Israel had a redemption story.
There are certain stories in scripture that become more important than other stories. Certain episodes that transpire that become transformative not just for those involved in the story, but for later generations as well. These stories become narrative shaping and get repeated again and again in scripture. Not that the stories happen over and over again, but the telling of the stories is repeated at key moments in the life of the people. For Israel, one of those dominant stories was the story of the Exodus.
God had started the plan of redemption through Abraham’s family. As God started to answer the question of what to do because of sin, God began with Abraham. Five times in Genesis 3-11 the word curse is used as a reminder that sin has destroyed God’s relationship with humanity. However, as the Bible begins the story of Abraham in Genesis 12, the word bless is used five times as a sign that through Abraham God is reversing the curses of sin and providing life again. This story continues through the pages of Genesis, and while Abraham’s family has ups and downs, God continues to fulfill the promise and move history forward.
Yet, as the pages of scripture turn from Genesis to Exodus, the plan of redemption loses some momentum; even beginning to move in the opposite direction. Israel finds itself in slavery to a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. Israel’s baby boys are being thrown in the Nile River to exterminate them. Israel is oppressed wondering if God had abandoned them, or if God even cares.
But God sees their misery, and God begins to move again. God raises up Moses and sends Moses to set Israel free. God is not just planning to free Israel from slavery however, but to reclaim Israel as worshipers of Yahweh. Israel’s redemption is not just from slavery but involves all aspects of life. The Israelites had been oppressed on many levels. Politically, they needed liberated from oppression by the ruling party. Economically, they needed to be freed from slave labor to being able to own their own land and flourish. Socially, they were suffering from racism. And spiritually, they were hindered from worshiping Yahweh and were probably forced into worshiping the gods of Egypt. Israel was in complete bondage and needed comprehensive redemption. So God doesn’t just redeem them from physical slavery, but instead provides them with abundant life. Israel needed to experience abundant life in multiple ways, and God provides that blessing for all of life.
This becomes Israel’s redemption story, and it gets repeated often. It is told at every major event in the life of Israel. It even gets told in the New Testament, as Jesus becomes the new redemption from slavery and bondage to sin. The redemption story is narrative shaping. It defines who they are as a people.
What is your redemption story? Many of us probably don’t think we have much of a redemption story. We’ve never been in slavery. All things considered, we haven’t really suffered. There are no big life changing moments in our lives in which we feel rescued by God. But truth is, we all have a redemption story. We all have a story of God setting us free. We all have a story of God claiming us. Redemption is multifaceted. It involves so many areas: physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. There is an area of your life where this redemption is evident. When we discover our redemption story we often think it’s not very important or not exciting. But if our redemption story is about God and what God is doing (which it always is) then our redemption story is important and exciting. God working in our lives is always exciting. God redeeming us is always a story worth sharing, because the story is about God. This redemption is narrative shaping. It defines who we are becoming because of God.
Spend some time thinking through your redemption story; your God story. Think about where you have seen God working in your life. This is the story that shapes your narrative and defines who you are as a person. Once you discover your story, share it. Share your God story; your redemption story. Share it in praise of the God who has redeemed you. Share it as a reminder of what God has done for you. Share it as an encouragement for what God can do for others.
You have a redemption story, and it is a powerful story. Be thankful, and pass it on.