Meaning for Present in the Exodus Story of the Past

Regardless of how historical the Bible’s stories are, the value seems to be realized when one places their feet in the sandals of the characters. Possibly the best example of this is the Passover Seder. The recited text in the Seder called the Haggadah is written in the first person as if the Seder participants were there when Israel’s exodus occurred. The value of re-membering oneself to the exodus is in relating it to the bondage in one’s own life and God’s presence to deliver. This is part of the inspiration behind the concept of sacraments in our Christian tradition. The most obvious example is found in the Eucharist (Communion) which Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians:

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf. (1 Co. 10:14-17)

Interestingly, the Greek New Testament writers recount Jesus’ command at the last supper (Passover meal) to remember him whenever they eat this bread or drink from this cup by use of the word anamnesis which, according to some scholars can be translated to “recall and/or represent” (Luke 22:19, 1 Co. 11:24) . Moreover, Matthew’s account draws obvious parallels between the life of Jesus and Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Jesus is taken by his parents from the Promised Land to Egypt where he can grow in safety. His adoptive father’s name is Joseph no less. The tyrant king he escapes is said to have ordered the execution of all males 2 years old and under. The family returns to the Promised Land. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before he began his conquest of hearts, etc. The same archetypal hero and story that Christians are commanded to remember and participate in at the Eucharist.

There are many things we may believe concerning the stories of the Bible and even cite evidence for our particular views, but what we know with certainty is limited as is evident in the debates between scholars who have spent their lives searching for the truth. In any case, our ignorance notwithstanding, all of us, regardless of creed or hermeneutic, can relate to the archetypal characters and experiences found in the Exodus story. My own life has plenty of experience with bondage to people, things, and circumstances, difficult, uncertain times in what can be compared to desert wastelands, battles with inner and outer foes, goals in sight and the fears that kept me from that “promised land”, etc. In this way the Exodus story has so much to teach me about myself, the cycles of life, morality, patience, hope, faith and so much more!

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