It’s a word usually following the preceding ‘mass’ (as in mass exodus).
Which is a surprisingly Biblical image.
A mass of people leaving, quitting the place where they were, walking out the door, turning their backs and going.
But leaving from where and going to do what?
In the book of Exodus, the people who were the descendants of Jacob, were leaving Egypt and going to… well actually, physically, they weren’t sure. At the time, the important thing was that they were leaving.
They were leaving behind a whole bunch of stuff. An economic status – where they were slaves, living tools for the Pharaoh to direct in building projects. Politically, they were resented outsiders, who were being oppressed by threats against all their boy children. Socially, their lives were being interfered with by this threat of infanticide by the Egyptian army. They were also escaping a spiritual regime where one man stood in for the many gods of the Egyptian pantheon.
In other words, they were escaping from slavery to freedom – and in that, the geographic location of ‘where to’ wasn’t the priority. This liberation is the result of God’s intervention and his command to Moses. He was their rescuer – their redeemer.
Their Exodus is a journey (physical and literal) that has economic, social, political and spiritual meaning.
As a result of this journey, a nation was born – one with a unique identity because of the way it came into being and the relationship they were gifted by God. Not only were they rescued, the whole company was given a purpose – to be God’s people before the nations. They were given laws that dealt with the release of slaves in a very particular way; there were laws about corporate justice systems and individual responsibility, about celebrating their freedom and keeping their freedom.
The exodus is the prime image of rescue and redemption throughout the Bible. In describing Jesus, the exodus underlies the descriptions being used. The various aspects of the exodus – economic, social, political as well as spiritual – are all reflected in the language that the followers of Jesus employed as they talked about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. So for instance…
- Economically – debts are forgiven, the price of redemption is paid and slaves are freed.
- Politically – the phrase ‘Jesus is Lord’ was a subversive and dangerous one to the Roman overlords whose diktat was ‘Caesar is Lord’;
- Socially – the new Christian community cut across boundaries – national, economic, gender – and brought new relationships into being.
- Spiritually – there is a new relationship with God as Father.
In other words – the many dimensions of the cross are portrayed.
What would it be like in your situation, if the message of the Gospel was not just a spiritual one, but also economic, political and social?
The cross is not a way to escape humanity’s ills – its a way to engage with them.