Storied Salvation: Part IX

Escape and Deliverance

The act of obedience brought all who did so under the protection of Yahweh, keeping them from the judgment being unleashed upon the Egyptians.

“The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” Exo 12:13, 23.

While they were actually saved at the moment the angel saw the blood and passed over, they were practically saved when they believed God’s promise (with accompanying signs) and acted accordingly in obedience through the word of God’s anointed savior. Keil and Delitzsch eloquently framed it:

“The smearing of the door-posts and lintel became a sign to Israel of their deliverance from the destroyer. Jehovah made it so by His promise, that He would see the blood, and pass over the houses that were smeared with it. Through faith in this promise, Israel acquired in the sign a firm pledge of its deliverance.[1]

God’s people had cried out to him; he brought about deliverance, thus setting his delivered people apart from the Egyptians who were “wailing” for the failure of their gods to protect them. God had executed judgment against all the gods of Egypt (Exo 12:12).

After leaving Egypt, Pharaoh pursued and Israel became trapped at the sea.[2] The people began to panic and this time, it states, they “cried to Yahweh.” Moses responded:

“Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today” Exo 14:13.

Moses, as the servant of Yahweh, was commanded to lift his staff and stretch out his hand over the sea and divide it. Moses obeyed, but the power and action was Yahweh’s. The people passed through the sea and emerged on the other side as a new creation, as it would later be interpreted. Egypt has been depicted as the womb and the sea as a birth canal and was therefore interpreted as “new birth” or “new creation” (Eze 16). It was at that moment they were born as a people. No longer were they slaves. Up to that point, they were runaway slaves from Egypt, now they were set-free. “It was baptism,” says Paul (1 Cor 10).

Yahweh had saved his people (v. 30) and they in turn believed in him and his servant Moses (v. 31). This formula is used to allude to Jesus as the “prophet like Moses” (Deut 18) ushering in Yahweh’s salvation for Israel again:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me”
(John 14:1).

“They believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses” Exo 14:31.

The JPS translation, The Tanakh renders the last verse, “they had faith in the LORD.”

“‘Faith’ in the Hebrew Bible is not a belief in a doctrine or subscription to a creed. Rather, it refers to trust and loyalty that find expression in obedience and commitment.”[3]

The next scene depicts a victorious song being sung by the people after the great deliverance by Yahweh from their enemies. Revelation 14 has God’s people again singing this song, who like Israel before, are delivered by God from their enemies, through his servant.  

“In Exod. 14:13 Israel's role in order to receive 'the deliverance the Lord will bring' is that of trusting response; the exodus provides a pattern: 'and Moses said to the people, ‘fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which she will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.’ Here the salvation in question is an earthly and historical one. S. R. Driver suggests that salvation and deliverance ‘seldom, if ever, express a spiritual state exclusively: their common theological sense in Hebrew is that of a material deliverance attended by spiritual blessings (e.g. Is. 12, 2; 45, 17).’ But certain passages in the prophets have an eschatological dimension. For example, in the last days Yahweh will bring full salvation for his people (e.g. Isa. 43:5-13; Jer. 31:7 = LXX 38:7; Zechariah. 8:7). Then Israel ‘will draw water from the wells of salvation’ (Isa. 12:3); The whole world will share in this salvation (45:22; 49:6).”[4]

[1] Keil and Delitzsch, 1:329
[2] Exo 15:4 yam suph.
[3] Nahum Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus (The Jewish Publication Society, 1991), 75.
[4] Colin Brown, “σώζω,” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Gen. ed., 4 vols. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan), 3:208; Verlyn D. Verbrugge, “σώζω,” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Abridged Version (Zondervan, 2000), 549.

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