“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment’” (Exod. 6:6).
I recently heard a pastor friend say, “First, God had to take His people out of slavery, but then, He had to take slavery out of them.”
The deliverance of God’s people from Egypt is the central story of the Old Testament. It not only sets the stage for the most important story in the history of redemption—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—but it also has some important parallels for us in regard to the journey of holiness.
God hears the cry of His people: He sees their need, and then takes initiative with a plan of deliverance. The concept of prevenient grace—grace that takes initiative and is at work before we are even aware—is absolutely present during this portion of the story. God then sends deliverance as the people follow Moses through the Red Sea and across the desert toward a new land promised for them.
Along the way, the Israelites face temptations to go back to Egypt and to take matters into their own hands due to challenges that test their patience.
These people have a need for full deliverance.
Even though they are no longer in Egypt, there is a sense that Egypt is still “in them.” In other words, they are pulled toward the familiar (though oppressive) surroundings of their place of slavery.
God, who “remembers His covenant” with them (see Exod. 6:5), patiently leads His people further and further away from their place of oppression and deeper into the land of promise, where they can experience a new way of living, thinking, and being God’s community.
God is still doing that kind of work today. When we proclaim that we believe in “holiness,” we are proclaiming that we believe that God not only delivers us from the bondage of our past, but He also provides the means by which we can move into a future transformed by the presence and leadership of His Spirit. We can live as those who are not only delivered from our past sins, but also as those who are no longer “slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:6).
May our words and our lives this week and beyond give encouragement and hope that we can live in the freedom that comes from the full deliverance God has provided through Jesus Christ!
Prayer for the Week:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes. 5:23)
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.