THE GREATEST RESCUE MISSION
We all love to hear, read, and see a happy ending of a rescue mission. Many of us sat at the edge of our seats as the firemen and rescue teams went into the rubble of the Twin towers looking for survivors. And when someone was found, a great voice of jubilee went up in thanksgiving.
I remember sitting and watching TV as many of you did, back on October 14, 1987, as an 18 month old baby girl from Texas Jessica McClure fell into a well. “Baby Jessica,” was the centerpiece of a 58-hour rescue drama that commanded the attention – and the emotions – of a town, a nation and the world. After the rescue efforts there were tears of joy for all involved, and a happy reunion of Jessica and her mother.
We know in our own state of people who have been rescued from being trapped in their cars from a blizzard; lost in a corn field, buried beneath the rubble of a tornado, or lost while hiking. We rejoice when the rescue mission is successful and the people are reunited with their families and loved ones; and we are saddened when the rescue efforts fail, like the six minors who were trapped in Utah last year.
As you study the book of Exodus you will read of the fate of the Jewish People—God’s chosen Israel. They were forced into slavery by the Egyptians. To work in the heat of the day making bricks was bad enough. Add to that the terrible method of birth control that the Egyptian had enforced on the Jewish women: ordering baby boys born to Israelite women to be thrown into the Nile to drown or be food for the crocodiles.
The Israelites couldn’t deliver themselves; they needed help—major help! And to the rescue comes not a fire squad or a rescue team, but God Himself gets involved. His heart was moved by the cries that went heavenward. He called Moses (an Israelite infant saved from being thrown into the Nile), to be the deliverer.
Moses was commanded by the Great Deliver God Himself to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh and tell him, “Let My people go,” (Exodus 5:1). Pharaoh didn’t want to loose his power over the slaves. After Pharaoh repeatedly hardened his own heart God confirmed Pharaoh in his deep unbelief. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart after Pharaoh himself first hardened his own heart. Such a heart would not let God’s special possession go. But God forced him to release them by sending upon Egypt the great plagues. At long last Pharaoh was forced to set the people of God free.
In the book of Exodus we read these words, “You yourself have seen what I [God] did in Egypt” (Ex. 19:4a). The Lord used this incident to teach the people of Israel of His grace upon them, His favor to them, and His love for them. The Israelites still have the memories of the plagues fresh in their memories. They could still hear the cry of the Egyptians as the Angel of the Lord struck their first born. They could envision the Red Sea divided by the outstretched hands of God and the Egyptians soldiers and their horses are dead on the shores. This was the rescue mission of God to His people Israel. It was all by grace. The only contribution of the Children of Israel was petrified fear. Through a salvation by water event God redeemed a nation of slaves.
As Moses recorded these great acts of salvation for us, he wrote them to point to the coming of a grandeur and more glorious rescue mission –the rescue mission of God to save the world. This mission would be more majestic than the delivery of the Israelites from the bondage of slavery of Egypt—this would be the cosmic rescue mission of the world through the heaven-sent Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.
The greatest rescue mission was not accomplished by firemen, police officers, volunteers or others. No! It is carried out by God Himself to deliver us from the slavery of sin, the chains of the devil and the power of death. What Jesus accomplished for us was to rescue us from the slavery of sin which was greater than any other slavery we could imagine. Jesus’ outstretched arms on Calvary’s cross were the means by which this Rescue Mission was completed.
You and I are as helpless as the Israelites were against the Egyptian slave-drivers—as helpless as a victim of tornado, flood, or fire; who stands in the middle of the turmoil and not able to do anything about it.. You and I were shackled by sin and doomed to eternal damnation and hell that we deserved. But in His mercy and grace God had other plans—a rescue mission.
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Colossian Christians: “For He [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,” (Col. 1:13). This is the Grace of God to us sinners. We have been rescued, redeemed, restored from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light.
We all love happy endings. The stories that we see hear and read about move us to be thankful for the efforts of those who labor hard to rescue those lost, trapped, or in danger. How much more we, who have been rescued by the Great Rescuer, Jesus Christ should give thanks to God for what He in grace has accomplished in our lives.
Thank you Jesus for RESCUING me through Your suffering, death and glorious resurrection. Amen.
In Christ’s love and in His service,
Rev. Nabil S. Nour Pastor and Foot Washer Phil. 1:6