OT | Crossing the Red Sea

Illustration from a Bible card published 1907  by the Providence Lithograph Company

Illustration from a Bible card published 1907
by the Providence Lithograph Company

Last week, in our Old Testament Study, we looked at Consecration and Redemption of the Firstborn in Exodus 13 and how it points to Christ as explained in the New Testament. This week, we will continue in Exodus 13 as we examine Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea and how that points ahead to our salvation and baptism.

Reminder of the Strong Hand of God

Let us start off with a reminder of the explanation God gave for the statue of consecrating and redeeming the firstborn.

Exodus 13:13-16 (ESV)

13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”

This isn’t the first time we see this declaration. The same was provided as an explanation for the feast of unleavened bread and the Passover. What follows next is a return to the historical narrative from the legal prescriptions of remembrance of the exodus. All of Israel has left the service of Pharoah, with Egypt’s plunder and a hope of being taken to the lands promised to Abraham, the Land of the Canaanites, the Land flowing with milk and honey. Let us take a moment to remind ourselves of this covenant made between God and Abram.

Genesis 17:1-10 (ESV) | Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly. Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

This is the covenant of Abraham, of the circumcision. God promised the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession. The children of Israel feared Pharoah, and to say they were reticent to have Moses promise them that God had sent him to them to lead them to the Promised Land would be a huge under statement. Slavery is all these people knew. No doubt that is why God has made it plain to them that the Passover, the unleavened bread, and the consecration of the firstborn are a testimony to what the Lord God has done for Israel, bringing them out of the House of Slavery (Egypt).  What we will see here, though, that their soil is indeed rocky (Parable of the Sower). Let’s continue in the historical narrative of Exodus 13.

Exodus 13:17-22 (ESV) | Pillars of Cloud and Fire

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

God knows our hearts. He sees the quality of the soil and knows that they are not yet ready to endure the sight of the Philistines. So the Lord leads them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night into the wilderness. While He is leading the people miraculously, and mightily, their faith is yet very weak. Let’s continue reading into the next chapter.

Exodus 14:1-9 (ESV) | Crossing the Red Sea

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

Where these places point on the modern map I cannot say with certainty. It is interesting here that the Lord chooses the location for Israel’s encounter with Pharaoh’s men. God chose a location facing Baal Zephon, undoubtedly a significant Egyptian site to one of their gods. Notice the Lord tells Moses what Pharaoh will say and that he will interpret Israel’s movement as chaotic and aimless, that the wilderness will shut them in. Ancient Egyptians idenfitified deities over various lands, so Pharaoh may have thought that while the God of Israel had defeated all of the primary gods of Egypt, that their god (or demon) of the wilderness had ensnared Israel. However it might have played out in Pharaoh’s unbelieving heart/mind, the Lord God indeed hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he sought out the destruction of Israel. I often wonder how much time must have passed between the death of all of the firstborn of Egypt to the time when Pharaoh took to the chase. The Bible does not say. It was long enough to amass quite a chariot army and give chase.

Exodus 14:10-14 (ESV)

10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Rocky soil, weak faith. They cry out to the Lord and they turn on Moses, even pull out a “we told you to leave us alone”. Had God broken His promise? No. Despite all that the Lord had done for them, and let’s not forget that the pillar of fire and smoke is still present, when they saw the army of the Pharaoh, they are overcome with fear and are shaken in their faith in God.

Exodus 14:15-25 (ESV)

15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.

19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 Andthe people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.24 And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.

Wow. I’d like to draw your attention to something, in verse 18, and the Egyptians shall know… I found it interesting here that it doesn’t read “and all of Israel shall know”. I mean, it is Israel, who is has suddenly lost their faith. Interesting. Also backing up a bit to verse 17 where we see that God hardens the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will chase Israel through the Red Sea so that God will get glory over Pharaoh. This mighty hand of God moves for His glory, Soli Deo Gloria. The parting of the waters will both make a way of escape for Israel AND serve to bring Glory to God so that Egypt will know that the God of Israel is the Lord. Let’s continue before jumping to the New Testament.

Exodus 14:26-31 (ESV)

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

The victory belongs to the Lord. He utterly destroyed the Egyptian army that had gone after Israel. With a mighty Hand, the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, the house of slavery.

Alive and Free in Christ

The Passover points to Christ who presented Himself as our Passover Lamb, slain to redeem all of mankind to God, out of the kingdom of darkness, the house of slavery to sin. The crossing of the Red Sea points to our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at a portion of Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

Colossians 2:1-15 (ESV) | Alive in Christ

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Amen. Notice some of the familiar wording used, we have the reference to the circumcision (the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham), only this is a better circumcision. Having been buried in Him in baptism. As Israel crossed through the Red Sea, Egypt chased after, and God slowed the wheels of the chariots as they pursued. God nailed the record of debt, of slavery to sin, to the cross. Much like how God brought the waters crashing down upon the armies of Egypt so that they would not follow Israel out of the sea. Also notice how Paul closes this thought… that God disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in Christ. The open shame experienced by Egypt was only a shadow of the open shame of the Kingdom of darkness in the triumph of Christ at the cross. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of the Kingdom of Darkness, from the house of slavery to sin. The next time you take communion, remember what God has done for you, and know that He alone is the Lord.

We will continue studying the Exodus and how it points to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. I do hope you will join us again next week. if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

May the Grace of God be with you today and always,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

OT | Consecration of the Firstborn

Christ in Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann

Christ in Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann

Last week, in our Old Testament Study, we looked at The Passover Lamb  in Exodus 12 and how it points to Christ as explained in Hebrews. This week, we will move ahead in Exodus to see how the consecration of the firstborn of Israel also continues to point to the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.

 

Consecration of the Firstborn

Exodus 13 (ESV) | Consecration of the Firstborn

13 The Lord said to Moses, Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out.And when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lordmay be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.

11 “When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, 12 you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord‘s. 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”

Here we again see that God is instituting a statute of reminder for the people in that context, and we also see a shadow of God’s coming Salvation, the promised seed that would crush the head of the serpent. As with the feast of unleavened bread, the offering of a sacrificial lamb for the redemption of the firstborn is to serve as a reminder of what God has done for Israel, and for what He will do for Creation. The latter might be more difficult to see since what takes place here is a shadow of things to come. As always, to rightly understand the Old Testament, we need to draw our understanding from the New Testament. There are two key terms or concepts that connect this statute of the Law to the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Redemption and Firstborn.

Redemption. Now, in our culture we feel we have an understanding of the concept of redemption. When a store issues us a 25% off coupon, we know that if we decide to shop at that store and present the coupon, the redemption of which means that the store pays for 25% of the item, and we pay only 75%. The store redeems the coupon by paying for (or absorbing the cost of) the discount. But this is a poor explanation for the concept of our redemption. What we have here is a declaration that every firstborn belongs to God. Either it is redeemed by an atoning sacrifice of a lamb, or it must die. Clearly, this is only expected for livestock as all male children must be redeemed and not killed. Still the statute remains as both a reminder and a promise.

Firstborn. As soon as Adam sinned, and he and his wife were made aware of their nakedness in sin, blood was shed to cover their nakedness. This animal sacrifice was not enough to fully redeem Adam (the man, or all of mankind). God promised a seed of woman would crush the head of the serpent. We saw last week that the Passover Lamb pointed to Christ. Now we see that the Lamb is needed to redeem the firstborn. But we also know that Jesus is the firstborn (John 3:16-18) Son of God. Jesus is both the firstborn (that belongs to God) AND the sacrificial Passover Lamb. Now, there was no way of knowing this was God’s plan for redeeming all of mankind at this point, for God will continue to reveal His plan throughout the Law and the Prophets. For now, this is a statute of the Law set as a reminder of His favor, His love, His Grace, and His Mercy for the children of Israel. Let us now look at how the New Testament writers drew their understanding of the Law under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit with the Gospel of the Cross as their focal point.

Ephesians 1:3-10 (ESV) 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Colossians 1:15-23 (ESV) | Preeminence of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Hebrews 9:11-28 (ESV) | Redemption Through the Blood of Christ

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

All praise, glory, and honor be to the our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This week’s reading is a bit short because I want to save the crossing of the Red Sea for next week. For now, let us close this post with the realization and understanding that we, who are in Christ Jesus, have been fully redeemed by God in the sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, on the cross. By His blood you have been redeemed, once and for all. Remain in Him, holding firmly by faith to the promise of the inheritance of eternal life with Christ.

We will continue studying the Exodus and how it points to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. I do hope you will join us again. if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

May the Grace of God be with you today and always,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

OT | The Passover Lamb

Christ in Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann

Christ in Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann

There has been a great deal of emphasis recently on Jewish traditions, calendars, and ceremonies in the books and sermons in evangelical circles. Some of it is good, but a lot of it is sketchy. We seem to have forgotten Sola Scriptura, and we’ve lost sight of the covenants in Scripture and their role in Christianity. We are of the New Covenant, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant points to Jesus, who then fulfilled the covenant in His body, as the Lamb of God. Over the next several weeks we will be looking at the Old Testament drawing our understanding of it not from the Midrash, but from the New Testament. Today, I want to start at the Exodus, with a look at the Passover.

The Passover

Exodus 12 (ESV) | The Passover
1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

Exodus 12:40-51 (ESV) | Institution of the Passover
40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.

43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”

50 All the people of Israel did just as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

Okay, we’ve gone through a lot of text (we skipped some verses for time sake), let’s review what have thus far before moving on to Exodus 13. In verse 5, we see God demanding that the Passover Lamb had to be without blemish. This evaluation of the lamb from either the goats or the sheep had to be made physically; therefore, it was only a shadow of the true Passover Lamb, who is truly without blemish. This is why it was so significant that John the Baptist made the following declaration as recorded in John 1.

John 1:29-34 (ESV) | Behold, the Lamb of God
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Only the Son of God could be perfect and without blemish, and only He could truly be the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Now, the unleavened bread is very interesting here. Firstly, God is instituting the Passover as a remembrance of His deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. The entire service, really, as evidenced by the explanation given in verse 26 and 27. The point of the Passover is to remind them of what God had done. However, as the Passover and subsequent Exodus comes, there is no time to make extensive preparations for life in the wilderness, particularly in food. Egypt gives up its riches, but we see in Exodus 12:34,39 that they left Egypt in haste and didn’t have time to leaven their bread. This is important because while the unleavened bread points to the Passover, the Passover itself is accomplished by God and the Blood of the Lamb.

The leaven is added to the bread to cause it to raise, inflate, to give a sense of increase though it is a false sense. This understanding can be drawn from Jesus’s warning to His disciples in Matthew 16. We, the children of God adopted by the Blood of the Lamb, we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that all who believe in Him will not perish in Egypt (death of sin), but be freed from Egypt and brought to the Promised Land (Heaven). We dare not add anything to the bread, to falsely inflate it, or to make it more palatable for those who would hear the Gospel. The unleavened bread was to be eaten with bitter herbs, a symbol and a reminder of the harshness of their enslavement, and for us it is of our sinfulness. They didn’t make cake, there was no frosting… and when we preach Law and Gospel, the Law is indicative of the bitter herbs, for the Law convicts us of our sin, and the pure, unleavened Gospel of Jesus Christ reminds us of His Body that was broken for us. Let’s look at how the Apostle Paul referred to the leaven in relation to Communion:

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

In Exodus 12:43 we see prohibitions being added, that this Passover was not for the uncircumcised, not for the lost. Salvation, deliverance out of Egypt, is secured by no other means than Christ’s death on the cross, by the Passover Lamb. Communion is not for the unbeliever, for he who has not believed in Jesus stands condemned already.

John 3:16-21 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

That is not to say that Salvation isn’t available to all; rather, that Salvation (and by extension, Communion) is not available for those who do not believe in Christ. We preach both Law and Gospel, so that the lost might hear the Word of God and receive faith, a gift from God, to believe in Him and be delivered from Egypt, out of their sin and trespasses, so that they might join in the Communion of the Body of Christ.

Let us now look at how this Truth of the Passover is clarified in Hebrews.

Hebrews 10:1-18 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All
10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,

17 then he adds,

I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

All praise, glory, and honor be to the our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We will continue studying the Exodus and how it points to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. I do hope you will join us again. if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

May the Grace of God be with you today and always,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Video | “Cheap Grace for the Peorple” by Worldview Everlasting

WorldviewEverlastingCropw245I had intended to write something light and short today, but after watching today’s episode of Worldview Everlasting, I decided to share it. This is a short video (18 min) by Worldview Everlasting, a YouTube Channel hosted by Lutheran Reverend Jonathan Fisk. In this video he tackles the poor label of “cheap Grace” used to disparage those who insist on preaching the Law with the Gospel even to Believers (as opposed to preaching only Law to those who “are already saved” so that they can be better Christians by striving to following the Law).

Rev. Fisk also does a great job of describing at a World View is and wonderfully lays out the Atheistic worldview.

[youtube http://youtu.be/fHs28nnpXxI]

If you have any questions or comments for us regarding this video, please feel free to comment or contact us directly. Remember there is still that rather long video from last week (Church of Tares) that is well worth watching if discernment in these last days is a concern of yours.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Jesus Friend of Sinners?

jesus_eats_with_publicans_and_sinners_bidaDid Jesus walk this earth to befriend sinners? Does this partial quote justify hanging out with sinners without preaching Law and Gospel? Does this justify abandoning the purpose of the church found in Scripture (maturing the saints) in favor of creating a cool place for “unchurched” people to hang out, be entertained, and be encouraged regardless of whether or not they believe in the Son of God and what He did as a payment for what their sin deserves? Let’s look at the text.

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

The partial quote “Jesus friend of sinners” is found in the tail end of the account where disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus on John’s behalf to ask if He was in-fact the Messiah. John had been thrown in jail shortly after Jesus’s ministry began, and he wanted encouragement. This account is recorded nearly verbatim in Matthew 11 and in Luke 7. Luke records a reaction from the crowd that I think is important for understanding the message, so we will begin in Luke.

Luke 7:18-35 (ESV) | Messengers from John the Baptist
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” 24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like?32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Interesting. After such a powerful testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus then declares that the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Why would the tax collectors resonate with this statement? In that day, the top rung of the social ladder was the chief priests and elders, and the lowest were the prostitutes and tax collectors. The tax collectors were equated with prostitutes in that they, being Jews, took money from Jews to pay tribute to Rome. Remember when we discussed in an earlier post, we saw that John’s baptism was one of Repentance. Let’s revisit how Jesus ended one of His parables to the chief priests and elders of the Temple.

Matthew 21:28-32 (ESV) | The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

John the Baptist Preached Repentance

Luke records the reaction of the people, specifying that tax collectors were present, demonstrates that Jesus wasn’t talking about John the Baptist to those who were completely ignorant of who he was. These people whom Jesus addressed had gone out to John the Baptist, and Jesus was reminding them of who they saw. Jesus was also explaining John’s significance. The least in the kingdom of Israel had gone out to John the Baptist, confessing their sins and repenting. The religious leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees rejected the purpose of God for themselves… they did not believe in John’s baptism. John the Baptist was greater than all mankind (except Jesus because He is the Son of God), but the least in the Kingdom of God was greater than John. How? Because their entry into the Kingdom of God is by the Blood of Jesus, not by their own.

The People of This Generation

Getting back to our text, in Luke 7:32 Jesus transitions to describing the people of this generation. Notice how He chose to describe them, as children sitting in the marketplace calling to one another. Are the children encouraging each other? Are they celebrating each other? No… they are frustrated with each other for when they played the flute no one danced, so when they sang a dirge no one wept (a dirge being a mournful song, piece of music, or poem).  Jesus is setting up the next point He is going to make about the religious leaders and their whining excuses for rejecting the Kingdom of God.

Luke 7:33-35 (ESV) 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

John the Baptist came as a Nazirite from birth, eating no bread (locusts and honey) and drinking no wine or strong drink, and the religious leaders rejected him and his prophecy and told the people he had a demon (sang a dirge) . Now that Jesus, the Son of Man, had come eating and drinking, the religious leaders continue to reject Him and His Testimony while telling the people, “Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (played the flute).

Immediate Context of the Quote

So, normally, I like to start with the immediate context of a CTT quote, but this time I really felt it necessary to begin with the full context. The immediate context is highly questionable… this “Jesus friend of sinners” is a quote of what the unbelieving Pharisees are saying about Jesus, but it doesn’t stand alone. The Pharisees are lining it up with declaring Jesus a glutton and a drunkard! This is levied as an insult to Jesus. They aren’t complimenting Him, nor is Jesus declaring this accusation to be true, because He also quoted their accusation of John the Baptist having a demon. The immediate context of this quote completely destroys the emergent, seeker-sensitive twist of this passage as somehow proclaim traditional Church to be Pharisaical and contrary to the ministry of Jesus. The greater context also draws that out, when we see that those in attendance knew and acknowledged the message of John the Baptist, who definitely hadn’t “befriended”, ate, and drank with them; rather, he called them to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

To Seek and to Save the Lost

To call Jesus a “friend of sinners” is to misunderstand either who the “sinners” are or to confuse why Jesus walked the earth. Unless you are acknowledging that we are all sinners, equally dead in our trespasses and sins, you are missing the point of who it was that Jesus befriended. Everyone Jesus spoke to, ate with, walked with, and met was a sinner. Everyone. The Pharisees didn’t get it, they didn’t understand that the call to repent was to them in equal measure as it was to the prostitutes and the tax collectors. Though pointing this out to a seeker-mergent ministry will get an emphatic “amen” it actually destroys their argument that Church needed to be re-envisioned for holding the attention of unbelievers because we are all sinners. We all need to repent and be forgiven every day we live on this Earth. So this partial quote cannot be “properly clarified” and still support the notion that Church that seeks to mature the saints are Pharisaical.

The more dangerous road this can take, is to minimize the work and ministry of Jesus Christ by suggesting that we should seek out sinful living and become a part of it as a form of befriending the sinner. That isn’t what Jesus did, that is what the Pharisees accused Him of doing (gluttony, drunkard, befriending, etc.). Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets on our behalf (for no one else could do it perfectly) and then lay down His life to suffer the wrath of God that we deserve so that the payment for our sin was made (substitutionary atonement) on our behalf. Let’s look at what Jesus did when He visited the home of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

Luke 19:1-10 (ESV) | Jesus and Zacchaeus
1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him,“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

What did Zacchaeus do when Jesus came to his home? Confessed and repented of his sin. Jesus responded by forgiving him and then declaring that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’s home. You see, brothers and sisters, it is a false dichotomy to assert that we need to act out the Gospel before or even instead of preaching it. By God’s Grace we should endeavor to live in step with the Holy Spirit, but we are all sinners in need of Grace.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only power to save, not our own examples or interpretations. Zacchaeus knew who Jesus was, and wanted to see Him. We do need to go and preach Law and Gospel to the lost in this world, but that doesn’t require abandoning the feeding of God’s sheep for the maturing of the saints.

Who Did Jesus call His Friends?

We know that Jesus came, the first time, not to judge the world but to save it. The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost, from every nation, both Jew and Gentile. He will return again and when He does it will be to Judge both the Living and the Dead. Jesus left us with our marching orders, and gave the Church the Holy Spirit and the Apostles to build her up on the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with Christ as its corner-stone.

John 15:12-17 (ESV) 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Jesus didn’t call the sinner living in sin a friend. Make no mistake in what I am saying here, I am not saying Jesus didn’t die for the sinners (all of us) or that He didn’t minister to them or seek out the lost. I’m saying that when Jesus speaks of friendship, it is an upgrade from servant. For those who live in sin are enemies of God, that is what sin did to us in the Fall.

James 4:1-5 (ESV) | Warning Against Worldliness
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

Jesus Christ came to save the world, to redeem Mankind from sin… not to befriend the world. The most loving thing you can do is to love your brothers and sisters in Christ, and preach the Gospel. The Gospel is the only means of salvation for those who are perishing in their sin. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his own soul? You can pour out good works on your neighbor, giving him everything he ever thought he could ever need, but if he does not hear the Word of God, he cannot gain faith, and without faith he cannot be saved. If you are going err, err on the side of preaching, so that the Word of God might work on the hearts of the lost and might grant them faith.

Galatians 6:1-10 (ESV) | Bear One Another’s Burdens
1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load. 6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

May the Grace of God be with you always,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge