“Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”
The Israelites walked to freedom on dry ground through the waters, but the God of justice tossed the Egyptians into the sea. Before it was over, the Egyptians acknowledged the power of God against Pharaoh and his armies. “Let us flee from the Israelites,” the Egyptians said, “for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” Yes, indeed.
The Exodus is the story of a victorious God. It is the foundational biblical narrative of the victory of justice over injustice and life over death. The Exodus is also the story with the power to liberate our hope today if we understand Pharaoh to be more than a historical figure, and if we recognize Egypt as a metaphor for worldly power and the power of empire.
What will it take for us to believe?
Often Christians reduce our faith to the realm of personal relationship with God in Christ. A personal relationship is essential groundwork for trust and commitment, but when it comes to facing the Pharaohs of our day, it is not enough. We need a belief system robust enough to take us confidently into the public realm where the battle for human dignity is real and ongoing.
Without hope in a God that wins great big public and political battles, it is easy for us to suspect that the social, economic, and political problems we face are just too much for us. We will never solve them. We will never win. We tell ourselves that faith is only about personal salvation and we give up before we have even tried to make a difference.
But Christian faith is never just personal. It is always political. Our Lord Jesus himself was tortured and executed by the Roman Empire and the God of the Exodus raised him from the dead.
The struggle is real and it is long – sometimes we have to think in generations, not months or even years – but may we never lose hope. The God of compassion and justice always wins. As Desmond Tutu of South Africa reminds us in poem and in song, victory is ours.
Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through him who loves us.
No matter the duration, the intensity, or the apparent hopelessness of our fight to end human suffering, victory is always ours. Victory is the promise we have in the God of the Exodus.