There are so many beautiful passages about Jesus, the Messiah. We read ones about his birth every December for Advent – verses from Genesis, Isaiah, Micah, Amos, the Psalms, Matthew, Luke. I love the way Jesus’s genealogies in Matthew and Luke ground us in the past – generation by generation, over the passage of time, a broad tracing of the family line from the Old Testament to the New. Let’s look now to the past, to the history of Israel, to events in Exodus that stir us to look to the advent of the Messiah.
Since Genesis 3, God had made clear his planned redemption for his people. He alluded to the bruising the serpent would do on humanity’s heel – and then he said a greater hurt would happen. The serpent’s head would be crushed (Gen. 3:15).
In Exodus’s early chapters, as Israel approaches her 400th year in Egypt, there is much “bruising” that happens. They’re captives in a foreign land, forced to build cities and live separately from their captors. Their most vulnerable members are murdered. Their situation only goes from bad to worse. Today, our world feels much the same. I don’t need to list examples.
But then God shows up and speaks to Moses in a burning bush. He’s powerful and near in a unique way. He reminds Moses to take off his sandals; he’s standing on holy ground. And then, in verse 7, God says something radical:
Exodus 3:7-8 – The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”
“I have indeed seen… I have heard… and I am concerned.”
Friends, this is incredible. The God who made the whole universe with his fingertips (Psalm 8:3); the God who does whatever he pleases (Psalm 135:6); the God who sustains all things with his powerful word (Heb. 1:3) – that God sees, hears, and is concerned about Israel’s suffering.
And so, what does this God do? He tells Moses, “I have come down. I have come down to rescue them.” He who does whatever he pleases is pleased to come rescue his people!
Even if Christmas feels rote and familiar, at the root we can remember something that ties the redemption story together. Why was Jesus born? Why did he come down?
He came down for the same reasons God came down in the burning bush: to rescue Israel. Immanuel, the God-Man, came down to rescue us. He was concerned about Israel’s suffering, and he was concerned about our suffering. Your suffering. My suffering.
And so, what happened in Moses’ day foreshadowed the great work that would happen in Joseph and Mary’s day – God became flesh and dwelt among us. He came down to bring us up. He came to show us the way to a good and spacious land. And he knows the way, because HE is the only way.
Friends, that’s the God we’re beholding this season. That’s the baby whose birth we sing about year after year, because songs and rejoicing go together. No matter the circumstance – whether suffering or plenty, whether rejoicing or sorrow, whether a season of light or dark – this God has come into the world, because he was concerned. And not just a concern with no action: he worked his sovereign will and mighty power to redeem his people. He came to ransom, rescue, and restore.