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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Exodus 17:8-19:25 – Slavery to Sinai: Promise realized and purpose proclaimed

Today is week number eight in our series through the first 20 chapters of Exodus.  The nation of Israel has had quite a journey so far in the book of Exodus. A small group of 70 people traveled to Egypt to escape a famine.  While in Egypt they multiplied and great exceedingly strong until they filled the land.

Out of fear, the Egyptians enslaved God’s people and for 400 years Israel was in bondage to the Egyptians.  After a total of 430 years in Egypt, God delivered the nation of Israel out of their slavery after bringing a series of 10 devastating plagues upon Egypt.

God’s powerful presence led Israel with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night right to the edge of the Red Sea where they would be trapped by Pharaoh and his Army who had decided it wasn’t such a good thing to let their slaves go free.

God then parted the Red Sea so that Israel could walk across on dry ground to the other side before killing Pharaoh and his entire army with the same water he had held back for his people.

After journeying into the wilderness, God turned bitter water into sweet, drinkable water.  He provided quail for the people to eat, bread from heaven, and water from a Rock.

It’s been quite the road trip for the Israelites!

Lord willing, we will wrap up in chapter 20 next Sunday as we look at the 10 commands. What they are, why they were given, and what they mean for us as Christians today.  Do we follow them? Are we bound by them or are they just a suggestion?  That’s next Sunday.

Today, however, we will finally see Moses and the people of Israel arrive at Mt. Sinai in Exodus chapter 19 where we will see a promised realized and a purpose proclaimed.

Take your Bible and turn with me to Exodus 19.

This week’s reading also included the end of Exodus chapter 17, where Joshua led the Israelites in battle against Amalek.   Moses went to the top of a hill and held the staff of God in his hand.  As long as he kept his hands in the air the Israelites were winning, but when he grew tired and lowered his hands the Israelites were losing.  So Aaron and Hur provided a rock for Moses to sit on, and then they stood on either side of him holding his hands in the air until Joshua and the Israelites defeated Amalek…

After the victory Moses built an altar and named it “The LORD is My Banner” Yahweh Nissi - Moses wanted to stress that God is our means of victory and fights for his people.

Moses knew that it was the Lord that had given them victory.  It is always the Lord that gives victory!  Moses had earlier reminded the people of Israel before they crossed the Red Sea “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

In chapter 18, Moses was reunited with his family, including his father-in-law Jethro.  Moses told Jethro about all that God had done to rescue and redeem Israel from Egypt and Jethro rejoiced and praised the LORD!

We pick up the narrative in Exodus 19.

Exodus 19:1-25 - On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they pcame into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from qRephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before rthe mountain, 3 while sMoses went up to God. tThe LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 u‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how vI bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be wmy treasured possession among all peoples, for xall the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a ykingdom of priests and za holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. 8 aAll the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you bin a thick cloud, that cthe people may hear when I speak with you, and may also dbelieve you forever.” When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD, 10 the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and econsecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them fwash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day gthe LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. hWhoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;1 whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When ithe trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses jwent down from the mountain to the people and econsecrated the people; fand they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the kthird day; ldo not go near a woman.” 16 On the morning of the kthird day there were mthunders and lightnings and na thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud otrumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp ptrembled. 17 Then qMoses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now rMount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and sthe whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the osound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and tGod answered him in thunder. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD uto look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the LORD vconsecrate themselves, lest the LORD wbreak out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, x‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 And the LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people ybreak through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Verse one of chapter 19 tells us exactly three months after Israel had left Egypt they came to “the mountain” in the wilderness of Sinai. The same mountain referred to as Horeb and the mountain of God back in chapter three verse one.  The same mountain where God had first revealed himself to Moses in fiery holiness from the burning bush.

This was the mountain where God had issued the call to Moses to return to Egypt after spending 40 years tending someone else’s sheep so that Moses would lead Israel out of slavery.

Moses was thrilled that God had come to rescue his people. He was ecstatic that God came down to bring his people to the land flowing with milk and honey, but Moses was not on board with being God’s chosen instrument of deliverance.

So God gave Moses a sign to prove that what he was saying was true, but there was a catch. Moses wouldn’t get the sign until after it had already happened.  Some signs are given to stimulate faith and others are given in response to faith, like this one.

Here was the sign back in Exodus 3:12 ““He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

This is exactly what we read happening 16 chapters later in Exodus 19!  God said he would deliver Israel out of Egypt and he did.  He said that Israel would serve God on this mountain and here they are.

Which shows us the first of three truths from Exodus 19:

I. God keeps His promises (1-3)

One of the grand themes of Exodus is that God is the covenant keeping, faithful God, who always keeps his promises to His people!

Back in week one, we looked at God’s covenant with Abraham back in Genesis 15, a covenant promises of land, descendants, and blessing, and key to the covenant promise was this declaration by the LORD in Genesis 15:13-14 “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. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”

After 400 years in slavery that is exactly what happened. God brought judgment on Egypt and Israel left the land with their pockets and bags filled with Egyptian silver and gold.

Generation after generation of Israelites would reflect upon and remember the power of God at work in Exodus to bring about his covenant promises.  The Psalmists celebrated a recount the miraculous work of God.

The prophets preached of a new exodus that would be signaled by a voice crying in the wilderness “prepare the way of the Lord.”

God’s entire plan of redemption, all of Scripture, is shaped in the pattern of Exodus

Now, at the base of Sinai, Moses had experienced God’s sovereign, covenant keeping power first-hand in a very personal way.

God had given Moses a promised sign and God had made good on his promise. Moses would forever be a changed man because he knew he could trust God, who always keeps his promises.

So what promises has God given us today?  Promises that we can have 100% certainty in him fulfilling in our lives?

First and foremost, God has promised salvation to all who believe in His Son Jesus (Romans 1:16-17; Acts 2:21).  Just as with Moses, experiencing this promise requires faith.  But there is no greater blessing, no greater promise, than the free gift of eternal life.

If you have not believed in Jesus, trust in him today.

Philippians 1:6 also tells us that God has promised to finish the good work of salvation that he started in us.  God promises peace when we pray and comfort in our trials; he promises to supply all our needs (not wants).  God promises every spiritual blessing in Christ, Ephesians 1:3.

And brothers and sisters, we can be confident in those promises because God keeps his promises!

On to the second truth of Exodus 19 found in verses four through six.

Here we see that-

II. God saves his people for a specific purpose (4-6)

There are really two parts to this statement. First,

(1) God saves his people

Just as Moses recounted all the miraculous works of God to his father-in-law Jethro, so too, the LORD tells Moses to remind Israel of all he had done for them.

When they were back in Egypt, they witnessed the destruction of the 10 plagues God brought upon the Egyptians even while sparing them from the judgment.  It was God who parted the sea!  God killed the Egyptian army!  God provided bread from heaven and water from a rock!

In the middle of verse four the LORD said “I bore you on eagles’ wings.”  It’s a picture of a mother eagle who pushes their baby out of the nest and then lifts them up on her wings to teach them how to fly!

What a beautiful picture of God’s gracious love for his people.  Even when Israel was grumbling in the wilderness over lack of food or water, God swooped down to rescue them.

Finally at the end of verse four, the Lord makes things very personal as he says, I “brought you to myself.”

God chose to save Israel because he chose to make a covenant with Abraham and his decedents so that he might display his glory among the nations.  Here is what God said in Deuteronomy 7:7-8:

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

God didn’t choose to save Israel because he foresaw something good in them, either faith or works. If that was the basis for God’s choosing then it wouldn’t be grace!

God chooses people for Himself (that’s what election is) based simply on His loving nature and not on anything that the people themselves have done (that’s grace).

Whether it’s in the Old Testament under the old covenant or the New Testament under the new covenant, salvation is always by grace through faith.

Jesus said to those of us who believe in Him in John 15:19 “you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world”

Just as God made provision to save his people through the blood of the Passover lamb, he has now provided the Passover lamb once for all through the blood of his own Son, that he might bring us to God!

God saves his people.  Now the second part of that statement-

(2) for a specific purpose

We see this in verses of five and six of Exodus 19.

God’s purpose for Israel was three-fold: they were too be his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.

In the New Testament, the apostle Peter quoted this purpose for Israel and applied it to the church today, which consists of both Jews and Gentiles.  He said of Christians today:

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

We are chosen by God just as Israel was chosen in the Old Testament and we have the same three fold purposes - to be a people for his own possession, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

Let’s look at each of these three statements.  Why they are so important for God’s people?

(1) God saved us as his treasured possession!  

If you are a Christian today, meaning you’ve trusted by grace through faith in Jesus, you are the special treasured possession of the King of kings and Lord of lords!

The end of Exodus 19:5 says God owns the entire earth and that especially means those whom he has chosen to be his own!

God saved Israel to make them his treasured possession. They were freed from slavery in Egypt to be servants of the Living God.

Likewise, we, as Christians today, are not our own for we have been bought with a price! (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

When God saves you from your sin it means that no matter how worthless you may feel, God values you! No matter how unlovable you think you are, you are loved by God!  No matter how broken you think your life has become, God has restored you and treasures you!

(2) God saved us to be a kingdom of priests

The role of the priest is to be the go between, the mediator between God and the people!

Every Christian now has access to the presence of God because we are all priests of God!  One of the keys of the protestant Reformation that began almost 500 years ago was that there is no special class of priest now, all who believe in Jesus are priests and serve to direct others to God!

Revelation 1:5b-6 “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory.”

Again, what a privilege to know that we have access to the presence of God through the work of the great high priest, Jesus, who is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven on our behalf!

What a comfort to know that we can pray to God, anywhere, anytime, and he hears us!


(3) God saved us to be a holy nation

We were first introduced to the holiness of God back in Exodus chapter 3. Holiness is a glorious perfection belonging only to the nature of God.  The basic sense of the word “holy” is “set apart from that which is commonplace, special, unique.”  God is unlike any other being for he alone is complete and infinitely perfect in and of himself.

He is void of evil and sin and he is right and true in all that he does!  So too, if God’s people are to represent him before other nations then we must be like him!

The Israelites were to distinguish themselves from the other nations around them by living differently in obedience to God’s commands of the Old Testament.  That will be our focus next Sunday in Exodus 20, Lord willing.

As the church, we are in the world, but not of the world, because God’s word of truth sets us apart (John 17:14-17).

We live as salt and light, distinctively different from the world around us, by obeying the commands of God given to us in the New Testament to be holy as he is holy.

When you fail to live a holy life that God has called you to live you derail and even disqualify yourself from effective ministry.  Here’s what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth regarding his own fight and desire to live a holy life:

1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Living a holy life takes work, it is hard!  In fact, apart form the work of God, it is impossible. The Israelites learned that the hard way.

In Exodus, God chose the nation of Israel to be His holy people, set apart from among all other nations on the earth.  The way that they would be clearly distinguished from among the nations was by obeying the commands of God.  They would look differently, they would act differently, and they would worship differently.  Through their obedience other nations would be drawn to know the One, True God.

If Israel failed to obey, then they would no longer distinguish themselves from the other nations of the earth.  They would no longer point other nations to God.

Which is why God added the stipulation to this covenant promise at the beginning of Exodus 19:5 “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant.” Only then would they be able to fulfill the three-fold purpose.

Unfortunately, Israel failed. They couldn’t fulfill the law.  They couldn’t be holy. God would have to do it for them.  He would have to give them a new heart.

This is what Romans chapter eight is all about. Here are just two verses from that chapter that make it explicitly clear why Israel failed and how Jesus has now done for us what we could never do.

Romans 8:3-4 “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, 4 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.”

Jesus secured for us what we could not do!  He fulfilled the law!

Brother’s and sisters in Christ, you are now, because of the work of Christ, a chosen race, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession!  You who were once lost and without hope, you are God’s people.  Purchased with the shed blood of Jesus, for a specific purpose as we read earlier in 1 Peter 2:9 That you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light!

You are not your own.  You have been purchased by God to live a holy life and proclaim the excellencies of God, made known through Jesus Christ!


On to the third truth found in verse seven through the end of the chapter, where Moses goes back to the people and tells them all that the Lord had commanded them to do.

And in verse eight we read that “All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

They thought they could do it. They had good intentions. But they would quickly prove Romans 8 to be true, the people could not obey God’s law.

And then the end of verse eight says that Moses reported the words of the people back to the Lord.

Obviously, the Lord knew what the people said?  So why this exchange here? To show us the third truth-

III. God establishes a mediator between himself and his people (7-25)

Through the intermediary work of Moses, as his chosen servant, God established a pattern whereby his chosen servant would provide the way for his people to come to Him!

Back in the end of verse two and into verse three, the people camped before the mountain “while Moses went up to God”

In verse seven, he went down and spoke to the people and reported back to God what they said.  Up to God… down to the people… back up to God… back down to the people.

Moses was the go-between. Why was it necessary?

Look down to verse 23.

The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai to the very presence of God because they were not holy.

Psalm 24:3-4 “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”

Friend, you may think if you live a good enough life or do enough good things, you can ascend the hill of the Lord and enter into his rest.  You cannot!  You can never do anything to purify your hands or your heart.

Yet, in his mercy, the Lord has made a way for his people to come to him through a mediator. And how were the people supposed to believe and trust in the mediator?!
Look back up at verse nine, “And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”

God would speak from the thick cloud as the lightning was flashing and the mountain was trembling.

The voice of God would be heard by the people so that they would believe.  But notice!  Not believe in God, but believe in you, Moses, so that they would believe in Moses as the Lord’s Servant.

But Moses ultimately points us to a servant even greater than himself. In Deuteronomy 18-

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen”

In the New Testament, we are introduced to this prophet like Moses in almost the exact same image of Exodus 19.

We looked at Luke 8 two weeks ago because it records for us the transfiguration of Jesus.  When Jesus allowed Peter, James, and John to see a preview of His glory.

In Luke 9:31 we saw how Moses and Elijah spoke of Jesus’ exodus, which Jesus was about to accomplish through His substitutionary death as the lamb of God and his resurrection unto life.  

Jesus would accomplish a new Exodus was through his death, burial, and resurrection in Jerusalem by taking sinners who are trapped against the sea of sin and bringing them safely to the new life on the other side.

But there is yet another, stronger connection to Exodus and Moses just a few verses later in verses 33-35

Luke 9:33-35 “And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

God the Father’s voice boomed from the cloud so that those who heard would believe in the Lord’s Servant, Jesus, and would listen to him just as Moses admonished the people of the one who would come and you shall listen to him.

Isn’t God’s perfect plan glorious!?  When we see such clear, unmistakable connections between the Old and New Testament, it’s like we begin to see a few more brush strokes on God’s amazing portrait of redemption.

He is showing us this canvas of His work. To save His people. For His glory.  Yet just when we feel as though we can finally catch a glimpse, it escapes us almost as quickly as it came because it’s beyond our comprehension.  We can just see the fringe and we praise God.  We rejoice that he has done this great work to save his people from our sins.

As we turn to the book of Hebrews 3, there is a picture that apart from whats taking place in Exodus 19, it is a very confusing passage.  But now we can see the fringe in Hebrews 3 of what in the world the writer of Hebrews is even talking about.

Hebrews 3:1-6 “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”

Jesus, as God’s Son and chosen servant has come to rescue and redeem his people.

May we hold fast to our confidence and boast all the more, not in ourselves, but in Christ, who is our hope!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© Geist Community Church
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce this material in any format, provided that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Questions? Email: Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: by Matt Walker. © Geist Community Church—McCordsville, Indiana.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Exodus 15:22-17:7 – A Grumbling People and a Gracious God

Some of you are familiar with the writing of C.S. Lewis and you may have heard me speak before of the analogy he used of a sunbeam. When we look at the beam we see all the things which it illuminates.  The dirt we’ve failed to clean off the window glass is glaringly obvious.  The finger prints on the kitchen counter are now visible.  The particles of fine dust floating through the air suddenly make us wonder how we can breathe such air.

But when we look along the beam and follow it to its source we find the sun.

Lewis concludes: “Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.” (Meditation in a Toolshed)

The same can be said of Exodus and all the details it exposes of God rescuing and redeeming his children from slavery in Egypt.  Looking at Exodus is “looking at the beam” but when we “look along the beam” we see who Exodus is ultimately pointing us toward.

Today we are going to do both.  We are going to look at the beam and all the details revealed in the book of Exodus and we are going to look along the beam and see how those details point us to Jesus.

All through the book of Exodus we see a storyline that points us to Jesus. Last week we saw the connection Jesus made to Exodus in John chapter five when he was speaking to a group of Jews who were seeking to kill him and he said, John 5:46-47 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

If you do not believe that Exodus is important today, if you do not believe in the truth of Exodus, you cannot believe in Jesus!  Because Moses wrote Exodus to point us along the beam to Jesus!

Take your bible and turn with me to Exodus 16.

We are now in week seven of our nine-week study working our way through the first 20 chapters of Exodus.

Here in Exodus 16, God has delivered his people out of slavery in Egypt after protecting them from His divine wrath in the 10 plagues he delivered upon the Egyptians.

Now the people of Israel have another problem.  They are journeying through the wilderness and they are hungry.  The amount of food needed to feed the large group of between two and four million people would have been staggering!

What would they do?  What would God do and how would the people respond?

Look at Exodus 16 with me.

Exodus 16:1-21 - They kset out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel lgrumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, m“Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, nwhen we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain obread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may ptest them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, qit will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, r“At evening syou shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the tglory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For uwhat are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—vwhat are we? Your grumbling is not wagainst us but against the LORD.” 9 Then Moses xsaid to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, y‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’” 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the tglory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. 11 And the LORD said to Moses, 12 “I zhave heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At atwilight you shall eat meat, and bin the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’” 13 In the evening cquail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning ddew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, e“What is it?”1 For they fdid not know what it was. And Moses said to them, g“It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an homer,2 according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, iwhoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and jit bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

Chapter 16 begins with a chronological marker to let us know how long the people have been on the road out of Egypt.  Exactly one month had passed since Israel left Egypt having witnessed the Lord’s power through the 10 plagues upon the Egyptians.

And a lot happened in that month!  Not the least of which was the crossing of the Red Sea where the people had walked across on dry ground while a wall of water was on either side of them.  God himself had led his people day and night by revealing himself in a pillar of cloud and fire.

Most recently, at the end of chapter 15 when they had traveled three days away from the Red Sea and they had no water to drink, the Lord miraculously turned a bitter, undrinkable water source into sweet, clean water for them to drink.

No matter what God’s people faced, no matter how great the obstacle, surely God had proven himself to be trustworthy, to be the source of all the Israel needed.

Surely the people would respond to the burning hunger within their stomachs with unshakable, unwavering trust in the Lord, no matter what happens.

At least that’s what one would expect.

Instead we see the people of Israel grumbling again and again and again.

Eight times in this one chapter the word grumble is used to describe the response of the people to their hunger!

Verse two says they grumbled against Moses and Aaron but down in verses seven and either, it plainly says their grumbling was really against the Lord!

Our first point —

I. The natural tendency of people is to grumble against God! 

Verse two says the “whole congregation” grumbled against Moses and Aaron, their God-appointed leaders.

Grumbling spreads like gangrene among God’s people!  Someone shares a gripe about something and pretty soon it begins to snowball and work its way through the whole assembly – whether it’s true or not!

Sure the people were hungry but look at how absurd their claim was in verse three, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt”  They actually claimed that it would have been better for them to die in the plagues back in Egypt rather than out in the wilderness.

Why? Because at least, back in Egypt, they supposedly sat by “the meat pots and ate bread to the full”

Talk about putting on the rose-colored glasses!  Back in Exodus chapter two the people were groaning because of their slavery and crying out to God for rescue!  That doesn’t exactly sound like sitting around the buffet table enjoying all you can eat.

Not only is there this immense exaggeration but there was a flat-out lie at the end of verse three where they accused Moses and Aaron of bringing them out to the wilderness so they could starve them to death.

Are you kidding me?

Do the Israelites have a memory problem or something?  After all God had just done for them?!

But before we are too hard on Israel, let’s all take a quick look in the mirror.  How many times have we experienced the incredible faithfulness of God in our lives, yet we quickly forget and turn from trusting in him when the circumstances of our life change.  

The natural tendency of people is to grumble against God for two main reasons.

(1) We often focus on circumstances

This seems like it’s the broken record of Exodus.

Just last week in chapter 14, we saw how the nation of Israel was backed up against the Red Sea by the Egyptian army and they went on a bitter rant against Moses because they allowed their circumstances to derail their focus on the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Here in chapter 16 it’s the same exact thing.

The Israelites again take a look around and evaluate their circumstances from their limited perspective.  They still have not learned that God is above their circumstances.  He is the one that determines the circumstances in this world.

And as we are about to see, God has, again, brought Israel to an impossible situation from man’s limited perspective so that he might show his power and reveal his glory.

Just as God led Israel to the Red Sea where they would be trapped by the Egyptian army, he has now led them into the wilderness to that they would be surrounded by hunger.  It was another divine setup.

The problem of the Israelites was that they focused on their circumstances from their perspective and far too often, that’s our problem as well.

Stop and replay the last few days or even the last few weeks of your life, if you can remember that far back.  When were you tempted to complain?  When did you fall into the trap of grumbling because you looked around at the circumstances of your life and you just had to let someone know how much you really didn’t like what you saw?

We must look up rather than look around. We must look to our Savior rather than our circumstances.  

It does not come easy because the natural tendency of people is to grumble against God when we focus on circumstances around us.

The second reason we tend grumble against God

B. Our hearts are hard

If you carried a cup of coffee into this room today and as you were making your way to your seat someone bumped into you and knocked that cup of coffee to the ground, what spilled out of that cup?  Well unless it was one of those really cool, spill-proof mugs, there’s a pretty good chance that coffee just went all over the floor.

The same is true of our lives.  If we have a heart that is filled with grumbling, disputing, discontent thoughts, when the various circumstances of life bump into our lives what spills to the service???   Grumbling – disputing – discontentment.

Sometimes we can get bumped and nothing comes out because it was just a little bump but what’s really down in our hearts can often only be revealed when something bumps into our lives so hard that we get knocked to the ground.

When you grumble about your circumstances, or your thinking deep down inside, “GOD, THIS ISN’T FAIR” really what you’re saying is that you know better than God.

Grumbling reveals a hard heart.  Only the most callous heart could make such a ridiculous statement like the one the Israelites made back up in verse three  “Oh that we would have died back in Egypt where we sat by the meat pots and ate all day long.  They were blinded to the truth by their own hard hearts.  

This group of Israelites had witnessed some of the grandest examples of God’s power that anyone has ever seen! From the 10 plagues, to the pillar of cloud and fire that led their way through the wilderness, to the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the entire Egyptian army!  They had seen it all first hand.

Yet they grumbled, again and again and again, which just shows that unless God grants a new heart, they could do nothing but grumble. They had just walked on the dry ground of the Red Sea with walls of water on either side!  If that didn’t do it.  Nothing will!

They had eyes but they couldn’t see.  Ears but they couldn’t hear.

Perhaps the only thing more shocking than the grumbling of the people is the response of the Lord beginning in verse four of chapter 16.

Verse four - “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you… That I may test them..”

Rather than punish Israel for their failure to trust Him, he rains down bread from heaven!

Here we see our second point….

II. God graciously provides for his people

The emphasis upon God’s gracious, sufficient provision for these needy, grumbling people is unmistakable!

This is one of the clearest pictures of God’s grace in the Old Testament!

Listen to the descriptions of the Lord’s work and his promises in chapter 16.  In verse four, God said he would rain bread from heaven on them.  In verse eight, he would given them “bread to the full.”  In verse 12, “you shall be filled.”  Verse 16, they were to gather as much as they could eat.   Verse 18, everyone, indeed, gathered as much as they could eat and whoever gathered little had no lack and whoever gather much had nothing left over.

Every time the people went out and gathered they had exactly as much as they needed!  Amazing!

We read more about this “bread from heaven” beginning down in verse 31 of chapter 16.

Exodus 16:31-36 - 31 Now the house of Israel called its name pmanna. It was qlike coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a rjar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before sthe testimony to be kept. 35 The people of Israel tate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till uthey came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (An omer is vthe tenth part of an ephah.)3

So the first way we see God graciously provide for his people

(1) With manna from heaven 

This bread from heaven was like nothing the Israelites had ever seen before.  Verse 15 makes that clear as they all looked at it and said to one another “What is it?”  In Hebrew, that question is “man hu” which may be why they call it “manna” down in verse 31.

In verses 32-33, we read that the people were to keep a portion of the manna, which was put in a jar and eventually placed before the Ark of the Testimony, after it was built, as a continual reminder for the people of God’s gracious provision!

This was no simple bread!  This was life-giving, divine bread that nutritionally sustained the Israelites for 40 years!  For six days in a row, every morning, there it was on the ground.  If they kept any of the bread from the first five days to try and save it for the next day, it would be covered in worms and smell.  But on the sixth day they could gather enough for two days and on the seventh day it would be fine, no worms and no smell!

Friends, God is not bound by our human paradigms or constraints.  He can do whatever he wants.  So to borrow from another one of C.S. Lewis’ images, we might say “he is not a tame lion.”

God provided just what the people needed, when they needed it, so that they might learn to depend on him and so that we might recognize him as the giver of life!

This is the first of many different ways Scripture uses bread or manna to refer to God’s provision for his people.

It’s important to note that Moses tells us the manna tasted like wafers made with honey.  As the Israelites wandered around the wilderness for 40 years this manna was a sweet preview and constant reminder of the Promised Land that flowed with honey!

King David would later write in Psalm 19:10 that God’s Word is “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.”

The manna, then, is representative of the life giving Word of God that breathes life into lifeless bodies and sustains, moment by moment, those who eat of it.

How can we make such a connection?  Because Moses does it for us.

Deuteronomy 8:3 “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Don’t jump past the fact that Moses says it was God that let them hunger!  Why? So he could feed them manna that he might make them know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord!

The very passage that Jesus would quote after fasting 40 days in the wilderness to combat the temptation of Satan to turn the stones into bread.

But the connection to Jesus goes far beyond that quotation from Deuteronomy 8!  We’ve been doing a lot of looking at the sunbeam, now it’s time to look along the beam.

Exodus 16 has a number of connections to the gospel of John chapter six so hold your spot there in Exodus 16 and turn to John 6.

I’m going to try and not spend a lot of time here because, Lord willing, we’ll be studying John’s gospel most of next year as a church, but we can’t look past these direct references to Exodus 16 that are found in John 6.

While your turning let me quickly point out a couple of things that we already heard when John 6 was read earlier in the service.  It’s the feeding of the 5,000 with just five barley loaves and a couple of fish.  But before the miracle took place, Jesus asked Philip, one of his disciples, where they would buy bread for the people to eat in order to test him.

Just as the Lord said of the Israelites back in Exodus 16 and his provision of manna, “that I may test them.”

Jesus then multiplied the small amount of food until it says the 5,000 (just counting the men) “had eaten their fill” just like with the manna!

The people recognized this display of his power, so John’s gospel tells us they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him King.  Yet, amazingly Mark’s Gospel says the disciples “did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:52)

Jesus slipped away and did a little midnight stroll across the water to the other side of the sea.

The next day, the people found him and here’s what we read in John 6:25–51.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Jesus, who knew even the intentions of their heart, knew that they only came and found him because they wanted more bread. They saw Jesus as a get-rich-quick genie-in-the-bottle.

 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ”

Are you kidding me?  They wanted a sign, as if what he just did wasn’t good enough?  Jesus then corrected some of their theology.

32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

God provided manna for the people of Israel to eat during their 40 years wondering around the wilderness.  It was merely the sunbeam pointing to the Son.

Verse 35 is one of several “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel.  Jesus is saying he is the divine, life-giving bread.   He is the sweet Word OF God in the flesh!  And whoever eats of him will never hunger again!

No mere man could make such an amazing claim! He will satisfy all who come to him and believe on him!

We live in a world where people are seeking after the secret of satisfaction and happiness.  They are searching for identity in themselves and when they come up empty they conclude that they need to change their identity and identify as someone who they are not.  It’s all symptomatic of the hunger in the human heart which none but Christ can satisfy.

You who continue to run to alcohol or drugs or food, it will never satisfy.   You who seek to satisfy the hunger of your heart through romance or sex, it is a mirage.  

The emptiness you feel in your life can only be filled by Jesus.  Believe in Him. Trust in him and you will be filled to the brim with joy, with completeness, with hope, with an inexpressible and glorious joy!

If you do not believe, just like the Israelites, this is how you will respond — Look at verse 41 of John 6.

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.”

The Jews responded by grumbling, just like their ancestors, despite all they had seen with their own eyes.

They had eyes but they couldn’t see.  Ears but they couldn’t hear.

If you see who Jesus is and believe in him today, it is only because the Lord has given you a new heart!

Notice there in that key verse 35 of John 6, Jesus not only referred to himself as the bread of life that cures the hunger of our soul but he said that whoever believes in him should not thirst!

Why the sudden shift from hunger to thirst?

Flip back to Exodus now. Exodus chapter 17.

Exodus 17:1-7 - wAll the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 xTherefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you ytest the LORD?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and zthe people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready ato stone me.” 5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with bwhich you struck the Nile, and go. 6 cBehold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place dMassah1 and eMeribah,2 because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

The second way God graciously provide for his people

(2) With life-giving water 

Notice the same pattern again.  The Lord moved them on to a new region and this time they still had the manna, but they had no water!

And the people responded by quarreling with Moses which is actually a stronger word than grumble.

Yet again, the Lord graciously provides for them.  He commanded Moses to strike a rock and water would flow from the rock.

Then they named the place Massah and Meribah, which mean testing and quarreling.

Two names that are incredibly significant because they provide a reminder of what God did and how the people responded by providing water from the Rock.
The Psalmist in Psalm 95 says this:

Psalm 95:7b-9 “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.”

There we see a direct connection between hard hearts and the grumbling of the people!

The writer to the Hebrews quotes this passage in Psalm 95 and then we read this exhortation in Hebrews 3:12-13 “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

The example of the Israelites is a warning for us all. Take care brothers, guard against evil, guard against the continual assault of our sinful hearts that would lead us way from the living God!

We are to exhort one another every day so that none of us are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Brothers and sisters, we need one another in the church!  Without the body of the church watching out, we are lost!  That’s why it is so important that when someone leaves our body we ought to do everything we can do to guide them to another local assembly that they might not fall prey to the deceitfulness of sin.

The apostle Paul makes this connection to Christ even stronger. Now we move from looking at the beam to looking along the beam. First Corinthians 10.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6 “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.”

Jesus is the Rock!  He provides the living water that satisfies our thirst.

As Jesus himself said to the woman at the well in John 4 “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

These wonderful, life-giving truths are meant to awe us.  They are meant to blow every circuit in our brains. If I had time, I was going to put the little emoji of the head with the top coming off….  We ought be wowed by God’s perfect, powerful, and progressive plan revealed in Jesus so that God is glorified!

But what has Hebrews 3, 1 Corinthians 10, and so many other passages directed us to?

We ought be moved toward holy living “that we might not desire evil” as the Israelites did.

What does it look like today? We must help one another because we are all going to stumble, whether it be bitterness or grumbling because of circumstances, slander, hatred, a desire for revenge, anger. We must all continually fight to put those things behind us while striving for tender-heartedness, trust and forgiveness, as God in Christ forgave you.

And for those who have believed in Jesus and been given the gift of eternal life, we still have more to see. We still have more bread to eat and more water to drink, for all eternity!

In view of this wonderful reality, here’s what the apostle Peter urged his fellow Christians in 2 Peter 1:10-11

2 Peter 1:10-11 “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

God has graciously, richly, provided for us entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior and oh what a wonderful “welcome home” it will be.

We see a glimpse of this welcome home celebration in the book of Revelation where we see the ultimate fulfillment of these two provisions of God set forth in Exodus.

Revelation 2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna”

God the father continues to rain down bread from heaven through his Word and by his Spirit but someday, we will experience in all his fullness, the life-giving presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Then, in Revelation 22:1-2a there is “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city.”

For all eternity we will be refreshed by the living giving water that flows from the eternal, immovable, unchanging Rock.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© Geist Community Church
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce this material in any format, provided that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Questions? Email: Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: by Matt Walker. © Geist Community Church—McCordsville, Indiana.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Exodus 13:17-15:21 – God Saves His People through His Power

The song sung by Moses and the people of Israel in Exodus 15 recalls the power of God and work in saving his people from certain death at the hands of the Egyptian army.  It reveals the futility of all those who stand opposed to the power of God and it provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on who God is, what he has done in the past and what he has promised to do for his redeemed people!

The great work that Moses and the people of Israel responded to in song is found in the passages we are focusing our attention on this morning on the end of Exodus 13 and into chapter 14.

S0, turn in your Bible with me to the middle of Exodus chapter 13.

We are now six weeks in to our study of this Old Testament book penned by Moses, which records God’s great, Fatherly love in action to rescue and redeem his children.

Last week we looked at the 10th and final plague the LORD brought upon the Egyptians, the killing of the firstborn.  And we saw how God saved his people from his divine judgment through the death of a substitute.

Death came to every household in the land, either the death of the firstborn in judgment or the death of the lamb as the substitute for those who were protected under the blood of the lamb.

After the death of their firstborn, the Egyptians couldn’t act fast enough to send the Israelites out of their land.

When Israel entered Egypt, 430 years earlier, Exodus 1:5 tells us there were 70 people in their family clan.

When Israel finally left Egypt 430 years later, the middle of Exodus chapter 12 tells us there were over 600 thousand men, just grown men.  So, by the time you count the women and children there would have been between somewhere between 2 and 4 million people involved in this mass Exodus from Egypt.

That is a huge amount of people to move and coordinate but as we’ll see here at the end of chapter 13, God himself was leading them on this journey!  

Let’s look at the text.

Exodus 13:17-22 - 17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did nnot lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people ochange their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God pled 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 Joseph1 had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, q“God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And rthey moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And sthe 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.

Pharaoh finally let the people of Israel go after striking Egypt with plague after plague after plague, just as God decreed would happened back in Exodus 3:20.  Now the nation of Israel is on their way to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

But the Lord didn’t take them on the most direct path.   Rather than taking the shorter route that would bring them into a military conflict with the Philistines, he sends them on the long path down toward the Red Sea.

The LORD knew that if they were immediately confronted with the reality of war, the nation would change their minds about leaving Egypt.

The LORD, in His perfect knowledge, knew that the people weren’t ready for the challenges they would face on the way to the Promised Land and given the opportunity to turn back, they would.

The end of verse 18 in the ESV says Israel was “equipped for battle.”  This phrase may seem out of place given that the Lord was leading them away from war with the Philistines but the people knew a battle was coming.  They knew that they would face many enemies along the way to the Promised Land but only the Lord knew how severe such battles would become.

The people were expecting battle but the Lord knew it would be too much for them. The Lord had other plans to show his power in salvation.

Rather than the direct route, God led them in another direction, a direction that would ultimately prove itself even more challenging than confronting the Philistines in war. But in this new path, there would be no option of retreat, no way for them to escape.

It was a divine setup!  God was intentionally leading them into an impossible situation so that Israel would see that nothing is impossible for God and they would deepen their dependence upon him!

As the nation marched out of Egypt, they not only took with them the riches of Egypt, but verse 19 tells us that Moses took the 400 year-old bones of Joseph with him.  Even as the nation was looking to the future, it was important that they be reminded of the past.

Back in Genesis 50:24-25 “And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

Verse 19 of chapter 13 is reminding us that God is faithful to his people!  God didn’t deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt because they deserved it but because he is faithful to his covenant promises. He had promised Abraham a land, descendants, blessing.  Joseph had faith in that covenantal promise of God.

Verse 19 reminds us that God isn’t reacting or responding to situations in this world, he divinely orchestrates them for his purposes.

As I pointed out back in the beginning of our journey through the book of Exodus, it is a recalling of God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises.  The book of Exodus is like the continual ringing of a bell that is struck again and again and again to call our attention to God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises.

And in order to fulfill his promises God’s power continues to work for his people. The nation of Israel wasn’t just wandering around aimlessly as they left Egypt, God himself was leading them!

Our first point is from the end of chapter 13.

I. God’s powerful presence guides His people (13:17-22)

During the day, a pillar of cloud led God’s people.  At night, a pillar of fire which continually provided light for their journey.

Fire and Cloud, often representative of God’s presence.  Just as God revealed himself in fiery holiness from the burning bush to Moses, now he led the entire nation from the cloud and fire.

What an incredibly compassionate act by God to allow his people to see his presence with them, to see that his presence never left his people.   They knew that God was with them wherever they went.

Brother and sister in Christ, we have the same compassionate promise of God’s enduring presence today!  Jesus said, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  God continues to dwell among his people today.  In fact, through the work of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, he dwells in his people!

One of the reasons why the 23rd Psalm is so well-known and resonates with us so deeply is because it speaks of God’s powerful presence that continues to guide His people – “I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

God’s powerful presence guided his people out of Egypt.  He guided them away from war with the philistines and toward an even more impossible situation. Look at chapter 14 with me now. I’m going to read from verse 1 down through 29.

Exodus 14:1-29 - Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to tturn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between uMigdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And vI will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will wget glory over Pharaoh and all his host, xand the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. 5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the ymind 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, 7 and took zsix hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And vthe LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while athe people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The bEgyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them cencamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. 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 dcried out to the LORD. 11 They esaid 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 fwe 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, g“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For hthe Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 iThe LORD will fight for you, and you have only jto be silent.” 15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 kLift up your staff, and kstretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And lI will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and mI will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians nshall know that I am the LORD, mwhen I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 oThen 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 night1 without one coming near the other all night. 21 Then Moses kstretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by pa strong east wind all night and qmade the sea dry land, and the waters were rdivided. 22 And sthe people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being ta 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 clogging2 their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the uLORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” 26 Then the LORD said to Moses, v“Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 wSo Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea xreturned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD ythrew3 the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The zwaters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, anot one of them remained. 29 But the bpeople of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

Just when we think we’ve heard the last of the Egyptians, the Lord sets a trap that Pharaoh cannot ignore.  The Lord did what, by the world’s standards, would have been a futile and foolish movement.  He led Israel in a round about path to a dead-end camped along the Red Sea.

The Lord even told Moses in verse three exactly how Pharaoh would respond and what he would say!  The Lord knew what words were on Pharaoh’s tongue before he even spoke!

Pharaoh would hear of Israel wandering around.  The Lord would again harden Pharaoh’s heart and Pharaoh would pursue Israel.

God lead his beloved children to this dead-end, deathtrap and then he enticed Pharaoh to pursue Israel with his army.   This makes zero sense, there’s no rational explanation.

But the ultimate purpose is there in the middle of verse four, The Lord said, “I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.”

Point #2

II. God positions people to promote His glory (14:1-29)

This is a key truth of Exodus. Back in chapter two, the people groaned because of their slavery.  There was absolutely nothing they could do to deliver themselves, yet God had them right where he wanted them. He’s the one that led Israel to Egypt 400 years earlier and promised to Abraham that they would be slaves.

Here God led the nation to this dead-end path up against the shore of the Red Sea and he had them right where he wanted them so that they would know he was the Lord. So that they would learn what it means to trust in Him for salvation. So that even the Egyptians who stood against the Lord would know that he alone is God and ultimately so that the Lord would get glory over Pharaoh and all his hosts.

As the Israelites approached the Red Sea God did, indeed, hardened Pharaoh’s heart and Pharaoh realized letting their entire slave force go really wasn’t such a great thing.  There was no one to cook the food and serve it.  There was no one to build the palaces and clean them. So he gathered his chariot army and went after the Israelites.

The fast chariots quickly caught up with the Israelites who were camped on the edge of the Red Sea and when the people of Israel saw the Egyptians — to say it mildly, the people freaked out.

The end of verse 10 says they “feared greatly” and they “cried out to the LORD.”

They went on a bitter rant in verses 11-12 against Moses as they again allowed their circumstances to derail their focus on the goodness and faithfulness of God.

They people cried out!  They were bitter!  Resentment had set in.  They wanted to be back under bondage. They feared because they were doubting God’s goodness, his covenant faithfulness!

God was about to bring about one of the greatest acts of deliverance in the entire Old Testament and his people were full of nothing but distrust and fear.

As we saw a couple weeks ago with the plagues, the clear truth of the Bible is that God’s plan is never contingent upon nor determined by the circumstances that happen in this world.

God’s plan is perfect and his perfect plan determines the circumstances in this world.

It was God who led the Israelites to this impossible position so that he could save them and receive all the glory that is due to his name alone!

Even in the most confusing situations in life, God is working.

What could the Israelites do?  Could they pull themselves together and work harder to get out of this jam?  No!  Could they think positively about the situation and try to be a better person?  No!  There was nothing they could do to save themselves.

God positions his people to promote his glory and he does this in two ways.

First -
(1) by working salvation for His people 

The people were paralyzed in fear. In verse 13, Moses simply states “FEAR NOT!”

The people wanted to know what they need to do, Moses succinctly says “STAND FIRM”

The people had seen all that God had done to get them to this current position but now MOoses says, “See the salvation of the Lord!”

God was about to do all the work required to save his people from this seemingly impossible situation.

This is perhaps the grandest picture of God’s salvation of sinners in all the Old Testament.

The bitter, resentful, complaining Israelites were backed into a corner; they could do nothing to save themselves.

The same is true of every single one of us apart from the divine intervention of God.

We were all born in a dead-end, literally dead in our trespasses and sin, but God! God intervened to work the salvation of His people by sending his Son Jesus who would set the captives free and lead us in a new Exodus.

Look at how significant this truth of Exodus is. In John 5, Jesus was speaking to a group of Jews who were seeking to kill him and he said, John 5:46-47 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

If you do not believe that Exodus is important today; if you do not believe in the truth of Exodus; then you cannot believe in Jesus!  Moses wrote Exodus to point us ultimately to Jesus!

On the mount of transfiguration when Jesus allowed Peter, James, and John to see a preview of His glory, there were two other men who joined them, Moses and Elijah.

Luke 9:30-31 says, “And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

That word, departure, is the same word used of the Exodus. Moses and Elijah spoke of Jesus’ exodus which Jesus was about to accomplish through His substitutionary death as the lamb of God and his resurrection unto life.

The means by which Jesus would accomplish this new Exodus was through His death, burial, and resurrection in Jerusalem!

Jesus would take sinners who are trapped against the sea and he would bring them safely to the new life on the other side.

And there is only one way we can participate in the divine Exodus today!  How do we get from dead in our trespasses and sin safely to life on the other side?

Jesus gives us the answer in John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

Another way to translate “passed” is “crossed over.”  The one who does not come into judgment but crosses over from death to life, is the one who hears the truth of Jesus and believes in Him.

Believe in Jesus today and let him take you from death to life by trusting in the God who works salvation for his people to save you from your untenable slavery to sin.

It may sound too easy because it is!  You can’t contribute one sliver of your salvation because God doesn’t share one sliver of his glory.

In his New Testament letter to the church at Ephesus right after the apostle Paul said we were all dead in our trespasses and sins, he said God made us (Christians) alive, solely by his grace, not by works, so that no one may boast!

God, through the death of his perfect sacrificial lamb, has made us alive with Christ. He’s raised us up with Christ and he has seated us with Christ!

And the reason why he did this: Ephesians 2:7 “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

God saves wretched, despicable sinners like me and like you who are completely undeserving so that we can be trophies of his grace.  So that, in the coming ages of eternity, God can hold us up and say, “look at what I did with such a horrible mess.”

Back in chapter one of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul used a similar phrase three times in the same Greek sentence, when describing the saving work of Jesus to bring dead sinners to new life. He said it’s all “to the praise of his glorious grace” … “To the praise of his glory.” …  “To the praise of his glory”

Back in Exodus 14:4, The Lord told Moses that he would get glory over Pharaoh!

God works the salvation of his people so that he gets the glory which is most prominently seen and evidenced in his immeasurable grace toward us sinners!

As the Egyptian army drew near to Israel’s camp, Exodus 14:19-20 tells us that the Lord put himself between Israel and the Egyptians.  God himself in the pillar of cloud and fire was protecting them.

Moses lifted up his hands and God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites passed over to the other side on dry ground.

God positions his people to promote His glory by working salvation for His people and second —

(2) By working judgment for those opposed to Him

This is the same truth we looked at in depth two weeks ago with the plagues but it continues to be a prominent theme throughout the book.

Look at verse 23.

Exodus 14:23-24 - 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,

The Lord, who was himself in the pillar of fire, looked down on the Egyptian forces and instantly – panic.

Now, when the Lord looked down on His people he brought salvation but here, when he looks down on those who stand opposed to him, he comes in judgment.

God is sovereign even over their chariot wheels getting stuck in the mud!

The 10 plagues that the Lord brought upon the Egyptians were a preview of the Lord’s ultimate judgment.

The killing of Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army is merely a preview of what will someday befall all those who continue to live in rebellion against the all-powerful God!

In Revelation 20, the apostle John described a time yet to come when the Lord will look down on all of those who died in opposition to Him and he will judge them according to what they had done!

For those who continue to try and cross the sea on their own, the water will come crashing in.  Praise be to God he is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  Here’s how Peter says it -

2 Peter 3:9-10 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

You do not know when your time on this earth will draw to a close but when it does, that’s it, your eternal destiny is sealed.

God will be glorified and you will showcase his glory, either as a trophy of his grace or an object of his wrath.

When confronted with such an awesome truth of Exodus, how can we possibly respond appropriately?  We must be careful to not reduce the amazing truth of God parting the Red Sea into a pithy moral lesson like: “Be still and let God fight for you” or “Stand firm and see the salvation God will bring you.”

While those are good things to remember they are not primarily the point of Exodus.  Exodus is not a motivational story to remind us that God will win our battles when we are facing difficult circumstances in life!  The trying circumstance you’re staring down may not turn out the way you hope it will.

The message of Exodus is that God has already won the battle and his grand Exodus already accomplished in Christ enables us to face our daily battles with confidence and hope! The truth of Exodus enables us to say “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

So what is an appropriate response to the truth of Exodus?  

Look at the end of Exodus 14

Exodus 14:30-31- 30 Thus the LORD csaved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 dIsrael saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they ebelieved in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

Here we see the Israelites respond to God’s great power.

Point number 3 -

III. Respond to God’s “great power” (14:30-31)

When the waves calmed and the sea returned to normal.  They looked and saw all the dead bodies of the Egyptians scattered across the shoreline and they had a three-fold response and each of these three are woven together.

First, respond to God’s “great power” by

(1) fearing the Lord

When the Israelites saw the Egyptian army approaching back up in verse 10 they “feared greatly.”

Are you kidding me?  After all the Israelites just witnessed back in Egypt!

But this exactly what happens to us.  Nearly ever time something doesn’t go the way we think it should go.  We shouldn’t have received that test result!?!?  We shouldn’t have to deal with that broken relationship!?!?

Fear distorts our memories!

We must fear God alone who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Your circumstance has not changed God.

Back up in verse 13, the command “fear not” referring to the situation with the Egyptian army approaching.

Here in verse 31, fear God!

To Fear God means to trust him.  It’s humbling yourself before him in reverence, in awe.

We fear God because of who he is, because of what he has done, and because of what he will do.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Respond to God’s “great power” by fearing the Lord,  secondly -

(2) by believing in the LORD

Believe in the Lord means trusting that he is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do.

That trust in the Lord was broken back up in verses 10-12 when they cried out against God by saying they’d rather just be back in Egypt.

At times, our trust in the Lord may be shaken, but return to the truth that when we trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledge him, that he will make straight our paths.

The Lord alone is worthy of our trust!

Respond to God’s “great power” by fearing the Lord. Believing in the Lord

(3) by believing in the Lord’s Servant

The people of Israel followed Moses’ direction and crossed the Red Sea on dry ground safely through the Sea to the other side.

In that monumental event, we get a breathtaking glimpse of the ultimate sea that would be parted. The sea of sin that we were drowning in would be miraculously parted in the body of Christ himself, rescuing and redeeming us from the depths of sin.

John 14:1 Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

Respond to God’s great power by believing in his servant Jesus!

Just as Moses and the people of Israel sang of the great triumph of the Lord who threw the horse and his rider into the sea, so too, those who believe in Jesus will one day sing of the great triumph of the Lord when God’s ultimate judgment comes upon the sinful rebellion of the world, which is described in Revelation 18 like a great millstone being thrown into the Sea.

After which the great multitude of heaven will cry out: Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, (Rev. 19:1)

Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© Geist Community Church
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce this material in any format, provided that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Questions? Email: Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: by Matt Walker. © Geist Community Church—McCordsville, Indiana.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Exodus 11:1-13:16 – God’s Lamb is the Solution to Your Sin Problem

Today is week five in our continued study of the Old Testament book of Exodus so it marks the halfway point in our nine-week series.

After 400 years of slavery in Egypt, we’ve finally come to the point in the narrative when God’s chosen people leave the land of Egypt for the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.

But before the Israelites leave Egypt, God has one final plague, the 10th plague to bring upon the Egyptians. God’s power to save his people through the judgment of this final plague and His redemption from slavery was so profound He gave his people two feasts, two observances that were to forever memorialize this grand work of God.

We’ll focus our attention this morning on these two feasts found in Exodus chapter 12 and see the vital role they play in our lives today. So take your Bible and turn with me to Exodus 12:1-20.

If you’re taking notes in the Exodus series study guide, week five is found on page 23.

Last week we saw the power of God revealed through the first nine plagues and in the continual hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.

The Nile River into blood – but Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (7:14, 22)
Frogs invaded the land of Egypt - Pharaoh hardened his heart (8:15)
Gnats swarmed - Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (8:19)
Flies - Pharaoh hardened his heart (8:32)
The livestock died - the heart of Pharaoh was hardened (9:7)
Boils – the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh (9:12)
Hail - Pharaoh seemed to repent but it wasn’t real and his heart was again hardened
Locusts – the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart
Darkness – the Lord, again, hardened Pharaoh’s heart

By the time you get to Exodus chapter 11 Pharaoh’s heart is still hard but the Lord tells Moses that it will only take one more plague.  One more horrific, unimaginable plague.

The Lord himself will go out in the midst of Egypt and every firstborn in the land, from the household of Pharaoh to the lowest of slave, even the firstborn of the cattle, will die.

Just as the Lord had decreed to Moses when he was still back in Midian at the end of chapter four!  The Lord told Moses to say to Pharaoh “Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’” (Exodus 4:22b-23)

The Lord himself would judge the sin of Egypt by killing the firstborn sons of Egypt.

But not among the people of Israel because God had a plan in place to save them.

That plan is in Exodus chapter 12. Let’s look at the text.  Follow along while I read and then I’ll pray.

Exodus 12:1-20 - The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 f“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 gaccording 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 hwithout 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 ifourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.1 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the jtwo 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 kunleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but lroasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And myou 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 nyour belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. oIt is the LORD's Passover. 12 For pI 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 qall the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: rI am the LORD. 13 sThe 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 tfor you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a ustatute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 vSeven 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, wthat person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a xholy 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 yon this very day I brought your zhosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 aIn 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 bFor seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, bthat person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, cwhether 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.”

The events of Exodus 12 were so pivotal in the nation of Israel that God gave them a new calendar centered on His redemption of Israel!

The deliverance of God’s children from bondage in Egypt would be the beginning month for the their nation’s calendar.  A new beginning, a new “age” in the history of Israel, symbolized by the new calendar.

Central to the new calendar were two new feasts that were to be observed by God’s people that would proclaim both the means by which God’s people are saved and the manner in which God’s people are to live.

So we are going to look at both of these feasts.  The first feast describes the means by which God’s people are saved from God’s judgment upon the land of Egypt.

And what we see in verses 1-14 is our first point:

I. God’s people are saved from judgment through the death of a substitute

In the middle of verse three, the Lord told Moses and Aaron that each Israelite household was to select a lamb on the 10th day of the first month, according to their new calendar.

One lamb for one household.  If it was a small household then they could combine households with their nearest neighbor for this first feast.

Verse five tells us that the lamb that was selected had to be without blemish and it had to be a male that was a year old, so it had some size to it.

Each household would take that cute, cuddly, unblemished lamb and keep it with them until the 14th day of the month.  After a few days of really beginning to bond with this little lamb, every household was to kill their lamb at twilight.

This was a costly sacrifice with eternal significance!

After the lamb was killed they were to take some of the blood of the lamb and put it on the doorframe of the house, symbolizing that all of the people in the house had to pass through the blood and were under the protection of the blood.

They had to roast the lamb, whole, and then eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, bread without yeast.  All of the lamb had to be eaten before morning and any remaining portions had to be burned.

Everyone who was gathered in the home to eat the meal hat to eat it with their belt fashioned, sandals on their feet, and staff in their hand – ready to move quickly.

And just as they are ready to be on the move quickly, they are to eat quickly.  Why?  Look at the end of verse 11 “It is the Lord’s passover.”

This first feast is known as the Passover feast because as the Lord passed through the land of Egypt to kill the firstborn, he would passover the houses where the blood covered the house.

Death came to every household in the land, either the death of the firstborn in judgment or the death of the lamb as the substitute for those who are in the house.

Why a lamb?

The theme is replete through Scripture.

Beginning in Genesis, Able brought the offering of the firstborn of his flock to God as a sacrifice to the Lord.

In Genesis 22, Abraham was called by God to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God (which seemed to go against everything the Lord had decreed.)  Nevertheless, Abraham obeyed and told his son, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8)

Here in Exodus, God made provision for one Lamb to be sacrificed for one household.  Later in Exodus, God gives instructions for the Day of Atonement when one lamb would be sacrificed for the sins of the whole nation!

The picture of the whole Bible is that the only pathway to being right with God comes through the blood of the lamb that God provides!  It may sound strange, it’s difficult to believe that the blood of the lamb spread on the doorframe would save the life of the first born but the Israelites experienced it firsthand to show us the concept of substitution!

Either the lamb dies or we die!

God used the sacrifice of lambs in the Old Testament to prepare his people for the perfect sacrifice He would later provide in his own Son as we’ll soon see.

It’s so important that God’s people remember that salvation comes through the death of a substitute lamb that in verse 14 we see the decree by the Lord that this Passover meal is to be a memorial day, a feast to the Lord throughout successive generations as a statue forever.

Because it is a continual reminder of the truth that God’s people are saved from judgment through the death of a substitute.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

2 Kings 23:21-23. Josiah, one of the last kings to reign over the southern kingdom of Judah before it was destroyed in 586 BC.  He restored the Passover after it has not been kept for over 400 years.  Since the days of Samuel, before King Saul, even King David didn’t fully keep the Passover feast!

On to the second feast decreed by God in this section..

In verses 15-20 we are introduced to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which begins with the Passover Meal. The two go hand-in-hand and are sometimes referred to as a singular feast because they are so irrevocably linked.

All Israelite homes were to remove all leaven from the home beginning with the Passover Feast on the 14th day of the month. The Israelites were to then continue The Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven more days until the 21st of the month.  No one was to eat any leaven during this time or they would be cut off from God’s people!

This seems like a really strong penalty for eating leaven, but again, we have to look at what it symbolized!

When the blood was placed on the doorposts symbolizing the saving work of God, the leaven was also removed from the home and it was cleansed, the Israelites were to continue living in their cleansed state for seven more days, eating no leaven.
Cleansing out the leaven and abstaining from the leaven was so important because leaven, throughout the Bible, almost always represents sin.

When God’s people were saved from the judgment they deserve because of the work of the substitute lamb, they were free from the corruption of sin and they had a responsibility to live in a holy manner (symbolized by no leaven)

Which brings us to our second point that deals with the manner in which God’s people are to live revealed in the feast of the unleavened bread:

II. God’s people are identified by their holiness

God would make the importance of holy living abundantly clear to the Israelites later in the book of Leviticus.

It is God who makes his people holy by the blood of the lamb but once we have been made holy by God, then God’s people are to be holy as the Lord who saved us is holy!

See why the Passover Feast and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are so closely tied?  You can’t be holy apart from the substitutionary work of the lamb and you can’t be made holy by the lamb without responding in holy living!

That’s why in verse 17 the Lord decreed that the Feast of Unleavened Bread, like the Passover, was to be observed throughout the generations as a statue forever.   The two are irrevocably linked.  To forget the festivals was to forget and deny God!

So as one of you brothers astutely asked while we were studying this passage in the men’s Bible study Tuesday morning – Why don’t we as God’s people observe this today?

The answer is found in the NT.

Although there are several missteps and failures along the way from Moses up to the time of Jesus and even beyond, at least a few Israelites celebrated the Passover each year.

Then, when Jesus began his earthly ministry, he was about to be baptized by John the Baptist.  And in John 1:29 – when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Right from the beginning of his ministry Jesus is introduced as the Lamb of God who doesn’t just cover over the sin, he takes away the sin!

Fast foreward three and half years or so…

…probably around AD 33. Thousands of Israelites were traveling to Jerusalem from all over the region to celebrate the Passover feast.  The stories were spreading among the crowds of this “Jesus” healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, even raising the dead to life.  Could he be the promised Messiah who would free the Jews from the Roman oppression.

As the Passover crowds swelled in Jerusalem so did the anticipation of a deliverer who would remove the stranglehold of Roman rule from the throats of God’s chosen people!

Jesus too was on the way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast for the last time.  His Triumphal entry into Jerusalem is recorded for us in all four gospel accounts (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19)

As the people were throwing their garments on the ground and waving the branches in the air they were shouting!!!  And in their loud pronouncement they reveal the identity of Jesus. First, they said, “Hosanna!”

 “HOSANNA!” A Greek word, that finds it’s roots in the Hebrew. It was originally a prayer addressed to God meaning “save us now”

Then they used language of Psalm 118:25-26a “Save us, we pray, O Lord! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

It’s no coincidence that Psalm 118 was part of the liturgy used by the Jews during the Passover, but now the people were seeing its literal fulfillment before their very eyes!  As the Lamb of God who takes away sin, made his way to Jerusalem to save his people.

Jeusu, as the lamb of God, rode into Jerusalem on Sunday (the 10th day of the month) presenting Himself at the same time the Jews were selecting the Passover lamb for themselves.

Think about that for a minute! God in flesh, walked into the temple — into his house — to present himself and the people passed by, overlooked, the Lamb of God as they searched for their own Passover Lamb!

Jesus walked into the temple – the Lord’s house — and looked around and walked out. Nothing happened. I wonder what the disciples must have been thinking.  Certainly, they must have been wondering “why don’t you do something?!”

Mark 11:11, simply and blandly tells us that Jesus just walked in, looked around, and then left the city to spend the night in Bethany.

It was rather anti-climactic.

But just a few days later, on the 14th day of the month, something spectacular happened.

Turn in your Bible with me to Luke 22.  This is the first of two New Testament passages we are going to look at to see how Jesus fulfills both the Passover Feast and Feast of the Unleavened Bread.

Luke is the 3rd gospel account in the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke.
Luke 22, look at verse seven.

Luke 22:7-8 - 7 zThen came athe day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus1 sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”

Peter and John prepared the lamb so Jesus could gather indoors with his disciples for the Passover lamb. Now skip down to verse 14.

Luke 22:14-20 - 14 fAnd when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it2 guntil it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and hwhen he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 iFor I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine guntil the kingdom of God comes.” 19 jAnd he took bread, and hwhen he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, k“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, k“This cup that is poured out for you is lthe new mcovenant in my blood.3

Jesus knew what was coming but his opening words to his disciples there in verse 15 “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

Even though he knew he was about to suffer and die, Jesus couldn’t wait to eat this Passover meal with his disciples.  Why?  Because Jesus, as the God-man, fully-God, took this divine dinner for Israel and applied it to his own sacrifice that he was about to make on the cross!

Exodus 12:5 tells us the Passover Lamb was free of all defects (blemish).

Listen to these words in 1 Peter 1:18-19 “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Jesus took the bread, the unleavened bread of the Passover meal, and he gave the bread new meaning.

The bread represents the body of Christ, which he voluntarily took on and unselfishly gave on the cross for the benefit of others.

A little later in 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”

God’s people are saved from judgment through the death of a substitute…. And Jesus became our substitute!

As the Lord spoke through Jeremiah, the New Covenant now provides forgiveness of sin because God provided a substitute to pay the penalty required because of sin —  His own son, Jesus.

In Luke 22:19, the disciples probably expected Jesus to pick up the bread and say something like – “this is the bread of slavery that our people ate in slavery in Egypt.”  Instead, Jesus speaks specifically of his body given “for you”, a remark that could have a sacrificial and substitution tone to it.  Jesus is the sacrifice.  Once for all.

Then as he was still sitting there in the upper room, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

The cup was a symbol of Jesus’ blood, the lambs blood, that would soon be shed to provide cleansing from sin.

Perhaps today you’re struggling to understand how the blood of Jesus, shed almost 2,000 years ago, can have any saving power. Let me assure you, the Israelites on the eve of the Passover struggled to understand how that blood brushed on a doorframe could save them from the judgment of God.

Yet, those who took God at his word  knew that judgment was coming and protection was provided under the blood of the lamb. Those who had faith in what God said, they were saved!

And it is the same for us.  If we take God at his word, that judgment is coming, and that salvation is found in Jesus alone, we will be saved by grace through faith because are lives are then marked by the blood of Jesus, our substitute!

A Christian isn’t someone who just believes there is a God and tries to be good or someone who tries to live by the Ten Commandments, none of that makes you a Christian!  A “Christian is someone who recognizes that he or she is a sinner deserving nothing less than the terrifying judgment of God and takes refuge in nothing other than the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.” (Nancy Guthrie, The Lamb of God, pg. 82)

Ask God to save you today.  You need not fear the day when we will all stand before God!  You can know that you are safe, protected by the blood of the Lamb.

But know this!

While God passed over the sins of the people in the Old Testament and He continues to be patient waiting for others to believe in Jesus, He cannot look past your sin forever!

As we read earlier as a congregation in Hebrews 9:27, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

And for those who have not believed in Jesus, by faith, God will demonstrate His righteous justice.  John 3:18 “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.”

I urge you today.  Believe in Jesus and be cleansed through the work of the great High Priest, the perfect sacrifice, Jesus!

Perhaps this morning you are thinking, “but you don’t know what I’ve done, there must be something I need to do, the debt is to great.”  Perhaps you’re attempting to pay off your debt through good behavior, religious behavior, or even wallowing in your shame in a type of “self- punishment.”  But let me tell you that only ends in misery and greater debt.  We simoly cannot repay what we owe!

Praise be to God, Jesus, the spotless Passover Lamb has paid it all!!!

As I already said, the picture of the whole Bible is that the only pathway to being right with God comes through the blood of the lamb that God provides!

Why don’t we as God’s people observe the Passover today?

Because we have something new, something better!

Jesus gave the Passover Feast new meaning, true meaning!  The Passover Feast was always meant to point us to the perfect Lamb.

Notice the similar wording.  In Luke 22, Jesus speaks of “doing this in my remembrance”   This is a memorial meal.

Today we have Communion, or the Lord’s Table, the Lord’s Supper — what ever title you prefer. It reaffirms our covenant commitment and participation in the new covenant.  It is a continual sign of the New Covenant at work in us.

Brother and sister in Christ, do you protect and uphold the Lord’s table as a sacred sign of the New Covenant?  Here are some evaluation questions:  Do you confess and repent of your sin before approaching the table so as not to blaspheme the work of Christ?  Do you reconcile broken relationships with other believers before drinking the cup or eating the bread as Scripture commands you to do?  Does our church protect the Lord’s Table by limiting participation to believers who are a part of the New Covenant?

Gathering around the table must never become mundane or boring for God’s people.

So what about:

The FEAST of the Unleavened Bread…

In the New Testament it is also tied to Jesus and his work as the Passover Lamb.

Now turn to 1 Corinthians 5.  The second New Testament passage where we see both the Passover and the unleavened bread tied to the work of Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul is telling the Corinthians how important it is for the church body to guard the church from the invasive destruction that sin brings. We as the members of the church are to guard the church from bringing disgrace upon the name of Christ by allowing those who claim the name of Jesus to not continue to live in blatant, outward, unrepentant sin.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 - 6 fYour boasting is not good. Do you not know that ga 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, hnot with the old leaven, ithe leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Jesus is our Passover Lamb! 

The Passover and feast of unleavened bread were to be an lasting observance by God’s people that would symbolically remember God passing over the sin of his people.

Once they were covered by the blood of the lamb on the doorposts they were to do very specific things in the home — unleavened bread!  We as Christians, covered by the blood of the lamb, are to live in a certain way – holy!

The command of this passage is cleanse!

Are you a Christian?  Is Jesus your lamb?  Are you under the protection of the blood? Then a couple of questions for you.  If you claim to be under the blood of Jesus, when you co-worker sins against you, do you forgive?  When someone lashes out at you in anger to do you respond in anger?  Do you like to stir up arguments and really get them going?  When your spouse treats you poorly, do you do the same to get back at them?

If the blood of Jesus has truly cleansed you, then celebrate the festival! Celebrate his work in you by continuing to keep out the leaven!

We as followers of Jesus must strive to live a holy life!  Which is how we continually observe the feast of unleavened bread today!

The wonderful news for us is that the death of the Passover lamb is not the end of the story! After the substitutionary death, Jesus rose from the grave, conquering death!  He ascended into heaven and took his place at the Father’s side.  Even this very moment he upholds the universe by the power of his Word.  He is coming again, not riding on a peaceful donkey, but on a white horse as KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS!  HE will judge the unbelieving world while those who believe in him will reign with Him for all eternity.  Revelation 22:17, 20 as gospel call… 17 The Spirit and mthe Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And nlet the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the owater of life without price.  20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely sI am coming soon.” Amen. tCome, Lord Jesus!

He is the perfect Lamb of God given for our sins.

Listen to the words of John in Revelation 5

Revelation 5:11-14
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

The disciples couldn’t wait for Jesus to establish his dominion and glory and kingdom.

Someday, on that great day of the Lord, he will.

Are you longing for Jesus to establish his dominion and glory and kingdom?

May we continually say, “Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

And one of the key ways we do that is:


1 Corinthians 11:23-26 shows the centrality of this practice in the life of the early church.  So, after I pray we will use this passage as a guide for our time of remembrance.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© Geist Community Church
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce this material in any format, provided that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Questions? Email: Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: by Matt Walker. © Geist Community Church—McCordsville, Indiana.