“Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings, and I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…’”
Exodus 3:7-8 (CSB)
This weekend, as we all know, is the most important weekend in the Christian faith; it celebrates the greatest weekend in the history of the mankind. We celebrate the climax of God’s work in creation. We celebrate the event that defines every person who has ever lived. We celebrate a God who sees the oppression, the pain, the suffering, the sin – and responds.
Deliverance for Israel
For 400 years, the Israelites suffered in silence as slaves in Egypt. No answers from God. No deliverance in sight. No Savior on the horizon. No doubt after 400 years the Hebrew nation had lost hope, thinking that God has abandoned them. Many movies have been made about the Exodus, and all them show the brutality of what the Egyptians did to the slaves. It was literally hell on earth. Day after day, night after night, you can imagine the Israelites crying to their God, “Save us! You promised us our own land. You promised that you would be our God. Will you keep your promise?”
But God was listening. God saw their affliction. For 400 years, the Lord watched His chosen people be abused, beaten, and have their children slaughtered. That entire time, the Lord planned His vengeance, and He planned to deliver His people. God had made a promise to Abraham and his descendants, and He intended to keep it.
His choice to head up His mission – a stuttering, murderous runaway named Moses. We all know the story. Moses was hidden by his mother when the Egyptians were killing all Israelite baby boys to prevent further growth of the nation. We know that Moses was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in Pharaoh’s household. We know he killed a man and had to flee to Midian.
And now, God had chosen this man to speak on His behalf. Moses was reluctant at first, but eventually he obeyed and returned to Egypt. It was then that God avenged His people. His wrath was poured out on the land of Egypt with 10 plagues. Not just any plagues, but plagues that spat in the face of the Egyptian’s gods and attacked their very way of life. Like any good parent who had seen His children mistreated, this fight was personal.
Egypt was no match for their Maker. Pharaoh’s pride only caused Him and His people more and more pain, to the point of death for their own children. Blood for blood. The only thing that would protect from this deathly act was the blood of a spotless lamb. By the blood, they would be saved. By the blood, they would be delivered.
And delivered they were. God brought the Israelites, roughly 2 million of them, out of Egypt. He parted the Red Sea, making a way where there seemingly was no way. He provided them water from rocks, and gave them a law to govern them in the land He had promised to them.
God had delivered His people, by His mighty hand. They cried, He answered. They prayed, He delivered. He had heard their cries. He had seen their pain. And in His perfect time, God looked upon the slavery of Israel and declared, “Enough!”
The New Israel
Do not simply take this story at face value. Make no mistake, this story is very much about Israel, but the narrative is not a one-time occurrence. This is our story as Christians.
God’s work of deliverance did not end with Israel and Egypt. He knew the work was only beginning. He knew more deliverance would be needed. Although His people were saved from their earthly captors, they were still slaves to sin, along with all of mankind. This type of deliverance could not be led by a stuttering murderer. Nor could they be led by the most moral leader or skillful speaker. God would have to come and do it Himself.
And He came.
God Almighty stood up from His heavenly throne. He removed His crown and set it to the side. He would take the form of the ones He would deliver. He took on our flesh. In order to save us, God became like us.
He walked among us. He talked with us and like us. He ate, drank, and laughed just as we do. And He came and declared the same message that He had declared centuries before: He had come to deliver His people. There God had come to the rescue. And for that, they killed him.
Now He encountered the darkness. The pain He once saw He now felt. The cries He once heard were now His own. The feeling of loneliness and rejection that dwells in the heart of every sinner was now pinning Him to a cross and weighing on the shoulders of the Creator of the universe. But He would have it no other way, for the cost was too great. The cost of His own glory and the cost of the salvation of those He loves.
The Last Word
In many ways, the death of Christ once again put the faithful followers of God into a place of hopelessness. Like their ancestors before them, they had now lost hope that God would save them. How could He? His Messiah was dead.
But, again, God proved Himself as faithful. The Lord would deliver His people. Three days after all hope had been lost, the King of Heaven stood and triumphantly left the tomb where death had tried to hold him. Like Pharaoh had tried to defy God and His people, God would have the final say. As Satan once and for all tried to win the war for the cosmos, Christ would have the last word.
What God had provided for Israel during the Exodus was a picture of what Christ’s death and resurrection has given to us. Just as God provided an impossible escape by parting the Red Sea, so Christ had provided us a way out of death into life in a way that no one else could do. Just as God gave the Israelites water for thier bodies, Christ is the Living Water to our souls, giving us new life. And just like God gave the Israelites a law to govern them in Canaan, Christ has given us His Word to guide us in living as He did.
The story of the Exodus is greater than the two million Hebrews brought out of Egypt. God’s story continued to Calvary. Just as Pharaoh had enslaved the Israelites, so our sin enslaves our very souls. And it is a bondage that no man has the power to break. But sin has no say in the will of God. And God willed that rebellious, evil, undeserving sinners would be set free from their slavery for His glory and their good.
We are those sinners. We are those slaves. The price of our freedom – the blood of God Himself. “So be it,” declared our Heavenly Father. The price was not too steep. The goal was not out of reach. For nothing is impossible with God, this He showed on Calvary.
Just as He had done with the slaves in Egypt, God would come to our aide. He would take on our flesh, hang on a humiliating cross, and He would declare, “Enough!”