Here is a video version of this posting.
Family dates are becoming more and more rare these days. Our oldest son is 18 and working part-time at Subway in the evenings. Our youngest is 17, in his senior year, active in theater in and outside of school, and Jess and Jer have been in rehearsals for a show for the past few months that is now running. When we have the opportunity, we take them. We had the opportunity this past weekend so we took it. We went to our favorite Chinese place and then we all went to see Ridely Scott’s telling of Exodus: Gods and Kings. I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be a Biblically accurate portrayl. Not because I thought Ridely was going to try and fail, but because I knew he wasn’t even going to try. That that wasn’t his goal in making the movie. I went in knowing it would be an adaptation of the story. I also knew that it would present opportunites to share the truth of the story by filling in the blanks for others. That’s what I’d like to try and begin to do in this segment.
Going in to it
I knew going in that I was going to enjoy the visuals of this movie, and I wasn’t disappointed. The scope of Egypt and the slavery, the grossness of the plagues, the deaths of the firstborn (which was perhaps the most powerful portrayal of this event on film), it was all amazing. That’s what I knew I wanted to get out of this movie, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I also knew, as I said, that it wasn’t going to be Biblically accurate, but I was curious to see just in which ways it would be innacurate. What would it leave out? What would it add in? What are the opportunites to share God’s truth going to be? Amazingly (or not, you know how God is), the things that were missing, the things that were augmented, are the very things that point to Jesus, that point to God’s heart for His people, and for all people today. With that in mind, I want to take this first segment to talk about the big picture of Exodus. Specifically, the part of Exodus that the movies tend to cover, which is the birth of Moses through the crossing of the Red Sea.
Why did this happen in this way?
Whether it tried to or not, the movie protrayed God as a petulent child. He did point out the justified reason for His anger which was 400 years of His people being oppressed, not to mention the infanticide when Moses was born. But there is so much more to the “why” of these events. Granted, the movie made reference to the prophecy that His people would be oppressed for 400 years and that God would do something about it. That is a big part of the “why” and didn’t get nearly enough attention.
God is faithful
I want to get into the details of these things as this series progresses. Again, this is an overview. But the first thing that needs to be pointed out in the “why” of all of this is God’s faithfulness.
“I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.” Exodus 3:6-8
God made the promise to Abraham concerning the 400 year time-frame to Abraham. He promised the land to Abraham’s descendants and passed that promise to Isaac, Abraham’s son, and Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. God made promises. God is a keeper of promises. God is faithful.
God hears and sees
“Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.” Exodus 3:9
Justice and compassion go hand in glove. It might look like God is flipping out on the Egyptians, but in fact what happens to them is an expression of His justice. What happens to the Hebrews is an expression of God’s compassion. He hears our cry, he sees our oppression.
God uses people
God doesn’t need anyone to do anything for Him. But He has a thing for people. He loves them. He wants to use them. He wants them to be a part of what He does. That’s why He says to Moses,
“Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10
What is missing from the movie is God being represented on earth in the form of Moses and Aaron. What’s missing is God saying to Pharaoh through them, “Let My people go.” Moses seems more like an observer that the deliverer in this movie. Or, it seems like Moses comes up with his own plan that God tolerates for a while and then finally steps in, which is when Moses becomes an observer and not a participant. The fact is God uses the history between Moses and Pharaoh, their relationship, in order to communicate. God uses people to reach people. God uses people to free people.
God has a purpose
Lastly, God has a purpose for all of this. That purpose is to bring the world to Himself, even the Egyptians. God’s purpose is redemption.
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:4-6 NKJV)
Why were God’s people enslaved in the first place? So that they could be set free. But no just for the sake of being set free. The way in which they were set free is a part of God’s plan. God demonstrated His justice, but He also demonstrated His compassion. He demonstrated His power. He demonstrated how far He would go to give people the chance to choose Him, and how far He would go to overcome the obstacles.
The result? God wanted to make the Hebrews His special treasure, above all people. That isn’t a statement of racial supremacy. God is saying that He is going to use that people group as His vehicle to reach the rest of the world. They were not inherently special. They were special because God chose them to be an example of His way of living, as well as the family line through whom Jesus would eventually come. God has a purpose.
Jesus is the ultimate “why” in the book of Exodus. Everything in it is a picture of what Jesus would come to do and to be. Jesus took on the role of a slave and was beaten as the Hebrews were. Jesus is the obedient deliverer as Moses was. Jesus is the lamb of the passover meal whose blood on the doors protected from judgment. The Red Sea is a picture of baptism into the new life we have in Jesus. Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of all of this! Exodus is about Jesus!
Looking forward and looking back
One of my favorite things about the Bible is that it is an integrated message. 66 books written over thousands of years by over 40 people on three continents in three languages, yet it is all one. It all points use to Jesus. Exodus looks forward to Jesus. We get to look back at Exodus through the lens of Jesus and see how much God loves us and how far He want to redeem us.
If you go see this movie, and I think people should, look for that. Look for ways of sharing it. Learn Exodus so that you can share Jesus with people. That’s why God put it in there.
One way to dig deeper is to watch or listen to the series I did in 2010 through the Book of Exodus. One of the most fun series that I taught, at least for me. Stay tuned for more on Exodus – Filling In The Blanks.