- Exodus 29:45-46
|Tabernacle Model at Timna, Israel (courtesy of wikipedia)|
This fall I have been blessed to participate in a Bible study/accountability group studying freedom. We've gone over various portions of the New Testament, and now we are studying some passages from Exodus. Exodus has always been a rather strange book of the Bible for me. I've read it several times, usually as part of a "Read Your Bible in a Year" discipline rather than as a specific, in-depth study. I'm thankful to be studying it in detail this fall because God has been showing me a lot through this portion of His Word recently.
Thank about it. When we read Exodus, we see the childen of Israel set free from captivity in Egypt. And then what comes next? Leviticus! Please tell me I'm not the only person who has respectfully expressed the thought to God during quiet time of, "Wow - that's a LOT of rules you gave those Israelites." So - we go from Exodus straight into the law. Does that make it a little hard to think of freedom right off the bat?
For me, it did. It can be easy, particularly when looking at things through the seriously screwed up lens of the world, to think that "freedom" might not be the best word to describe leaving Egypt and going into the Promised Land to follow a lot of laws that Jesus will have plenty to say about later on. And yet - the more I read Exodus, the more I come to understand that God really brought His people to freedom. It's not the same freedom that we enjoy in Christ, but it is freedom nevertheless.
After all, before they left Egypt, the Israelites were enslaved. God set them free from that slavery and used Moses to get them out of Egypt. The Israelites were made to wander in the desert for forty years, but even during that time, God was with them. He provided for them, watched over them, and even commanded that the tabernacle be built as His dwelling place among His people.
And why did He do it? Look at Exodus 29:45-46. God claims the people of Israel as His and tells them that He is their God. Even more amazing, He tells them that He brought them out of Egypt so that He might dwell with them. God did not simply deliver the Israelites to another master; He set the Israelites free to be His children. And in Christ, God has truly set all of us who believe and follow Him free to be His children, free of our sin and the separation that results from it.
It's a paradox of sorts. God gave the law to the Israelites as a way to free them to be His rather than as a way to oppress them. Of course, they did not completely follow God's law, but that's a story for another day.
I thank God for the freedom I have in Him to believe, to worship and to be saved from the penalty of the sins that would otherwise bind me and separate me from Him. God did not have to dwell among us, but He chooses to extend His mercy to us now through Christ, just as He chose the Israelites during the days of the Old Testament. And by His mercy, we are indeed set free.