Recently I had to travel for work and missed my family terribly. It was only for a few days but I longed to be home with my husband and our son Justice.
I believe this longing for home and family is inherited from God. The Bible shows us, story upon story, God is a good and loving Father who has gone to extreme lengths to be near His kids.
In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve walk out of the flourishing garden and life God created for them because they made the devastating choice to decide for themselves, independent of God their Father, what was good and evil in their own eyes. But God knew they would make this choice to severe their dependence solely on Him. He had a way to bring them back to Himself once again. Nothing would keep His children away from His love and presence forever.
The Old Testament is brimming with stories of God chasing after His kids, walking with them through the struggles of life and ultimately drawing them back to Him.
God’s pursuit of His children is called mission. Mission is the redemptive work of God. It’s also a participatory word. The redeemed followers of Jesus – those who’ve acknowledged their need for Him and accepted His free gift of grace – make God’s mission known and lead others into experiencing it by how they love those around them.
The mission of God is illustrated throughout the Biblical narrative. One example is found in the Exodus story. Throughout 400 years of grueling captivity, God heard the cries of His enslaved children, the Israelite’s. He responded by empowering Moses to speak up for the Israelite’s and free them from the hand of Pharaoh. God didn’t stop there. He used Moses and Joshua to lead the people to the Promised Land; a vibrant and flourishing land flowing with milk and honey. The Exodus and Promised Land stories point to the story of Jesus and the redemption, freedom and life of flourishing He freely gave through His life, death and resurrection.
The first mention of God as redeemer is found in Exodus 6:6. “Therefore, say to the Israelite’s: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.’”
The Hebrew word for redeemer is go’el. Christopher J. H. Wright writes, “A go’el was any member within a wider family group upon whom fell the duty of acting to protect the interests of the family or another member in it who was in particular need. The term might be translated, ‘kinsman protector’ or ‘family champion.’”
The Israelite’s would have understood go’el – God’s rescue from slavery and His redemption of them – to be a family matter. The God of the Israelite’s would act as their family champion and provide freedom and flourishing out of His overflowing love for them.
Upon miraculously crossing the Red Sea and securing safety from oppressive Pharaoh, Moses and Miriam burst into song for the God who protected and championed them to freedom with these words:
“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Exodus 15:13
God was go’el for the nation of Israel. He brought them out of slavery, captivity and oppression. He rescued them from political unrest. He avenged their oppressor Pharaoh. Years later, Jesus, the personification of the same God who was go’el for the Israelite’s, became go’el for the entire world. He is the “family champion” for God’s global family and He leads the way to a holy dwelling with God. As the Redeemer of the world, Jesus took on the mission of God to protect, defend and rescue, especially those enslaved, under threat, experiencing loss of all kinds, poverty, hunger, persecution, and every type of injustice.
Christopher J. H. Wright explains further, “As go’el, therefore, God will exert himself to whatever extent is necessary on their behalf for their protection or rescue.” This is the mission of God; to extend His reach into all the Earth, to protect, to be Father and family champion for all people. It’s why Jesus came. It’s why He is the rescuer, the redeemer and the hope for the world. And He doesn’t stop there.
As God empowered Moses to participate with God as go’el redeemer, for the Israelite’s, by His Spirit, God empowers His followers to join Him in His global redemption project. The greatest commandments Jesus gave are found in John 13:34. He said to His disciples, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Today is as good as any to live like the redeemed. The reach of God extends to you and through you, fueled and powered by His Spirit, to protect, rescue, redeem and bring the hope of Jesus to your little corner of the world. There is no mountain too high, ocean to deep, political unrest too great, and division too wide for the love of Jesus to reach and redeem. There is a road that leads to the safety and protection of our creator and family champion and it’s found in the forgiveness, rescue and redemption only Jesus brings. He is the way, the truth and the life and he’s paved the road that leads to a holy dwelling of a good and loving God.
God doesn’t expect you or me to be the go’el redeemer of the daunting global issues we face today. Rest easy, that’s His job. He only asks we serve those around us, those in our spheres of influence, out of love, in the same manner He has loved us.
Follower and friend of Jesus, you are a family champion to your people so that they see and know the go’el who has been in hot pursuit to bring them home and to a life of flourishing designed for them. Love your people well today.