Exodus and Freedom from Abuse

[September 19, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

This post has been written by one of our readers — Still Scared (But Getting Angry).


I have often asked for prayer and specifically asked people not to pray for my abusive ex-husband, nor tell me they are praying for him. I have gotten the impression from some people — and sometimes been told outright — that I am wrong to make this request and am being ungodly and harsh. Let us look at what God thinks.

The Israelites were in a place the kids and I were.

….The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.  (Exodus 2:23-25 NIV)

The kids and I were groaning; we did not recognize our slavery but we knew we were extremely burdened and as we started to get free we saw what freedom was and longed for it. Things got even harder as we pursued freedom. Some people said it was because God wanted the family to stay together. That the trials were God’s will for us. Funny, because in Exodus that is not what God says. Read chapter 5. They asked for freedom and were oppressed even more and God answers:

….”Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. Because of my mighty hand, he will let them go: because of my mighty hand, he will drive them out of his country.”  (Exodus 6:1  NIV)

I had other people telling me over and over again that I needed to “improve my communication” and then my ex would suddenly understand and change. In Exodus, Moses went repeatedly to Pharaoh and God brought different kinds of plagues (different ways to communicate) and yet we read repeatedly that Pharaoh —

….did not take even this to heart.  (Exodus 7:23b  NIV)
….when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen….  (Exodus 8:15  NIV)
….But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said.  (Exodus 8:19  NIV)

Sometimes in the path of freedom from my abusive husband, some plague / discomfort would affect him enough that he would say he was sorry, and I had many counselors jump onto that bandwagon: “See he is sorry, you have to forgive him and accept him back.” Ummm, really, that’s not what God said. In fact in Exodus it records Pharaoh doing the same thing: “This time I have sinned” (Exodus 9:27). Please note he is apologizing for a one time thing, not recognizing a pattern of oppressive behavior. So, the plague is stopped, the sin is forgiven; is there true repentance and change?

When Pharaoh saw the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses.  (Exodus 9:34-35  NIV)

Some people claim that this story cannot be compared to my marriage because of course God sanctioned my marriage and I should not break that covenant. God sanctioned the connection between Israel and Egypt.

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said, “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again….”  (Genesis 46:3-4  NIV; read further Genesis 45:5-7 and 50:19-20.)

God called the Israelites out of slavery into the promised land. He guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. And still Pharaoh tries to pursue them and take them back, not out of love but loss of control.

“What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services.”  (Exodus 14:5b  NIV)

I am at a place right now where I feel that I am out, gaining freedom, following in obedience to the Lord and yet my ex still has horses and riders and is pursuing me. I know the Lord will open the Red Sea and allow me to walk on dry land but the army is close and I am weary of the constant pursuit. Please join me in prayer that the horse and rider may finally be hurled into the sea.

He is my God and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.
The LORD is a warrior, the LORD is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea….  (Exodus 15:2b-4a  NIV)

[September 19, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 19, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 19, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 19, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 19, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

23 thoughts on “Exodus and Freedom from Abuse”

  1. Wow! I will join in prayer for you. I’ve been through a similar situation and I am so proud of you! We are called to protect ourselves and our children. God calls us to forgive but this does NOT mean we should put ourselves in harmfull situations!
    Jesus says that we shall receive “a double portion for our shame”!

  2. Amazingly said. I do believe the family is important to God, but not when it is being destroyed by the supposed leader of the family. I am also being told that my husband is “sorry and my leaving is tearing him apart” by church members. Those people do not realize that it is completely because he has lost control. The love part he speaks of would only last until I walked back through the door. At that point, his insecure, controlling, intimidating nature would take over. It hasn’t changed in 20 years, why would it change now? The only reason would be that the Living God got ahold of him. Even if that happened, I probably would not believe it and would still not go back.

    I do believe that Christ said that we are to love our enemies as ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we have to live with them or take their abuse. God is in control and He can change anyone. He changed Paul who persecuted the Christians. I pray that not one should die in their sin and be doomed to eternity in torment no matter their past including my soon to be ex-husband. I also pray that you prosper, the horse and rider are kept away and you find true happiness and peace in your new found freedom and your children escape unharmed physically, emotionally or spiritually.

  3. I am feeling the exact same way. All the hounds of hell are after me because of him and I am desperately trying to shake them off, or at least get them to chase each other instead!

  4. I spend time every morning in the Bible. I have trouble nearly every day however. Lev 27, “male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels” [Paraphrase of Leviticus 27:4]. And Numbers 5 “He shall make the woman drink the bitter water” [Numbers 5:24] as often as the husband gets jealous. And Lev 19 man & woman in adultery, only “she shall be scourged” [Leviticus 19:20]. There are others. I can’t describe how much the Old Testament hurts, sometimes it makes me cry like my heart is torn in two.

    1. We need someone like Ps Crippen or David IB [Instone-Brewer] to discuss some of these passages from the Old Testament law books, since they are the hardest to understand. For the time being, if you are reading something that feels confusing and makes your heart feel crushed (and not because you’re being convicted of some legitimate sin) – my advice is to stay away from those passages until you can get help studying them. We had a whole post recently on how some parts of Scripture really hurt us because we lived with people who used them against us inappropriately – it takes time to get healing, and see God’s word in a new light.

      1. I was in the study of David by Beth Moore in the Ladies Bible Study group at my church. When we got to the part where David’s daughter, Tamar, was raped by her brother Amnon I could hardly get through it. David didn’t console her and she became a desolate woman. She seemed to me to be a victim twice over. Her own brother disgraced her and her father turned his back on her, instead worrying about his son the rapist. David didn’t seem to have respect for women. Michael was stolen back from David by Saul and given to another, but David added insult to injury when he took her back again from her new husband. She was never happy again. Bathsheba was disgraced by him [David] and then became his queen after killing her husband, yet he was a man after God’s own heart. That was a lot to absorb.

    2. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      Jamie, welcome to the blog. Thank you for raising this. I think this topic merits a post on its own titled something like “Does the Old Testament treat women as second class citizens?” I shall work on this with Jeff Crippen.

      But for now, let me assure you that the way I have come to understand the Old Testament laws is that they in fact accord a lot of value, dignity and respect to women, far more than was accorded in other Ancient Near East cultures.

      In the meantime, can you please email me with the exact chapter and verse where you found —

      man & woman in adultery, only “she shall be scourged”.

      I have looked and couldn’t find it in Leviticus 19.

      You might also like to read this post I wrote a while ago: The Bible’s view on premarital sex — is the remedy always “get married”? which addresses some of the Old Testament passages which may have been concerning you.
      Blessings and (((hugs))) to you. I believe that the way you have been understanding the Old Testament passages about women is not so much God’s view of those principles, but Satan’s distortion and twisting of them. The kind of pain you described yourself feeling is not of God, it is of the enemy.

      1. Hi, Barbara Roberts. I can’t wait to read the links you sent. Thank you for your reply, the love & understanding coming from you that I need. And the specific verse in the chapter is Lev 19:20. I’ve read lots of commentary, hard to read. This morning I was praying, “God, I want to love Your word.” I want to say:

        (Psalm 119:105 NLT) Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

        I ask Him to help me understand so that I have the words to share with a woman who sees Him as one of her abusers. Or the woman who sees Him as part of the Old Boys club. I love God, I will stand before Him and say “Your ways are perfect.” But I ask Him for understanding here in this life concerning women.

      2. J, I just looked up Lev 19:20 at BibleHub [Internet Archive link]. The vast majority of translations don’t even mention scourging, and most of them don’t even single out the woman as the one to be punished, if indeed they mention punishment. I do not read Biblical Hebrew, but this little investigation leads me to think that the KJV translation (which is the one you seem to have been referencing) is most likely wrong in that verse. If you go to the BibleHub link, you might also want to read the “Pulpit Commentary” it has for that verse (scroll down a fair way) which says:

        The words, she shall he scourged, should be translated, there shall be investigation, followed, presumably, by the punishment of scourging, for both parties if both were guilty, for one if the woman was unwilling [an unwilling participant in the illicit sex].

    3. For what it’s worth, I still struggle with reading Scripture. For the moment I am sticking with guided studies on specific topics because I’m not yet ready to just sit down and read – when I hit problem verses they can really shake my foundation.

      Having gone through the study of divorce with David Instone-Brewer and seeing something that seemed to be contradicted in multiple areas of Scripture come together and making perfect sense gave me a lot of confidence that there are answers to these questions, but being hit like a ton of bricks in the middle of devotional time can be very painful.

    4. Passages like those you referred to are part of the reason why modern contemporary society considers the Bible archaic and misogynistic. Paul Copan’s “Is God A Moral Monster?” does a great job of addressing some of the puzzling aspects of Old Testament laws. In a nutshell, he explains that many of the seemingly harsh laws were compromises, knowing that His ideal laws could not have been laid down without the society breaking down. Instead, He laid down laws that took into account their worldview and the worldviews and practices of the brutal surrounding Ancient Near Eastern culture, and by comparison, God’s laws were much more compassionate.

    5. I don’t understand the Old Testament passages you reference, but in the New Testament, Jesus kept a woman from being stoned for adultery. The Pharisees said they “caught her in the very act.” If so, they were trying to stone her and had let the man go free without consequence. Jesus told them that he who was without fault could throw the first stone.

      1. I think that’s why Jesus clashed so much with the Pharisees. He showed what God was really like. The Pharisees knew the OT law, but they didn’t know the heart of God. The legalists of today may be able to quote the Bible (New and Old Testament), but it’s likely that they commit the same error of the Pharisees and in the process, condemn the just.

        Let me quote from Paul Copan, in a chapter from WL Craig’s God is Good1:

        The Mosaic law reflects a meeting point between divine / creational ideals and the reality of human sin and evil social structures….God begins with an ancient people who have imbibed dehumanizing customs and social structures from their ancient Near Eastern context. Yet Yahweh desires to treat them as morally responsible agents who, it is hoped, gradually come to discover a better way; he does this rather than risk their repudiating a loftier ethic – a moral overhaul – that they cannot even understand and for which they are not culturally or morally prepared.

        As Goldingray puts it: “God starts with his people where they are; if they cannot cope with his highest way he carves out a lower one”….

        The Mosaic Law was never meant to be God’s “moral pinnacle”. Those who try to live that way only end up calling good evil, and evil good, which ironically is something condemned in the Old Testament.

        1[September 19, 2022: The full title of the book is God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible, edited by William Lane Craig and Chad Meister. Paul Copan is the author of chapter 9, Are Old Testament Laws Evil, which is a chapter in Part Three: God is Good. Editors.]

  5. ….when Pharaoh saw that there was relief he hardened his heart and would not listen…. (Exodus 8:15 NIV)
    ….But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:19 NIV)

    [Emphasis done by Barnabasintraining.]

    OK class. It’s really important for you to understand because if you don’t you might accidentally condemn and toss from your assembly the wrong person on the grounds of a hard heart due to unforgiveness rather than a hard heart due to unrepentant abusiveness.

    So let’s review.

    Who is the one with the hard heart here? Is it Pharaoh, or the Israelites? Pharaoh, or Israel? Is it the wicked Pharaoh who oppressed the Israelite slaves? Or is it Israel whom God called forth to freedom? Pharaoh? Or Israel?

  6. S.S.B.G.A., spot on! This is exactly the analogy the Lord gave me when I was making my exodus. The passage from Exodus was the green light I was waiting for. Once I got the green light from the Lord, I was gone! I didn’t however see some of the parallels you talked about, so thank you for providing that insight.

    It’s interesting that people would rebuke you instead of honoring your request not to tell you that they are praying for him. The immediate advice given, whether sought for or not, is usually to pray for him and the more religious they are, the more they will go out of their way to tell you that they are praying for him. Well, in my opinion, even if they feel led by the Lord to pray for him, they should be honoring your request and be sensitive to the fact that a victim should be protected at all costs and not be exposed to more trauma by referring to the perpetrator, even just by name. It shows me that either they don’t understand the damage done or they don’t understand how God hates evil and wants us to be free from it.

  7. Brenda R….I feel the same way….I have wanted to ask my Pastor about those things….I have considered all those things you say plus some.

  8. Annie,

    I’d like to know the title of the book where you got the Goldingray quote from.

    Thank you.

  9. Wow! This is great! I especially love that you pointed out that Pharaoh only repented for “this time”. Been there!

  10. The parallels drawn in the original post were interesting to follow….I would never have thought to place them in that context / sequence.

    I really liked Barnabasintraining’s comment. I can just picture a teacher standing at the front of the class…. 🙂

    Copied from the original post:

    “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services.” (Exodus 14:5b NIV)

    The more I re-integrate memories, the more I understand “lost their services”. 😦 Umm, am I bitter? Yup. Gotta deal with this one before it grows roots.

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