Thursday, February 4, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - February 4 - Slavery, Freedom and Riches

When I first read God's instructions for Israel to ask the Egyptians for silver and gold (Ex. 11:2), I was bothered by the command. It seemed like God was condoning robbery. Not only that, but when the Israelites actually did this, the text says, "Thus they plundered the Egyptians" (Ex. 12:36). How could God not only condone, but command, plundering like this?

In the larger context of this account, however, the plundering of the Egyptians is not a crime, but a display of justice. Egypt enslaved Israel for centuries (Ex. 12:40), imposing forced labor on Israel with no payment of any kind. The plundering of the Egyptians was God's way of repaying Israel for the years of service they had given the Egyptians, and supplying much needed resources for the fledgling nation.

God did not simply emancipate Israel and then leave the Hebrews to fend for themselves. He delivered them from bondage, but He also blessed them with great wealth. God frees, then God enriches.

Using a different metaphor (resurrection as opposed to emancipation), Paul made the same point in Ephesians 2. God, "being rich in mercy," made us alive with Christ and seated is with Him in the heavenly places, "so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace" (Eph. 2:4-7). We now look forward to "the riches of his glorious inheritance" (Eph. 1:18). He raises us, enthrones us, and enriches us!

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