God’s Salvation

Christian MölkFriend of Strangers Leave a Comment

When the pressure on Israel becomes too great, God decides to rescue Israel from their alienation. When Moses returns to Egypt, he confronts Pharaoh and demands that the Israelites be released:

1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'”2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.””

(Ex 5:1-2)

After much back and forth, God finally forces Pharaoh to release the Israelites:

31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. 32Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!””

(Ex 12:31-32)

When Pharaoh regrets his decision and rides out with his army to attack the Israelites, God saves Israel by letting them walk through the Red Sea on dry land:

29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”

(Ex 14:29-31)

The Jewish people still celebrate the memory of the exodus from Egypt today by eating a symbolically significant Passover meal during the festival of Pesach. The lamb of the Passover meal recalls the angel of death who, thanks to the blood of the lamb, passed by the homes of the Israelites and saved them from death. The unleavened bread recalls the speed of God’s salvation. The Israelites did not have time to prepare the bread as usual but had to hurry. The saltwater recalls the tears the Israelites wept in their captivity, as well as the fact that they passed through the Red Sea. The bitter herbs recall the bitterness of slavery. A special fruit puree recalls the clay they used to make bricks from in their captivity in Egypt. The four cups of wine, with three parts water and one part wine, recall God’s four promises to Israel that he would bring them out of Egypt, rescue, redeem and make them God’s people. [i]

It is no coincidence that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in connection with the Jewish Passover meal.[ii] On the other hand, the Lord’s Supper is not dependent on the Passover meal, which is celebrated only once a year, but can be celebrated at any time believers gather in Jesus’ name.

The Passover meal includes a reminder to God’s people that God remembers his covenant, that God saved Israel from Egyptian slavery, the blood of the lamb that gave salvation from death, and a call to continually celebrate the Passover meal.

The Lord’s Supper includes a reminder to God’s people that God has instituted a new covenant, that God saved his people from the bondage of sin, the blood of the Lamb that provides forgiveness of sins, and a call to continually celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

But what does God’s salvation of Israel have to do with strangers? Well, the fact that God rescued Israel from alienation in Egypt is repeatedly used by God as the very basic argument for Israel to treat strangers well:

21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 22You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry,”

(Ex 22:21-23)

9 “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. ”

(Ex 23:9)

God’s rescue of Israel out of the miserable situation in Egypt becomes a model for how God’s people will in turn rescue vulnerable groups out of a miserable situation, such as strangers and refugees. By treating strangers well, Israel treats its fellow human beings in the same way as they themselves were treated by God when they were strangers in Egypt.

God is Israel’s “savior,” and since God wants his people to be like him, God naturally wants Israel to be the savior of vulnerable strangers as well.

Incidentally, it is no coincidence that when God is born as a man on earth, he takes the name “Jesus” (which is a Greek variant of the Hebrew names Joshua, Yeshua and Yehoshuah). The name is a contraction of the two Hebrew words “yeho”, which is a word that comes from God’s name “YHWH” / “Yahweh”, and “shua” which means “salvation” or “save us!”. So all in all, Jesus’ name becomes “God the savior”, which is very consistent with Jesus being God who became man to save us.

You have read a free chapter of my book Friend of Strangers. If you like this book, please consider purchasing the ebook through Amazon. Since English is not my native language, there may be some linguistic inaccuracies. Please contact me if you find any.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[i] Ex 6:6–7:1

[ii] Mt 26:17–29

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