The Recovery of the Exodus

What is the defining moment of the Old Testament for Christians today? As I pondered this question, I would undoubtedly point to the fall of Adam and Eve and the consequences of such an action. However, many scholars, including Brevard Childs, are almost unanimous that this was not the event that the Israelites centered their lives around. Rather, the defining moment in their history was the exodus, not the fall. Contemplating a shift in thinking, I wonder what effect this change in perspective has. For us, who see the Old Testament through the lens of the Fall, everything following the Fall then becomes humans trying to become right with God again or humans trying to earn the approval of God once again. Thus, as we look at the narrative of the Old Testament, it is easy to say how many people acted in accordance with this and how many people just kept on sinning more and more, creating a greater and greater chasm between them and God. But how would the Old Testament change if everything was seen in light of the exodus? All of a sudden, we begin to see God’s deliverance central to the Old Testament text. In addition to this, God’s faithfulness to the Israelite people prevails as a theme key to understanding the text. Even when the Israelites find themselves in exile or find themselves so-called abandoned by God, they hold onto a strain of hope. Why? Because God has acted in the past in the event of the exodus. And because God has delivered them before, they hold to a hope that God will deliver them again. When we begin to read the Old Testament with the exodus at the forefront of our mind, we begin to see how God’s deliverance gives birth to a hope of the Messiah and a hope of the world to come. A hope that there is a better way to live and hope that one day shalom will flood the earth. Even in passages such as Psalm 130 and the entire book of Lamentations where we hear the writers chastising God for abandoning them and then, all of a sudden, you read that they find their hope in God, if only for a moment, before returning to their criticism of God.

The exodus gives us hope because God’s deliverance is coming. God has acted, is acting, and will act again. Jesus initiated the new exodus, the new people of God being delivered from an old way of life, which begs me to ask the question, Does the fall give us any hope?

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