The Lord Saved Israel

“That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.” (Exodus 14:30)

We need a little background on this one. If you recall the story, the nation of Israel had been in Egypt for 400 or so years. At the beginning, they were the family of the much-revered Joseph. But Joseph died, and eventually a Pharaoh came into power who “didn’t know” Joseph. He began to see these Israelites as a threat. Gradually they were forced into slavery and put to work building “treasure cities.” 

Conditions for the Israelite slaves continued to grow worse over the years, and they began to cry out to their God for rescue.

Enter Moses, a most unlikely hero. I’m not going to go into his story here, but you can read the account of his remarkable life in the early chapters of Exodus. One day he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave, and killed the Egyptian. Following that incident, Moses found himself an exile in the wilderness for about 40 years. Until…

One day as he was walking in the desert he saw a bush burning. Approaching, he saw that, although the bush appeared to be on fire, it was not burning up.  And out of the bush he heard the voice of God calling him to a special assignment—to free God’s people, the Israelites, from their slavery in Egypt.  

He eventually, reluctantly, accepted the assignment, went to Pharaoh, and presented God’s command. Pharaoh resisted, resulting in ten plagues, culminating in the death of every firstborn son who was not protected by the blood of a lamb. 

So the day came when the Israelites left Egypt on their way to their promised land. But along the way they encountered a serious problem—the Red Sea. Now there’s a lot of conjecture about what the Red Sea actually was, but whatever it was, it was in their way. And coming up behind them in a cloud of dust was the army of Pharaoh, eager to reclaim all those hard-working slaves!

And what do those “grateful” Israelites do? Why, they complain! 

“They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” (Exodus 14:11-12)

But God was gracious, protected His people, and made a way for them through the sea. You can read the story in Exodus 14, so I won’t go into details. Suffice to say, they were soon safely on the other side of the sea, and God closed the sea behind them, drowning Pharaoh and his army. 

So why am I telling you this story? It’s because of an interesting word found in verse 30, “yasa,” translated into English as “saved.” The NIV Exhaustive Concordance Dictionary says this about the word: “to be rescued, be delivered, be saved;…” And that’s surely what happened for the Israelites.

But, remarkably, the definition continues by saying: “to save, rescue, deliver; divine salvation has its focus on rescue from earthly enemies, occasionally referring to salvation from guilt, sin, and punishment” (emphases added). And when you consider that the Hebrew word “yasa” is the basis for the name “Yeshua”, or as He is called in English, “Jesus,” that definition becomes a remarkable blessing. 

Because just as God rescued the Israelites from the Egyptians, Jesus, though His death on the cross, rescues us from sin. Just as God carefully led and protected the Israelites—despite their many transgressions, and despite their almost continuous complaining—all the way to the Promised Land, so Jesus guides, protects, and walks beside us all the way to Heaven.

Granted, most of those Israelites never got to actually enter the Promised Land because of their continued disobedience. But we have an advocate with the Father who is “able to keep [us] from stumbling and to present [us] before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 1:24).Jesus saves, He still does
He’ll make of you someone new
Cleanse the sin that was.
The Holy Spirit whispers
No more must you be enslaved
Just believe it, Jesus saves. (Joel Hemphill)

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