The Exodus story is long and complex, with many different stages. Rather than miraculously magic the Jewish People out, or flatten Egypt in an instant, there was a long and drawn theatre of the Ten Plagues.
Who was the lesson for?
The story is plain on its face that as much as the Jewish People must understand there is a God, Egypt must also come to understand – וְיָדְעוּ מִצְרַיִם כִּי-אֲנִי ה – indicating independent importance and standalone significance beyond comeuppance for centuries of oppression. Egypt was a pagan and polytheistic society, worshipping gods representing different aspects and forces of nature. The plagues were an exhibition on monotheism, demonstrating a single unifying force behind everything Egypt deified, and were delivered through media the Egyptians well understood, such the Nile river and the sun – they worshipped nature, and nature turned on them.
When the vanquished Egyptian army drifted in the waves of the Red Sea and the Jews celebrated, God would not – “Shall the angels sing while My creations drown?!”
This parallels the conclusion of the book of Jonah, where God similarly admonishes Jonah for only caring for his narrow corner of the world, not caring for a city of tens of thousands because they aren’t his people – וַאֲנִי לֹא אָחוּס עַל־נִינְוֵה הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה אֲשֶׁר יֶשׁ־בָּהּ הַרְבֵּה מִשְׁתֵּים־עֶשְׂרֵה רִבּוֹ אָדָם אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדַע בֵּין־יְמִינוֹ לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ וּבְהֵמָה רַבָּה.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe sharply notes that שְׁפֹךְ חֲמָתְךָ אֶל־הַגּוֹיִם is only on אֲשֶׁר לֹא יְדָעוּךָ.
From its earliest moments, the Torah’s vision is not just that the Jews have a national redemption. The utopian future we hope for is simply one where all recognize God, not one of domination – בֵיתִי בֵּית־תְּפִלָּה יִקָּרֵא לְכָל־הָעַמִּים / וְכָל בְּנֵי בָשָׂר יִקְרְאוּ בִשְׁמֶךָ / וִיקַבְּלוּ כֻלָּם אֶת עֹל מַלְכוּתֶךָ. While the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his followers have certainly taken outreach to its furthest conceivable limits, it is worth dwelling on the principle.
The Torah is not a pathway to personal joy and reward just for us. When the Torah is properly lived, it is supposed to influence and impact the people and world around us.