When I was 9 my best friend and I went to see Rocky III at the movies. Before the intermission there was a documentary about Australia, and so we assumed that the whole show—including the boxing—was a true story! The film changed our young lives and we came away pumped up with a new vision of the future: to become famous fighters and to defeat the likes of Mr T, Apollo Creed and Hulk Hogan just like Rocky had. Later that afternoon we began an intense training regime and we planned to join a boxing gym. But I remember that initial thrill giving way to the crushing reality a few weeks later, when I spotted an article about the ‘real’ heavyweight champion at the time, Larry Holmes. It was then that my short but promising boxing career came to an end.

For ancient Israel, the Exodus story was a similar journey. The excitement and promise of leaving Egypt soon gave way to the daily reality of living in the harsh wilderness beyond the waves of the Red Sea. And it wasn’t long before they wanted their money back. A few weeks into the adventure the wheels began to fall off, and the ravages of fear, control and nostalgia took hold. Even though they were now free, the people pined for their old lives in Egypt. It’s a powerful insight into the human condition.

What that wilderness generation missed is that the same God who had miraculously delivered them from their slave masters, had something much greater in store; a land of abundance prepared for them. But, first, they needed to learn how to be free—to rely on God’s guidance and provision.

The Exodus story is full of interesting characters. Last week we described the artisan Bezalel who built the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant. But the person who towers over the whole story is Moses. Moses was not perfect. Once a Prince of Egypt, he killed a man and fled to a distant country. He was aware of his own weaknesses, making the obvious point to God that he stuttered when being called to challenge Pharaoh. But Moses seized God’s calling and pursued it with conviction, holding his nerve when people turned against him or circumstances looked hopeless. It seems as if God constantly tested him, but Moses stands as an example par excellence of courage, resilience and perseverance.

We all face different “Egypts” in our lives, and different forms of “wilderness wanderings.” But as we consider what it means to live out the Exodus Story, I encourage you to approach it with the courage and conviction of Moses. As Paul says:

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Phil. 3:12-14)

Rev Jonny Grant