Siebrands preaching about redemption in the series “Free”.
Redemption, crossing the red sea
What is Redemption?
Recovery, repayment, vindication, rescue, restoration. All true, but the bible says Jesus is our redemption. Redemption is not to be achieved by works, religiousness, steps in faith, but by Jesus himself.
This is shown in the story of Exodus. Here it shows that redemption has to do with deliverance from bondage and slavery to freedom.
Today we will think of Redemption as a renewal. The image of crossing the red sea shows an entrance to a new life. And this new life shows the ultimate goal of God: full restoration of Gods design in creation.
Let me recap on the story of Exodus.
- The people of Israel enslaved and hopeless
- Moses was told to free the people
- This gave a glimpse of hope, but the situation got worse
- This is a parallel to our lives: we are enslaved to sin
- But things often get worse as we start seeing hope
- But at our worst, God gives his best
We saw, a few weeks ago, that after God gave hope to the Israelites when they were in captivity, things got worse. But at your worst, God gives his best. Much more than we imagined.
The subject of this story is redemption. But it is not a story of the people of Israel that fit God in their plan. There is only one acting: God!. Gods story is about God. He chooses a people to be his people and he saves it to his glory. At the red sea, we read that the Israelites were entrapped at the shore of the red sea. The enemy behind them, the sea before them.
Reading Exodus 14:1-4, the people entrapped. But God says: “I will gain glory for myself through Pharao and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”
Here we see that God is planning, that he is exercising his plan. And that he is fully in control. But that is easily said, although it is true. But here stands a people, just saved, tremendously traumatized through centuries of slavery, being dishonored and despised for generations and then standing here at the shore of the sea, with the enemy behind them. It is an easy thing to say: trust God, he just got you out of Egypt. But we know how the story ends, they didn’t.
And so many times we feel we are in the same situation. We know we are saved. We know God is in control. We know all this. But at the same time: we feel entrapped and see no perspective. What to do then?
First of all, realize you are in Gods story. We cannot fit God in our story. So if we think we just have our own life, and we can fit God into it as we like, we are totally wrong. God fully autonomously saved a people, made it his own people and brought them out of Egypt to the shores of the red sea.
Secondly, God executes his plan to his own glory.
God says: “I will gain glory for myself through Pharao and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”
Do you see that God is not a side character in the story of our lives. He is not even a character in our story. The story of redemption is the story of fitting the people of Israel in God’s plan!
Imagine you are starting to get to know God. You learn, read and listen to Christians and God is touching you. What happens? God is freeing you. You’re on the road to freedom. You start acknowledge that the load you carry in your life is not yours to bear. That when you are in trouble, it is not yours to get out of it. That you shouldn’t trust in yourself, but in God. And at that point in your life you start to feel alone. Your past is chasing you. You are being told that you are not worthy to belong to God, not good enough to be baptized, not religious enough to be a Christian. And your family and peers start to mock at you, start to turn their back at you. In many different cultures this works out in a different way. I have seen Muslims struggling with this, people from small African villages, Dutch students, people from atheist families.
It is as you are standing there at the shores of the red sea, with the enemy behind you, chasing you.
And here God says: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 14:13-14
At the other end
And God comes down to his people, He shows himself in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire and he brings his people to the other end of the sea, defeating the enemy.
And at the other side of the sea, they start singing! They start praising and worshiping God! This was the intention of God to free his people in the first place: for his glory. Moses had asked the Pharao, their oppressor, to let the people go for them to be able to worship God! It is made possible now, not for a short term to return to Egypt again, but for eternity.
This same thing that happened to the people of Israel happens to us. The series of redemption started with a preaching of worship. Do you remember the remark: everyone worships, the question is: whom or what do you worship? And this goes for all of us. But God’s plan is to redeem us from the slavery of the thing we worship. To free us from the slavery of sin, because it captivates us and keeps us small and prevents us to be who we intend to be. It prevents us from worshipping God. And the rescue results in freedom to worship God again. That is the meaning of true freedom. As Daniel said last week: freedom is not having a multitude of choices and opportunities. It is being able to worship God, in all our lives. Moses and the people of Israel did start worshipping God. And they express this in singing and dancing, having a party praising God!
It is what Moses sang when they were at the other side of the sea:
“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling….”
And on it goes:
“The Lord will reign forever and ever.” (vs 18)
And it says in vs 31:
“The people of Israel feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant”
The thing that strikes me here, is that there is no way back for the Israelites. There is no way to return back to Egypt, to be enslaved again. The time in Egypt, this part of their history, is definitely over, no doubt.
Last Friday we had our Enough prayer event. An event across all churches of our family of churches, Relational Mission. Together we thousands of Christians we proclaimed that God is enough for everything we need. And at the same time we told God we have enough of situations we face, sickness, war and death in this world and people not knowing God and Jesus as their savior. And one of the things that struck me was the remark: we don’t lose ourselves in disappointment but we cling to the promise of God. And we won’t accept less than that, not in a disrespectful way, but knowing that God is not a God of mediocrity!
And this promise of God, the foresight of peace, health, happiness and reconciliation is taking shape at the other side of the sea.
The old life of the people of Israel is past, the new life started. A life where the promise of an eternal life in the land of promise in the presence of God, in peace. It is exactly what is made possible to us.
The first thing is that we need new life, as the people of Israel needed to cross the red sea and gained new life. This is a picture of Jesus who died and rose to a new life enabling us to do the same thing, to with Him die and rise again in new life. And thén we are at the other side of the red sea, freed from the slavery of sin.
The book of Romans says that “the benefit you will reap to be slaves to God leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Rom. 6:22).
It is the story of God. He saved us to gain glory for himself. He restores relationships and reconciles us with him, to the glory of his name.
Search for restoration of the earth.
Col. 1:19, reconciliation with Christ, through his blood.
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
The Israelites were free, when they crossed the red sea. They were not perfect, they made mistakes, were disobedient and more, but still they would be free.
The great promise of complete healing and eternal peace started to take effect. “I am your healer…”, God tells his people at the other side of the sea, when providing them with fresh water. (vs 26)
Do you see the link between the story of the people of Israel and the story of Jesus?
This healing is exactly a significant part of the gospel. Jesus healed many. That was what he did in his years on earth: healing, bringing peace. Ánd forgiving sins. He was constantly guiding people through the red sea, resulting in a healed life, a life at peace, forgiven and restored, and more: reconciled with God: a new life.
Sieuwke: not only sin is taken away but also the effect and shame are dealt with by Jesus. Don’t put yourself under judgement while God forgave you. Don’t sit on His throne to judge yourself. Who are you to condemn yourself and say you can’t forgive yourself?
I am not saying that sin and shame has no effect anymore in the life we live. They do have power to destroy and they do have effect. But the healing has started and the sin and its effect is taken away from you by the blood of Jesus.
There is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt has to do with actions and wrongdoing, while shame affects who you are. From the first moment people started sinning, the story of Adam and Eve, sin resulted in shame instantly. They felt ashamed for each other and for God. And it effects not only people, but whole of creation. It impacts the world, it vandalizes the peaceful world of God, His Kingdom. It wrecks the goodness and order of the world.
That is why we should realize that redemption as renewal is adding up to the list of Deliverance and Ransom. God is recreating everything, heaven and earth, restoring also the effect of sin. Not only taking away guilt, but also shame. If we don’t realize that, we will end up saying: I know my sin is being forgiven, but I still feel ashamed, I just can’t get over it…
Forgiving, healing and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. That is exactly what Jesus did. The healing of a leper showed that not only the sickness is healed, but that the guy was also given back dignity and a place in the community, in society. He was declared clean by the council. Shame is overcome and banished.
The crossing of the red sea by Gods people was by all means to the honor and glory of God. The people was restored as the people of God and the whole earth saw the glory, the power, the faithfulness and grace of this God. This continuous today: the healing of sick and the dignity that people regain after being restored and given a full place in the church, is honoring God! This is so much more than just resolving a practical issue, or a physical need.
So we should also not forget that we ourselves are in need for restoration, that we are broken and desperate for help. This is the struggle that the people of Israel also had. They were freed from slavery, but still in a desert. This also goes for us and if we don’t realize we are in need for restoration and help, that we are broken, we will end to mock against each other, the church leaders, our friends and therefore against God. Like the Israelites did against Moses. It is the poor spirit that inherit the earth, Jesus says: the broken and needful spirit (Matt 5:3), realizing that we are in need for restoration.
It is a very dangerous thing to hope for God and put your life in his hands, crying out: help me out! But you will not be put to shame by God. You will put to shame denying the fact that you need help or trying to solve your own issues, saying: I caused this trouble, now I need to resolve it.
The Israelite cried out many times: why are we still in the desert? And in the same way we can shout: why am I still sick or hurt? The answer is: you are already freed and on your way to completeness. You are already restored and saved, and dignity is already given to you; as you are adopted as children of God. Even more: God is living within you, guiding you towards the moment that all things will be perfect. God, the Spirit will not stop until you are completely healed. Never accept a mediocre solution to your trouble, your sickness, your pain, your unease. Keep calling for God, because he will not stop at all, until everything is whole again.
We don’t always see the fruits of freedom. But God is not slow in freeing us.
In the meantime, we have a Father. A Father who redeemed us, a father who is with us and a father who gave hope and will guide us to perfect peace.
All the old is put away and overcome, by Jesus. The fact is: Jesus has died and is risen so we have new life. He didn’t only took our sin, but also our shame. Not only our guilt, but also our sickness. There is no way back. We cannot turn to Egypt, this is to our old life. God shut the door behind us, we are on our way to be fully restored and healed. The burden of shame is not yours to bear any longer. Being forgiven is just the start, never the end. To this promise we hold on. In this God we trust.
Last week we had a discussion about: what can we do if we are being wronged and we don’t feel we can forgive? We cannot ignore our feeling, our angriness, can we? It is true. But at that very moment, when it is like the people of Israel at the other side of the Sea, but still in the desert, we have God who shows himself to us. We have a God that came to earth. This time not in a pillar of cloud or fire, but as a man. And that man, Jesus, gave us a perspective of a new heaven and new earth we are heading for. And that does impact us. That enables to forgive. That changes us radically. Sin does not rule over us anymore, we have Jesus as King.
That is when we can proclaim that we’re freed by Jesus of the idols we worship and the wounds we carry. Into a new life, free from shame.
What evidence do you see in your life that the healing has already begun?
Rev 21 Behold, I’ll make all things new. Heaven coming to earth, to restore it. Not Christians going to heaven.
Preach until 1130-1145