- Every home needed it (Exodus 12:3-4)
- It was to be a male (Exodus 12:5)
- It was to be unblemished (Exodus 12:5)
- It was to be killed (Exodus 12:6)
- Its blood was to be applied (Exodus 12:7)
- Its blood was the difference in life and death (Exodus 12:13,23)
- Its sacrifice was to be commemorated (Exodus 12:14-22,24-27)
- Its sacrifice drew reverence and worship from the obedient (Exodus 12:27)
Interestingly, Paul says, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus, as a faithful Jew, had observed the passover throughout His public ministry (John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55), but He knew that the one recorded in Matthew 26 would be different. He told His disciples, “You know that after two days, the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion” (2). On that Passover, He would be sacrificed for us. Jesus of Nazareth, an unblemished (1 Peter 1:18) male (Mark 8:31; 9:31), was killed (Acts 2:23). His blood is applied (Romans 3:25; 5:9; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 9:22; 10:19; 12:24; 13:20; Revelation 1:5; 5:9) to the obedient (Hebrews 5:8-9) and is the difference in spiritual life and death (John 6:53-54). As we do every Sunday, this Sunday, which the world recognizes as Easter, we will commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus as part of our weekly worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29).
Jesus was arrested on Thursday, crucified on Friday, lay buried all day Saturday, and arose on Sunday. Today, New Testament Christians commemorate this sacrifice every Sunday. The unleavened bread represents His body, and the fruit of the vine represents His blood. The God of perfect foreknowledge made these “emblems” part of the Passover feast which Israel celebrated the night they left Egypt, and it predated the first covenant (Exodus 20). The physical passover lamb sacrificed by Israel had significance to them in their generation and it was to be handed down to their descendants. But, God was drawing a picture that night that would be completed the moment His Son said “It is finished,” bowed His head, and gave up His spirit (John 19:30). We celebrate and rejoice because He died, was buried, and rose again! May we never let this sacrifice lose its significance to our past, present, and future.
Moses is remembered for his meekness, yet he also is the man who in indignation killed an Egyptian slave driver. He was afraid to lead, but what a leader he was with God’s help. In Exodus three, we see this man who has gone to hide among his father-in-law’s sheep as one who was ready for confrontation. Of course, at times this was good and at times it was not. What did Moses confront?
–Moses confronted his God. Receiving his Great Commission at the burning bush, Moses was introduced to the God who desired to work with him to accomplish some of the greatest feats of the entire Old Testament period. Moses learned just who his God was, a lesson that would continue the rest of his life.
–Moses confronted himself. He was a man with a bag of excuses, all of which he apparently pulled out to try and avoid the task God was handing him. He rightly saw his personal inadequacies, but he reluctantly began to see the Moses he could be in God’s omnipotent hand.
–Moses confronted his people. He had to go back to his hometown. Many of us would have a hard time being effective in that forum, but Moses had the gall to go. Did he have to face the two Hebrew men whose fight he had tried to break up, men who had either witnessed or at least heard about Moses’ murder? It must have been to go back and face his fellow country men, but he did it.
–Moses confronted his enemy. Rarely has an enemy been so formidable as Pharaoh was. His heart was hard to his very end. He was arguably the most powerful man on earth and as stubborn as he was strong.
–Moses confronted his faith. Hebrews 11 affirms the greatness of his faith. It was challenged and he did not possess a perfect faith, but inspiration proves that it was exemplary and memorable faith.
–Moses confronted his penalty. At the end of his journey with a stubborn and disobedient, yet chosen, people, Moses took too much on himself. He disobeyed God and failed to properly glorify him. Consequently, he was denied the Promise Land. The result of his sin was separation; for him, it was from the physical land of promise. For the disobedient who fail to repent, it will be from the spiritual land of promise. We all confront the fact that our sin has consequences.
Moses was a man who talked to God as friend talks with friend. He was an imperfect man and even occasionally an impetuous man. Yet, he was a successful man in part because of his willingness to confront. May we be so bold!
Sostratos the Cnidian built this world-famous lighthouse in 297 B.C., located on the coast of the island of Pharos (Negev, The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, Rev., 1986: 27). It made the Greek poet Sopater’s list of the original seven wonders of the world. Examined with the other six, this lighthouse seems to have been the only wonder which also served a practical purpose. It would have towered nearly 400 feet above the sea, about forty stories tall. What an imposing figure it would have been, and some, though these claims are mildly disputed, said its light could be seen from as far as 100 miles away on the sea. Its architecture and inscription were rooted in Greek mythology, dedicated to Poseidon and various protectors among the gods. Eventually, it suffered the structural damage associated with aging. Two earthquakes in the fourteenth century damaged it and made it unsafe to explore. It was finally torn down by a sultan in the fifteenth century, who used stones from its ruins for part of the wall of an Egyptian fort that remains to this day. Diving expeditions in the last ten to fifteen years have discovered ruins in the sea that almost certainly include remnants of this famous lighthouse (see also http://www.touregypt.net, http://www.new7wonders.com).
Though it was impressive for a time, this lighthouse suffered the fate inevitable for material things on this earth. The once imposing figure of this lighthouse was eventually eclipsed by time, war, and natural events. This beacon lives now only in the ancient writings that recall it.
There have been many ideas and philosophies of men that have been erected throughout human history. Each of them have purported to point the way of man toward his purpose. Solomon spoke of some of them in Ecclesiastes: wealth, pleasure, education, occupation, etc. So many have lived and died following a guiding light that ultimately could not stand the test of time.
Jesus mentions another light–Himself! He calls Himself the light of the world (John 8:12). The apostle John wrote to testify of this light (John 1:4-5). In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus illuminates the way for His disciples and says that His followers would reflect His light and be light to the world (Matt. 5:14ff). This is the light for all people, places, and times. Only it will endure and stand the ultimate test in eternity. It will not be destroyed, ravaged by weather or catastrophe, or successfully overtaken by men. Let us be thankful that we have been given this timeless, illuminating light to show us the way from earth to heaven.
I thought about this question as I meditated today on the state of the church in our nation. Composed of so many dedicated, wonderful people, the church as a whole, nonetheless, is tempted to drift from biblical moorings. It is anecdotal to observe seismic philosophical shifts in the leadership and direction of various congregations, pulled for one reason or another from the place and being the people God wants it to be. The whole wilderness analogy is drawn from the events in the book of Numbers, a wandering that went for forty years in the wake of a 40-day scouting trip. It might have been different for Israel, and it can be different for us. Return with me for a moment to that fateful event that would forever shape their nation.
- It begins with leadership (Num. 13:25ff). The spies chosen were “leaders” among the 12 tribes (13:2). Obviously, they had sway with the people (14:1). Because of their negative influence, the people went the wrong direction–into the wilderness and ultimately to their deaths.
- It involves faith-driven obedience (Num. 13:30). Caleb understood this and argued for the people to proceed on that basis. Yet, their reaction was the opposite of obedience. Moses, Aaron, and Joshua warned them, “Only do not rebel (emph. mine) against the Lord…” (Num. 14:8). That very rebellion, called “iniquity” by Moses in his prayer to God (Num. 14:19), cost them the promised land (Num. 13:23ff). Instead, they earned a trip into the wilderness. Why? Hard-hearted disobedience and unbelief (Heb. 3:15, 18-19).
- It includes courage (Num. 13:25-33). The majority of the spies lacked the courage to act and obey. They were content to go back to Egypt (Num. 14:2ff). They would rather face bondage alone than Canaan with God. So, their cowardice was not only wrong but misplaced. They were afraid of the wrong things and the wrong ones. This fear led them into the wilderness (cf. Num. 14:9).
We live in daunting times, yet in them God still has given us a job to do. If we do not do it or if we fail to do it the way He has commanded, we will wind up, like Israel, in the wilderness! God give us the leadership, faith-filled obedience, and courage to follow Christ and thereby miss the wilderness.