Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – When God Rescues, It’s Personal (Exodus 3:7-8)

“Then the LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites'” (Exodus 3:7-8).

The focus for this devotion is God’s words, “I have come down.” Like many things the Lord says, this might seem rather strange to us. Exodus 3 covers the call of Moses, which is God calling Moses to send him back to Egypt to bring God’s people out of the land of Egypt. While Moses may be the one going and “doing” everything God tells him to do, it is God Himself doing all these things. It is not Moses, but God, who turns the staff of Moses into a snake, who turns the Nile red, who sends the plagues, and who brings the people out of Egypt. Moses is merely God’s servant, or instrument.

By way of analogy, consider a musician who plays an instrument. The saxophone cannot do anything by itself. Rather, an outside person must come and do all the things necessary to make it do what it’s supposed to do. It is not necessarily the instrument that sounds beautiful, but the musician behind it who makes it sound beautiful (anybody can play the sax and make it sound like a dying goose). Similarly, Moses could not do any of the signs or deliver the people of Israel without God’s instrumentation, that is, without God doing all the things necessary to make everything happen. Although He used Moses, God is the one behind the beautiful work of redemption.

Every time His people need saving, God takes it personally. He comes down and does the rescuing Himself. From the exodus to the time of Judges, to every war and battle Israel has fought, to their return from Babylonian exile, and to Christ Himself, God is the one personally doing the rescuing. This is critically important because there are people who believe God is not personally involved in creation, let alone human history. These people are called deists, such as our American forefathers, who believed God is like a watchmaker who created the earth, wound it up, and is letting creation run its course until its time is up while He watches from an impersonal, disinterested distance.

This is problematic because (1) the testimony of the Scriptures makes it irrevocably clear that God is always personally involved in creation and with humanity, even from Jesus’ words Himself (Matthew 6:25-33); and (2) if God were not personally involved with the salvation of humanity, this would suggest that Jesus is not God, and if Jesus is not God, that means our salvation never happened.

It is fitting that one of the titles we attribute to God (and which He attributes to Himself) is King. What does a king do when his people are in trouble? He goes and fights on their behalf to rescue them from their enemies. This is precisely what God is doing here in Exodus and what He has ultimately done in Christ Jesus. He came down in Christ and has rescued His people from sin, death, and the devil. Yet Jesus came and conquered the enemy of His people not by usual means of warfare, but by His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Nonetheless, He is coming soon to finally destroy our enemies: death and the devil. “From His mouth comes a sharp sword [the Word of God] to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:15-16).

Soon, Christ our King will descend from the heavens to accomplish His final work of salvation and inaugurate His kingdom in the New Jerusalem.

Theology Terms Used

Deism: the belief that God exists but who is impersonal and disinterested in interfering with creation and human affairs. Examples of deists include Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Voltaire, and others.

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