The Glorious Escape. Exodus 12: June 17, Rev. Sang-Kun Park. Sacramento Korean Presbyterian Church

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1 The Glorious Escape Exodus 12:37-51 June 17, 2012 Rev. Sang-Kun Park Sacramento Korean Presbyterian Church Under the occupation of German Nazi, Jews living in the city of Lviv in Poland were waiting for their death in the ghetto. As Germans carried out massacre of Jews and began transporting the remaining Jews to death camps, a group of Jews sneaked into the city s underground sewer. Under the city was a complex labyrinth of sewer tunnels carrying sewage from each house. Once you got lost in it, you could hardly get out. The group of Jews could sneak into the sewer because they paid a Polish sewer maintenance guy named Leopold Socha to guide them. At the beginning, Socha hid the Jews in the sewer and supplied food to them just to make money. However, after witnessing cruel massacre of Jews by Germans, with love of humanity he put his life on the line to help the Jews. The Jews in the sewer had to struggle to survive through the floods in the summer, and they had to endure filth and stench in darkness without a single ray of sunlight. It was a sheer struggle of life and death. Their only goal was to survive through this and go outside to see the bright sun again. They had to live in total darkness, in decomposing sewage and its stench along with rats over 14 months without much to eat. Isn t it amazing that human beings could live that long in such a horrendous condition? Like a miracle, one day Germany collapsed and freedom finally came to them. They could finally escape the hellish conditions of sewer and see the sunlight once again. Their own Exodus finally came to reality. And, it was a glorious one. One of the survivors of the sewer was a young girl named Krysia Chiger, and when she grew up, she wrote The Girl in the Green Sweater to tell the world about her experience. 1

2 In the history of mankind, no uprising of slaves succeeded or achieved their freedom. Probably the biggest uprising in history by slaves was the uprising of Spartacus during the Roman Empire between BC 73 and 71. Isn t it amazing that the slaves were able to shake the Roman Empire for 3 years and occupy the entire region of the Southern Italy? In the United States, there was an uprising led by a black slave named Nat Turner in Southampton, Virginia in In Korea, during Goryeo dynasty (AD ) a slave named Mahn-Juhk tried to overturn the society. However, all the slaves uprisings failed. It is because slaves didn t have ability to overturn the existing social order and build a new one. In that regard, Israelites departure from Egypt toward its own freedom was a massive escape, cutting its chain of 430 years of slavery which was unprecedented in the history of mankind: a miracle itself. Especially, the oppressor voluntarily liberating the oppressed, as Egypt forcefully drove the Israelites out of the country, has never been and will never be duplicated in the history of mankind. It would be no exaggeration to say that the history of mankind is a continuous bloody struggle between the ruler and the ruled, and the conqueror and the conquered. It is not an easy thing for the conquered to knock down the conqueror and obtain freedom. Therefore, Israel s exodus from Egypt was a supernatural event that is very different from the natural history of mankind. At that time, Egypt s power was at its pinnacle. However, Pharaoh and all Egyptians miserably begged Moses and the Israelites to leave the country in a most pathetic state. That was Pharaoh s pitiful fall from being the ruler to a miserable surrenderer. The Exodus was by no means an event where oppressed slaves of a certain ethnicity stood up against their ruler to obtain freedom. It was something fulfilled by God according to His profound plan and providence over a long period of time. God promised Abraham, considered the father of all believers, blessings of offspring and land. However, God told him that his offspring would become 2

3 slaves in a foreign country and suffer for 400 years. Then the Lord said to him, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. (Gen15:13-14) Already, God foretold that Israelites would live as slaves, and at the same time, promised their freedom. As He promised, Israel was leaving Egypt after 400 years of slavery. However, there is a question which is little bit hard to comprehend and makes us wonder. Why did God promise Abraham the land of Canaan to his offspring in such a distant future? In reality, what value does it have? For example, 400 years ago from now was the time of king Gwanghaegun during the Joseon dynasty. Could you believe if something promised at that time becomes fulfilled in our time? Who would pay attention to that? However, God did just that. This is how the history of mankind and the history of God are fundamentally different. God s words transcend time and fulfill its content. Whoever believes or not, it is fulfilled. Through fulfillment of God s words, the history itself rolls along toward the goal of salvation. It seems as though stronger nations conquer weaker nations and controls the flow of history, but ultimately the history of God s salvation is being fulfilled. There is yet another question that comes up, Why did God allow His chosen people to become slaves in first place? Why did God tell Abraham that his offspring will become a slave and be subjected to oppressive rule when in fact God promised many blessings for Abraham s descendants? Is it not quite strange? There are many myths in the world. In all cases, god s children that appear in these myths are either heroes or represent great nation. However, God s chosen people started as slaves. Why did they have to start as slaves? This is a very important fact and theme of the Bible, in fact the very core. Here lies a great and important spiritual teaching. It shows that human beings, God s 3

4 people, in essence are in a state of slaves to sin. The state of slavery cannot be resolved by human s political struggles or acquire freedom by some military strength. There is only one way; only through God s salvation can we acquire true freedom. Jews think it s strange when foreigners believe in the exodus and praise about it. Furthermore, they think of those people as crazy and out-of-mind. They say that the exodus is only their history thus they do not understand why foreigners celebrate Israelites freedom and exodus. They smirk that it is same thing as some unrelated child obeying and following the rule of someone else s father. The Israelites, who do not know the value of the Bible especially those that deny the gospel of Jesus Christ, are in captivity of thinking that they alone are God s chosen people thus it s understandable why the Jews feel as they do. The Exodus is indeed some other country s history then how come we are meditating on it today? It is because in it contains God s solution to the universal human issue. The reason why the Exodus holds great importance to us is that all human beings even today in some fashion are in a state of slavery. Human beings even today are suppressed in many circumstances. Although slavery in the form of ancient times has been abolished, just think about the state of North Korea. There are many stories we heard through the news media where some people were treated like slaves serving in their master s house. Not just in these special situations but many people today are still living a life of slavery under certain circumstances. There are people who are locked up in jail, locked up in physical ailment, locked up in past hurts thus human beings are locked up in some form or shape like slaves. The most critical aspect is that we are not free from our selfish desires, lust. In some aspect, human beings are born slave to sin and live throughout their lives as slaves to sin until their death. There is not a single person who likes being told that all human beings are slaves to sin. Even though some people may look healthy outside, one can see 4

5 their illness when examined under x-ray, the same is true for one s spiritual illness. Human beings look handsome from the outside. It seems there is hope for human kind. However, when we are examined under God s words and Holy Spirit s x-ray the true nature of human beings are exposed. When human beings are examined under God s x-ray, everyone realizes the truth that they are sinners. There is no other method of finding that truth. In a worldly sense where humans are centered, many will be offended if told that they are sinners and are just a subject in need of salvation. However if one comes under the x- ray of God s words then one cannot help but confess their sins and their spiritual figure as a slave. However, amazingly God devised an incredible plan just for us human beings. God freed us from the state of slavery to sins and allowed us to enjoy true freedom as God s children. We can now live a life of eternal life. The Exodus incident was a historical event specifically designed to show God s everlasting love toward us. The Exodus had a definite goal. The purpose was not just for a political independence. The independence represented freedom from sin so that people can freely worship God. The liberation was for the people to live freely in obedience to the Word of God. Thus God s covenant with Abraham was finally realized and celebrated after 430 years in the thrill of the Exodus. The Exodus in history was an incident where one nation gained its freedom. And some day after 1300 years, we witness another incident of exodus where all human kinds receive freedom. It is the incident of the cross of Calvary. Jesus Christ, who represents the lamb of the Passover, died on the cross so that all human kind can experience the exodus. Also, after 1900 years the Gospel has been passed down to us today. Exodus is God's plan of salvation for the human kind: an amazing declaration. Just as God planned the Exodus of Israelites so 5

6 they can live in freedom, through the cross of Jesus Christ, God wanted all mankind to be free. How is Jesus dying on the cross serve as an amazing exodus? What did Jesus accomplish by dying on the cross? The people who were alive at the time of Jesus did not witness anything by watching the incident of Jesus cross. The only reference that is written in the Bible is an incident where the curtain of the temple ripped from top to bottom. However there was a great transformation taking place where we could not see with our own eyes. The start of spiritual exodus was taking place. In simple terms, all mankind was serving as a slave under devil s rule until Jesus died on the cross. It is as if a gangster took a runway child and forced him to work as a panhandler. However, Jesus cried out towards all sinners on earth when he was dying on the cross. I paid for all your debt of sins. Because I already cleared up your sins, you don t need to serve as a slave to sin anymore. You are free now! Not only did He cry out to sinners like that but also searched for them until the end of the earth. It was Satan who was surprised. Satan didn t believe in God s complete and unstoppable love. He thought God would search for people but give up soon. However, it was God s love that His son came to this world in person and died on the cross to save all mankind. By the death of Jesus on the cross, God declared freedom for humans and the spiritual exodus from Egypt. That amazing fact shocked demons and made them run away. We all were servants of sins. We were slaves. Because we had no freedom, there was no peace in our hearts. Our lives were in vain without any purpose and happiness. But, we became free from being slaves of sins because of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. He paid all our debts that we couldn t pay for. That is our exodus from Egypt. 6

7 The cross of Jesus made all the prison gates of sins of humans wide open. If anyone believes in Jesus and walk out of there, they can get freedom. What changes happen when we believe in Jesus? It seems there are no major changes to the eye, however, amazing changes start happening internally. The most important fact is that all the labels of sins attached on us come off. Is there anyone who has never sinned in their lives? Is there anyone who is free from sins? No one. But, all chains of sins disappeared with the power of the cross. No one can condemn us for our sins anymore. Therefore, if anyone believes in Jesus Christ, that person becomes a new creation. As the human history is divided into before and after Jesus came to this earth, our lives gets divided into before and after we meet Jesus in our lives. That is a new value of the Exodus from Egypt that is meaningful to us today. Amongst the Israelites during their historic exodus from Egypt, there were gentiles who also gained freedom. These gentiles earned their freedom simply because they were together with the Israelites. The bible refers to these gentiles as mixed multitude (meaning the people of various ethnicities ). Some of these gentiles were likely prisoners of war who were enslaved like the Israelites. Some of the Egyptians may have embarked on the journey to escape from Egypt after witnessing God s ten plagues. Thus it is recorded that many people of mixed multitudes joined the Israelites in the exodus from Egypt. God has spoken of His standards to the gentiles. God has distinguished those who came along for survival from His children. The gentiles were prohibited from partaking in Passover rituals with the Israelites. The gentiles needed to be circumcised prior to partaking in the Passover rituals. They needed to assimilate and become one with the greater community of the Israelites. In other words, it was more important for the gentiles to be under the covenant rather than just making the exodus with the Israelites. One cannot become an Israelite if not circumcised and they could not partake in the Passover rituals. 7

8 Anyone who wanted was able to receive circumcision and there was no discrimination in their assimilation into the community of the Israelites. God did not force any gentiles to be circumcised. It was up to them to decide. One needed to willingly receive circumcision to live in God s blessings and become woven into the people of Israel. The individual free will is still very important to this day. Therefore, no one will be able to excuse oneself. So what happened to the people of mixed multitudes? Although you are under Christian influence, you don t become children of God automatically. Just the same, because a country establishes itself as a Christian nation or society, the people does not automatically become saved. Christianity was the state religion for Germany under Hitler s rule. At the time, however, Germany was one of many countries that had no relationship with God in the true sense of the word. We have learned throughout history how the religious community became ruined when they did not get rid of what they should have removed through circumcision. It is the same even now. The circumcision is a symbolic ceremony to cut off everything that is considered filthy. As in Apostle Paul s lessons, we need to circumcise our hearts by removing all filthy things and continuously cutting off all evil thoughts so that we may become the true children of God. It is a very important lesson that people did not become God s children automatically just because they departed from Egypt. We have to remove our selfish desires and continuously remove all evil thoughts. We become the true Israelite or children of God when we believe in the Cross of Jesus which purifies us with His blood that was spilled on the Cross and then live afresh by the power of the Holy Spirit. Anyone can be washed of their sins by the blood of Jesus regardless of their past sins. However, he is not a true Israelite but one of many mixed multitude if he doesn t leave his past sins after he receives salvation and 8

9 becomes a Christian. Many people escaped from Egypt in search of other life whatever it may be. They just followed Israelites in thought of any other life shall be better than that of Egypt. But what waited them was an endless wilderness life. The serving and worshipping God was all there was. There was no entertainment or hobby. So they were the source of complaints that cried out stating let s go back to Egypt. A life of faith is not something new or exciting but simple that is, it is learning to worship God in midst of an endless wilderness life. In other words, it is to learn how we can serve other people as people severing God. Even today many people come to church looking for something new. As they live a boring and a lonely life, they want to have faith hoping that their life will be changed with new religion. So they tag along the wilderness. But what is happening in real life? Their pleasures are never fulfilled. The selfish desires are not resolved. The endless battle with inner self continues and a need to fight inner conflict. You still have to serve God under the circumstance. They need to continue to hear the Word of God. Eventually the people complained and yearned to go back to Egypt claiming the old life in Egypt was much better. This mix of multitudes later made a complaint to eat meat in the wilderness and committed an evil act leading the whole Israelites into temptation. Even they started the journey for their own interests which caused a great harm in the community because those people have not been properly trained. Not everything was accomplished just because they survived from the Exodus. If you can t be changed, the freedom they earned after the Exodus will turn into a corruption and complaint. We have learned a significant lesson that not everyone has become God s people after the Exodus. Don t we need to be careful not to become such a mixed multitude? The Exodus of Israel was perfect. As well as all the people, the livestock gained freedom and the Israelites left with handful of jewelry. And the number of adult male was 600,000. As the Hebrew does not do a headcount for female 9

10 and children, the entire population during the Exodus was more than 2,000,000 if there were 600,000 male grown-ups. Isn t it a significant change if we compare them with their 70 ancestors who had to move down to Egypt because of the drought they had about 430 years ago? It was a glorious escape and victory for them. It is same for us as well. The God who led our salvation freed us from the pain of sin and the domination of Satan and has accomplished the complete salvation taking us as His children eternally. The history of the exodus was performed by God`s exclusive plan from the beginning to the end. The one thing we should not miss is that human s voluntary faith and obedience for God`s command were essential for the event. The great history of the exodus was achieved by human`s faith and obedience to the God`s rules. Obeying the will of God is the reason for the exodus. The human obedience to God`s will is the way to build God`s plan. Here, I will ask one important question. Maybe it is the most important question in relation to our destiny. What if Israelites did deny the exodus? We have enough to eat though we are slaves, why do we need to leave? If we leave Egypt, we will suffer hot suns on the desert I will just stay in Egypt! It is because I fear about future, foods and etc. What was going to happen if Israelites did not leave? The important focus in the Exodus starts from here. Israelites were given the opportunity by God`s supernatural intervention. But if you stay in a place of slavery without leaving, you are still slaves. There would be no freedom for them. It is neither due to lack of God`s love nor the lack of power of God. The fearful side of human free will is that we can refuse God`s will of salvation. In order for us to become true children of God with the spirit freed from slavery, we need the exodus in spirit. For that purpose, we have to make choices with our free wills that God granted to us to depart just like the Israelites discarded the slavery lives in Egypt and left to gain freedom. We need to discard 10

11 anything polluted and vile that keeps us prisoners of sin and leave to become the children of God and enjoy our freedom. I pray that you have the determinations to get up and depart the place of slavery you are sitting on just as the Israelites got up and departed the place of slavery in Egypt. Are any of you still sitting on the place you re not supposed to be with the heart of despair and hopelessness? Are the pangs of aches and pains of the past still oppressing your heart as the millstones that you lose the freedom of heart? Or did your spirit lose the peace and become slaves while you with full of grace in your own eyes judged and criticized the others out of self- righteousness and stubbornness? Please get up and leave at once! You have to leave that place in order to live! If you stay there, you will die and so will your families! Relationship will die and your souls will die at last! With that point of view, Exodus didn t end it s meaning as one incident in history, but has to be my history that must change things in my life at this very moment today. What do you think Moses had felt looking at the Israelites at the moment of Exodus? He probably couldn t have suppressed his tears of tremendous gratitude and joy at the magnitude of the awesomeness of God s deliverance when he saw the spectacle of the Exodus of the multitude of 600,000 men and more. Wouldn t he have shouted and praised the greatness of God from the top of his lung? Don t we need the same kind of spirit of gratitude in our faith? If our lives are meaningless and dry, we are entirely responsible for that. Israelites who were freed through Exodus could not necessarily stay in the state of emotional excitement, but had to live their lives as the people of God. They had to devote their whole lives to God. I deeply pray that we likewise present the joy of freedom we acquired through the glorious exodus by the cross of our LORD, JESUS and become the church and the believers whom this age need most. 11