Exodus 11 – 13 tells the story of God’s redemption of his people from bondage. This event in Jewish history becomes the focal point to be perpetually remembered and responded to. On that Passover evening God came in judgment toward those who rebelled against Him taking the first born of every household without a blood-spattered entrance. Jews would remember from that day on that their first-born sons lived because the blood of an innocent sacrifice was shed and applied in their behalf and that the nation was powerfully delivered by an act of God which brought judgment to some and salvation to others. Not only did God rescue His people on that evening but he provided for their journey from the spoils of those who were judged and He guided them on their journey on a path of peace.
This great deliverance from captivity in Egypt anticipates the ultimate deliverance from slavery to sin. Instead of sparing His own first-born, God delivers His Son as the one sacrifice which provides redemption for all who believe. This magnificent act of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ becomes the focal point to be perpetually remembered and responded to.
As the entire future history of Israel moves forward with the experience of redemption so does the Christian life move forward – always in the experience of being redeemed. Redemption is not simply an act of the past but it defines who we are – the redeemed.
The sociological needs of cities are great, but there is no need greater than that of being set free from the bondage of sin. Just as we rejoice in Israel’s freedom from the captivity and oppression of Egypt, we rejoice in seeing city-dwellers relieved from the oppressive circumstance under which they often live. But we know there is a greater redemption to be experienced. In urban ministry two dangers exist: 1) to be so overwhelmed with sociological issues that the gospel is minimized; 2) to maximize the gospel but neglect the acts of mercy and compassion that are necessary fruits of the gospel. When the gospel is truly of ‘first importance’ (1 Cor 15), acts of mercy and compassion will never be diminished.