Last week I wrote about what God revealed of Himself to the Egyptians through the ten plagues. There’s more to that story … cool stuff that doesn’t deal with plagues. (I hear that exhale!)
When God does something, it sends ripples in every direction and serves many purposes at the same time. The Exodus is a great example of that.
We tend to get caught up in what seems obvious: the Israelites were oppressed; the Egyptians got what-for.
But that’s not how God works.
Here are five key takeaways from what God did through the Exodus.
1. The Exodus was God’s first wide-scale evangelism outreach.
Think about it—an entire country learned about God all at the same time!
And His message wasn’t “You’re bad; the Israelites are good; let them go.” God’s message was “I alone am God. There is redemption for everyone who calls upon Me.”
2. Then as now, there were “Israelites” who were not Israelites.
Almost as a footnote, Exodus 12:28 mentions a “mixed multitude” went with the Israelites. It’s reasonable to assume that included at least two groups of non-Israelites: Egyptians and non-Israelite foreigners, sometimes collectively called Hyksôs. Some of them likely had invaded and conquered part of Egypt ages ago but later were subjugated. Regardless, some of the people who left with the Israelites weren’t Israelites. Some may have left out of fear or curiosity. Some may have given lip service to the Hebrew God. Others truly did believe. Jesus said it’s up to Him to sort all the fish in the dragnet (Matthew 13:47–52).
3. God removes obstacles to make way for teaching.
God obviously moved heaven and earth to free the Israelites—but that wasn’t His end game. He knew some obstacles lay within the Israelites themselves.
In all fairness, if I’d been an Israelite, I would have been consumed with “God delivered us!” I would not have been thinking “God is so great; I need to learn more about Him.” But that was God’s next move.
The Israelites soon replaced their thankfulness with grumbling. In the wilderness, they thought they were beset with new, worse trials. But God didn’t want to test them—He wanted to teach them. He designed each circumstance to show the Israelites something new about Himself. His power. His provision. His protection. And so on.
4. Sometimes wandering is necessary to purge sin.
In her book Prevail, Susie Larson describes the Israelites’ four “I-sins:” idolatry, immorality, irreverence, and irritation.
“The first two say to God, ‘I want more!’ while the second two shout, ‘I am more!’ Idolatry is born out of discontentment … Once our spiritual amnesia kicks in, we try lesser gods to see if they might satisfy. Immorality is often born out of unhealed brokenness, and sometimes out of plain sinfulness … Irreverence comes from pride and ignorance. We value our opinion above God’s and before we realize it, honor falls by the wayside. Irritation springs from entitlement. We think we deserve more than God or others are giving us at the moment.”
How often has God let you kick, scream, cry, and wander until you could be still and know He is God? (I can ask that because He’s done that with me more often than I’d care to admit.)
5. God inextricably links His goodness and grace with His glory.
God continually pursues His glory and our good. To our limited minds, those two things may sometimes seem mutually exclusive. But think of the golden calf debacle. If God had destroyed the Israelites back then, Egypt and the rest of the world would have known God as powerful but also vengeful or evil. They would not know who He truly is.
The pagan world’s gods were at the least capricious, usually hard to please, often unreliable, and always distant. Instead, God showed the Israelites and the world that He was a good and forgiving God who was close to His people.
That loops back to His missionary purpose in bringing all nations to a knowledge of Himself. Making Himself known “so that the world may know” brings God glory.
Exodus shows us God’s intent and heart have never changed through time … we just tend to miss His goal by focusing on His means.
Father God, thank You that Your purposes are greater than I can ever know. Forgive me when I think more of my limited capabilities than Your infinite abilities. Give me Your perspective so I can do life the way You intend for me to. Amen.
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