Saved: to spare

This morning, I continued my search on the use of the term “salvation.” I feel a little overwhelmed thinking about how to organize this study. For instance, this morning, the next result on “saved” landed me in Genesis 47. In this passage, we are led to the account of Israel and his family living in the land of Egypt during a time of famine.

Things had become so severe in Egypt that every Egyptian had exhausted all their money to buy food from Joseph; they had exchanged all their livestock for food; and they had sold all their land and became servants of the government. Consequently, this landed the people of Egypt in a situation where they were forced to permanently pay 20% of their income (produce) to Pharaoh’s household. Yet, in the end the people did not starve to death. Thus, we read in vs. 25, “So they said, ‘You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”‘

Again, in this passage, the usage of salvation has the nuance of “to spare.” The people’s lives were physically spared because they were given food during a time of famine. At this point, I think I will continue to study the term salvation. I think it will be better to include multiple verses in one blog entry if I were to try and cover every time the term was used.

The next passage I came across is found in Exodus 14. Now, judging by the book, you might be able to guess this is going to refer to the famous Exodus of Israel from Egypt after more than 400 years of slavery there. And that is correct. The story is famous, so I don’t need to spend a lot of time describing it.

We read in vs. 30, “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.” It is clear in this passage that the term is suggesting the idea of rescue.

Israel had been in bondage for a remarkable amount of time. They had the far threat of continued slavery if they did not leave. Hebrews were slaves to the demands of Egypt and were unable to freely live and worship in the way that God created for His people. Israel had the near threat of death by a Pharaoh in pursuit and starvation and natural elements in the desert ahead of them. Yet, the God of salvation dramatically rescued His people.

What is wonderful about this Epic is that it includes a rich portrayal of theological ideas throughout the flight from Egypt. In this rescue, God requires blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb and a celebration– the first Feast of Unleavened Bread. The blood had to be painted over the doorways for the Passover. One of the greatest pictures of redemption, salvation where God judged the firstborn who was not covered by an act of faith by the covering of the blood.  And finally, there was the Exodus. People had to gather their stuff and prepare to leave. They were expelled. The people left Egypt. They had to leave behind the life of slavery they knew and to walk an uncertain path toward freedom.

How this relates to our salvation today:images

  • Today we like to throw around the term “saved” in our church circles. We might ask, “When were you saved?” Or we might state, “I was saved when…” It is important to have a time to look back and to have definitive moment when we saw God intervening in our life and we decided to admit that we are powerless to overcome our addictions and sin on our own, believe that God is the one whose power will help us overcome, and to trust Him with our will and lives. Salvation is in fact a rescue.
  • Salvation in the sense that we use it in our church setting does in fact indicate that we have been rescued from our bondage to sin. Our salvation story isn’t just that “God saved me from my sins,” that we might have heard uttered from believers over the years but rather, “I am a wicked and vile person in my own flesh. No matter what I try to do to overcome my sinfulness, I am unable to succeed. I cannot help but tell you about when God intervened in my life so dramatically and rescued me from a life that left wreckage and carnage behind in the lives around me. My life is nothing short of a miracle from Christ.”
  • Our rescue from God is just, no matter how exceedingly sinful I might have been before I was rescued. While God passed over my sin so that I might not feel the weight of His wrath, my sin itself was not passed over because He fully poured out His wrath for the weight of my sins- past, present, and future. The wonder of it all is that it was poured out on Christ instead of me, which is the greatest of all grace that I will know in this life. Salvation, while it is a gift to me, is not free. It is more precious than a pearl of great price or a treasure of great value hidden deep in a field that has been stumbled upon. Our rescue has been purchased with blood.
  • In salvation, some will come kicking and screaming because God has literally pulled them away from the apple of their eye that has poisoned them for the years. Their sick hearts will fight against fully killing off the sick fruit that has grown in their lives. Others will go freely and quickly toward freedom because the misery of their bondage has prepared them fully to be free. Their cries have been heard by God and when he prepares the way, they run to Him joyfully stomping out the  roots of sin that have tormented them, and doing so with great fervor and passion. Regardless of our story, those who are saved will leave behind the old and put on the new.
  • Despite the grandeur of this magnificent salvation, God knows the frailty of our flesh and the need to be reminded of our past deliverance. It is inevitable that as we are expelled from our past life of sin, the deceitfulness of fleshly desire will tempt us to return to our Egypt. Thus, it is important, just as Israel celebrated the Feast of Booths, so also should we set aside regular moments to recall the expediency and magnificence of our rescue from the life that once held us captive. Taking time to worship our Rescuer will give us confidence in our uncertain path of freedom that God grants so that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth as we await for His return.
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