Joshua was born a slave, the son of slaves, the grandson of slaves. He was beaten into submission, shamed by sadistic taskmasters, regularly humiliated, dishonored and disgraced. “Work harder! Work faster! Make more bricks!” For four-hundred years the Hebrew nation had suffered under crushing Egyptian oppression.
Did they remember the promise that God had made to Abraham, their ancestral father? “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be resident aliens for four hundred years in a land that does not belong to them and will be enslaved and oppressed” (Genesis 15:13–15, CSB).
They begged God for relief. They “groaned because of their difficult labor, and they cried out, and their cry for help because of the difficult labor ascended to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham” (Exodus 2:23–25, CSB).
I wonder if Joshua and his contemporaries knew that they were living in the last days... the days when God would send the emancipator. As the weary slaves huddled in their homes, did they expect God to act? I think Joshua’s family did. That’s why his folks named him “God to the rescue!” Joshua! “Jehovah saves!” Like it’s Greek translation, Jesus, it’s a great name! Joshua had hope.
The slaves had prayed for a deliverer, but when he came, they didn’t recognize him. They couldn’t believe. The Israelites “did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and hard labor” (Exodus 6:8, CSB). Moses. Are you kidding? An eighty-year-old shepherd from Midian who stuttered? M... M... Moses?
He spoke for God saying, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from the forced labor of the Egyptians and rescue you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the forced labor of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord” (Exodus 6:6–8, CSB).
First there was blood. Then frogs, gnats, flies and locusts. God was speaking to Pharaoh, but the Hebrew slaves were listening. God was coming to their rescue. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was demonstrating His power. Their Ever-Present God had heard their cries for help!
As Jehovah-God poured out His wrath on Egypt, He gently cradled His beloved Israel and saved them from certain death. With the covering of blood, applied by faith, death couldn’t touch them. Yep! Almighty God came to their rescue!
With the tenth and final plague in the rear-view mirror, Joshua and his family packed their few belongings, and with a million of their cousins, they walked away from Egypt, headed for the land of promise.
Jesus came to save the enslaved. His blood was shed and applied by faith. With Joshua, we can sing, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”