Waiting For Redemption

Torah Portion: Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-23
Commentary by: Kelsey Bryant

Mothers and infants crying as their hearts are torn asunder. Grim soldiers carrying out the decree of a wicked king who feels threatened by baby boys. The mass murder is, sadly, just one more heinous command from a ruler who treads his subjects like grapes, doing whatever he needs to keep his throne. The people plead with the Lord God for redemption; why doesn’t He answer? Why doesn’t He give them even a word of hope? Has He forgotten them? Is He punishing them? What did they do wrong?

The Hebrews in Egypt and the Jews in Bethlehem and scattered across the Roman Empire, both suffering under rulers with no regard for the one true God, might have asked the same question. Where was the promised redemption? The one that Joseph spoke of before he died: “God will surely take notice of you and will bring you up from this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Genesis 50:24b, TLV). The Messianic redemption that all the Prophetic books foretold: “But a Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those in Jacob who turn from transgression” (Isaiah 59:20a).

It’s even a question we might ask today. Perhaps not only on the worldwide scale of Messiah’s return but on the scale of our individual lives, in the problems that loom so large they’re all we can think about. Why doesn’t God answer my tormenting doubts and give me peace? Why did He let this tragedy happen? Why doesn’t He fix my dilemma that’s only getting worse? We all feel the crushing weight of a fallen world.

In His timing, the cries of the Hebrew slaves and the Jewish nation were answered. When circumstances were at their worst in both eras, a baby was born who was God’s chosen redeemer. Each was rescued from planned destruction and preserved until God knew the time was right to set Israel’s redemption in motion. Other parallels are easy to spot as well, but Jewish midrash embellishes Moses’ birth with details that are uncannily similar to Yeshua’s, such as how Pharaoh slaughtered the baby boys because his astrologers predicted the imminent birth of Israel’s redeemer; Moses’ house was filled with light when he was born; and his father temporarily divorced his mother (like Joseph almost did with Mary). (See Exodus Rabbah on the relevant passages.)

Obviously, we are meant to see the parallels and take comfort in how our God so mightily redeemed Israel from powerful Egypt and how He mightily redeems His people through Yeshua from the evil that overwhelms us. In the fullness of time, we will see the ultimate redemption completed. Not only will the horrors perpetrated on this earth be stopped, but all the questions and heartaches we each face will be answered and consoled. The hardest thing to do is wait, but we must keep believing that God is working our redemption.

As Zacharias proclaimed when his son John was born and when he knew that Yeshua was on His way: “Blessed be Adonai, God of Israel, for He has looked after His people and brought them redemption. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ages past, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us!” (Luke 1:68-71).