Redemption from Slavery vs Redemption from Sin

This week is the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover is intended to help Jews remember that they were once slaves in the land of Egypt and God got us released, redeemed us, delivered us from danger into freedom, and put us on the way back to the land of Israel (it would take a generation before we actually did, but that is another story).

In any case, central to observance of this holiday is the concept of God having redeemed us. In other words, God payed a price to buy our freedom and perhaps we now have some obligation towards him. Two major components of the holiday are the recitation of the plagues Egypt suffered because of its failure to be just. With each plague, Jews spill some wine to acknowledge that we all bear cost for this action even as it helped us gain freedom. Another is “the pour out thy wrath” section where Jews open the front door and ask God to pour out his wrath on people who commit major injustice. So part of the price is that we need and demand that the people who do evil must be punished. SImple compassion is not enough. I feel that part of the obligation is a pay-it-forward obligation to help others achieve justice. It is not entirely surprising that many neo-cons are Jews. The idea that we have an obligation to free people from oppression is deeply embedded in our psyche.

An interesting side point is that, while the Jewish God delivered redemption from unjust slavery, the Christians God redeemed them from punishment for their sins. A side-effect of this is that the obligation of Jews is to honor God and alleviate injustice, the obligation of Christians is to help people find Jesus so they can participate in redemption for their original sin. I never really understood this before.


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