What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 10)
The Creator of the universe had been long at work to restore mankind from their self-induced separation from Him. Having chosen a people through whom He would make that Way, God set the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob on their promised path. The following four-century journey of salvation and pain would lead them down to foreign Egypt in favor. And though it would also permit their oppressive enslavement there, God would still remember and fulfill His unbreakable covenant to Israel’s fathers, and multiply His people ten-thousand-fold. Out of their misery and suffering, God raised up reluctant but faithful Moses to confront Pharaoh and deliver Israel from bondage through powerful, supernatural acts and wonders. And by the shedding of the innocent blood of the lamb, the God of Deliverance saved Israel from Egypt’s national, deathly judgment and mightily set His people free.
Released by shattered Pharaoh, Israel emerged from the darkness of generational captivity, and stepped into the light of their newfound freedom and peoplehood. Six hundred thousand men on foot—along with their innumerable wives and children (and not a few stray Egyptians)—hurriedly left the only homes and land they ever knew. With them was all their livestock, their uncooked bread, and the abundant plunder of Egypt (Exodus 12:36)—just as God had said. And before them went Moses, the man of God, following none other than God Himself, who led them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (13:21). Never once leaving them along the way, God took the people into the desert, guiding them to the edge of an impassable and fateful Sea…
…but it did not take long before Pharaoh had a change of heart.
The king resolved to bring back his wandering slaves, and emptied Egypt of its army in pursuit of his possession. When the people of Israel saw that they were being overtaken, they were extremely afraid, and made the first of their many post-Exodus groanings against Moses, wailing, “Have you taken us away to die in the desert because there were no graves in [Egypt]?” (14:11). But Moses exhorted the people not to fear, and to witness the fight and salvation of their God (14:13-14). Then the godly pillar moved behind them, remaining there all night long, between the people and the oncoming horde.
Trapped between Egypt’s armies on one side and the pathless sea on the other, Moses turned toward the waters and stretched out his hands. The people stood speechless as they watched their amazing God split the sea in two, causing the waters to wall up on the left and right, making a way straight through (14:21-22). Walking on dry ground, the people of Israel made it safely past that watery passageway, as the armies of Egypt—heading into the sea—continued their pursuit. But on the other side, Moses again stretched forth his hands, and God released the waters. The sea came crashing down upon the full strength of Egypt, and Israel was delivered from Pharaoh’s hand forever (14:26-28).
But as the people of Israel stood on the shores of liberty, they had yet to face the most painful part of their true journey. Finally free from the old, outward enemy, they would nevertheless find they had failed to leave their inner slaves behind. Just three days into their desert pilgrimage, the salvation at the sea had already become a distant memory. The people quickly questioned their predicament, complaining to Moses when they were thirsty, and grumbling against him when they were hungry. And though Adonai would provide sufficient water to quench their thirst, and heavenly bread to appease their appetites, the people would not be dissuaded from their lingering doubts about this God.
Six weeks after the last Hebrew foot had tread on Egyptian soil, the community of Israel finally arrived at the base of the mountain of God. Weary from their exploits, the people made camp, while Moses went up to learn the message that God would have him deliver. To self-willed, chosen Israel, God was about to define their purpose in the world, and give them exactly what they needed to fulfill it. Framing their national definition in the context of their recent deliverance, God told Moses to say to Israel,
“You have seen that which I have done to the [Egyptians], and that I …brought you in to Myself. And now, if you listen absolutely to My voice, then you will have guarded My covenant, and will have been to Me a distinctive treasure more than all the peoples—for all the earth is Mine. And you—you are to Me a kingdom of [priests] and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:4-6, mjlt)
God had delivered the people of Israel so that He could bring them to Himself and make them a “distinctive treasure” among all the nations. Keeping His long-standing promise to Abraham, God had grown, rescued, and set apart Israel—but not for some baseless elevation of one people-group over the others. On the contrary, God chose Israel as a servant and mediator to facilitate humanity’s reconciliation back to Him. The restoration of God’s ancient relationship with man was now finally taking shape. As planet earth’s “holy nation” and “kingdom of [priests],” God had chosen and ordained the nation of Israel to help save the entire world.
All they had to do was obey.