A Passover Paradox: Out of Egypt

by David Brickner, Executive Director | February 13 2023

You probably know that Passover commemorates the redemption of the Jewish people from slavery to Pharaoh, a redemption that foreshadowed an even greater redemption through Jesus, the Lamb of God. But Passover also points to an interesting paradox: God delivered His servants out of Egypt, yet it was He who sent them there in the first place.

God’s Surprising Plan

It was part of God’s plan for the Jewish people to sojourn in Egypt (Genesis 15:13). He even allowed Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery in Egypt to prepare the way. When famine forced those same brothers to seek food in Egypt, they never expected to be at the mercy of Joseph. He assured his terrified siblings, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).

The paradox of a ‘haven of safety’ turning into a ‘house of slavery’ remains very relevant to believers.

Jacob and his family numbered only 70 people when God, through Joseph, brought them into Egypt. The Jewish people grew to be a mighty nation in that safe haven, yet Egypt was not the destiny God had planned for His people. And so, when a pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph, that haven of safety became a house of slavery for Israel.

Amidst the nightmare of forced labor and infanticide, the people cried out to God for deliverance. And God brought us “out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance” (Deuteronomy 4:20). He sealed His relationship with the people of Israel and demonstrated His power to the nations of the world.

How Can Safe Havens Become Dangerous?

I think the paradox of a “haven of safety” turning into a “house of slavery” remains very relevant, and applies to believers, both Jewish and Gentile. Many followers of Jesus, especially in the United States, have enjoyed a safe haven for years. Our freedoms and the prosperity with which many have been blessed have enabled us to grow strong. Much good has been accomplished for God through the free exercise of our faith and resources. Yet we may have forgotten that, like Israel in Egypt, our ultimate destiny lies beyond the comfort of a safe haven.

Could it be that our comforts have built up a house of slavery and we haven’t realized it? How often do we remind ourselves that God wants His children to be in the world, not of it. He wants us to reach out to the world with an often unpopular message—that redemption comes only by trusting Messiah Jesus. Have we become so comfortable that we can’t step out in faith to fulfill our destiny? Have we become slaves to the pleasures of this world?

A Biblical Perspective on Comfort

Many churches and Christian ministries today have become what Moishe Rosen used to describe as “non-prophet organizations.” They are so eager to preach from a platform of respectability that they become fearful of offending anyone with the truth. How can we protect ourselves from that mindset? There’s no better way than to faithfully pursue God’s destiny for us through prayer and reading His Word, which offers so many examples of how God leads His people out of the comforts that threaten to enslave them.

Moses is a great example, especially as we look forward to Passover. Through his adopted mother, Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses was comfortably ensconced in the royal household. Yet God called him out of that safe haven to be His prophet, and the one through whom He would deliver Israel from slavery. And in some mysterious way, Moses’ faith pointed to Jesus: “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24–26).

And then there is the deliverer to whom Moses was pointing—Yeshua (Jesus) Himself. He, too, found a haven of safety in Egypt. When Herod was seeking baby Jesus’ life, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, directing him to bring his family to Egypt and remain there until it was safe to return home. According to Matthew, this fulfilled the words of prophecy: “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1). Once again, we see the irony in Scripture. God provided safety for the Savior in Egypt in order that He might provide salvation for everyone in the world, including Egyptians!

Imagine if Miriam (Mary) and Joseph had not responded to the angel’s message that it was time to leave Egypt. Imagine if they had balked at the inconvenience of being uprooted or if they did not trust the message that their baby’s life was no longer in danger.

Jesus’ destiny on this earth was not to remain hidden from His enemies or to use His gifts to make a comfortable living. His life was preserved in Egypt so that He could willingly lay it down. He calls us to follow Him, to come out of our own safe havens to bring the message of salvation to the whole world, though we may face rejection in return.

Comfort Is Not Wrong BUT…

I’m not saying comfort is wrong; it can be a great blessing when we keep it in perspective. And God’s comfort is not limited to material things. He might provide us with a very special experience to encourage us, to reveal His presence or His will. We should enjoy these experiences, but they, too, can become a prison if we are not careful.

The question is: When does a haven of safety become a house of slavery? I believe it’s when we cling to it rather than clinging to God, when we mistake safety for security, or when our comfort distracts us from our destiny.

We can’t always be “safe,” but we can always be secure when we follow the path that God has laid before us. And our ultimate safety has been guaranteed by our risen Lord. Thank you for helping us point Jewish people around the world to that ultimate safe haven, which is not a place, but a Person.

This month and next month we will be presenting many “Christ in the Passover” demonstrations, both in person all over the world, as well as online. Please pray for many Jewish seekers to attend and respond in faith, and if you can, spread the word that all are welcome. You can join us (and invite others) for a 2023 livestream Passover by registering online at jewsforjesus.org/passover2023.


*Adapted from an article David wrote in 1997.