Israel Finkelstein is one of the preeminent archaeologists in the world. He states flatly that the Exodus never happened, an opinion shared by numerous other scholarly skeptics. Yet Jesus quoted from the book of Exodus seven times, referred to the burning bush, and celebrated Passover. If there was no Exodus, the Jewish and Christian faiths are built on a lie, the very claim made by skeptics who say "archaeology is demolishing the Bible."
Enter filmmaker Timothy Mahoney. His "Patterns of Evidence: Exodus" aired in theaters across the country last Monday evening. My wife and I saw the documentary, and were both amazed and encouraged. (I encourage you to read her Patterns of Evidence: the movie the media missed).
Mahoney set out to discover whether there is actual evidence for the Exodus events as described in Scripture. He spent 12 years in research and production. In the film, he interviews Finkelstein and others who discount any possibility that the biblical narrative is true as history. But he also shows us remarkable evidence that it is.
For instance, we see a computer reconstruction of a house discovered in Egypt, identical to Israelite homes found in Palestine. Twelve pillars stood at its entrance; 12 other homes were arranged around it. Twelve tombs were found there, none of them similar to Egyptian style. One of them was monumental, with a colossal statue displaying yellow skin (the traditional color in Egyptian art for those from the east). The figure held a wooden stick, typical for a foreigner, and wore a multi-colored coat.
However, no remains of any kind were found; graverobbers would have taken items of value, but not the bones. Remembering that Joseph's bones were removed from Egypt (Genesis 50:25; Exodus 13:19), many identify this as Joseph's palace and tomb, and the surrounding tombs as belonging to his father and brothers.
Mahoney also shows us the Ipuwer Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian document that seems to describe clearly the plagues depicted in Exodus. He chronicles evidence that Jericho's walls collapsed and the city was burned. He even shows us an artifact confirming the existence of Jabin, king of Hazor (a city destroyed by Joshua).
"Patterns of Evidence: Exodus" is itself part of a larger pattern of God's Spirit at work in our day. Today's Movement Day Greater Dallas is another—thousands of leaders from across our city are meeting to advance the gospel by working collaboratively to meet social needs in Jesus' name. We can see God at work through Christians playing in the upcoming Super Bowl as they testify publicly and courageously to their faith in Jesus. God's Spirit is on the move.
In a panel discussion taped to follow Mahoney's documentary, Anne Graham Lotz was asked why the historicity of Exodus matters to Christians. She pointed immediately to the Passover and the fact that Jesus is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). Skeptics' claims do not change his reality. Whatever chains are still binding you in Egypt, he has come to set you free.
My favorite witness in the New Testament is the man who says to his skeptics, "One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25). What blindness has Jesus healed in you?
Publication date: January 22, 2015
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