Exodus for All

Amos 9:7 “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the Lord. “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?”

The Israelites were trapped. They had been slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. But then God used His chosen servant, Moses, to go to Pharaoh and proclaim God’s thunderous demand, “Let my people go!” When Pharaoh refused, God brought His divine judgment upon Egypt in order to force Pharaoh’s hand. Plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, death to the livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death to the firstborn pummeled the land, its people, and its animals.

Finally, Pharaoh relented and kicked the Israelites out of Egypt. It was a great exodus with much rejoicing.

But very quickly the Israelites were trapped again. Pharaoh reneged on his relenting. Instead, he became relentless. The Red Sea was in front of the Israelites. Pharaoh and his well-trained and well-equipped Egyptian army was in front of them. The Israelites could hear the way cry of Egypt’s choicest warriors: “I will draw my sword, and my hand will destroy you” (Exodus 15:9). There was nowhere to go; no way to escape.

God protected His people by having the angel of the Lord move in between the Israelites and Egyptians in the form of a pillar fire. That night, the Lord opened a path through the Red Sea with a great east wind. With walls of water standing miraculously on each side of them, the Israelites crossed through the Red Sea on dry land. Neither defeat nor death touched a single one of them.

But when the Egyptian army tried to follow the same path at dawn the next morning, the Lord allowed the sea to go back into place. The walls of water crashed down upon the chariots and their horsemen. Not a single Egyptian soldier survived. Their death and destruction was complete.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation … Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. … Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. … Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders” (Exodus 15)?

The Exodus is the salvation story of the Old Testament. And rightly so! It was continual proof to countless generations that the Lord had kept His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God had brought His chosen people out of Egypt and into the promised land of Canaan.

Yet, the Lord prophecies through Amos that if the Israelites will look around them, they will observe that other nations have migrated from place to place. The Lord asks rhetorically, “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites? Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?”

God brought the Israelites home with a great and miraculous exodus. Yet, God is promising through Amos an exodus for all.

God announces His deliverance of the Cushites. The land of Cush was in the upper Nile region, south of Egypt, of which Ethiopia is a part. They appeared to be the most foreign of the foreigners. They came from a very distant land in relation to Israel. God has no “favorites.” He unleashes His exodus power for those who are geographically the furthest away from Israel.

God also enacted an exodus for those who lived within a closer proximity to Israel, in this case the Arameans and the Philistines. The Lord of the nations brought the Philistines over the sea from Caphtor (= Crete?) to settle the Mediterranean coast between Canaan and Egypt. He brought the Arameans from Kir in Mesopotamia to inhabit Damascus. The Lord equates Israel’s exodus with those of some of the nation’s fiercest adversaries, the Philistines and Arameans.

In no way can Israel prove from the external facts of history that it is God’s chosen people. What sets Israel apart is the grace of God and the covenant He made with their forefathers. “The sons of Israel” do not have exclusive rights to exodus deliverance. The Lord delivers all people, by grace, through faith. “For God so loved the world …” (John 3:16). “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ …” (2 Corinthians 5:19). “… He is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

As we consider Israel’s exodus, we do so believing in an exodus for us, for the Lord promises an exodus for all. The exodus began when there was a new king in Egypt, “who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). “The Egyptians put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor … who worked them ruthlessly. … They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields” (Exodus 1:11–14). With genocidal fury the Egyptians even attempted to kill Hebrew baby boys by throwing them into the Nile River.

Later Pharaoh gave orders to his slave drivers to no longer supply Israelites with straw for making bricks, but to require them to make the same number of bricks as before (Exodus 5). And so the slaves — mired in the mud of the eastern Nile Delta — were beaten with whips and began to lose hope.

Until the Exodus.

It appeared as if the enemies had won.

But it was all part of God’s greater plan for providing for the Israelites’ escape.

We know a similar enemy who enslaves, taunts, and destroys. We feel his accusing whip slice open our past. We hear his war cry, “Because you thought this, watched this, did this, and said this you will have hell to pay!” Sensing his hot breath on the backs of our necks, we hear him calmly whisper, “I will draw my sword, and my hand will destroy you.” Jesus calls this enemy a “murderer and a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Peter says he is “a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Paul describes him as “the god of this age who blinds our minds” (2 Corinthians 4:4). And John calls him a destroyer (Revelation 9:11).

He is the Pharaoh of hell.

Jesus is our Deliverer from this Pharaoh. He brings about our exodus.

Our exodus from slavery to sin, self, and Satan also begins with an evil king who in genocidal fury gives orders to throw the Israel, Jesus our Lord, into the butcher’s blade (Matthew 2:1–18). Other enemies join the assault. Pharisees plot with Herodians. Detractors say Jesus is demon possessed. Scribes test Him with Torah trivia. His brothers call Him crazy. Sadducees posture with pentateuchal pride. But the final assault begins with thirty pieces of silver, and He is sold away as a slave.

Once arrested, Jesus is bound, accused, blindfolded, mocked, tried, stripped, and then beaten into a bloody pulp. His enemies surround Him on every side.

Blood-soaked and spiked to a tree for six hours, His lungs scream for air. After a loud cry He bows His head and dies. It appears as if the enemies have won.

But it was all part of God’s greater plan for providing for our escape.

Jesus enters Jerusalem as a humble King so that we might enter the New Jerusalem as heirs of the King.

Jesus drinks every drop of the cup of God’s wrath so that we might drink deeply from the cup of God’s salvation.

Jesus is executed with criminals on either side of Him so that we might be surrounded on every side by our fellow saints.

Jesus enters the grave so that we might exit the grave.

Jesus descends into hell so that He can tell the Pharaoh of Hades, “Let my people go!”

The Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. Moses lifted his arms and the waters parted. The enemy chased headlong thinking they had won. At daybreak the next morning, Moses stretched out his hand and the waters drowned their captors in the depths of the sea.

We were trapped between the sin that is inside of us, the devil and his demons that are all around us, and death that is waiting for us. Jesus lifted His arms and spread them wide upon the cross. Our enemies rushed headlong thinking they had won. At daybreak three days later, Jesus walked out of the grave. He stretched out His hands and our captors were drowned in the blood that flowed from His riven side. They were crushed under His pierced foot. They were buried under the weight of His resurrection grave. 

Jesus entered the Jewish city of Jerusalem so that He might save people from every nation, tribe, people, and language. He has brought about our exodus from this world. An exodus from the grave. And an exodus from hell.

Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday through His exit of the grave on Easter Sunday – the week that we call Holy Week – is the salvation story of both the Old and New Testaments.

It is continual proof to countless generations that the Lord has kept His promises to peoples from every land, culture and skin color. God has brought His chosen elect from all over the world into the Promised Land of heaven.

There is an exodus for Israelites, Cushites, Philistines, and Arameans. There is an exodus for you; there is an exodus for me; there is an exodus for all! It is through the parting waters of the baptismal font. It is through the Lord’s Supper that replaced the Passover Meal. It is through the Lord’s thunderous voice in His holy Word.

Jesus’ entrance at the beginning of this Holy Week also provides another exodus that is yet to come. This will be a final exodus. There will be a Rider on a white horse. He will seize the beast, the false prophet and the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, and hurl them all into the lake of fire. And they will sink to the depths like a stone (Revelation 19–20). Then, forever free from all slavery, Eden will be restored. Now and forever, we join in singing the song of salvation.

And so there is great rejoicing. We join our voices with the saints, the martyrs, the angels, the children, the rescued and redeemed from all nations. Jesus enters Jerusalem to win our exodus. It is an exodus for all. Amen.