Have you ever wondered why Exodus starts with a genealogy? I mean, honestly, if you read Genesis, you know this already. Why the repetition in the word of God? I think there are a couple reasons. First, there is the obvious connection to Genesis. This isn’t a new story with its own subject and plot. This story is connected to the story of the patriarchs. That brings me to the second reason. We all have a history. You are not a nobody. There is a heritage that you come from. When we trace back your ancestry, we find that it embraces a multiplicity of ethnicities, backgrounds, cultures, and stories.
So it is here with Exodus. These people are not nobodies. This story is about Israel, and we’ll see it is about Moses, but it is more than that. It is about you and I. Our lives are constituted by patriarchs and tribes that we can trace back unto Genesis 10. This genealogical past helps to shape us and who we are to be. The sociology question “nature versus nurture” inevitably declares, “yes”. That which you’ve inherited is more than just a family, but a culture and a heritage that runs through your veins.
How we got to this time, with you, determines the kind of Egypt that you will be found in. Biblical Egypt is more than the physical place. True, there are many places (such as this one) where we’re talking about physical Egypt. Yet, Egypt is a metaphor. Biblical Egypt is the place of bondage and slavery. It is the condition of sin we’re all born with. Our personal story develops in that even though we’re enslaved and desire freedom, we still learn the ways of Egypt and live it. Here is the reason for the genealogy.
For myself, I had discovered a porn magazine in my father’s desk drawer. Guess what the biggest temptation I had to overcome was. My dad drinks socially. Guess what I had to break free from. I’m German, and was terribly racist – a white supremist. I’m Irish, and had a temper to prove it. I’m English, and had the lofty mindset that thinks self smarter and more eloquent than others to show just how English I really am. Heritage matters. It is both the blessing and the curse. My Egypt was predicated upon my inheritance.
The sinful state is like a boa constrictor. Though I desire freedom, I find deeper constraint. That which I want to do, I do not do – namely, uphold the righteous lifestyle. In my life, I hated myself. I hated the things I did. While pleasure was there for a moment, and drinking numbed the pain for a while, I eventually woke up the next morning. Life itself is difficult enough without Egyptian task masters who continue to oppress and haunt you so that you cannot even find freedom in your dreams. Life becomes a blur. The questions you are asking others who have it all figured out are the very questions that would sit you in a corner weeping. The answers are futile, if not wretched. My mind spins day after day, moment after moment, panting after reality, but all I have are dreams of one day being able to “make it” – whatever that means.
Egypt is a place that we all know, but we hate it. If there is a God, then why doesn’t He deliver me? When I was in High School, I used to actually ask this. If God is real, then why don’t I feel any good emotion? There is no happiness, only bitterness. There is no joy, only sadness. There is no compassion, only anger. There is no love, only hate. Hate against my father, hate against my friends who hate me too. Most of all, hate against myself. I am my own worst enemy. The walls of the school are white, and the lockers green, and this only reflects my own heart. Whitewashed and envious. Self righteous toward others, all the while coveting the life they have.
The things I do not want to do – whether addictions, secret thoughts of the heart, escaping reality through movies, video games, or anything else, or whatever else might be masticating me – I find myself doing these things. Who will deliver me from this body of death?
This is the story of Exodus. At the end of Exodus 2, we read of a God who hears the cry. This God isn’t willing to listen without response. God always hears the cry of the oppressed. God always judges injustice. Therefore, the deliverer was born. Moses is called to deliver the people Israel; Christ Jesus was born to deliver all of humanity. The life of these two men are parallel when comparing the Gospel of Matthew and Exodus.
In Exodus 1, Pharaoh decrees that all of the Hebrew male children should be killed. In Matthew 2, the decree is sent through Herod that all of the male children in Bethlehem should be killed. Why does Satan always go after the children? Jesus’ father flees to Egypt. Just as Moses fled Egypt, so now Joseph flees Herod. Just as Moses is sent back to Pharaoh, Joseph received a dream to go back to Israel. Israel is brought out of Egypt and comes to the Red Sea. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan. After crossing the Red Sea, Israel travels 40 days to reach Sinai. Jesus is tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. Israel is tempted in three different ways in the wilderness. Jesus is tempted three times by Satan. Israel comes to Mount Sinai to receive the Law. Jesus comes out of the wilderness and goes up on a high mountain to teach the Law. Jesus is our deliverer. He is our Moses. We follow Him in our own lives, just as we follow the pattern of Exodus to come out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
It was in the fullness of time that Christ Jesus our Lord appeared once and for all to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. It is when our sin is full, which is to say, when we hit rock bottom, that so often the children of God come to know God. Exodus 1-4 is my story. It is your story. For those of you who are still in the midst of your Egypt seeking freedom, then I pray you continue in this series and continue to cry out over the injustice you experience. May God deliver you from your own Egypt, and may He truly free you as He freed Israel in Exodus.