God acts unilaterally. God actions in the Exodus do not depend on human power or prerogatives in any way. God does for God’s people what they are powerless to do for themselves. Salvation is dependent on the grace and actions of God. There are no competing gods and goddesses from whom God must seek permission. Humans play only minor roles in the drama of the Exodus. Moses and Aaron serve chiefly as God’s visible representatives and speak for God, but they like all other human characters are merely spectators to the power of the LORD. Likewise God’s people, the objects of God’s liberating work, play no direct role in their own liberation. Salvation belongs wholly to the Lord.
The God of Israel is beyond compare. Although our world is full of idols and competing claims to deity, Exodus demonstrates decisively that there is only one being worthy of the title of God – the LORD. Exodus 15:11 points to the LORD’s incomparability: “Who is like you, among the gods, O LORD? Who is like you, mighty among the holy ones? Awe-inspiring in praises, doing wonders.” The deliverance from Egypt is the Old Testament’s preeminent display and pronouncement of God’s saving power and character. No other deity in the ancient World or modern world alike can make the claims that the
God of the Exodus can.
God can even use human intransigence and rebellion to reveal his character and power. The core struggle in Exodus is the showdown between Pharaoh king of Egypt and the LORD, god of Israel. Pharaoh asserts his authority and steadfastly refuses to recognize the LORD’s. But God reduces the most powerful “king” in the world to the status of a puppet as a means of declaring God’s name in all of the earth (Exod 9:16). This is an important word because it reminds the people of God that God can achieve his purposes even in the darkest moments when God’s people are facing the most stalwart of opponents.
God’s deliverance is inclusive of outsiders. God acts for God’s people against Egypt, but this must not be interpreted as God against the world. Egypt and the Egyptian people experience divine wrath because they attempted to thwart God’s mission in the world by oppressing God’s people and acting murderously toward them. This does not mean that God is against Egypt simply because they are not Israelites. When Israel leaves Egypt, a mixture of people follows them out (Exod 12:38). The message is subtle but important. Membership in God’s people is rooted in grace and not in race. The text does not tell us anything more about the identity of these people, but the implication is clear: outsiders are welcome to become insiders. The inclusion of outsiders reminds God’s people of the mission given to Abram (Gen 12:3). God’s people exist to serve as blessings for all peoples.
The liberation of Israel is for the world. God’s actions in the Exodus have creation wide implications. God frees God’s people from bondage and oppression so that God’s mission in and for the world can advance. The emphasis in Exodus is not merely Israel’s liberation from Egypt but on Israel’s liberation for God’s purposes of blessing and redeeming the nations.
What do you think?
Copyright 2011 Brian D. Russell