THINGS WRITTEN AFORETIME -- The Drama of Salvation
Joe Neil Clayton
Perhaps it will be granted that the Bible contains the greatest collection of dramatic stories ever found in one volume. The Bible furnishes glimpses into the history of the most interesting family of people ever to walk the earth. This people passed through trials and victories that have inspired a thousand novels to be written about them. And yet, the greatest story of all seems to have been missed.
Some of the interpreters of the story of the children of Israel and their deliverance from Egypt have thought that it represented a political liberation. Thus, the story has inspired the "Exodus" of modern Jews from many nations toward re-settlement in modern Israel. However, the story has a much deeper significance than this. To miss it would be to miss the principal theme of the Bible: the salvation of mankind from sin.
Israel had entered Egypt under its protection, while Josephs influence was strong with the ruler. During the course of several generations to follow, there "arose a new king over Egypt who knew not Joseph," or who had no appreciation for the great contribution made to the welfare of the Egyptian throne by this talented Hebrew. Because of his fear of the prosperity of the Israelites, he enslaved them. Under this oppression, the people languished into bitterness.
In course of time, God chose a savior, Moses, to deliver them from their bondage. When Moses came before the people with the message Of their salvation, he used points of persuasion put into his mouth by God. He promised release from their bondage. He upheld God as their continuing protector. And, he spoke of a heritage, a land to dwell in at peace (Exodus 6:2-8). The appeal of the message was not heeded by the Israelites at first, because they were overwhelmed in "anguish of spirit" and "cruel bondage" (Exodus 6:9). So, sinners today are often so deep in the bondage of sin that they scarcely hear the appeals of the gospel, or believe them. The bondage of sin is deceiving. People of Jesus day were enmeshed deeply in this bondage, but did not realize it. Therefore, when Christ promised to make them "free," they even resented his appeal (John 8:31-36).
Paul explained to the Roman Christians that they had been delivered from the bondage of sin, only because they had received the message and had been united with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection, and the consequent destruction of the body of sin (Romans 6:5-6, 17-18).
Thus, by degrees of teaching and demonstration of Gods power, Moses gathered the dead hopes of the Israelites, and from the corpse created the live desire to escape from their heavy burden of slavery. They had to see that God had power to overcome and subdue the might of Egypt, and this was amply shown in the devastating plagues. So, also, we must see that Christ and God have power to deliver us from the chains of sin. The resurrection of Christ from the grave by the power of God demonstrates the victory over Satans power. Ibis event "enlightens" our eyes to see the "hope of his calling," the "riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints," the "exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe." (Ephesians 1: 17-20). When Satans power falls under the onslaught of the exceeding power of God, then a "great voice" from heaven can say, "Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down ... And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony . . ." (Revelation 12:10-11).
Finally, then, convinced of the power of God to save, the Israelites took the first feeble steps toward their liberty. They followed Moses to the edge of the Red Sea. With the Egyptians following close behind in hope of recapturing them, the people fainted and cried in despair to Moses. But Moses said, "Stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah" (Exodus 14:13). Then Moses stretched his powerful rod over the waters, and they divided. The children of Israel had but to pass through this liquid cleft to escape. Convinced of the need now to escape, they braved the rippling walls of water on either side to come forth on the other shore. The waters then closed behind them to drown the Egyptian host and to sever them forever from the bondage they had endured.
The Apostle Paul compares this salvation to our own in I Corinthians 10:11f. They were "baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." Judes letter says the Lord "saved a people out of the land of Egypt" (verse 5). What a perfect comparison to our own salvation. We hear the message, we trust the power of God, we obey to turn our backs on the bondage of sin, and we are baptized to separate us from sin (Romans 6:14, 1 Peter 3:21). Here is a salvation just as dramatic as the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and much more significant. The cruel and bitter bondage is past, and the hope of glory is before. For now, we have the "earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption of Gods own possession, unto the praise of his glory."
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 30, pp. 9-10