Question

How do we understand God’s rescuing role in history?

David Arnow Jewish

Judaism assumes that God “cares” about the state of the world. Upon finishing creation, God “found it very good” (Genesis1:31). In the Bible, God often acts when that “goodness” is threatened. When Pharaoh cruelly oppresses the innocent Israelites God rescues them “with a strong hand.” Nowadays it’s not so easy to see God’s saving hand in history. But we see signs of it whenever human beings act to repair the world. God works through us, not in place of us. For a people with a long, painful history, the Exodus stands as an indestructible symbol of our hope for a world redeemed — and our commitment to bring it about.

Mary C. Boys Christian

Christianity also affirms, as David has said in his response to this question, that “God works through us, not in place of us.” We view God’s work in us particularly through the lens of discipleship to Christ—a way of living that saves us from excessive self-absorption, fear and enslavement. In living as disciples, we not only experience salvation but also act in ways that contribute to the world’s salvation. To say that God “rescues” us through Jesus Christ is in large measure to claim that Jesus offers a Way to God that patterns our daily lives. By striving to love our enemies, we lessen the world’s violence and the violence within our own being. By engaging in acts of service, we are redeemed from the constriction of selfishness and become part of activity larger than ourselves—an activity that partakes of the coming reign of God. By forgiving others (and ourselves), we experience deliverance from an anger that can so easily corrode us by sapping our psychic energy. By responding to those in need, we mediate God’s healing.

Muhammad Shafiq Muslim

God made people custodians of the earth to live in peace and to preserve its beauty and life. The Qur’an has continuously warned people to stay away from corruption and destruction. Sadly, some people of power become arrogant, spread corruption and destroy the environment and its fruitfulness (2:205). God sent prophets to restore justice on earth and to warn people against their misbehavior. The Qur’an has stories of God’s rescuing his prophets and their righteous followers and destroying the arrogant. God sent floods in Noah’s time and rescued him and his companions (11:32-48). When Abraham was thrown into the fire by his people, God told the fire to be cool and comfortable to Abraham and not to harm him (21:66-69). The Qur’an speaks of David’s defeating the forces of Goliath: “And David slew Goliath; and God bestowed upon him dominion, and wisdom, and imparted to him the knowledge of whatever He willed. And if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, corruption would surely overwhelm the earth: but God is limitless in His bounty unto all the worlds” (2:251). The same is true about the rescue of Israelites from Pharaoh. The Qur’anic principle is: “O ye who believe! If ye will aid [the cause of] Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly” (47:7).

Qur’anic resources

Note: Translation of the Qur’anic verses and many of the Hadith translation with references were taken from Islamicity.com; some translations of and references to the Hadith were taken from ahadith.co.uk.

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