Children’s stories are never just for children. The good children’s author exposes the deep magic of the universe in vivid clarity and simplicity, illustrating profound, abstract truth through familiar experiences of children and animals. C. S. Lewis, in his essay, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,” muses “I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story.” Children’s stories are never just for children. It is a critical and arrogant misstep to dismiss simple stories as simplistic.
This is a real danger for us when we read the stories of the Bible. Our modern skepticism subtly tempts us to relegate the narratives of creation, of Joshua, Jonah, David, and Moses to the category of mythic moral allegory, best suited for children’s Bible storybooks. We think we know what these stories are about. But we often dismiss simple stories of men and women of faith as simplistic.
The story of the Exodus is a good example. Often coopted in popular movies, Exodus is routinely distilled down to some predictable theme, missing the real point of the story. The lavish 1960s epic, The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, cast the story as an ancient version of Romeo and Juliet set among the visually stunning background of Egyptian grandeur and sensational catastrophes.
And Disney’s Prince of Egypt with its memorable soundtrack and beautiful animation, reduces the story to the stock Disney conflict between a noble, oppressed protagonist and his privileged, tyrannical antagonist. Like every Disney classic, the Prince of Egypt uses the Exodus as the backdrop for its hero to overcome oppression and adversity. Unfortunately, Disney failed to identify the real hero of the story.
While we probably would not expect expositional clarity from Hollywood or Disney, has the story fared much better in the hands of Christians? Have we reduced it to the heroic story of Moses, a narrative of liberation, or a birth epic for the nation of Israel? Is Exodus just a bridge to get us from the patriarchs to the monarchy?
But Exodus is much more than any of these. It is in Exodus we are introduced to the language of redemption that prepares us for the ministry of Jesus. It is in Exodus that we learn God’s name, his character, his purpose, his power, and his plan to dwell with his people. It is Exodus that show us how God is different from the gods of our invention and imagination. And it is Exodus that reveals a God who always keeps his promises. His ways are not our ways and his timing not our timing, but his promises never fail, fall by the wayside, or get buried in the sands of time or adversity. God sees, he hears, he knows what is going on in our lives. And he is at work.
Exodus introduces us to the mercy, grace and presence of God with his people. Exodus prepares us to grasp what it means when John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And what John the Baptist means when he declares, “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And the Exodus prepares us to understand what it means to live in covenant with God as those delivered from the “house of bondage.” It is a simple story, but it is not simplistic.
Join us this Lord’s Day as we begin our examination of the Exodus and consider its powerful story of the God who keeps his promises through long ages and against all odds – a story that prepares us for an even greater story of grace in our own lives.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.