For a number of years now, I’ve used the Robert Murray M’Cheyne reading plan for my devotional Bible reading. This reading plan guides you to read through the Old Testament once a year and the New Testament and Psalms twice a year. One of the greatest benefits I have discovered through this reading plan is seeing the themes of Scripture in different places.
Scripture is repetitive. God reminds us over and over again of his glory and greatness. He reminds us over and over again of our helplessness and need. He reminds us over and over again of his redemptive work. He rescued Israel from slavery in the Old Testament and rescues us from sin in the New Testament. Noticing the interconnectedness of Scripture’s themes is one of the best reasons to read chapters of the Bible from different books regularly.
The other week I was reading Exodus 14 and 2 Corinthians 2. In both places God declares victory and describes his triumph over enemies.
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.Exodus 14:19-20; 30-31
31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
The context here is after God’s judgment on Egypt and Pharaoh through the ten plagues. Pharaoh finally sent Israel away. Moses led the people out of Egypt and toward the wilderness. In front of them was the Red Sea. Behind them were the Egyptian armies who had second thoughts about losing their slave labor. God led them as a pillar of fire and cloud. God protected them. God delivered them by dividing the Red Sea’s waters so Israel could walk over on dry land. God rescued his people and led them out of slavery in a triumphal procession of victory.
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul picks up on a similar theme. God leads his people to victory through Christ.
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.2 Corinthians 2:14-17
In both places God made his works of redemption public. In the Exodus, God revealed his glory to the Egyptians and displayed his works to the nations of Canaan. Rahab and the inhabitants of Jericho heard of the deeds of God’s rescue of Israel (Joshua 2:9-11). In 2 Corinthians, Paul describes our salvation as a triumphal procession and uses the vivid imagery of a fragrance. To those who are being saved, the fragrance of redemption smells of life. But to those who are perishing, it is the fragrance of death. God rescues us and leads us out of sin in a triumphal procession of victory through Christ.
There are three important truths to be gleaned from the theme of redemption as a triumphal procession.
First, God is the One who triumphs. In the Exodus and for the Corinthians, the work of redemption is God’s work. God initiated judgment on Egypt. God sent Moses to lead the people. God caused miracles so Israel would be freed from slavery. In in the New Testament, God initiated our salvation by sending his Son, Jesus Christ. Christ paid for our sins on the cross. Christ rescued us from slavery to sin. And Christ leads us in triumph.
Second, we are the ones who receive the benefit of redemption. God did not ask Israel to participate in her redemption. It was God’s works, miracles, and interventions that rescued Israel. Israel’s response was to receive rescue. It was after their rescue that God gave them the Law (Exodus 20. See specifically verses 1 and 2 where God declared his redemption prior to giving them the commandments). The New Testament is no different. Christ leads us in a procession of triumph. It is his work that saves. Our response is to follow him in victory. Certainly, the OT Law was intended to distinguish Israel from the other nations, and God’s expectations of righteousness are intended to distinguish us from sinners. But these are not works for our redemption. Rather, these are works from our redemption.
Third, God’s work of redemption in us is intended to be public. In both of these texts, God’s work of rescue was intended to be public and known. God doesn’t rescue us merely for our individual benefit. The glory of his saving work is on display in his people. Egypt and the nations of Canaan knew there was something special about Israel’s God. And people around us should know there is something special about the God who has rescued us. Christ is leading us in triumphal procession to be a fragrant aroma of his saving work to the world around us.
Take a moment today and rejoice in God’s saving work. Thank him for taking the initiative to rescue you from sin. Praise him that you have the privilege of redemption. Pray that God will make his work of redemption known to others. Tell someone today what God has done to save you. Let your rescue be public.
You don’t have to fear sharing this good news of rescue and salvation. You don’t have to be afraid of public witness and praise. You are in a triumphal procession led by Jesus Christ. As his people, we are victorious through Christ’s strength and saving work!