Second Reformed Church

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Moses, Part 4" Sermon: Hebrews 11:28

"Moses, Part 4”

[Hebrews 11:28]

November 17, 2013 Second Reformed Church

            Last week, we saw Moses approach Pharaoh after the ninth plague and demand that he set the people of God free – and Pharaoh refused.  Pharaoh threated that he would kill Moses if he ever saw him again, and Moses, fearlessly, having faith in God and His promises, declared that he would never see him again.  Yet, his final word was the revelation of the tenth plague – that God was going to come to kill the first-born of all the people and all the animals of Egypt, after which, Pharaoh would tell them all to leave – and Moses stormed out of the presence of Pharaoh.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 11:9, ESV).

Then God spoke to Moses and instituted the Passover – and we do well to hear what God said:

            “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 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. 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. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 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.

            “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. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 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. 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. 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.

            “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. 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. 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. 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. 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.  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. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.

            “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. 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. 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. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?” 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.

            “Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did”   (Exodus 12:1-28, ESV).

            Again, our text this morning reads:  “By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”

            As we consider the Passover, we understand:

            First, faith is necessary to receive the Sacrament.

            Second, Jesus received the Wrath of God on Himself that was due us.

            Third, we are not touched by the Destroyer, because Jesus bled for us.

            “By faith he kept the Passover”

            The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt.  Moses had made it impossible for him to ever return to speak to Pharaoh.  And now God had told Moses to institute the Passover, after which, the people of God would be able to leave Egypt.

            Moses received these instructions and this promise from God by faith:  Moses received what he knew about God through his years shepherding sheep and from God speaking to him as he dealt with Pharaoh.  Being thoroughly convinced of God’s Attributes, he received this promise of something he had not seen – the death of the first-borns and the deliverance of the whole nation – as fact.  And so he kept the Passover by faith, believing that God’s Word is true.

            The Passover was a type or a foreshadowing of Jesus, His Work, and also of the Sacrament that He left us.  Let us quickly look at how the instructions about the lamb parallel Jesus and then look at the Passover’s transformation into the Lord’s Supper [cf. Owen, Hebrews, vol. 7, 166-167]:

            The Passover centered around the picking of a lamb, killing it, being marked by its blood, and eating it.   We read, “The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29, ESV).

            The lamb was to be taken out of the flock – he was to be one of many sheep.  So, Jesus is a human being just like us – Jesus, the Lamb of God, was taken out of humanity, as the author of Hebrews explained, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:14-17, ESV).

            This lamb was to be taken out of the flock – separated for his purpose.  Likewise, Jesus was also separate and separated from other men by His being free from sin:  “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26, ESV).

            It was also to be without blemish.  Peter picks up this language, writing, “but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (I Peter 1:19, ESV).

            It was to be slain for his people.  As Jesus was, and John writes, “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:8, ESV).

            The lamb was to be slain as a sacrifice.  And Paul writes, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (I Corinthians 5:7b, ESV).

            The lamb was to be roasted.  One commentator points out that this is symbolic of the Wrath of God that Jesus suffered for all of the sins of all those who would ever believe in Him which we see in Jesus’ exclamation of the Father deserting Him on the cross: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46, ESV).

            In verse forty-six of Exodus 12, which we did not read, the instructions continue, saying that the bones of the lamb are not to be broken, which we see fulfilled in Jesus, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced’” (John 19:33-37, ESV).

            And, finally, in commanding that the lamb be eaten in its entirety, one commentator explains that this is an image of this being a sacrament that is to be received by faith wholly for the reception of the grace it was given to deliver.

            As we turn to the Gospels, we see how Jesus turned the Sacrament of the Passover into the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper:

            In the Upper Room, Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, and after Judas had been dismissed to his great sin, we read:  “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom’” (Matthew 26:26-29, ESV).

            The Passover and the Lord’s Supper both pointed to deliverance – deliverance from slavery in Egypt and deliverance from sin.  Both pointed to the Deliverer:  God.  By the Father’s Mighty Right Arm, He delivered the people of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and gave them a perpetual sacrament which pointed to deliverance from sin by the Mighty Right Arm of the Savior, Jesus, the Son of God.  And Jesus explained that the Sacrament is no mere memorial – though we do remember what happened when we receive the bread and the cup, just as the Hebrews would remember what happened as they received the elements of the Passover, the Passover had to be – and the Lord’s Supper must be – received by faith to benefit from it and to have a sure hope of the things to which it looks forward to – the Savior and His First and Second Comings.

            Without faith, the idea that an eighty-year-old man would lead the Hebrews out of slavery and out of Egypt – that the mightiest nation at the time would acquiesce and let them go – well, it would have been laughable.  Similarly, the idea that a carpenter from Nazareth was the Savior was also a laughable idea without faith.  Yet, through faith, we receive the Sacrament, and receive the grace to believe – not just knowing the words, but believing with our hearts that these things are true and have and will come to pass, and gaining understanding of what the symbols mean.

            Faith is necessary to receive the Sacrament.

             “and sprinkled the blood,”    

            God told Moses to have the Hebrews mark the doors of their homes – the doorposts and the lintel – with the blood of the lamb.  The blood of the lamb was substituted for the first-borns of the families who marked their doors.  The Wrath of God did not come down on the first-borns of all of the families that offered up a substitute in the form of the blood of the lamb as God had instructed.

            And we understand that the offering of the blood of the lamb in the place of the first-borns was a temporary diversion of the Wrath of God.  After all, it was God, Himself, Who sent the nation of the Hebrews into captivity as a punishment for their sin against Him:  “Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions’” (Genesis 15:13-14, ESV).

            As Paul explains:  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18, ESV).  Due to our first parents’ sin, God’s Wrath is against us, and there has always only been One Way to be delivered from that Wrath – to have an acceptable substitute take it on for us.  The Sacrificial System, as we have seen in the book of Hebrews, was a system of partial, temporary forgiveness for sin – without something more, all would be deserving of the Wrath of God and eternal Hell.

            James explains that only the Promised Savior could be the Acceptable Substitute in God’s eyes to take our sins upon Himself and suffer the Wrath of God for our sins and yet survive – as he explained from the prophecy of Isaiah:  “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7, ESV).

            As we saw in the parallels of the Passover Lamb and Jesus, Jesus is a real human being, so He was able to take the place of real human beings, and Jesus is God, so He is able to survive the Wrath that poured down upon Him for all those who would ever believe.  As Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV).

            Out of love, God sent His Only Begotten Son to bear God’s Wrath against all those who would ever believe in the Son for salvation, so we would never have to suffer that Wrath, but would receive salvation – deliverance – just as the people of the Hebrews did from Egypt.

            Jesus received the Wrath of God on Himself that was due us.

            “so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”

                And so we that God delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt by receiving God’s instruction by faith and putting blood on the doorposts and the lintel of their doors.  For all those who did this by faith we delivered from the Destroyer Who came to kill the firstborns of the Egyptians – all those who did not have the mark of the blood on them.

            And here we have something interesting in the text – Who is it that is said would come to kill the first-borns of all those who are not marked by the blood?  God repeatedly says that He will come and kill them, and then He says that He will send the Destroyer in or tell Him to pass over.  The commentators do not agree, so let us leave it, for now, that God determines whether or not the Destroyer comes in, based on whether or not the household is marked by the blood.

            The parallel ought to come quickly to us now, does it not?

            Paul tells us, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by [Jesus’] blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9, ESV).

            And, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (I Thessalonians 5:9-10, ESV).

            For all those who believe in the Savior by faith – all those Who receive what God has said through His Word about the Savior Who would come and reconcile a people with God – for them, Jesus shed His Blood on the cross, taking our sins and God’s Wrath upon Himself, and delivering us from the Destroyer – from the wages of sin that we would be responsible to pay, if we did not have Jesus for our Substitute before God.

            We are not touched by the Destroyer, because Jesus bled for us.

            And so we see, that all we who believe in the Lamb of God Who received the Wrath of God as our Substitute, and covered us in His Blood that we would not be subject to the judgment of the Destroyer, are delivered from our sin and its wages.

            As Paul explained:  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

            “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:1-4, 37-39, ESV).

            Let us pray:

            Almighty God, we thank You for saving Your people through the Blood of the Lamb.  We thank You for the foretelling of the work of Jesus Christ, the Son and Lamb of God, through the symbols of the Passover.  We ask that we would receive these symbols and this history by faith and believe with all our heart.  And as we turn to receive the Sacrament that You have given to the Church, we ask that the Holy Spirit would help us to receive the elements of the bread and the cup with greater understanding and fuller devotion that we might witness to the deliverance that You have accomplished for us.  For it is in the Name of this Jesus, our Substitute, that we pray, Amen.

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