Old Testament – The Book of Exodus
Today we begin the book of Exodus. The book details events that happened about 1,700 years before the time of Jesus or approximately 3,700 years ago. Take a second to think about that, sometimes the timeframes we talking about are lost on us.
The Jews in Egypt have done well for themselves and become prosperous both in numbers of children and property. A new pharaoh takes the thrown. He will become concerned that in time or war the Jewish people might not support the Egyptians. The bible says that he did not “know” the story of Joseph. This doesn’t mean that he just didn’t know the story it means that he didn’t not grasp the essence of it. It would be akin to not knowing the story of George Washington. You might know the broad outline of the story but did you know how many opportunities he had to capture power for himself? Do you understand that each time he was pressed into service he did so reluctantly and each time he put down the reins of power he did so with the express intent that no man should become king in this new country. To understand Washington is to understand a man who could have been king but willing walked away from power. To understand Joseph is understand a man who was grateful to God for what he was blessed with and who respected that they were guests in a foreign land. Pharaoh didn’t get the story of Joseph so he enslaved the Jewish people.
The famous story of Moses being released into the Nile has important symbolism. The basket is covered in pitch, basically tar. This is the same thing Noah’s ark was covered in. The pitched basic symbolizes that a new era is beginning in salvation history.
We see the famous story when Moses kills the Egyptian guard. But what is particularly interesting is what happens the next day that makes Moses decide to run. He sees two Hebrews fighting.
When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”
The irony here is that Moses will be made a prince and a judge over all Israel. The question has a element of prophecy. Further, the Jews squabbling amongst themselves which gives rise to new rulers will become a recurring theme in their history.
New Testament – The parable of the Unforgiving Servant
The parable of the unforgiving servant is fairly straight forward but I’d like to highlight two things. First, is says that the debt owed the king was “a large sum of money”. Some translations translate it more literally as “ten thousand talents”. A single talent was a significant sum of money. Ten thousand talents was an unpayable sum for an average or even above average person. Think of as “a billion dollars”. There was no way this person could ever pay back the king. He was totally beholden to him. Yet the kings mercy is great and he forgives him the whole debt. This is plainly a metaphor for the debt we owe God.
Second, notice the ending.
32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? ‘ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
It says that the servant will be jail until the entire debt is paid back. Some translations have “tortures” instead of jailers. Further, the debt was so big it was unpayable so we can interpret this as implying the servant will never get out. It is important however to read it carefully. It is not because he cannot pay the debt that he was cast into jail, it is because he did not forgive his brother as the king had forgiven him. That is what we owe to each other – forgiveness.