Friday, April 10, 2009

God's Plan for Redemption

Judgement and redemption have been redefined by Christianity, straying far from their original Old Testament meanings. As opposed to referring to the afterlife and relating to the Crucifixion, judgement and redemption were God-made acts which took place during people's lifetimes. This study showcases such an act.

The scene for this study is in Egypt. Per God's request, Moses and Aaron have just confronted Pharaoh, asking him to let the Israelites go worship God. Pharaoh rejects the request and adds more work to the Israelite's brick production quota. Because of their increased burden, the Israelites became angry with Moses and Aaron.

God's Plan for Redemption
God has His own Plans for what is to happen in the world. And even when He tells you what will happen, it may not occur the way you expect it to. God doesn't necessarily divulge all of the important details.

After God's long dialog with Moses, Moses thought he knew what God's Plan was. But it becomes obvious that Moses didn't know the Plan, or at least not the whole Plan. In Exodus 5, when Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh only to have the Israelites further abused and the blame for it put on Moses and Aaron, we find Moses questioning God in Exodus 5:22-23:
Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have You brought trouble upon this people? Is this why You sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all." NIV
This seems like a reasonable question because things didn't go exactly how God had described them, at least not yet. But perhaps the most interesting part about this questioning complaint are the words preceding it: “Moses returned to the LORD and said”. Moses doesn't pray to God, and no “angel of God” pays Moses a visit. Instead, it seems God had some physical form and was hanging out somewhere where Moses knew how to find Him.

Moving on in the story, God answers Moses in Exodus 6:1-8. He tells Moses that now He will begin to fulfill His promise because He has remembered His covenant, and that Moses is fortunate to know God by name. Some key verses are Exodus 6:6-8:
"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. I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'" NIV
God will bring redemption to the Israelites. Does that mean that He has secured a place in Heaven for them? No. In fact, there's very little at all in the Old Testament which could even be considered a hint at such a redemption. Instead, God's Plan for redemption is to remove His people from oppression. It would take Jesus to enter the equation before redemption would take on the definition of absolving from sin and a happy-ever-afterlife. This contrast should be a warning sign that perhaps the Old Testament (OT) God and New Testament (NT) Jesus are not one and the same, but instead it is simply dismissed or considered as being a necessary component of Dispensationalism.

We see that the Israelites will be redeemed through mighty acts of judgement so that the Israelites will know that it is God that frees them from their Egyptian slavery. Of course, the bitter irony there is that it was through God's own mighty act of senseless cruelty (a severe seven-year-long worldwide plague) that brought the Israelites into Egyptian slavery to begin with! I'm not sure what God wants the Israelites to think of Him. Through His sovereign hand, He enslaves them for 400 years, letting generations go by which knew nothing but the hardships of slavery. And now, when He chooses, He greets the Israelites as a liberator. I'm sure that generation was happy about the redemption, but how could they forget that their parents and grandparents had died under the Egyptian yoke as part of God's Plan? The coming freedom would be a bitter-sweet consolation at best.

On a quick note, it is interesting that God had “swore with uplifted hand” to Abraham; yet another indicator that God was human-shaped (or visa-versa). Of course, that leads one to wonder what use were hands, legs, and other parts and appendages to God while He was floating around in nothingness for the eternity prior to God's invention of the physical universe where we now live.

Further into this study, God continues to talk to Moses in Exodus 7:1-5:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it." NIV
Again, like we saw in a previous study, we find that God will toy with Pharaoh. The extent of that toying is yet unknown, other than it will involve mighty acts of judgement and the death of Pharaoh's son. As opposed to a swift execution of judgement, God is going to go through several mighty acts to punish them. And it is clear that the intent of this incremental approach is not to give Egypt a chance to repent their sins, for God will see to it that Pharaoh's heart will be hardened to prevent this from happening to ensure that He is justified in continuing the punishment. I think that this should serve as yet another warning sign that OT God and NT Jesus are not one and the same. This is about as far from Jesus' call to repent for salvation as you can get.

Closing out this study, I think that it's profoundly interesting that God thinks that when He performs all of these mighty acts of judgement against the Egyptians that the Egyptians will know that He is God. If so, you would think that maybe afterwards the Egyptians would have rethought their whole polytheistic approach to religion. Instead, history suggests that their ways of worship went on unscathed by the thorough Godly thrashing they would receive.


  1. If you look at how long Egypt prospered before and with David;They also lived pretty well the 400 years[even if it was 200] the Israelites were plagued with slavery.Even if the ten plagues took ten years,the Egyptians still got a better deal, as the Israelites got "plagued" for another forty years [or more]after they left Egypt!

  2. That's a good point to make. The epochs of time and prosperity of different nations really speak to a lack of appropriate Godly supervision.

    My personal favorite comes from 2 Kings 15 and 2 Kings 21. In the former, Azariah did evil in God's eyes and gets assassinated after ruling Judah for only 6 months. In the latter, Manasseh as Judah's king does more evil than the original pagan nations had done before the Israelites took over, yet his reign lasts a full 55 years!