Saturday, October 23, 2021

Chapter 10 Excerpt 2 -- God as Savior

Final excerpt from God with Ten Words:


The Hebrew word for salvation, yeshu‘ah, and the verb to save, yasha‘, together appear hundreds of times in the Old Testament. It is not likely that they ever referred to the afterlife in their original contexts. Salvation and being saved in the Old Testament were always about being rescued in this life from something, including being rescued from death (e.g., Ps. 6:4). Both before and after the exodus, Moses looks for the salvation of the LORD from the Egyptians (Exod. 14:13) and then he thanks the Lord for that salvation afterward (Deut. 32:15)—“the horse and its rider he threw in the sea.”

The very name Joshua, who leads Israel into the Promised Land, points to salvation. The salvation the Lord leads through him is not just escape from Israel’s enemies but also the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. Israel is put into right standing in the land. The priest of the Jews after they return from Babylon is also named Joshua (Hag 1:12), as the Jews finally escape their captivity in Babylon and are restored to the land again.

The point is that God is not just the Savior of our souls. God also brings salvation in this life. God not only rescues us from those who wish to do us harm or those who might enslave us. God rescues us from any number of other things in this life, both individually and corporately. God “saves” those who are crushed in their spirits (Ps. 34:18). Job speaks of his “wholeness” having passed away (Job 30:15). In the Gospel of Luke, the Greek word to save (sozo) is used several times in terms of physical healing (Luke 8:50).

God wants our wholeness, our full restoration in every aspect. It does not always come in this life but sometimes it does in some area, and it is not wrong to work in this world for the wholeness of both individuals and societies. Obviously God’s greatest desire is for us to find eternal salvation. God also acts to heal our bodies (Acts 3:6). God delivers people from slavery, as we see not only in the exodus but repeatedly throughout the book of Judges. God heals and restores relationships.

While Christians currently disagree on the nature of the racial divide in the United States, there is no question biblically or theologically that God wants the reconciliation of all people to each other. It will not always happen, but God has no interest in us giving up, like the man who hid his talent in the ground because investing was too risky. Christians currently disagree on what a society would look like that was equitable to all, but we cannot disagree on the goal of wholeness for all.

The Bible reveals this impulse to “salvation” as an essential dimension of God’s justice. Understood in this broader biblical sense, education is a tool of salvation because it can potentially provide a pathway to restoration for those whose families are off track. We will disagree on the best methods and pathways, but the goal of wholeness for all should not be in question from a biblical standpoint.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

A good next-to-last paragraph.