A Real Relationship (Exodus 6:5-8)
Do you remember where you were on August 5th, 2010? Probably not. I don’t remember where I was. Nevertheless, it’s entirely likely that our day was fairly normal. We began it and ended it just as we had done many days before. But, the same cannot be said for 33 other people on the planet that day.
For 33 Chilean miners, August 5, 2010 began per normal, but it certainly didn’t end normally. In fact, it didn’t end until 69 days later. For 69 days, these Chilean miners, who worked at the San Jose site, were trapped when the mine caved in around them. For sixteen hundred and fifty-six hours they were held captive in darkness, longing for someone to rescue them, hoping against hope that someone would do for them what they could not do for themselves, i.e., free themselves from certain doom.
You know, this is a picture of who we are apart from Christ. We are trapped and imprisoned in sin and only Someone from the outside can rescue us. This difficult, but crucial truth is emphasized throughout Scripture. God loves us dearly – we are fashioned in His image – but, in contrast to the miners, we are imprisoned by our own doing, our persistent and stubborn choice to pursue rebellion against the Lord. Only by His grace and mercy, as we intentionally turn from our rebellious attitude to trust Him, can we possibly escape what is certain ruin. Like those miners, we need to look outside ourselves for rescue, placing our faith in the God who loves us. He is the only One who can rescue us (Gal 1:4; 2:20).
So, the point of this lesson is to understand the nature of the “rescuing” or “saving” relationship God has called us into.
Again, it says throughout scripture, in many different yet related ways, that we are fallen and need to turn back to God through faith in Christ. The Old Testament teaches this and Jesus and the apostles teach this (Matt 19:26). Similar to the miners, our best efforts will not secure our safety. The only way we can be saved is by the grace of God through faith, laying hold of the Savior Himself Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us (1 Tim 2:5-6)
What’s amazing is that many biblical writers explain the nature of our captivity to sin by reference to an event in the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus. The name Exodus means “to come out” and that’s the point in Exodus 6: God is preparing to deliver his people out of Egyptian bondage and servitude, just like He delivers us out of bondage to sin into a new relationship with Him, into a place of freedom, joy, and real hope. The Israelites were completely unable to free themselves from Egyptian slavery and we too are completely unable to free ourselves from sin’s slavery. Therefore, our new relationship with God in Christ is fundamentally rooted in God’s grace and mercy toward us. We’ll see all this and more in the rest of Exodus 6.
God’s Grace: Remembering, Redeeming & Restoring
Let’s begin by noting in Exodus 6:5 that grace actually remembers us. Just as people remembered the miners trapped below, so God remembers us in our plight. Just as people began to remember the miner’s faces, their names, their families, and their present sufferings, so God likewise remembers our faces, names, and our sufferings. He remembers His covenant promises and His plan to bring people into a relationship with Himself, to deliver them from their prison and certain doom.
God says, in verse 5, that He heard the groanings of these people and He remembered His covenant. God will never forget us; we’re engraved on the palms of His hands (Isa 49:16). He always remembers our face, our name, and everything about us (Psalm 139). The nature of the relationship He’s called us into is exactly that. It’s rooted in grace and grace remembers who we are and what we need. We need mercy. We need to be delivered from this imprisonment of sin and only Christ can do that as we lay hold of Him by faith.
But grace not only remembers who we are, it acts to redeem us. In verse 6, God says, “I will bring you out from underneath Egyptian servitude and bondage.” I will rescue you, I will redeem you!” You know, those miners were trapped 700m or 2300ft below the surface, 3 miles or 5 kilometers from the site entrance. It would take an unparalleled, massive effort to deliver them. In fact, there were three drilling companies involved. Reports have it that virtually every ministry in the Chilean government was involved, as well as the United States government, NASA, and twelve corporations from other countries. Everyone was working around the clock to ensure that the miners would see their families again. Twenty million dollars was put up by private donations, which itself includes only one-third of the price required to see these people liberated from their dungeon. But, how much greater is the price God paid to redeem and rescue us from our imprisonment (Rom 8:32)?
The Bible says, “Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). So great was our sin and our rebellion that it took the Son of God incarnate to die on the cross and rise from the dead in order to pay the penalty for our sin, to do the rescue mission on our behalf. Yes, His grace remembers who we are, His grace knows who we are, and His grace redeems us.
His grace also restores us. In Exodus 6:7, God says “I will take you to Myself for a people.” This is really important to understand. God has not delivered us from sin just so that we can attend church (though we ought to be with God’s people). He’s not brought us merely to a higher standard of ethics or to some form of religion, but He’s brought us to Himself. In 1 Corinthians 1: 9, Paul says, “God has called us into fellowship with Christ Jesus our Lord.” God has called us to enjoy a real relationship with Christ, in which there is a mutual giving and receiving (i.e., fellowship). He is our Lord and Savior and by faith, we receive from Him knowledge, grace, peace, strength, and wisdom. Then, for our part, we rightly return to Him glory, honor, praise, and thanksgiving. Praising, thanking, and obeying God is the reasonable response in light of His merciful rescue work in our lives (Rom 12:1).
Now it says “I’ll take you to be to myself, to know me, to love me. That’s the beauty of the Christian faith: the rescue mission is not done by someone far away, per se, but someone who’s drawn near in Christ and wants us to know Him personally. So grace remembers who we are, grace redeems us, and grace restores us to fellowship with God Himself through the cross.
It was a great day when those miners came to the surface. All 33 were rescued. If you ever have the chance to watch the footage of the rescue day, October 13 – 69 days after their ordeal began, when each miner was lifted to the surface in a specially designed capsule – notice the amazing reunion that took place with loved ones at the surface. People’s faces were rightly lit up with joy as they returned thanks to God for His great deliverance, His great rescue from certain death. How much more we, who by the power and grace of God, have come from a place of darkness, through Christ, to a place of light?
So what is the nature of our relationship with God? Well, according to Exodus 6 and the rest of the Bible, it is a relationship rooted in His grace, rooted in His rescue plan, His mission to bring us into fellowship with Himself wherein there is joy, obedience, and hope.
We’re going to spend the rest of this course talking about the fact that He knows us intimately, according to Psalm 139, and that by faith we know Him intimately, according to John 17:3. From this relational context, we’ll focus on many of the precious promises He’s given us that serve to bind our hearts eternally to His. We’ll learn more about worshipping and honoring Him, growing in Christlikeness, joyfully serving our great and awesome God, and intentionally making His great name known in the world in which we live.