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Passover and Pentecost: Redemption Journey (part 3)

Post Title: An Exodus View of God

Lesson Three: Passover teaches disciples of Jesus how the Exodus reveals both God's character and concern for us.

As part of traditional western Christianity, you and I are hindered and often incapacitated by a faulty view of the character of Yahweh, the God of Israel. This is something very close to my heart.

The Exodus reveals the LORD God's true character.

For centuries we have taught that Jewish people have a religion where they earn God's salvation by their works, by their righteous deeds. Let us settle this once and for all; it is non-biblical, in other words, a lie! One simple question undermines that kind of misguided thinking. What good works did Israel do to merit, to bring about God's salvation, their deliverance from Egypt?

The Exodus shows us that God saves by grace through his initiative. He takes the lead because of his covenant faithfulness; he keeps his word by caring for his people Israel. He is concerned that his purposes in the earth be served. Exodus 34 shows us that this God of Law—as he has been caricatured in so much of traditional western Christianity—is, in fact, a God that abounds in grace (hesed).

The Exodus paradigm is driven by love. There is something beyond legal obligation that compelled God to come down, enter in, and liberate by redeeming his people Israel. In a word, it was love (ahavah). Is that not so for you and me?

Is there anybody here that deserved God's redemption? No. Why should the King of the universe care one whit what happens to us? He shouldn't. But his great love compels him because we matter to him. He abounds in grace; faithfulness surrounds him—he is the covenant-keeping God!

The Sabbath that occurs during the week of Passover has readings from Solomon's Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim). Why? Because the exodus redemption is a love story.

It reveals God's love for his people; it shows God's love through Jesus for his church. So it is during this festival that we read the Song of Solomon. This book was one of the last to be entered into the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, thanks to rabbi Akiva's influence in the early second century.

He famously said that all the other writings in the biblical text are holy, but Song of Solomon is the holy of holies. Why? Because it shows that God operates on a level beyond the technicalities of covenantal stipulations and obligations. He operates out of love.

His love sent the Redeemer, Jesus, into the world. While you and I were sinners, he died for us. Think carefully. While we were unlovable, Yahweh—the God of Israel—acted out of an abundance of love and mercy. As he did, he does.

God directs the priests through Moses to put his Name upon his people as a sign of his favor. The result? A majestic, timeless blessing full of truth, reminding each recipient constantly who he is.

"The LORD bless you and keep you;

the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

- Numbers 6:24-26

That is the God of Israel, the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

Song of Solomon symbolizes God's eternal love for Israel. The covenant is more than a contract that can be revised and ignored and in which loopholes can be found and exploited. It is a covenant of marriage. "I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy." - Hosea 2:19

It troubles me, personally and spiritually, when I hear people say God has rejected Israel. With a confidence born of arrogance they say that he cast her aside and has taken a new bride, the Church. Well, if that is so then you and I are in serious trouble. If the Holy One is not faithful to his covenant with Israel, on what grounds will he be faithful to you and me?

Oh, but they say, "we are adopted sons and daughters. You cannot disown a child, but you can divorce your wife." How obnoxious. Have they not read the scripture, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."

God hates divorce! Israel's sages say that when a divorce occurs the altar of God sheds a tear. Oh yes, Israel as the people of God were fickle. Are we not fickle in many of the same ways? Perhaps even worse in the light of the new covenant is Jesus' blood?

Our prophets and apostles assure us that God is faithful by pointing to the exodus from Egypt and the new exodus from sin and death in Jesus.

God's all-consuming, passionate love for his people—beyond logic and law—endures forever. Does he care about sin and righteousness? Of course, because he cares deeply for his people! He cares so deeply that he is willing to give up his Son to sinful man so that his purposes be served. He has brought you and me to himself and joined us to his people Israel.

In Romans 11, Paul talks about how we have been grafted into God's olive tree. Those of us who were not a people, those of us who were the pagans, we have been joined to the people of Israel. Thinking on the implications of his argument, he breaks into Spirit-inspired praise, Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

We have moved beyond the ability of language to communicate adequately. One must taste and see that the LORD is good. The only term we have to try and describe the reality that compels the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is ahavah, holy love.


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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.

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