Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. (Exodus 8:1 ESV)
A few weeks ago, we saw that it was the horrific working conditions of the Israelites that was the impetus for their exodus from Egypt. But if we’re not careful, we can mistakenly believe that God freed his people so that they could spend all their time worshiping him through song and sacrifices in the wilderness.
But that’s not at all what we see. Seven times between Exodus 4:23 and 10:3, the Lord states his purpose for delivering his people. Over and over again he declares, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.” Commenting on this passage, one theologian says that “God did not deliver Israel from work. He set Israel free for work.” But work as he had originally intended it.
This sets up a theme we see throughout Scripture: Salvation isn’t an end in itself. It is a means to an end—namely being with God and working for his glory rather than the glory of man.
That’s why God saved the Israelites, and it’s why he has saved you and me. This is precisely what Paul is getting at in Ephesians 2:8-10 when he says that while we are saved “not by works,” we have been saved “to do good works”—not to just sit around and wait for Christ’s return.
Can I be real for a second? This is what drives me absolutely crazy about the (largely) American End Times industry. Rather than busying themselves with the “good works…God prepared in advance for us to do,” many Christians spend their days sharing fear-mongering Facebook posts speculating about the details of Christ’s second coming—all in the name of Jesus’s command to “keep watch” for his return in Matthew 25:13.
But the context of that passage is crucial. Immediately after he instructed his disciples to “keep watch,” Jesus launched into the “Parable of the Talents,” the story of a Master (representing Christ) who puts his servants to work while they wait for his return (see Matthew 25:14-30).
From the Old Testament to the New, God couldn’t be any clearer: We aren’t saved to sit on our hands, but to work with them. The good news of the gospel is not just that you get to go to heaven when you die, but that you get to partner with God in cultivating heaven on earth until you die.
How? By weeding out the injustices you see in your industry. By creating businesses, films, and novels that offer glimpses of the beauty of the kingdom. And by serving as a faithful ambassador of your king in your place of work (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-20). Work hard to those ends as a response to your salvation today!