Rescue: Easter Vigil, Part II

by | Apr 3, 2024 | Church, Liturgy, Prayer, Teachings

The Catholic tradition of the Easter Vigil tells the full story of Christ’s redeeming love, continuing with rescue.

We began this series with sacrifice and move now into the rescue.  You can see the first article here: The Easter Vigil has seven Old Testament readings.  These readings tell the story of God’s “chosen” from creation to promise of redemption. I discussed the first two readings in the above blog. Not only do they describe the beginning of the world but also the need for Christ’s sacrifice. The next three show God’s continuous rescue and protection for His people, even in their sinful state.

Reading 3: Exodus 14:15—15:1.

“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord. I will sing to the Lord, for He is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot He has cast into the sea.”

Exodus is a frightening book in the Bible. It describes God’s battle with Pharoh for the release of the Israelites. Moses warns Pharoh that God’s wrath will descend upon him if he continues abusing the Lord’s chosen people. Pharoh ignores him time and again, thus, seven plagues conquer Egypt. God sends frogs, locusts, and pests to torment the land. Water turns to blood. Livestock fall dead. Eventually, Passover is instituted. Every family must eat the meat of a lamb, and mark their door with its blood. Only by the blood of the lamb is the household spared the angel of death. The angel slaughters the first born of every household unmarked by the blood.

God is depicted as a wrathful dictator, and there are many religions that “stop the story” there. They see God as cruel, demanding our sacrifice “or else.” He shows that the price of sin is death. When Pharoh loses his child, he at last releases the Israelites.

The Easter Vigil reading picks up at the Red Sea. Pharoh has decided to destroy the Israelites and their God with them. The Lord spreads the sea apart, letting the Israelites cross it safely before He closes it over the Egyptians.

This is the first time in the Bible God asked His chosen to do something dangerous. Up to this point, He has flooded the earth, destroyed towns, and allowed humanity to scatter. But Egypt is different. There is a long history by now of slavery and divide between Israelites and pagans. God asks the Israelites to take their lives in their own hands. He challenges them, giving them the Passover to choose which side they wish to stand on. For those who chose faithfulness, He rescued them at the Red Sea. All others remained in Egypt mourning their lost children.

Reading 4: Isaiah 54:5-14.

“For a brief moment I abandoned you. But with great tenderness I will take you back.”

This is the first of the four “prophecy readings.” God speaks to Isaiah and promises sin will not have the final say over mankind. He says the savior will come from Israel, thus, laying the groundwork for expecting Christ to come from the line of David. This is also the passage when He promises never again to destroy the earth with water, as He did in Noah’s time. God promises that in justice, Israel will be restored and not destroyed.

Reading 5: Isaiah 55:1-11.

“I will renew you with the everlasting covenant.”

God promises to restore and renew the earth, giving bountiful food to those who run to Him. He instructs man to leave his ways behind, and adopt the Lord’s instead. He promises forgiveness and new life. The everlasting covenant, as we know now, is life in Heaven.

God is not a cruel dictator who slaughters the first born. Instead, He is a righteous King who shows the power of sin: death. Without His mercy, we would all be left to the pain of Hell. But He does not end the story there. He rescues His people, and promises a savior.

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Michelle C. Martin

Michelle graduated from Texas Tech University with her husband, Joshua, in May 2021 and married him in June on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has a degree in Communication Studies and has loved growing in knowledge of healthy and authentic relationships during her time in college and adulthood. Michelle and Joshua currently reside in Lubbock, TX where he works as an architect and she loves life as a stay-at-home wife and mother to their children, Peter and Cecilia.

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