This principle is implied already in Moses’ instructions concerning what parents should tell their children when they would keep the Passover after they had entered into Canaan: “And you shall tell your son in that day saying, ‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt’ ” (Exod 13:8). The same principle is underscored repeatedly in the Pentateuch in connection with the whole Exodus experience. In the various references to Passover observance, God consistently instructs future generations to consider that they personally experienced the Exodus: He “delivered our households” (Exod 12:27); “By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exod 13:14); “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the Lord showed signs and wonders before our eyes” (Deut 6:21-22).
Some forty years after the covenant-making service at
In Joshua's last charge and covenant renewal service before he dies—as the last of the adult generation who actually witnessed the Exodus—the Lord Himself retells the Exodus story, alternating between the expressions “your fathers” and “you”: “Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your fathers . . . So they cried out to the Lord; and He put darkness between you and the Egyptians . . . And your eyes saw what I did in Egypt” (Josh 24:6-8). Even though that whole generation who physically experienced the Exodus is dead, the Lord insists that the succeeding generation of
Jews today still recognize this principle, as yearly they recite in their Passover seder (the home service which includes the Hagaddah or “retelling” of the Exodus story): “Let every person, in every generation, think of himself as one of those who came out of
This Passover principle is rooted in the biblical understanding of corporate solidarity.
Simply stated, the Passover principle is—“You are there!” The book of Exodus tells the narrative, not just of a people far away and long ago, not even just a story of our Hebrew ancestors. For all of us sharing the Judeo-Christian heritage, we were there. The account of the Exodus is our personal diary!
Each of the central themes of the Exodus—redemption (by the Passover lamb), liberation (from Egyptian bondage), rebirth (new life at Springtime), and removal of leaven (symbolic of the fermentation of sin)—has a spiritual counterpart in the individual who relives the story. The retelling invites us to identify the Pharaoh’s in our lives that have enslaved us, to remember the ways that God has redeemed us and liberated us from bondage, to focus upon the ongoing experience of spiritual rebirth, and remove the leaven of sinful pride from our lives.
Already in the Old Testament there is abundant evidence, especially in the Prophets, that
Matthew and the other Synoptic Gospels also depict the death and resurrection of Jesus as a New Exodus. Note, for example, how on the Mount of Transfiguration, the first (resurrected) Moses spoke to the New Moses about His approaching “Exodus [Greek exodos] which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). Jesus’ death is His ultimate Exodus experience. Just as ancient
The good news of the Gospel is that we were there when Jesus died. Christ’s “Exodus” at
What is our response to this powerful gospel principle? In the Passover Haggadah, the “You are there” principle leads spontaneously and ultimately to doxology. Since God brought us out of Egypt, “therefore it is our duty to thank, to praise, to pay tribute, to glorify, to exalt, to acclaim, to bless, to esteem, and to honor that one who did all these miracles for our fathers and for us . . . and therefore let us sing before him a new song, Halleluya!” The singing of the Hallel (“praise”) psalms (Ps 113-118) and the Great Hallel (Ps 136) are the climax of the Passover seder.Soon, the Exodus typology will move into its final phase. Soon another death decree like the one in
We will stand, not beside the Red Sea, but in victory upon the
. For many more biblical examples of the “You are there” principle in Scripture, see my unpublished forty-page paper, “Corporative Solidarity in the Old Testament,” available from my administrative assistant, Dorothy Show, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
. Major biblical passages announcing the Messianic New Exodus include, e.g., Isa 11:6-9, 15-16; 35; 40:3-5; 41:17-20; 42:14-16; 43:1-3, 14-21; 48:20-21; 49:3-5, 8-12; 51:9-11; 52:3-7, 11-12; 54:10,13; 55:12-13; Jer 23:4-8; 16:14-15; 31:32; Ezekiel 34:25; 37:26; Hos 2:14-15; 12:9, 13; 13:4-5; Amos 9:7-15; Mic 7:8-20. For comprehensive treatment of these and other passages, see especially Friedbert Ninow, Indicators of Typology within the Old Testament: The Exodus Motif (
.See John H. Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), pp. 407-409, for further discussion.
. See George Balentine, “Death of Christ as a New Exodus,” Review and Expositor 59 (1962): 27-41; and idem, “The Concept of the New Exodus in the Gospels,” (Th.D. diss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1961).