The other day I was with some friends and began to tell the story of how I proposed to my wife. About a year before I “popped” the question my wife and I took a trip to New Braunfels, TX to “toob” the River with some friends. Late one afternoon, as the sun began to set, my wife and I ditched our friends to wade and play in the shallow rapids of the Guadalupe river. It was an amazing evening. We chased each other around the rocks, playfully splashed each other, skipped rocks across the water, laughing and enjoying each other’s company the whole time. As night fell we began heading back toward the car wadding across some swift current. I held her hand to keep from falling in the cold water. I will never forget the moment, as I held her hand in mine and looked over at her smiling face….I felt something I’d never felt before. I was in love.
One year later, with a ring in my pocket and my heart in my throat…I took my wife back to the very same spot. We waded out to the middle of the shallow current where I got down on one knee, in the frigid water and asked my wife to be my bride. Two months later we were married.
It is an important story, one that shapes not only my life and who I am, but the lives and identities of my family as well. It is the moment in time that my wife and I entered into the story of our lives together. You could say it is our single most important story, especially for our family. Without it, we wouldn’t be who we are today.
The ancient Israelites had a similar life and identity shaping story. A story that is generally considered to be the single most important story in all the Old Testament. It is the story of the Exodus. Where God intervened into the lives of the Israelites to save them from the hands of their slave masters. It was the moment in time the Israelites entered into the story of who they were as a people. But what makes this story more important than say; the promise to Abraham, the birth of Isaac, or countless other Old Testament stories?
The Exodus is so important because it is the story of the Israelites Salvation. Just as Christian’s look to the Cross as the most important event in human history, the moment God freed us from our sin, the Israelites would have seen the Exodus in the same way. It was their salvation Story. The story of how God wouldn’t allow pain, suffering, and death to dominate the lives of his people forever. How He intervened to give them a new life. A life free from the control of their oppressors.
So what, why should we care about, much less read the story of the Exodus, or any of the Old Testament for that matter? Didn’t God give us the New Testament to supersede the old? Shouldn’t we focus on OUR salvation?
There are many people who feel this way. I used to say very similar things. “The Old Testament is good for VBS and Children stories, but the New Testament is where the real substance is.” For me, this type of logic begs the question, why did God bother with any of the stories and events in the Old Testament if they don’t have deep theological meaning for us today? If the New Testament is all that matters, why not start there and not waste his time with Abraham, Moses, and the others?
Unless, The Old Testament is more than godly children stories. Unless, the story of how the Israelites were saved gives insight into our own salvation story. I believe this to be the case. I believe, and hope to show, how the Story of the Israelites salvation is a physical representation of what happens to christian believers on a spiritual level. That God has not left us wondering what our predicament is all about, but in essence, has given us a three demential model of our spiritual condition.
I believe the story of the Exodus is OUR story. That God has lead us on an Exodus from sin, with Moses (A Christ figure) as our guide. A better understanding of what was happening then will allow us to understand what is happening now on a spiritual level.
This story is life and identity shaping. It is the story that tells the story of how we are being saved.
It is the story of our salvation. We would do well to pay closer attention to it.
Photo Credit: Almond Dhukka, Flickr