Escaping Addictions

@midjourneybot: /imagine: Egyptian pharaoh made out of ai screaming with rage

On the surface, the book of Exodus is a story about escaping slavery in Egypt. But metaphorically, the book of Exodus is a story about escaping addictions.

The word addiction is not in the Bible because it’s a modern English word. In the Old Testament, the closest concept to addiction is “false gods” while the New Testament calls it “idolatry”. By the end of this story, you’ll see how these are all the same thing.

When most Christians hear the word “idolatry”, they think of little figurine gods carved out of wood or stone. We generally think of prehistoric people as hysterical idiots for worshipping these little statues, but we miss the point about an idol’s function. Idolatry is a combination of two greek words:

  • “eidol” which means “image” or “mirage”

  • “latria” means “service” or “slavery”

So idolatry means “mirage slavery”. Porn addiction is "mirage slavery". See how porn addiction can be idolatry?

Finding Your Idols

Now let’s consider some less obvious examples. A little boy carrying around his teddy bear is carrying around his idol. When the little boy is scared of the dark or uncertain about his future, he clings to the teddy bear for comfort. Young girls use baby dolls the same way. In our family, all of our kids had a stuffed animal “lovie” that reassured them in life. Maybe your kids do that by carrying around a blanket or sippy cup.

This is the same thing that prehistoric people were doing with little god statues and good luck charms because they weren’t rich enough to “self soothe” with Netflix, porn, or alcohol. See, the problem is that as we age our childish addictions don’t go away, they only get stronger.

What’s the difference between a 4-year-old boy who won’t go anywhere without his sippy cup and a 40-year-old “boy” who won’t go anywhere without his beer? 

Don’t they both bring comfort?

What’s the difference between a 6-year-old boy who won’t go anywhere without his “tonka truck” and a 36-year-old “boy” who won’t go anywhere without his Ford F-250 pickup truck with the lift kit and big tires?

Whatever we use to self-soothe our fears eventually become our idols.

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Now you might be doubting this relationship between idols and addiction, but whatever your co-dependencies are, this world has already found them. That’s why this world exists.

You are likely the only person in your life who is blind to your idols. Like Keyser Soze from the “The Usual Suspects” said, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. That’s what your false gods and my false gods do to us every single day. So here’s a quick exercise to easily identify some of the idols in your life:

  1. Make a list of everything in your life that you use every day including: hot water, coffee, sugar, porn, sex, drugs, music, Instagram, Google, Netflix, YouTube, cocaine, alcohol, ice cream, cigarettes, TikTok, iPhone, etc.

  2. Now sort that list according to how bad your life would suck if you had to live without each item for 40 days.

Those are your idols. It’s not more complicated than that.

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Sobekemhat

Now let’s switch gears and look at the ways Exodus relates to addiction.

Exodus begins with Joseph. Joseph doesn’t want to go to the “land of addiction” but he is forced into it by some very strong “peer pressure”. At first, the land of addiction is horrible. That first taste of beer or coffee is disgusting. That first puff of tobacco might make you vomit. The first time you witness hardcore porn is revolting. But after you get “locked up in jail” with these things for seven years, they aren’t quite so bad. In fact, you are elevated to a very “high position” with a permanent home in the “fatness” of the land. But all addicts know how this story eventually ends. After 430 years of dependency, what began as a position of power has now become a position of slavery that you just can’t escape.

Following the metaphor?

Joseph was a real person in the real world who actually transformed the Egyptian economy. The Egyptians called him “Sobekemhat”, which means “he who controls the water”. In all of ancient Egyptian history, Sobekemhat was the only person to ever hold the title of “controller of the entire land”. If you want to learn more about him, here’s a one-hour lecture from Dr. Douglas Petrovich titled, “Is There Evidence for Jacob and Joseph?” (106 mins)

We can still see the archaeological evidence of Joseph’s impact on Planet Earth from outer space. In the image below, the big green triangle is the Nile Delta. The little green triangle is called the “Faiyum”. The Faiyum was artificially created by Sobekemhat in antiquity using the small canal on the southeast side.

Here’s another lecture from Dr. Petrovich where he discusses more archaeological evidence from the ancient city of Avaris, including the only Egyptian palace designed with two master bedrooms. It’s titled, “Is There Evidence for Manasseh and Ephraim in Egypt?” (54 mins)

And finally, my favorite archaeological documentary that confirms the life of Joseph is called “Patterns of Evidence: Exodus” by Tim Mahoney. Mahoney also produces a Youtube channel with the same name.

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Escaping Addiction

Most of the recovering addicts in this world were rescued by a former addict who knew the way out. That’s Moses.

Like Joseph, Moses had a horrible childhood. The ancient Egyptians were utterly disgusted by sheep and shepherding, so they viewed the ancient Israelites as mongrels, or subhuman. “Viewing a neighboring tribe as subhuman” so that they could be enslaved was pretty common in antiquity. That’s pretty much the story of the entire human race until, what, 1950?

To fully understand Moses’s childhood, imagine a wealthy plantation owner in America in 1850. The plantation owner is so rich that his plantation is the size of Georgia and Alabama combined. The slave population is growing out of control, so the plantation owner start to worry about a “Django Unchained” style revolt. So he orders his employees to throw every new African baby into the lake to drown. I know this is a horrific metaphor, that’s the point.

The oldest daughter of this plantation owner is rebellious, like all children, so she decides to adopt a single African boy as her own child. She raises him indoors, educates him, and brings him along to family dinner each night. Now imagine that plantation owner looking out over his spread at Thanksgiving dinner and seeing his “mongrel grandson” at the other end of his table. Everyday that grandson was a personal reminder that his own daughter refused to follow his orders. Now, how do you imagine Moses was treated at family gatherings?

How many people at Pharoah’s dinner table thought of Moses as subhuman?

How often was Moses told he was worthless?

How often was Moses called whatever is the “n-word” for ancient Egyptians?

Even worse, Moses stuttered when he talked, so how well could he even defend himself?

So Moses was raised and educated in a culture of slavery and it deeply humbled him. Numbers 12:3 says, “Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth.”

That’s pretty humble.

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Unless you are that humble about your own addictions, you’ll never be able to escape them. Did you even attempt the exercise to find your idols? You should be way more scared of your “automated self” than you are. It will lie to you every chance it gets. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the addicted son was already broke and stealing food from a pig’s trough before he reached the level of humility required for him to escape his addictions.

That’s pretty humble.

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Moses was this humble, but he wasn’t ready to lead other people into recovery because he was still too angry at himself and his circumstances. In Exodus we learn that Moses is walking down the street one day and sees an Egyptian thug beating up his people, so he murders him and buries the body in the sand.

You might need to use that same action plan with alcohol, ice cream, or 
Instagram. 

Moses decided that he didn’t want to live the Egyptian lifestyle anymore, so after 40 years in the land of slavery, Moses retreats to the wilderness to embrace his true self—a poor shepherd. Moses spends 40 more years in the wilderness “creating a new order” in his life. Eventually, Moses was strong enough to go back into the land of slavery to rescue his friends.

What happened next is as legendary as legends get—Moses brings ten plagues down upon Egypt that totally ruined the economy, politics, and military of the 18th dynasty. It took the Egyptians almost 100 years to recover from these plagues.

You can read about the plagues starting in Exodus 7. Each of the ten plagues directly confronts one of the false gods worshipped by the ancient Egyptians. The Nile river turned to blood. Giant piles of dead frogs covered the Egyptian homes, courtyards, and fields creating a horrible stench. Gnats and flies swarmed the Egyptians and their animals, but left the Israelites alone. All their crops were destroyed by hail and locusts. The universe even stopped providing daylight for the Egyptians, so even “Ra, the sun god” was subordinated to Yahweh. The tenth plague is in Exodus 11.

Exodus 11: 1 The Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you out of here. 2 Now announce to the people that both men and women should ask their neighbors for silver and gold jewelry.” 3 The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. And the man Moses was highly regarded in the land of Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and the people.

4 So Moses said, “This is what Yahweh says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt, 5 and every firstborn male in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the servant girl who is behind the millstones, as well as every firstborn of the livestock. 6 Then there will be a great cry of anguish through all the land of Egypt such as never was before, or ever will be again. 7 But against all the Israelites, whether man or beast, not even a dog will snarl, so that you may know that Yahweh makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come down to me and bow before me, saying: Leave, you and all the people who follow you. After that, I will leave.’” And he left Pharaoh’s presence in fierce anger.

9 The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his land.

As terrifying as all those plagues are to imagine, there was actually an ancient Egyptian eyewitness that documented these ten plagues. Here’s a brief summary of the Ipuwer Papyrus that dates back to this time. It is yet another exogenous archaeological account that corroborates the stories in the Bible. (21 mins)

Verse 10 of the Ipuwer papyrus reads, “Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze . .. are fastened on the neck of female slaves."

Exodus 12: 35 The Israelites acted on Moses’ word and asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the Lord gave the people such favor in the Egyptians’ sight that they gave them what they requested. In this way they plundered the Egyptians.

We rarely think of the Israelites wandering through the desert loaded down with gold, lapis lazuli, silver, carnelian, and bronze, but they were. In the metaphor of addiction, these gold and gems represent the wisdom and experience gained from living under the control of these false gods. The Israelites knew how horrible slavery could be and they knew they wanted out, but they weren’t quite ready for their new life in the promised land.

Exodus 13: 17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, “The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war.”

How many times do we return to our own addictions when we face war against them?

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If you try to quit drinking alcohol but work as a bartender, you’re probably going to fall back into that habit. If you are a drug addict and you still hang out with the same drug addict friends, you are not going to win that war. If you are stuck in a battle with porn, you will face war every time you are alone with your computer. To get free, you need to get to the desert—you need to fast the habit.

Exodus 13:18 So He led the people around toward the Red Sea along the road of the wilderness. And the Israelites left the land of Egypt in battle formation.

So God led them toward the Red Sea where they would be cornered into making a permanent decision that would change history.

Archaeology of Moses

Most of the archaeological evidence for the Israelite crossing points to a place called Nuweiba Beach in Egypt.

Notice the long, winding riverbed through the canyons that prevented the Israelites from escaping? The underwater topography just off the beach here is very unusual too.

Archaeologists have found ancient Egyptian chariots at the bottom of the ocean along this route.

Underwater corals don’t naturally occur in this shape and metal detectors have confirmed structures consistent with ancient Egyptian chariots.

Here’s a short video from the John 10:10 Project about the underwater research off Nuweiba Beach. (9 mins)


@mathnerds: Here’s a test of your Bible Key knowledge.

Which chapter in Exodus did God move to part the Red Sea?

Which chapter was the rock split, so the fresh water could pour forth?

Which chapter did Moses place strong men as commanders over thousands and hundreds?

Which chapter did God provide the Ten Commandments? Hint: witness order

The crib sheet for the Cryptographic Bible Key is at the end of:


On the other side of the Red Sea, the Israelites camped in front of Mount Sinai while Moses ascended to the top of the mountain to talk with God. It is located in northwest Saudi Arabia and today it’s called “Jabal Maqla”, which means “burnt mountain”. The reason it looks burnt is because it was burnt when God descended on it as fire in Exodus 19. See if you can find it in the image below:

See if you can guess which one of these nearby rocks was split.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth a million. Here’s a video from Ryan Mauro that goes undercover in Saudi Arabia to demonstrate how the land around Jabal Maqla exactly matches the description in Exodus. (25 mins)

Here’s a more “churchy” version from The Bible Explained called, “Is the Real Mount Sinai in Arabia?”. (20 mins)


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Starving Our Addictions

The physical evidence for the story in Exodus is incredible. The mountaintop is still burnt. We can still see an altar for sacrifices, pens for livestock, golden calf graffiti, and a split rock with water erosion at its base.

Did you see how desolate that area is in the videos?

There’s a reason that God took the Israelites there after 430 years of slavery. The Israelites were conditioned to live as slaves. It doesn’t matter if you are stuck with a daily porn habit, a daily drinking habit, a daily Instagram habit, a daily sugar habit, or a daily coffee habit—whatever it is, God can help you walk away from it.

God probably sent you a Moses or two already.

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Jesus says that the only way we can eliminate some of our “demons” is prayer and fasting. So asking God for help is the first step you need to take. Then, starving that habit in the desert is the second. Find someone who wants to make that journey with you. Or better yet, find someone who has already been through recovery. They won’t judge you, they already know how difficult that Exodus will be.

Once you decide to escape your addiction the journey won’t be easy. The cravings and desires to return will be severe. Numbers 11 mentions something similar happening to the Israelites.

Numbers 11: 4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

This is exactly what your fast should feel like. If you drink coffee every day, switching to green tee will taste like manna. If you drink beer every day, switching to water will taste like manna. Manna, the bread from God, is boring. It’s like the first time a kid eats a salad for dinner. Yuck.

Training new behaviors and desires into your “human animal” will take a long time, but eventually you will lose your old appetites too.

It took the Israelite slaves 40 years.

Their faith was tested.

Their self-control was tested.

Their endurance was tested.

Their patience was tested.

Any Israelite that couldn’t “keep the law” died somewhere in that wilderness long ago.

Some parts of you need to die too. If you “put the plug in the jug” and stop drinking alcohol today, the next six months of your life will feel like 40 years. The only reason I don’t drink alcohol today is because I’m too scared to exodus again.

There’s. just. too. much. time. in. the. day.

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