A Traveling Band
And the people of Israel journeyed from Ramses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds.
Not to condense a superlative theological principle into basic English grammar, nor, that is, to constrict a doctrinal proposition into a mere linguistic preposition, but my joy upon reading this mysterious parenthetical statement here that “a mixed multitude also went with them,” leads me to say that the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, is not so much a picture of God’s redemption of Israel or for Israel or by Israel, but His redemption of the world throughIsrael. And without wasting time parsing out all the differences between these words, the main point is that while the Jewish people take center stage in the biblical drama, while days of mediators turn to judges and then to priests and then to kings, all culminating in Christ’s incarnation at the ‘fullness of time,’ God’s been holding the entire world together from the very beginning, from every unseen molecule to every unseen moment, and His redemptive plan is all-encompassing.
Remember what our Lord taught us in Luke 12? That God’s eye is on the sparrows; that He waters and feeds the ravens; that He nurtures the lilies of the field. In fact, while pondering that just now, I looked up from my chair in the woods to see a heron floating down the swift current of the Cape Fear River before she took a mesmerizing glide back upstream. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of that heron. On my hike up the river, I noticed newly felled trees, and beaver lodges along the banks, and teeth marks on fallen branches and stumps, and little footprints in the sand as well. The God of the Exodus is the God of those beavers.
So look all around you, friend! Look up—look down! Beside you—behind you! Above you, beneath you, before you! What do you see but a mixed multitude of tribes and tongues and nations, of Seraphim and Cherubim and archangels, of lions and bears and lambs, of oaks and lilies and fig trees, of flocks and herds, all singing in their own unique voice as they march toward Zion.