I spent too much time pondering this question for the second discussion essay in my latest biblical theology class. The question was “How did the Egypt experience serve as an ‘incubator’ for the nation of Israel?” The answer was given very succinctly by our professor in a video from the previous lesson. Incubator At the end of the video was his discussion of the covenant relationship between Abraham and God, but it talks about the idea of Egypt being an incubator for the chosen people of God to multiply without the distraction of having to keep an army, a government or taxation. Professor Larsen says in the video that they are protected by their oppressors.
The reason for spending some time pondering this question is that I believe God may be revealing some truth about the chosen people of God that are now inhabiting all parts of the world. We are being called to be made strong in the face of the slavery that is being put on God’s people through all kinds of vice. You can pick any one of the deadly sins, and you should see how the world’s governments are steadily attempting to make all people dependent on the vices that they control. I won’t get into all of them here, but it is enough to say that Christians are being called upon to witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ to overcome all of these vices through his power. The virtues that have slowly been taken out of the public discussion need to be placed back in the forefront of everyone’s mind in order to combat the vices.
Rather than make this an essay about how to combat each vice with a corresponding virtue, it is more helpful to see the three virtues stated in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as the guiding principles to lead a good moral life. Paul says, “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NABRE) It is faith in the one true God, and hope that he is preparing us for eternity with him, and finally he is asking us to love each other, the same way he loved us. It may be difficult to see the world we live in as an incubator for God’s chosen people, because we have lived most of my lives being slaves to the same vices that I was putting down in the last paragraph. However, it is true from the story we read about the Exodus of God’s chosen people that they often longed for the place of slavery because they had enough to eat or drink. Also, when the were in Egypt, they were not being asked to suffer to cleanse themselves of the defilement of their time in slavery. Their slavery had become their life, and it was hard to let it go.
Finally, we wait for the final coming of the Lord to rescue us from our inability to let go completely, like Moses did for the Israelites in their Exodus. We should see God in all parts of his creation and thereby not struggle to have faith. We should allow our lives to be possessed by God and thereby have no need to hope. We can rest in the knowledge that loving God and our neighbors will lead us out of slavery and into the kingdom of God that he has prepared for us.