see this in Abram’s experience in Egypt; we see it in Isaac and Jacob’s experience--not to mention in Moses' own personal life which was a pattern of the Exodus to come. We see it in the Apostle Peter in the New Testament is another example of an individual experience of Exodus. So what exactly can we glean from this observation? If we observe a repeated experience in God’s people from old to new Covenants it should make us consider the bridge between the covenants - a brindge that provides the common ground between old and new covenant saints. That bridge is, of course, Jesus Christ. If we observe a common pattern in Christian experience we should not at all be surprised if we observe this pattern in the life of Christ--the Exodus of Christ!
Principle 1: Exodus happens to God’s chosen people. Here we observe Christ as the fulfilment of the idea of the “chosen people”. He was God’s Son (Jn 1:34) and God’s Servant (Is 42:1; 52:13) – sent in order to right the wrongs of God’s sons and servants in history. Where individual sons and servants failed by sin, where the corporate son and servant, Israel, failed by sin, Christ as God’s “chosen one” came to live the life of perfect conformity and faithfulness to God’s commands.
Principle 2: Physical departure from the promised land to a pagan land. Could there be a greater example of this principle than in the incarnation of our Lord? The Son left his Father’s side, left his throne, laid aside his glory, emptying himself and entered a life of sin and misery, culminating in his cursed death on the cross. Could there be a greater departure from the place of glory and blessedness (of which the promised land was a type) than our Lord’s departure from his heavenly abode? Yet, we may also observe miniscule and detailed likenesses to Exodus within the overall experience of our Lord. Just as Israel found itself in Egypt out of the promised land, so too, did our Lord – as a child he was taken into Egypt to flee persecution.
Principle 3: The covenant people oppressed and persecuted. Again a two-fold perspective is necessary to examine our Lord’s experience. By virtue of his incarnation and life surrounded by sin and in daily contact with sin, our Lord was exposed to the miseries of this life. On a more narrow scale he suffered at the hands of men – despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He suffered at the hands of the Romans who ultimately put him to death. Yet his suffering was also at the hands of the covenant people – in the first instance Herod who tried to murder him in his infancy, and then latterly the Jewish authorities who did murder him. Unusually, we observe Jesus describing his own experience as an “exodus” (Peter, later, also described his death as an exodus). In his transfiguration (Luke 9:31) Jesus is found speaking with Moses and Elijah concerning his “departure (exodus in the Greek) which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Notice Jesus would “accomplish” this exodus – though it happened to him, he was actively engaged in the process - laying down his life of his own accord.
Principle 4: God acts mightily on behalf of his people to redeem them. Matthew records that as a child, Jesus’ deliverance from Herod in Egypt and subsequent departure from Egypt was to fulfill a prophecy – “out of Egypt I called my son”. (Matt 2:15) This is a clear allusion to the calling of God’s son, Israel, from Egypt. But there is a greater deliverance - resurrection. God’s mightiest act of deliverance was that of his Son from the grave. Yet this death and deliverance of Christ is that which secures eternal blessing for all those found in Christ and who are also granted to enter into this exodus experience.
Principle 5: God’s people return to the promised land with great physical and spiritual blessings. Christ’s ascension and glorification complete the experience. What glories our Lord received as he returned to his Father: “Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession” – Psalm 2:8. Our Lord ascended to the Father, “leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts from men, even from among the rebellious” – Psalm 68:18. What a wonderful inheritance for him! What a glorious spoil of battle! That inheritance, that spoil of battle is the New Heavens and New Earth, populated by the elect of God, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Given that believers enter into this experience of their Lord--and given that we observe both individuals and the Old Covenant theocratic nation entering into this exodus experience--we should not be surprised that individually and corporately New Covenant believers also experience and exodus. As your read God’s Word and reflect on your own experience of grace (see Joe Holland’s recent post) reflect on how your life and the life of the church fits this pattern. Be reminded God does not ever leave his people in stage three of the exodus pattern – suffering and persecution. Rather he has delivered us and will deliver us eternally, that we may enter into the joy of our Lord.
Joe Holland "A Place for Experience"
John D. Currid Exodus (Volume 1)
Nick Batizg "The Exodus Motif in Luke Acts"