One of the most talked about and important events in the entire Bible is the Exodus. In the book of Exodus (named after the event), God hears the cry of His people, calls upon a fugitive to confront the reigning super-power, demonstrates His sovereignty and love for His people in mighty ways, liberates His people from slavery and oppression, and then sustains them miraculously for a generation.
God is a God of liberation and God’s liberating nature was also considered one of His most important characteristics to the Israelites. The statement, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2), can be viewed as Israel’s original confession and is used throughout the Hebrew Bible to remind the Israelites about God’s liberating nature.
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5), given after the Exodus, command Israel to love God (commands 1-4) and to love others (commands 5-10). We are to love God and we are to love others, but these commandments are not mutually exclusive; indeed, we love God by loving others. Furthermore, all throughout the Hebrew Bible, God commands Israel to remember the poor or those less fortunate than themselves, often stated as the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner: “Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3; NRSV). Oftentimes, the Exodus story provides a reference point for this commandment: “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9 NRSV).
Hope in a God who liberates is essential to the Gospel and should be at the heart of a Gospel-worldview. Furthermore, if our God is a God of liberation, and if we are to love God by loving others, then it should be within our very Christian nature to be people of hope, liberation, and love.
This is part of our Christian hope, that we have been liberated and sustained. This liberation and hope then compel us to be liberators of others and provide that same hope to the hurt, the oppressed, the afflicted, and the enslaved around us.