Exodus Is Our Story, Too.

Oct 25, 2010

The Old Testament can be read as a history of the Jewish people and as a great description of human behavior on a metaphoric level. Take the Exodus story. Metaphorically, Egypt represents any place, culture or thought process that holds us captive and doesn’t allow us the freedom to let in new kinds of thinking or possibilities. Slavery can be physical or mental or emotional bondage.  It is perhaps easier to see this kind of bondage in other people than in ourselves, but often we get stuck in the ways we think and can’t see a new way out of whatever confronts us.

Our culture holds us captive to its materialism, to its ambition, to its upward mobility and to its idea of being fiercely independent. Our families can hold us captive to limitations in what is acceptable for us to do. Our conditioned minds can hold us captive to whatever responses to life we developed as children and may continue to rule us as adults.

Freedom, on the other hand, is not just the ability to decide our fate, ”the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint,”[1] but also denotes an ability to become the people we were created to be. This, I believe, is our call from God, to realize our own wholeness and our dependence on God.

To return to the metaphor, we need a spokesman or spokeswoman, an inner Moses who, inspired by God, will lead us out of all the rigid thinking that imprisons us. The Pharoah represents the powerful inner king who tries to keep us stuck in the old ways. The plagues that God sends are needed to weaken the Pharoah’s hold on us as we try to move away from “his ways.”

Even when we escape the Pharoah and enslavement, he chases after us, aware of all that he had used us for, how much he loved that power over us, and now unwilling to let us go. But if we continue on the path of leaving Egypt, the old ways are drowned in the Red Sea as was the Pharoah’s army. So we have made it out of slavery, but there remains a long period of time when we are still caught in the old thinking, the wilderness. We’ve escaped, but haven’t changed anything—we’re wandering in the wilderness and beginning to complain first, that we liked being slaves in Egypt, and secondly, why are we in this awful land. We forget about God and Moses, we overlook God’s provenance in meeting out needs(the daily manna). The old ways are more comfortable and the new ways are not yet available to us.

A new law is handed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai, a new way of being in the world; you might say, these are the rules for living outside of slavery. For a time the rules are ignored, but then really adopted by the people, by ourselves as we approach the new land—the new way of thinking. Finally the old—the enslaved mind—is gone and we’re ready to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, where a whole new way of doing, being and thinking lies. Our inner Moses who led us out of slavery and to the verge of the promised land is no longer needed; an inner warrior, Joshua, takes his place as we cross the Jordan. We have to conquer the new land in order to claim it as our own, throw out the “thinking”/the peoples that don’t belong and claim our new home. Now, finally, we are comfortable in a whole new place.

This exodus story can replay when we get locked into the new ways; we may need to move out of “Egypt” more than once. But if we’re dependent on/surrendered to God, we’ll maintain our openness to new ideas and new ways of being. He will always lead us away from being stuck, in favor of leading us into the fullness of our created selves.



[1] The New Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005

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