I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink… These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us.
I Corinthians 10:1-4, 11
People who know me know that I am directionally challenged. I can easily lose my way when driving, or be at a loss to know which way to turn. So I always appreciate having GPS in the car to show me where I am and where to turn. I am also drawn to the map in the mall showing me the big picture with the arrow announcing: “YOU ARE HERE”.
But I am as well directionally challenged spiritually. I have not infrequently lost my way in life and made more wrong turns than I care to admit. That is why the Exodus has become so meaningful to me as a spiritual roadmap, showing me where I am, and indicating where God might be leading.
Once in a dark night of the soul while reading every book I thought might help me, I came across a passage in When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. There I found words that resonated deep within:
I pored over the Old Testament story of the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt.I read it not only as a chronicle of salvation history, but as the story of an inner journey taking place within the landscape of one’s soul. Egypt, wilderness, and promised land are comparable to interior states of being…there is first a movement of separation, then a holding environment where transformation happens, and finally an emergence into a new existence.
In today’s Scripture text the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian Christians using the imagery of the Exodus. He speaks of their “baptism” in the cloud and sea, and eating manna in the wilderness. Paul says that the things that happened to them in the Exodus “happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us”. The Greek word translated here as “example” is the Greek word typos; the Israelites making the Exodus journey were “types” of you and me in our life journeys. The story of their Exodus journey is written down “to instruct us”.
God leading Israel out of bondage into the Wilderness and then to the Promised Land is a roadmap for the life of faith. It is a story about leaving and arriving and the transformation that takes place in between. The Exodus is about the journey from bondage to freedom and the change in those who take part in it. It is not surprising then that Old Testament theologian Walter Brueggemann says of the Exodus: “This is the most important story we have come to know, and we have come to believe it is a story decisively about us” (The Bible Makes Sense). The Exodus is not just a story of salvation, but THE story of salvation, and the way that God always acts on behalf of His people.
- What helps you get your bearings when you are directionally challenged spiritually?
- What do you make of Walter Bruggemann’s statement that the Exodus is “a story decisively about us”?
- How do you see the Exodus as encompassing your life story?