The High Price of Ransom

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Day 3 – The high price of ransom

What do you know of the Old Testament stories of the Red Sea, of Moses, of the original Passover lambs and doorposts, or of the Hebrew slaves ransomed?

Take a moment to jot down or think through words and pieces of the events you remember of what we call The Exodus. Feel free to quickly skim the first 14 chapters of the book of Exodus to jog your memory or to learn something new! This is an open book test. πŸ˜‰

(Just joking. There are no tests in Bible study. I promise!)

What did God bring the Israelites out of in The Exodus? Slavery. Yes. Hard slavery, ever increasing oppression, task masters, a life of clay with no straw and drown baby boys. Can you imagine?

God references His work to free His people from Egypt’s bonds in Isaiah 43:3-4. Let’s read that.

For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.

God is willing to give what is most valuable to Him to ransom His children – namely, people.

This concept may be more than a little disturbing for us, God giving some people in exchange for others. To understand it better, we need to open our Bibles and return to the end of the Exodus, to the crossing of the Red Sea into the land of promise, the land of freedom. Please read Exodus 14:19-31. For the sake of space here, I will only highlight Exodus 14:18-20, 23-24, and verse 30 below:

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.

23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic…

30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.

It should be hard to listen to the loss of the Egyptians. I don’t think we were designed to be ok with people dying. We were made for life. Sin brought death into the world. We were made in the image of God, to have compassion and mercy for every life. We were also made to hold our heads high and that means not sticking them in the sand. Matthew Henry reminds us in his commentary –

β€œGod has purchased them dearly.”

The salvation of the people of Israel, God’s chosen ones, those people who were to bring the knowledge of Salvation to the rest of the world, was not a simple commercial transaction. Giving people in exchange for other people – let us not assume that this was something easy or weightless to God. He gave dearly to ransom them from the hands of those who were destroying them.

When people lose their lives for any reason, God cares.

He cares for the murdered child, he cares for the aborted baby, he cares for the soldier. He cares.

I’m not entirely convinced that there weren’t Egyptians turning to the Lord like mad under the weight of the closing waters of the Red Sea. They had seen His work, they had seen the miracles and plagues and the faithfulness of this unknown God. How many of them turned to Him, we do not know.

But in this instance, a ransom had to be given. It’s hard. God came down as a pillar of fire, a cloud of darkness to stand between His people and the evil that would overtake them. He is not messing around when it comes to His children. Death is our earthly reality, yes, but don’t be mistaken-

He is willing to let hard stuff happen for us to come to Him.

That doesn’t mean that the hard stuff is a flashing neon sign of someone or something’s lack of faith. That’s silly and it’s petty and it is not at all Biblical. Faithfulness does not mean good will come to you, and unfaithfulness does not always bring on calamity. It does mean there are casualties in this war against the devil, sometimes it’s us, sometimes it’s our children, sometimes it’s jobs or homes or happiness.

And the battle is the Lord’s. He is fighting.

Here is the hope: He has won.

Revelation 5:9-10 tells us that Jesus came down, fought the fight and won. The victory is ours for eternity.

And they sang a new song, saying,

β€œWorthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

Today we learn that ransoming comes with a price. This pilgrimage is hard. This journey is full of boundless love and joy, but also pain and struggle. Sometimes we need to get to the other side of the Sea and thank God for something He’s doing that we don’t quite understand, to lay it into His hands, to weep over those lost, and praise Him for eternal life in Jesus, offered free for every one of us both left standing and drown underwater.

He is working, ransoming, redeeming, and saving souls every where, every day. Rest in Him.

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Exploration:

Take a moment to work on memorizing the Heart verse for the week. Write it out, stick it up somewhere.

Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.  (Isaiah 43:4)

Who are you praying for, that they would come to God, whether through joy or struggle? (You can use a name or vague description of the situation, however you are most comfortable for privacy sake.)

 

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11 thoughts on “The High Price of Ransom”

  1. Thank you for this devotion today, Heidi. It’s a great reminder that our salvation did not come lightly and cheaply. What a blessing to be chosen by God, to be loved and to be saved. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  2. I am praying for my brother, who has been caring for our mom. Now that she is very ill and weak, issues of the afterlife are prominent in all our minds. My brother plans to meet with a Lutheran pastor today! I pray he will find peace of mind in Christ.

  3. An atheist brother….I pray he need not have a Red Sea moment but if that is what it takes to save his Soul.

    And for me, still struggle to be thankful and see the joy of where I live;-)

    1. Yes. Lord, bring our loved ones to You. We know that You are the only Savior, that You think of them, that You are with them. Open their eyes to Your grace and life in You. In Jesus name, Amen.

  4. I have a list of people I pray for. They are separated into different categories: no church home, not coming to church, unbelievers (as far as I know), Mormon, Jehovah Witness, confused, Buddhist, Muslim, and Jewish. I have come into contact with most of them face to face but some online. I know most of the people’s names but not all of them. But God knows. I started this list as a general one (no categories) after I went to a five14 workshop, a youth witness/evangelism workshop by Lutheran Hour Ministries.

  5. A day behind…I know what it is to struggle…I know what it is to have the rug of life pulled out from under me …I know what it’s like to not have enough money to buy a gallon of milk or groceries for my family let alone make a House payment. I have been a believer all my 59 years but I wasn’t tested until the rug of an extra martial affair made everything I know to be a lie. Except God’s love, goodness, mercy, Grace and compassion! He has never left me or forsaken me…my confirmation verse…he had plans for the pain, he used it to destroy me and put me on his potter’s wheel and remake me into the woman I am today. I had faith before but it was never tested and testing can be very painful. It can stretch you beyond your limits but not God’s because he has no limits. I had to learn to trust, because I didn’t trust. So as life happened and I couldn’t control it I had a choice…trust him or go off the deep end. I always chose to trust….with hesitation…maybe even fingers crossed…that this was the right thing to do…hoping I could trust him to save me. He did every time! He delivered me from my own Egypt and set me on a journey of hope, healing and new life in Christ. You see the pray I prayed 20 years ago on my knees was “Break me Lord” thinking to myself “whatever that means” and 6 weeks later I knew what it meant. 20 years later…best prayer I ever prayed! Sometimes it’s us who needs to die in the hands of the potter so we can be resurrected by the power of Christ.

    1. Beautiful testimony of His work in our lives! Thank you, Pam, for being so honest. It gives others hope to know Christ is working in the midst of it all- and for our good.

  6. I just finished writing out Isaiah 43:4 2 times- 1 for me & 1 for my daughter. I’m going to put 1 on her bedroom wall and 1 on mine so that we can see every day.
    As for the praying question, I have many family members who do not know God. I pray for them every day.

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