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The Story Behind Commissioned Piece:"21st Century Exodus" by Daniel Botkin

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Last July at the HRN conference in Nashville, Rod Runyon commissioned me to do a painting for him.  Rod had seen on my website that I had done a couple paintings of Moses and the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea.  Rod said he’d like to see something similar, but set in modern times with motor vehicles.

     Rod sent me a photo of his airplane so I could include that.  He had seen my painting Motorcycle Black Madonna With Grey Flannel Dwarf on my website, and that made him want to include a motorcycle in the painting, which I did (minus the Black Madonna, her silver-studded phantom, and the Grey Flannel Dwarf weeping as wicked birds of prey pick up his breadcrumb sins).  I also included the Good Year Blimp, with “Shanah Tovah” on it, floating above some Egyptian pyramids on the distant desert horizon.

     The Prophet Jeremiah spoke about an event that will dwarf the Exodus out of Egypt.  I do not claim to know all the details of exactly how this prophecy will be fulfilled.  What could possibly dwarf the miraculous parting of the Red Sea?  I have thought to myself that it would be really cool if God would part the waters of the Atlantic Ocean so we could cross the Atlantic by walking (or driving) on dry ground.  I doubt it will happen that way, but with that thought in mind I decided to make the “Egypt” of this 21st Century Exodus be on the East Coast of the United States, identified by the small silhouette of the Statue of Liberty on the center of the horizon.  Also near the horizon are green interstate signs pointing the way back to Egypt.  The two most distant signs, written in Hebrew, say Mitsrayim (“Egypt”) and Bavel (“Babel” or “Babylon”), with a “Route 666” marker.

     In my other Red Sea paintings, Moses was the central figure.  I told Rod that in this 21st Century Exodus, instead of having Moses with his rod, we should have someone else as the central figure.  I suggested painting Rico Cortes wearing a Pope’s mitre and holding the Pope’s staff.  Of course Rod knew I was just joking.  Since a lot of people see a connection between today’s Messianic Movement and the spirit of Elijah, I suggested painting an Elijah figure.  Rod liked that idea, so I did that.  The Elijah figure has a name tag like you see at Messianic conferences, with the Hebrew name Eliyahu written on it.

     Even though I was just joking about painting Rico as the Messianic Pope, that gave me the idea to include some familiar faces in the crowd.  If you look closely, you might see some people you have seen on Hebraic Roots Network or at Messianic events and gatherings.  Painting portraits of individuals is not my area of artistic expertise, but by using photos I did my best to capture the likenesses of certain individuals.  If you happen to see yourself and you don’t think I made you look young enough or good-looking enough, you might want to consider the possibility that maybe you are not as young-looking and as good-looking as you think you are.

     Though not easy to see, there is a lot of sea life in the waters, including the two fish from the movie Finding Nemo.  I thought about putting Square Bob Spongepants and his friends somewhere in the waters, but I thought they would look too cartoonish.  However, I did include two cartoon characters in one of the cars.  There is a bright red car with a Christmas tree tied to the top.  Inside that car are Reverend Twistruth at the wheel and Auntie Torah looking at a map, trying to figure out how they got off the road to Egypt and onto the road to Zion.

     At the bottom center, I modified the 20th Century Fox logo and used it to paint the title 21st Century Exodus.

     In the upper left corner in the starry sky under a blood moon are the constellations Leo, Virgo, and Hydra.  Ancient pagans corrupted the constellations and used them for superstitious astrological signs, but the constellations were originally placed in the heavens by the Creator.  Several of the constellations are mentioned in the Bible, and not in a negative sense.  The constellations bear witness to the Gospel story.  This is most evident in the constellations’ depiction of Leo the lion emerging from Virgo the virgin and crushing the head of Hydra the serpent -- Genesis 3:15 written in the stars, and fulfilled when the Virgin Miriam (Mary) brought forth Yeshua (Jesus), the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who crushed the head of the serpent, “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).  The constellations’ original God-given meanings are explained in great detail in The Gospel in the Stars, a book written in 1882 by Joseph A. Seiss.

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