Dodge City once had a reputation for wickedness. Whiskey flowed and gangs dominated city politics. That’s when the phrase “getting out of Dodge” was coined. Bad places are the easiest to leave and Israel wanted to get out of Egypt.
The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. Therefore, come now, and I will send you [Moses] to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt. (Ex. 3:7-10)
Egyptian slavery represents our lives prior to relationship with God through faith in Jesus. For some people the Christian life begins like a jailbreak. The dark, oppressive bondage to sin’s demanding taskmasters ends, to be replaced by a sweet breeze of freedom. Suffering’s handlers never answered your question, “Why?” Jesus relegates suffering to being a quiet counterpoint to the melody of joy. He lifts life-crushing mockery and condemnation; there is room to stand tall and grow into everything that, deep down, you know God made you to be. God heard your cries. Egypt is behind you.
But what lies ahead? It is not enough to exit Egypt; we need direction, a destination. Sometimes it takes years for believers to get their bearings, break camp, and stride toward the promised land that God has for them. Milk and honey weren’t colorful advertising copy from the Canaanite Ministry of Tourism. No, God had a blessing and a purpose for the Israelites. He does for us too.
One reason that we wander or camp just out of sight of Egypt is that getting Egypt out of us takes time. Like institutionalized prisoners, we learn to accept the limitations of rules and fences. The life of a slave is cramped—few options, little affirmation or encouragement, and no horizon to explore. Officers bark orders; a little clay and straw is all that is provided for the task at hand—you’re on your own. Grace marks our new life with God. He wants to escort and empower us as we set our feet on the promised land.
Where are you on the journey?