We are winding down in the video devotions on Exodus. Here is the newest edition as we will look at the Redemption of the Firstborn:
Even though it is in Irish, you can also watch a rendition of the song I reference below here.
Also, a few other ideas, in case you don’t want to watch the video.
Six years ago, Psychology Today had an interesting article about how heroes are necessary to “heal us, transform us, and connect us with others.” Heroes inspire us with feelings of awe and admiration, perhaps even reverence. They arouse our courage. Extremely difficult actions-- even impossible ones -- are made possible. They fashion our ambitions, so we aspire to be better and advance with valor and compassion. An important part of that article described how having a sense of community is central to human emotional well-being. Heroes are therefore important to us as they (1) exemplify a community’s cherished values thereby reinforcing those values, and (2) bolster social bonds through the retelling of the hero’s actions. I believe this is one reason why comic books and those Marvel movies are so popular.
Being made in God’s image, we were created to accomplish great things in life. Great things don’t necessarily mean taking down kingdoms, or building mighty fortresses, or inventing new things. It can also be raising a child to love and serve the Lord. It can mean trying to be the best employee in the company. It can mean being a submissive wife to a cold husband or being a loving husband to a lazy wife. It can mean being faithful to God when financial difficulties or health issues or great disappointments come into your life. We too often think that being extraordinary is the essence of greatness and so we eschew the ordinary. But the extraordinary is rare – which is why it is extra-ordinary. We live in the ordinary and a true hero simply inspires us to live in the trenches of the ordinary, but faithfully. Sometimes that is far more difficult than running upon a troop or leaping over a wall. But heroes do tend to make us more likely to risk change and growth. Heroes motivate us to stretch out to reach our potentials. And that is a good thing.
Heroes can sometime disappoint, though. After so much English blood had been spilled due to the religious conflicts, King James II was deposed in 1688. The British Parliament was concerned that he was trying to bring the United Kingdom back to Roman Catholicism. The Parliament made James’ daughter, Mary, co-regent with her Dutch husband William of Orange. At the same time, the pope gave James asylum in Rome where he stewed over a lost throne. In 1745, his grandson, Charles Edward Stuart, attempted to reclaim the Stuart crown. Starting at Glenfinnan, Scotland, he gained many supporters and marched with his Highlanders as far as Derbyshire in England before they were forced to turn back. On 16 April 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s forces were slaughtered by the “Butcher” Cumberland on the moors of Culloden, just outside of Inverness. Charles failed in his grand attempt, but the power of a hero created such a fear in the English courts that King George forbade the wearing of kilts. Bagpipes were banned. Gaelic was outlawed. Even finger bowls were banned so no one could raise a toast to Charlie. The Bonnie Prince promised his return to Scotland, but he eventually died a disappointed, embittered drunk in Rome. A sad end for Scotland’s Ghile Loach.
The Irish bard Seán MacDomhnaill (1691-1754) wrote a lament of the failed Jacobite uprising (and no one sings laments like the Gaels!):
‘sé mo laoch, mo ghile mear, He is my hero, my gallant darling
'sé mo chaesar, ghile mear, He is my Caesar, a gallant darling
Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin I know no rest nor pleasure did I find
Ó chuaigh I gcéin mo ghile mear. Since he went far away, my gallant darling.
Well, so goes the sad lament of a flawed hero. Heroes are often imperfect. Even the great hero of the Old Testament, David, was blemished. He killed Goliath but had his friend Uriah killed. But the Bible describes a hero whose exploits are unparalleled and without flaw. Isaiah 9:6 prophesies of a child who would be El Gibbor – literally, the Heroic God. He would establish David’s throne and uphold it with righteousness and justice forever. He will increase His people’s gladness, break the yoke of their burden, deliver them from their oppressor, and remove their guilt. Of course, this is speaking of none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Hero par excellence! He battled our foes, crushed the head of the serpent, vanquished death, and gives hope and life in the midst of a dreary world. He makes our ordinary lives extraordinary by filling us with His grace and rewards all our meager and mundane works with a crown of life. Our Hero has healed us, transformed us, and has united us with others in a loving fellowship. And the greatest aspect of our worship is to retell His victorious exploits.
When this Hero ascended to His throne on high, He sat down as our glorified prophet, priest, and king. But before He left, He promised to return. Unlike Prince Charlie who promise a return but couldn’t make good on the promise, our Hero will return “with His mighty angels in flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:7)! When He comes again, every teary eye will be wiped dry. Every wrong righted. Every pain suffered comforted. Though rest and pleasure are not always ours in the present time, on that day we will have both in great measure. That day is drawing nearer and closer and the great throng of redeemed souls are expectant. Live for Him in gratitude as you look at what His power has won for you. Tell the story of His wondrous deeds. Encourage each other with His gallant exploits. Indeed, our Hero declares, “Straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28)!