exodus 8

The great story of redemption in the Old Testament becomes the pattern for redemption throughout the scripture.  God hears Israel’s cry and sees their hard bondage and sends Moses to deliver them and tell Pharaoh to “let my people go”.  God calls to Moses out of a burning bush and tells Moses that “I am” is sending him.  The testimony of the Scriptures shows that the pre-incarnate Son of God was the speaker from the bush.

The deliverance, the wandering in the wilderness, the crossing of the Jordan and entering the promised land are reiterated in our lives.  Saved by Christ and baptized as Israel was baptized in the Red Sea, we wander around led by God until we gain entry to the promised land by crossing the Jordan.  Crossing the Jordan became a type of dying and the promised land a type of heaven.

Slaves in America picked up on those themes and some of the great Black spirituals echo the themes of the Exodus.  “Deep River” is an example

Deep River,
My home is over Jordan.
Deep River, Lord.
I want to cross over into campground.

Deep River.
my home is over Jordan.
Deep River, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.

Oh, don’t you want to go,
To the Gospel feast;
That Promised Land,
Where all is peace?

Oh, deep River, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.

Songs like “Go Down Moses”, and “Precious Lord Take My Hand” reiterate the universal themes of liberation by God.

Frederick Douglass, a former slave supposedly wrote, “I did not, when a slave, fully understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. I was, myself, within the circle, so that I could then neither hear nor see as those without might see and hear. They breathed the prayer and complaint of souls overflowing with the bitterest anguish. They depressed my spirits and filled my heart with ineffable sadness…The remark in the olden time was not unfrequently made, that slaves were the most contented and happy laborers in the world, and their dancing and singing were referred to in proof of this alleged fact; but it was a great mistake to suppose them happy because they sometimes made those joyful noises. The songs of the slaves represented their sorrows, rather than their joys. Like tears, they were a relief to aching hearts.”

Martin Luther King picked up the Exodus theme and Moses inability to go to promised land in his “I have been to the mountaintop speech”, delivered April 3rd 1968 in Memphis Tennessee, the last speech he ever gave.  His beautiful oratory and historical allusions are quite moving.  “I have been to the mountaintop”, he said, “and I have seen the promised land”. I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land”.

This huge movement of liberation started in the fires of the Civil War, and seething in the background of American life through the 60’s is considered by many to still be going on.  That is a political issue with intense ramifications.  It is an issue that is exploited, paraded around, and fires stoked again whenever a politician needs an issue.  That odious idea does not remove the fact that it is a monumental issue dealing with the basics of humanity and the Biblical question of “who is my neighbor”?

It seems sad to me that there are those who by fiat and for obvious political reasons want to equate the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s and the concerns of an entire race of people, with the ability of a few to use whatever bathroom facilities they choose based on “how they identify” on any given day.  To call it pandering is probably kind.  It really shows how shallow and pathetic we have become and how truly silly our so called leaders are, when they can give a entirely different meaning to a righteous demand – “Let My People Go!”