At the Word of Jesus 3,000 Lived

Today’s Reading: Exodus 31-34

I’m sure we have all heard someone say, “God said…” Many times throughout history, leaders of countries, nations, and peoples have said, “God said…” God is always on their side. I still see leaders doing this all the time today.

So, have you heard someone say “God said…” and wondered to yourself, “I don’t think God really said that. That doesn’t sound like God to me.”

Perhaps some of us are even bold enough to admit that we have said, “God said…” But, at some point later in our life, we came to know God in a deeper way and realized God didn’t really say what we thought he said.

Why do people wrongly attribute things to God? Because they want to believe that whatever they are doing and saying is right. We are always right in our own eyes. So, in order to justify our own words and actions, we attribute those words and actions to God.

If people do that today, if leaders of people do that today, then is it possible that people and leaders of people did this in the Bible? Is it possible that God recorded people wrongly saying “God said…” in the Bible for our learning? If this is a common phenomenon among people, to attribute some words or activity that we want to be true to God, which I believe it is, then why wouldn’t God record events like this in the Bible?

I have to come to believe that God did indeed record people wrongly attributing words and actions to God in the Bible. He did this for our learning. In Romans 15:4, Paul says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” And, Paul, speaking of the nation of Israel, says in 1 Corinthians 10:11-13, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.”

Everything in the Bible is written for our learning. That doesn’t mean that everything written in the Bible is an example that we should put into practice. People learn the most from their failures. So, why shouldn’t we expect failures to be recorded in the Bible so that we can learn from them?

Any temptation we suffer has been common to all people throughout all history. If we today wrongly attribute words and actions to God, then shouldn’t we expect that to be recorded in the Bible too? Why wouldn’t God record these failings for our learning and instruction?

I only began to read the Bible this way when I truly allowed the Holy Spirit to be my teacher. I only began to separate what was truly God from what people professed to be God in the Bible when I let Jesus be my translator (see Luke 24). Jesus is the clearest, simplest view of God ever. If we have seen Jesus, then we have seen the Father. So, when I began to focus on Jesus first and let him show me where he was and was not in the Old Testament, then the Scriptures began to take on an entirely new meaning. My learning took a dramatic increase.

Many people don’t want to read the Bible this way. It’s too scary. They want a flat Bible where everything written is equally true, equally valid, and equally worthy of us doing. But, that doesn’t require any discernment at all. It’s equivalent to asking God for a set of rules to follow. That’s not life though. God wants us to depend on us voice. He wants us to discern his still, small voice in the tempest that is going on around us.

Therefore, I believe that God has written the Bible in such a way that it is not flat. There are multiple voices speaking in the Bible. And, we need the Holy Spirit to teach us which voice is God’s. The Holy Spirit teaches us this way through the Bible so that he can lead us in exactly the same way in our every day life. Every day we have multiple voices speaking to us. And, not all of them are God. We need to be able to discern which voice is God’s and which voice is not.

I believe the clearest evidence of the need to read the Bible with this sort of discernment is Romans 12:1-2, which says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

See, all of us, myself included, like to quote the part about not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our mind. However, almost all of us leave off the last part, which is the most important and explains why we are to be transformed and have our minds renewed. Why our are we transformed and our minds to be continually renewed? “So that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The Holy Spirit gives us discernment so that we can test the Bible. What in this book is really God? What in this book is just someone professing something to be God but really isn’t?

Perhaps, you’ve read this far and think I have lost it. Perhaps, you think I’m trying to make the Bible say whatever I want it to say. Perhaps you think I am denying the truth of the Bible. But, that is not so. I want to clearly see Jesus in it. i want to discern what is God and what is not.

So, with that long introduction, let me give you an example to show what I mean.

MOSES SPEAKS AND 3,000 DIE

Moses was the leader of the nation of Israel. Therefore, I believe there were times when he was just like every other leader of every other nation throughout history – sometimes he wrongly attributed words and actions to God. I think Exodus 32 is an example of Moses doing this.

At the beginning of the chapter, Moses is on the mountain with God. He’s gone a long time and the people don’t know what happened to him. So, Aaron tells the people to take off their earrings so he can make a golden calf for them to worship.

Now, Moses obviously didn’t write about this in real time. He wrote about this event some period of time after it happened. So, while all scripture is inspired by God, we can also see Moses’ personality and perception coming through. This is Moses’ retelling of what happened, but a retelling inspired by the Holy Spirit for our learning.

In Exodus 32:7, Moses writes that God said to him, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” It’s always bothered me that God said this to Moses. It never made sense to me. God called Israel Moses’ people? God said Moses brought them out of Egypt? Everywhere else in scripture Israel is God’s chosen people. Everywhere else in scripture it is God that brought Israel out of Egypt by his mighty hand. I don’t think God just had a slip of the tongue here or was blaming Moses for what the people were doing while he wasn’t with them. No, I think we are seeing evidence of Moses’ pride coming through. He is taking credit for things that God did.

Then, Moses has a conversation about God’s wrath burning against Israel. Was it really God’s wrath that was “burning hot” against Israel? Or, was it Moses’ wrath? Was there some of that old spirit that killed an Egyptian rearing its ugly head again in Moses?

When Moses comes down the mountain, he sees the golden calf. Verse 19 says, “Moses’ anger burned hot.” Why doesn’t it say that God’s angered burned hot? Is it important that it was Moses’ anger that burned hot? Was Moses putting his anger onto God to justify his own actions?

So, Moses asked Aaron what could the people have done to cause you to make a golden calf for them to worship. In verse 22, Aaron replied, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot.” Aaron sees the burning hot anger coming from Moses. And, Moses doesn’t correct him on that. Moses doesn’t say, “It’s not me you have to worry about. It’s God wrath and burning hot anger that you better worry about.”

In verse 26, Moses responded to everything he saw, saying, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” That’s interesting. If Moses wanted to know who was on the Lord’s side, why didn’t he say, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to him.” In Joshua 5, when Joshua meets the commander of the Lord’s army, Joshua asks whose side is he on – Israel’s or the Canaanites? The commander of the Lord’s army says neither. He’s on God’s side. That’s not what Moses seems to ask or answer though. Moses wanted to know who was on his side, which he believed to be God’s side.

So, all the sons of Levi gather around Moses. Verse 27 says, “And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kills his brother and his companion and his neighbor.'” Many, many times in the Old Testament we read, “God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel…'” God would say something to Moses and tell Moses to say it to Israel. But, that doesn’t happen here. Moses says something without any instruction from God, but Moses attributes it to God as if God told him to say it. And, it isn’t interesting that Moses standing in the gate, the place of man’s government, when he said this.

Now, Jesus told us over and over to love our enemies, to love our neighbor, to love those that persecute us, etc. Therefore, does it really seem like God would have told Moses to tell one of the tribes of his people to kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor? Or, was Moses tired of having the people grumble and complain to him about God leading them out of Egypt? Was Moses looking for support? Is it possible that when the tribe of Levi came to his side, Moses said let’s get rid of all those who are complaining against me?

Verse 28 says, “And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell.” Levi did according to what Moses said. Why doesn’t the Bible say Levi did according the word of God? Could it be because that’s not what God said to do?

Now, I’m sure there are many of you thinking I’m just twisting scripture. You’re thinking I’m reading way too much into this. But, their is a contrasting event in the New Testament that makes believe everything I have written so far. And, i believe what Moses did and wrote was given to us to directly contrast with the event this particular event in the New Testament.

JESUS SPEAKS AND 3,000 LIVE

In Acts 1:6, the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” Even after living with Jesus for three years and being taught by the resurrected Jesus for 40 days, the disciples still want to overthrow the Roman empire and have the kingdom restored through some sort of revolution with the sword. But, Jesus responded it was not for them to know times and seasons. Jesus says in verse 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Interestingly, the Greek word witnesses is martys. It is where we get our word martyr. Jesus told the disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit so they would be ready to die, just like he did, to bring about the kingdom instead of being ready to kill.

In Acts 2, the 120 disciples locked themselves in the upper room. They were all praying in one accord. And, the Holy Spirit comes rushing upon them, giving them the power to speak words in other known languages. The 120 disciples spoke about the mighty works of God, they spoke the words of Jesus, to Jews gathered from all over the world. The power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, came to strengthen the disciples so they would be willing to die in order that God could gather his people through them.

Peter goes on to explain what happened. They weren’t drunk as some thought. Rather, this was the beginning of the Spirit of God being poured out on all flesh. The Spirit of God is life and freedom. Peter powerfully preaches through the Holy Spirit the words of Jesus.

Acts 2:41 says, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

How interesting! Peter preaches Christ and him crucified, the word of God, with the power of the Holy Spirit and 3,000 people came to life.

At the word of Moses, the tribe of Levi killed 3,000 of their own brothers by the sword.

Jesus said that those who live by the sword would die by the sword. Jesus told Peter to put away the sword. Jesus is the image of God, the exact imprint of his nature. Did God tell Moses to tell the sons of Levi to put the sword on their side and kill 3,000 of their brothers? Or did Moses say that and wrongly attribute it to God?

Is it just a coincidence that the when Jesus, the Word of God, was preached that 3,000 souls were saved? That 3,000 souls lived instead of dying?

Or, should the fact that 3,000 lived by the word of Jesus and 3,000 died by the word of Moses, a man, a leader of a nation, tell us that we are to purposefully contrast these events so that we can learn from Israel’s example? Should we not take heed lest we fall to the temptation that is common to all men?

I think this is precisely why these contrasting events are recorded in the Bible.

We need to see Jesus. We need to know Jesus intimately. We need to be transformed by him, having our minds continually renewed, so that by testing we can discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

God is life! Let us follow Jesus!

The Tabernacle and the Priest’s Garments: The Two Natures of Jesus

Today’s Reading: Exodus 28-30

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as having two natures. He is both fully God and fully man. He was not one or the other.  Neither was he sometimes one or the other, switching back and forth between the two. Jesus was both, full and complete.

John 1 reveals both of these natures. John 1:1-4 reveals Jesus as fully God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus, the Word, was God. Jesus created all things, which is the first thing the Bible teaches about God in Genesis 1. Jesus had life in him. God is life.

We see Jesus as fully God in other parts of the New Testament as well, Philippians 2:6 says that “he was in the form of God.” Romans 9:5 calls Jesus, “the Christ, who is God over all.” Titus 2:3 says that we are waiting for “our blessed hope, the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” And, there are many more declarations of Jesus as fully God.

But, John 1 also reveals Jesus as fully man. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh.” This wasn’t just God taking the form of man while still only having the one nature of God. No, this was God becoming a man, fully man, yet retaining his nature as fully God.

Like we see Jesus as fully God throughout the New Testament, so too do we see Jesus as fully man throughout the New Testament. While Philippians 2:6 says Jesus was God, Philippians 2:7 says Jesus was “born in the likeness of men.” Galatians 4:4 says, “God sent forth his son, born of woman.” And, Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things.” Jesus was not like a man. He was a man, flesh and blood, partaking of the same things, or the same nature, as each of us. And, there are many more scriptures that speak to Jesus as fully man.

So, what does this have to do with today’d reading – Exodus 28-30?

John 1:14, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” gives the answer. Here we see the combination of Jesus’ two natures – the Word, or God, and flesh, or man. This one who was fully God and fully man dwelt among us. Dwelt is the key word here. It is the Greek word skenoo, which means to live, to take up residence, to pitch tents. The noun form of the word, skene, means a tent or a tabernacle.

To pitch tents? A tabernacle? This one who was fully God and fully man pitched a tent, or tabernacled, among us?

In today’ reading, we read about a man, Aaron, who served in the tabernacle. Whenever he served in the tabernacle, this man wore priestly garments. He put the garments on. These garments were made by skillful workers, the same skillful workers that made the tabernacle. And, the priestly garments were made of the same materials that the tabernacle was made of. In fact, the priestly garments were made in a way that they reflected the nature of the tabernacle. Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus, as a man, was the image of the invisible God. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus as man “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” In Exodus 28:2, God told Moses, “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and beauty.” That sounds just like Hebrews 1:3. So, Jesus, as did Aaron when he wore the priestly garments, imaged, or reflected, God. Aaron is a picture of Jesus as fully man.

Aaron served in a sanctuary, which we first read about in Exodus 25. In verses 8-9, God told Moses, “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.” God instructed Moses to make the tabernacle in a very specific way. It had to follow exactly the pattern that God show Moses. Hebrews 8:2, 5 says, “We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man…They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.'” The tabernacle that Moses built on earth was an exact replica of the tabernacle in heaven. The earthly tabernacle was a copy or shadow of the heavenly tabernacle. Everything about the tabernacle revealed something about the true tabernacle in heaven. The tabernacle is a picture of Jesus as fully God.

So, we see the two natures of Jesus, fully God and fully man, revealed in the tabernacle and the priestly garments. This is why so many chapters in Exodus are devoted to every detail of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and every other thing necessary for Aaron and his sons to serve in the tabernacle. Therefore, it is very important to do an depth study of both so that we can receive revelation from the Holy Spirit about who Jesus really is.

Jesus Opened the Way to Hear God’s Voice

Today’s Reading: Exodus 24-27

This morning the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about the events in Exodus 24 and what brought about the law given through Moses. However, in order to truly understand all of this, we have go to back to Exodus 19.

In Exodus 19, Israel came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped there before the mountain. While Israel was camped there, Moses went up the mountain to meet with God. In Exodus 19:4-6, God tells Moses to say to Israel, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” God told Israel to obey his voice. If they obeyed his voice, then they would be God’s treasured possession and a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

So, Moses goes back down the mountain to tell Israel what God said. In Exodus 19:8, “All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.'” Israel has not heard God actually speak yet, but they agree that when God does speak to them, when they hear his voice, they will do everything he says.

So, Moses goes back to God and reports what Israel said. Then God tells 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 sends Moses back down the mountain to tell the people to consecrate themselves today and tomorrow. Moses tells Israel, “Be ready for the third day.”

The third day is perhaps the most significant of all days in the Bible. The third day speaks to Jesus’ resurrection. It’s on the third day that he rose from the grave. So, we see Israel coming to the mountain on the third day, which is a picture of the anticipation of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

But, “on the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.” (Exodus 19:16) Moses brought the people out of the camp to stand at the foot of the mountain to meet God. Now, it’s important to recognize that this mountain represents Jesus Christ. In verse 12, God said that no one should go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it for whoever does so will be put to death. But, in verse 13, God said that “no hand shall touch him.” God called the mountain “him” not “it”.

A mountain is symbolic of a kingdom in the Bible. In Daniel 2, we are told that Jesus is the stone that would crush all the kingdoms of the world, but this stone, Jesus, would become a great mountain, a great kingdom, that would fill the earth. The resurrected Jesus was the start of this kingdom, this mountain, that would fill the earth.

So, Israel is brought to this mountain and told not to touch it. But, when they come to the mountain they see thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud, or darkness, and they hear a loud trumpet. This is all a picture of Jesus’s crucifixion. Matthew 27:45-46 tells us that there was darkness over all the land and that Jesus cried out with a loud voice. In other words, there was a thick cloud and a loud trumpet. Mark and Luke record the same.

In Exodus 19, the story continues as Moses spoke and God answered him in a thunder, a really loud voice. God and Moses speak, and God tells Moses to go down and warn the people lest the people came up the mountain. Moses does what God said. Then, we read in the beginning of Exodus 20 the ten commandments that God gave to Moses to give to Israel. Moses received those ten commandments when he was on the mountain with God.

Wait…when did Moses go up the mountain? Did we miss something?

In fact, we did. Exodus 20:18-21 gives the missing piece of the story. “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood afar off and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to use lest we die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.’ The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.”

See, on the third day when the people saw thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and heard a loud trumpet, the people told Moses we don’t want to hear God’s voice. They told Moses to go talk to God alone and then Moses could tell them what God said. Remember, Israel said they would hear God’s voice and do what he says. Then they would be God’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

But, when they came to the mountain on the third day, to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, they rejected hearing God’s voice and obeying it. This is why God gave a written law to Moses for Israel to follow. Israel didn’t want to hear from God directly. So, instead of God writing his law on their hearts, God gave them a law written on tablets of stone.

So, the written law was given by God through Moses (see John 1) in Exodus 20-23. Now, in Exodus 24, Moses came near to God alone. Then, “Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules.” (Exodus 24:3). Israel didn’t want to hear God’s voice directly and obey what was right in God’s eyes. They rejected a living relationship with him. Instead they asked for a set of written laws. They just wanted rules to follow. And having received from Moses what God said, “All the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” (Exodus 24:3) This was the second time Israel had said these exact words.

So, Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then, he made an altar. Israel offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar. Moses took half the blood and put it in basins and the other half of the blood he threw on the altar. Next, Moses took the Book of the Covenant and read all the words of God that he had written to the people. In Exodus 24:7, all the people said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” This was the third time that Israel had spoken these words. These three statements represent Israel’s complete agreement to obey what God had spoken. But, did they ever do it? Hardly.

After their agreement, Moses throws the half of the blood in the basins on the people and says, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” I believe the altar that Moses set up was a picture of the cross and that the burnt offerings and peace offerings Israel offered on it were a picture of Jesus on the cross. The blood Moses threw on the altar was Christ’s blood on the cross. But, what about the blood Moses threw on the people?

Three times in Exodus the people said they would do all that God said. First, they said they would obey his voice. But, then they were frightened by that prospect and asked Moses to tell them what God said. But, two more times Israel said it would obey all that God said. But, they wanted to obey a written law not his voice.

I believe we see all of this fulfilled in the life of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and the Mount of Transfiguration. In Matthew 5:18, Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” This is like God’s opening statement through Moses that Israel should obey the voice of God.

Then, for the rest of the sermon Jesus speaks about the law. He repeatedly says, “You have heard it said…” But, 10 times Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you…” God gave Moses ten commandments that he wrote in tablets of stone for Israel. But, here is Jesus on the mountain giving a sermon and he speaks directly 10 times to Israel concerning the law and what they had learned to do in contrast to what Jesus, the Word of God, was telling them to do. Through his voice, the voice of God, he says ten times “I say to you” do this. Through his voice, Jesus is telling the people what they should really do. This was at the beginning of his ministry. And, throughout his ministry, Jesus said, “I say to you…”

Then, near the end of his life, Jesus goes up on the mount of transfiguration with Peter, John, and James. They see Jesus with Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets. Peter says they should build three tents, one for each of them. But, only Jesus had been transfigured. So, while Peter was still speaking, “Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” And Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, disappeared.

So, to the question I left unanswered above, what about the blood Moses threw on the people?

In Matthew 27, Pilate is trying to set Jesus free, but the Jews would have nothing of it. They have constantly heard the voice of God through Jesus. Yet, they were demanding that Jesus be crucified. Pilate washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.” In Matthew 27:25, “All the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!'” This was a fulfillment of Moses throwing the blood of the offerings on the people at Mount Sinai after they had said three times they would obey him but they didn’t.

God has always desired to speak to his people directly. He has always desired a relationship where his people would obey his voice. He always wanted to speak directly to the heart. It’s only when people reject his voice and disobey him that God gives a written law, a set of rules to follow, that can’t bring life. God does this to lead you to him. Thankfully, Christ’s death on the cross has opened up the way for God voice’s to speak directly to our hearts.

Jesus: The Hebrew Slave That Would Not Go Out Free

In Exodus 20, God gives Moses the ten commandments that he is to give to Israel. Then, In Exodus 21-23, God gives Moses more detailed laws for Israel to follow.

In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Jesus came to fulfill every bit of the laws we read of in Exodus 20-23. He came to fulfill every other law and prophecy in the Old Testament too. This is why Jesus showed the two disciples on the road to Emmaus where he was in all the law and the prophets. Jesus showed them how he fulfilled, or completed, the law and the prophets.

Not one bit of this law, the law we read about in the Old Testament, will pass away until “all is accomplished”, that is until heaven and earth pass away. The Greek word accomplish, ginomai, means to become or to take place. It also means to come into a new state of being. In John 19:30, when Jesus was on the cross, he said, “It is finished.” In other words, Jesus accomplished all that was in the law and the prophets. Jesus had brought creation to a new state of being.

It also meant that heaven and earth had passed away. How so? Well,  in order for there to be a heaven and an earth, there had to be a distinction or a separation between them. God did this when he created the firmament on the second day of Genesis. This firmament was equivalent to the veil in the tabernacle and the temple, which separated the most holy place from the holy place, or heaven from earth. But, Jesus’ death on the cross tore the veil and removed the firmament that separated heaven from the earth. Now, heaven and the earth were connected. They were one. There was no more distinction. Therefore, the two had passed away.

The passing away of heaven and earth is now but not yet. It has begun but is not complete. What do I mean? Well, for all those that believe in Jesus, the reality is that heaven and earth have passed away. The kingdom is here. This is why Paul says in Romans 6:14, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” And, this is why John writes in his gospel in John 1:17, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” However, for all those who have not received Jesus Christ, they are still under the law. The veil of Moses has not been taken away. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:14-16, “For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” For those that have not had the veil removed, heaven and earth are still separated, still alive as it were.  They have not passed away. And, for them it is as though the law has not been accomplished, that is finished or brought to an end. Therefore, they are still under the law. The law is still their tutor to bring them to Christ. This is what Paul is writing about in Galatians 3 and 4.

So, for those who believe Jesus, they are no longer under all the laws we read about in Exodus 20-23. Jesus has fulfilled those laws for us. Instead, we obey Jesus. He said to practice perfect love – love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and the love your neighbor as Jesus has loved you (yes, Jesus ramped up the requirement to “as he loved us” from “as yourself” right before he died).

Therefore, I want to look at just one of the laws in Exodus 21 to see how Jesus fulfilled it. Exodus 21:2-6 says, “When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.”

Have you considered that Jesus fulfilled this law?

Philippians 2:5-7 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” The Greek word for servant is doulos. It literally means a born bondman, a slave, or one made a slave. Jesus became a Hebrew slave just like it says in Exodus 21:2.

If the slave served six years, then he was to go out free in the seventh year. Jesus did not serve six years. His ministry, his work, his time as a slave was only three and a half years. Therefore, he was not entitled to go out free.

Jesus came into his service, his slavery, single. He was not married. If he had come into his service, his slavery, married, then he could have gone out free with his wife after six years. Therefore, if Jesus ended his six years of slavery and went out free, then he would have had to go out single, without any wife or children that his master might have given him.

But, if the master gave the slave a wife and children while during his time of slavery, then the wife and children would be the master’s and not the slave’s. The slave would have to go out alone. We know that the church, all believers,  is the bride of Christ, the wife of Jesus. Did you know that Jesus received his wife, all believers, from God, his master, during his slavery?

This fact is repeated several times in the gospel of John. John 6:39 says, “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.” John 17:12 says, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” John 18:9 says, “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” Jesus was given those that would believe in him, his wife, during his ministry, during his slavery. And, he didn’t lose one of them.

But, there was an exception to the slave going out alone and leaving his wife and children behind that his master gave him. The exception was if the slave clearly said, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free.” Jesus loved his master, the Father. John 14:31 says, “But I do as the Father commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” And, Jesus loved his wife, the believers. John 13:1 says, “When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Jesus clearly said that he loved his Father and his wife and children through every thing he did and everything he spoke.

Since Jesus clearly stated this love, he said “I will not go out free.” Therefore, like the Hebrew slave, Jesus was to be brought to God and to the door or the doorpost. “And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.” The door or the doorpost is a symbol of the cross. We learned this earlier in Exodus in the account of the Passover. Jesus was brought to the cross. An awl is a boring instrument or a needle. Jesus was nailed to the cross and pierced with a spear while he hung on it. Jesus said he would be God’s slave forever in order to keep his wife and children that he received during his slavery. Jesus will serve the Father forever as the High Priest as it is says in Hebrews.

Jesus did not go out free. He paid with his life to receive his bride. Both 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23 say “you were bought with a price.” A price had to be paid in order for Jesus, the Hebrew slave, to bring the wife and children he received from his master out of slavery with him. Galatians 3:13 says that “Christ redeemed us.” He bought us to keep us since he received us during his slavery. What was the price Jesus paid? Ephesians 1:7 says that “in him we have redemption through his blood.” Jesus bought us with his blood, with his life. Indeed, this is how we know that Jesus, the Hebrew slave, clearly said that he loved us during his time of slavery. For 1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” Jesus didn’t pay this price as some sort of punishment. No, Jesus paid this price to show his Father how much he loved his wife that his Father gave him during his time of slavery.

Jesus fulfilled the law of the Hebrew slave to bring the wife that he received from God out of slavery with him. He was willing to not go out free but pay the price for us. He loves us that much.

Jesus: The Rock that Was Struck

Israel has come to Rephidim. But, there is no water for them to drink there. So, Israel quarrels with Moses and says, “Give us water to drink.” Moses asks why they are quarreling with him and what are they testing God. Israel was thirsty and asked Moses why they brought them there to kill them with thirst. Moses asks God what he should do since the people are about to stone him. In Exodus 17:5, God told Moses, “Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, 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.”

I think many Christians would identify this rock as Jesus. But, what exactly is going on here? What is the full picture of Jesus that God is giving us?

Since Israel was baptized in the Red Sea, they have been to some interesting places. First, they traveled through the wilderness of Shur. Shur means wall. They traveled three days, the period of time from death to life, but they found no water. This wilderness was a wall between death and life for them.

Israel eventually came to Marah, which means bitter or bitterness. Even they found water at Marah, they couldn’t drink it because it was bitter. The people complained against Moses, and Moses asked God what should they drink. The Lord showed Moses a tree, think the cross, the tree that Jesus became a curse on. Moses threw the tree in the water and the bitter water became sweet. Because of the tree, their bitter life became sweet.

From Marah, they came to Elim. Elim means trees, perhaps palm trees. At Elim, there were 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. The number 12 has several connotations throughout scripture, including God’s power and authority as well as the governmental foundation. I have written several times about the number 70 as it relates to all the nations of the earth that came from Noah’s sons and the people of God represented by Jacob’s sons. So, here we see all the people of God provided with God’s life (water) as their governmental foundation, power, or authority.

Israel left Elim and traveled through the wilderness of Sin. The name Sin is not the Hebrew word for sin. This name Sin means teeth, press, or sharp. The name has the idea of two front teeth. Again, Israel complained to Moses and Aaron. They said it would have been better that they had died in Egypt where they had meat pots and bread to the full. Instead, they had been brought here to die of hunger. God provided them quail for one evening, but the next morning they had manna from heaven, which God fed them with for the next 40 years as they wandered in the wilderness. It’s ironic that in the wilderness known as teeth that God provided Israel manna, which you wouldn’t need teeth to eat. God provided for their hunger. In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.”

Israel left the wilderness of Sin and came to Rephidim. Rephidim means to spread out or extend and to support or refresh. Israel camped at this place, the place of support or refreshment, but there was no water for the people to drink. They people said they were brought out here to die of thirst. So, in the previous place, the people complained that they would die of hunger, but God gave them manna. Manna was a type or picture of Jesus, the true bread from heaven, the bread of life. But, now the people are complaining that they will die of thirst.

But, this time Israel moves beyond complaining. Moses says they put God to the test. Deuteronomy 6:16 says, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” This is the scripture Jesus quoted when Satan attacked him in the wilderness. In 1 Corinthians 10:9, Paul says, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by the serpents.” Clearly, we are not to put God to the test, to force him to prove himself to us. But, Israel did exactly this, even though had generously, miraculously, provided for them after each of their previous complaints.

Even though Israel put God to the test, God told Moses to give the people water by striking a rock with his staff. But, this is where things get interesting.

First, God tells Moses to use the staff that the struck the Nile with. The first time we see Moses with this staff is Exodus 4. Moses asks what he should do if the people don’t believe the Lord appeared to him. God tells Moses to take his staff and throw it on the ground. When Moses did this, the staff became a serpent. When Moses caught the serpent by the tail, it became a staff again. A few chapters later, Moses does the same thing in front of Pharaoh

But, the next thing Moses does with the staff is found in Exodus 7. In verse 15, God tells Moses to “take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent.” Then, in verse 17, God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn to blood.” So, this staff became a serpent and was used to strike the river that brought life to Egypt and turn it into blood.

Next, God tells Moses that he will stand before him on the rock at Horeb. And, Moses was to strike the rock with the staff. Moses was to use the staff that became a serpent to strike the rock. This is a picture of Jesus on the cross.

Notice that God was standing on the rock, but Moses was to strike the rock. What part of God would have been on the rock? God’s heel. What did Moses strike God’s heel with? The staff that became a serpent. As part of the curse in Genesis 3:15, God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” When Moses struck the rock that God was standing on with the staff, it was a picture of the serpent, Satan, bruising the heel of Jesus on the cross.

The rock God was standing on was called Horeb. Horeb means to dry up, be dried, to be in ruins, to lay waste. When Jesus was struck by Satan on the cross, what did he say? John 19:28 says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.” Jesus is the rock at Horeb, that was dried up when he was struck on the cross.

When the rock was struck, water came out. On the cross, Jesus was pierced in his side. In other words, he was struck by a staff. And, that staff was the serpent, Satan. What happened when Jesus’ side was pierced? John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” The first time Moses struck the Nile and out came blood. Now, Moses struck the rock and out came water. Moses, through whom the law was given, wielded the staff that became a serpent and when it was used to strike it brought forth blood and water. And, when Jesus was pierced by a spear on the cross at the hand of Satan out came blood and water.

But, recall John 6:35 above. I didn’t quote the whole verse. The complete verse says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

The Israelites said they were brought out of Egypt to die of hunger. And, God provided them manna from heaven. Jesus is the true bread from heaven, the bread of life, which if someone eats from that bread they will never hunger again.

The Israelites said they were brought out of Egypt to die of thirst. And, God provided them water from a dry rock. Jesus is the living water. In John 4:14, Jesus says, “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.”

Yes, most of us know that Jesus is the rock. But, this brief event in Exodus 17 reveals so much more than we initially think. This brief story of Moses striking the rock foreshadows so much of what happened to Jesus on the cross and the benefit that we received.

If we drink from that rock, then we will never thirst again.

What Is the King’s Highway, God’s Road to Victory?

Today’s Reading: Exodus 14-16

The Lord has brought Israel out of Egypt. He has been leading them to Canaan, but the path he was leading them on initially went away from Canaan. The more direct path would have been to take Israel on the way of Philistines, but this was a way of war (Exodus 3:17). Instead, God led Israel through the wilderness to the Red Sea (Exodus 3:18). Later, in Numbers 20, we learn that this way through the wilderness was called the king’s highway.

So, God could have led Israel to Canaan, the promised land, on a path of war. But, God had a different plan, a better plan. Instead of a path of war, God chose to lead Israel to Canaan on the king’s highway.

What is the king’s highway?

While God was leading the Israelites through the wilderness to the Red Sea, Pharaoh and the Egyptian army was chasing them. The people of Israel began to fear greatly and they cried out to the Lord. They complained to Moses that he had simply brought them out to the wilderness to die (that statement is dripping with irony by the way). The people said it would have been better to stay in Egypt and serve the Egyptians than die in the wilderness.

In Exodus 14:13-14, Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The people have reached the edge of the sea. They’re trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptians. And, Moses says, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord.”

To understand what is happening, we need to remember that Egypt is a type or picture of the world – it’s values, it’s culture, it’s systems, it’s way of being. In 1 John 2:16, the world, Egypt, is described for us, “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.” God has led Israel out of the world, but all of the desires of the world are bearing down on them. They are trapped by these desires with no where to go. Like Israel, God is calling us out of the world (not physically but spiritually). But, we are trapped by all that is in the world. We are to fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. But, what is this salvation?

After Moses told Israel to look for the salvation of the Lord, in Exodus 14:15-16, God said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”

The phrases “over the sea and divide it” and “on dry ground” should immediately send us back to day three of creation in Genesis 1, which I wrote about in Creation: A Witness to Jesus. On day three, the seas were gathered and the dry ground appeared. In that post, I wrote that this was a picture of Jesus’ baptism and that the dry ground appearing was the resurrected Jesus coming forth.

After God told this to Moses, “Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel.” (Exodus 14:19-20)

The angel of God is Jesus, and the pillar of cloud is the Holy Spirit. They had been leading Israel on the journey through the wilderness, on the king’s highway. But, when Israel was trapped by the world and told to go forward by God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit moved from leading Israel to standing between Israel and Egypt. Jesus and the Holy Spirit come between Israel and the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, all that is in the world, the host of Egypt.

Then Moses lifted up his staff, the sea was made dry land, and the waters were divided. Israel went through the midst of the sea on dry ground.

Instead of taking Israel to the promised land on the way of Philistines, the path of war, God took Israel on the path through the wilderness, the king’s highway. And, the king’s highway led right into the Red Sea where the waters were divided and Israel walked through on dry ground.

Are you seeing what the king’s highway is?Are you seeing the path to the promised land, the place of rest?

Paul tells us exactly what the crossing of the Red Sea was in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” The crossing of the Red Sea was Israel’s baptism.

Baptism is the sign, the symbol, that we have died with Jesus. Romans 6:3 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea is a picture of all believers being baptized into Christ and into his death. The crossing of the Red Sea is a picture of the believer picking up his own cross and dying to himself. As Paul says in Galatians 6:14, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

When Israel had safely cross through the Red Sea on dry ground, Exodus 14:30 says, “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians.” In their baptism, Israel beheld the salvation of the Lord, as Moses had said. The same is true for us. Paul says in Romans 6:4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life.”

So, what is the king’s highway? What is God’s road to victory?

The Cross! Crucifixion! Death!

Not warring or killing but dying!

God could have led Israel and us out of Egypt, out of the ways of the world, through a path  of war, the way of the Philistines.

But God says no to that way. Instead, God led Israel on a path through the wilderness, the king’s highway. Who is the king? Jesus! Jesus’ path to life was through death, through the cross. Jesus defeated death through death.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 says,  “‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus won the victory for us on the cross. God gives us the victory when we come to Jesus, pick our own cross, and die to our self and the world.

God’s road to victory is the king’s highway not the way of the Philistines. God’s road to rest is the cross, the way of Jesus, the king. God’s road life is death not war.

One final point. After Israel’s victory, Moses and Israel sang a song. Part of the song says, “The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.” (Exodus 15:3)

Oh, how we love to take that verse out of context of the whole Bible. Oh, how we love to use that verse to justify our own violence and the lusts of our flesh, the lusts of our eyes, and the pride of our life. James 4:1-3 tells us that this is precisely where strife, fights, and war comes from.

Oh, how we love to take the statement “the Lord is a man of war” out of the context of Jesus. God speaks through Jesus now. Jesus is the exact image of God. Jesus, the crucified Christ, is the lens through which we must read the entire Bible.

How did Jesus wage “war”? On the cross. By dying. Through weakness.

The true path to Canaan, the promised land, eternal life, is not though war. The true path is through the cross and death to all that is in the world.

This is how we fear not, stand still, and behold the salvation of the Lord.

God says to go forward into the Red Sea, into your baptism, into your death to yourself and the world.

Be crucified with Christ!

Jesus is the way!

Jesus: The Passover Lamb

Today’s Reading: Exodus 11-13

In these chapters, God is finally bringing Israel out of Egypt. It’s been 430 years since he sent Jacob and his family into Egypt. But, now the time has come. And, Israel must be ready to get out with haste.

The night before Israel is going to leave they are to hold a feast. A lamb per household is to be slain, roasted, and eaten completely. If anything is left over, then it is to be burned. And, the blood of the lamb is to be put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the house. And, the whole family is to go into the house. They are to stay there for the night and not go out. Any house that doesn’t have the blood on it will lose their firstborn, both of man and beast.

There’s more to the story, like the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs, but I only touched on the part of the story related to the lamb above. That’s because the Holy Spirit drew my attention to the lamb this morning.

I think most Christians know that this lamb that was sacrificed is a picture of Jesus. But, in Exodus 12 there is so much detail about the lamb that is perfectly fulfilled by Christ.

A NEW BEGINNING

First, I should note that this feast, this Passover, this exodus, changed the calendar for the Jews. It would change their whole orientation to time. The month of the exodus on the Passover would now mark the beginning of the year. This month was now to be the first month of the year. But, it’s not just the first month of the year. In Exodus 12:1, the Lord said to Moses, “This month shall be the beginning of months.” This event is the new beginning, the new start for you.

This is a picture of what Jesus and his death on the cross does for us. It is a new beginning, a new start. It’s the beginning of a new life. His death on the cross reorients us and time.

A LAMB FOR A HOUSEHOLD

In verses 3-4, God says, “Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make a count for the lamb.”

The whole congregation of Israel was to do this. Everyone participated. The whole congregation was about 1.5 to 2.0 million people. But, this feast wasn’t to be done at a gathering of the entire congregation of Israel. No, this feast was to be done by households. Every man would take a lamb according to his father’s house. And, if there weren’t enough people in the house to eat the whole lamb, then the man and “his nearest neighbor” were to get together so that in the one house they could eat the whole lamb.

What a picture this is of the church. The church, the body of Christ, is one body. But, we aren’t to gather around Jesus, the lamb, as one congregation, as one total group, which would number well into the millions. Instead, like Israel in the first Passover, we are to gather by households, small groups.

Acts 2:46 says, “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes…” There were 3,000 people that had just gotten saved. Yes, they were still meeting in the temple, which they were accustomed to do, but they began breaking bread in their homes.

Then, in Acts 5:42 we read, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Now, they are not just breaking bread, but teaching and preaching Christ house to house. Yes, they are doing this in the temple too, but it wouldn’t be long and the physical temple would be destroyed by the Romans. There would be no place to gather around Jesus, the lamb, except house to house.

After Stephen was martyred, Acts 8:3 says that “Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” Saul went where he knew the believers were gathering, house to house, and hauled them off to prison.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he asks them to greet Prisca and Aquila. In Romans 16:5, he says, “Greet also the church in their house.”

In Exodus, we see a picture of God’s people gathering around a lamb house by house. Look at how often the word house is used. And, in Acts and the letters of the New Testament, we see the fulfillment of God’s people, the church, the body of Christ, gathering around Jesus, the lamb, from house to house.

But, if the house wasn’t big enough, then the man was to get his “nearest neighbor” and gather around the lamb together. The people of Israel were not to go looking for the people they liked to share the lamb with. They weren’t to go search throughout the whole congregation to find the people they would be best suited to share the lamb with. No, they were to find their nearest neighbor. Do we at all consider gathering around Christ with our “nearest neighbor” or do we go looking for the people and the church that suits what we want?

TAKE A LAMB

The lamb for the Passover was to be taken on the 10th day of the month. Exodus 12:5 says, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old.” The lamb wasn’t just to be taken. The man had to check the lamb to make sure it didn’t have a single blemish. The lamb was to be selected.

Towards the end of John 11, we read that the Passover was at hand. Verses 56-57 say, “They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?’ Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.” Where was Jesus? Would he show up to the Passover? Because the chief priests and Pharisees were looking to arrest, or “select”, him.

John 12 tells us that six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany to see Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. On this day, Mary anointed Jesus. Eventually, a large crowd gathered because they had heard Jesus was there.

The next day, five days before the Passover, the crowd that had come to Jerusalem heard that Jesus was coming to the city. John 12:13 says, “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” The crowd of Jews had selected Jesus.

But, not only the Jews. On this same day, there were some Greeks who went up to Jerusalem to worship at the Passover. They came to Philip and asked to see Jesus. The whole world had come to see Jesus, the lamb of God.

What day was it? Five days before the Passover. The Passover was on the 14th. Five days before the Passover was the 10th. The Jews selected him as king on the 10th. Even the Greeks came to see him on the 10th. Jesus was selected on the 10th just like the lamb in Exodus 12.

Jesus, the lamb, needed to be inspected for any blemish. The chief priests knew that he had none. How do we know this? Matthew 26:59 says, “Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death.” They were seeking false testimony to put Jesus to death because they knew there was no true testimony of any blemish in Jesus. And, even though the Jews were demanding Jesus’ crucifixion, Pilate said, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” (John 19:4) Peter confirms this in 1 Peter 1:19 when he says that we were redeemed by the blood of Christ, “like that of a lamb without blemish or sport.”

FROM THE SHEEP OR THE GOATS

We all know that at the Passover a lamb was eaten. And, we all know that Jesus is the lamb of God. Exodus 12:5 says the lamb should be without blemish. But, the verse also says, “You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.”

Wait…Jesus is the lamb, the lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. Why did God give them a choice between a lamb and a goat?

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus gives a parable of sheep and goats. Jesus says the Son of Man will separate the sheep and goats. The sheep are those that fed him, gave him drink, clothed him, and visited him. But, the goats didn’t do any of those things. Sounds better to be a sheep than a goat.

So, when Jesus was selected as the lamb, did the Jews have a choice?

In Matthew 27, we are told that at the Passover it was a custom that the governor would release for the crowd one prisoner. In Matthew 27:17, Pilate says, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate hears about his wife’s dream and doesn’t want anything to do with this. So, he asks a second time, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you? And the crowd cried out ‘Barabbas.'”

Jesus was the perfect, sinless, innocent lamb. Isaiah 53:9 says, “he had done no violence.” Jesus was the son of Joseph.

Barabbas was “a notorious prisoner.” Indeed, he was a murderer (as was Satan from the beginning). Barabbas means “son of the father.”

The choice: an innocent man who had done no violence, the Christ, or a notorious criminal, a murderer, the son of his father, Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning.

Matthew 27:21-22 says, “And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!'” The Jews, and all of us, would have done the same, chose a free a murderer over Christ. They chose to crucify the lamb instead of the goat.

KILL THE LAMB

Once the lamb had been selected, Exodus 12:6 says, “And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.” The 14th day of the month was the Passover, which was the day Jesus was crucified.

The Hebrew word translated twilight literally means “between the evenings.” But, the phrase “between the evenings” implies from the declining of the sun to the setting of the sun. So, between the evenings went from noon to the setting of the sun. Mark 15:34, 37, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice…And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” The ninth hour was 3 p.m. Jesus died almost perfectly at the mid-point between the evenings.

THE BLOOD AND THE DOOR

Once the lamb had been killed, Exodus 12:7 says, “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.” Later, in verse 22, when Moses is telling the elders of Israel what to do, he said, “Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.”

The blood from the slain lamb was in four spots:

  1. The left doorpost
  2. The right doorpost
  3. The lintel
  4. The basin

This is a picture of where the blood of Jesus was when he was crucified. He was nailed through his two hands to the cross. So, there was blood on the left doorpost and the right doorpost. Jesus had a crown of thorns placed on his head. So, there was blood on the lintel, the part of the door at the top that connected the two doorposts. And, Jesus was nailed to the cross at his ankles. Crucifixion was messy. Surely, there was a lot of blood pooled on the ground. So, there was blood in the basin.

Jesus talks about this door in John 10. In John 10:1-2, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” Jesus, the shepherd of the sheep, entered by this door. But, no one understood what Jesus said.

So, Jesus tried again. In John 10:7, 9, 11, 15 he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I lay my life down for the sheep.”

Israel was to put the blood of the lamb on the door and enter into their house through the blood of the lamb on the door. And, in John, Jesus is saying that as the shepherd he entered by the door. Not only that, but he is the door. Further, as the good shepherd, he lays his life down for the sheep. He dies for them. So, anyone that enters through Jesus, the door of the shepherd that dies and has blood on it, will be saved. We must go through the crucified Christ for salvation.

ROASTED ON THE FIRE

In Exodus 12:8, it says that each household should eat the lamb “roasted on the fire.” It was not to be eaten raw or boiled in water. Fire often represents judgment in the Bible. So, Jesus had to be judged, roasted by fire. Indeed, he was judged by both the chief priests and elders in their council (Luke 22:66-71) and by Pilate (John 18 and 19).

LET NONE OF IT REMAIN UNTIL THE MORNING

After the lamb was roasted, Exodus 12:8, 10 says, “They shall eat the flesh that night…And you shall let none of it remain until morning.”

In Matthew 27:57-60, the evening that Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud, and buried it in a tomb. Jesus was taken off the cross during the night and buried. There was nothing of him left until the morning. His flesh had been eaten that night.

YOU SHALL NOT BREAK ITS BONES

Towards the end of Exodus 12, God told Moses and Aaron, “You shall not break any of its bones.”

The day that Jesus was crucified was the day of Preparation, a high day. So, the bodies of those crucified were not to remain the crosses. Therefore, the Jews asked to have the legs of Jesus and the two robbers crucified with him broken. The soldiers broke the legs of the two robbers. But, when they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead. So, they pierced him in the side. John 19:36 says, “For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.'”

Even with all of this, we are just scratching the surface of the full picture of Exodus 12 and its witness to Jesus.

But, without a doubt, Jesus is the Passover Lamb.

33, 16, 14, 7, 66, 2, 70 – They’re Jesus not Lotto Numbers

In Genesis 46, God sent Jacob down to Egypt. Jacob brings all his offpsring with him. Most of the chapter is taken up by the different groups that went and how many were in each group. Why are we given the number of each group? What do the numbers mean? Jesus, of course.

Who Caused the Plagues? What Are the Plagues About?

Today’s Reading: Exodus 8-10

Exodus 8-10 covers 8 of the 10 plagues that occurred in Egypt. I think what I would call the traditional, standard, or conventional reading of this passage is that God caused these plagues to fall on Egypt because Pharaoh would not let Israel go due to his pride and hard heart. The traditional view is that each of the ten plagues

  • water turned into blood so that all the fish died
  • frogs over the whole country of Egypt
  • gnats in all the land of Egypt
  • swarms of flies on Pharaoh, his servants, and all his people
  • a severe plague on the livestock in the field
  • soot from the kiln that becomes fine dust and causes boils over all Egypt
  • heavy hail that killed every man and beast in the field
  • locusts that covered all the land of Egypt
  • darkness that could be felt over the land of Egypt
  • the death of all the firstborn in a household that was not under the blood

were done by God to Pharaoh and Egypt.

But, is this God?

Is this how God acts?

Is this how God leads people to know him?

Is this how God leads people to repent?

Growing in my relationship with Jesus has forced me to change the way I read the Bible. Jesus causes me to read passages like Exodus 8-10 in a different way.

What do I mean?

Colossians 1:15 says, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God.”

Hebrews 1:3 says, “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”

John 12:45 says, “And whoever sees me [Jesus] sees him [God the Father] who sent me.

John 14:6-7 says, “I [Jesus] am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

John 14:9 says, “Whoever has seen me [Jesus] has seen the Father.”

John 10:30 says, “I [Jesus] and the Father are one.”

Jesus is the clearest picture of who God really is, what God is really like. We only see God, we only know who God is, when we see Jesus.

There was a veil in the tabernacle and the temple that separated the holy place from the most holy place. Israel couldn’t go into the holy place. The priests could go into the holy place. But, no one, except the high priest once a year, could go into the most holy place. There was a veil that kept them from seeing God clearly.

2 Corinthians 3:12-16 says, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”

Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

There is a veil over the Old Testament. It’s hard to read it clearly and understand what God was really doing and saying. But, there is someone that removes the veil. Jesus!

How did Jesus remove the veil? Jesus died on the cross and the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. For those who would come to him, those who would enter into the temple, they would see God clearly through Jesus. But, not just see Jesus in any old way. We could see God clearly through the crucified Christ that died for the sins of the world yet cried out from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

1 John 4:8 and 16 both say, “God is love.” How do we know love? 1 John 4:9-10 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” We know love, we only know love, because God loved us and sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. God manifested his love in Jesus. God made his love a real, tangible thing that we could see, touch, and smell through Jesus.

Paul lists 16 attributes of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Just look at the last five. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

Therefore, given that Jesus is the image of God, God is love, we can only know love through Jesus’ death on the cross, and it is that death on the cross that removes the veil to read Moses clearly, how can I can possibly read the ten plagues as something God was doing to Pharaoh and Egypt? How can I possibly reconcile that with all that I have come to know about Jesus’ death on the cross so that I could be free from Satan, sin, and death?

Further, in Exodus 8-10, Moses continually writes that God was acting so that Pharaoh and everyone else would know that he is Lord. In order to know the Lord, we must turn to Jesus. We must repent. God was calling Pharaoh to repentance. What leads to repentance? Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” God smiting Pharaoh and Egypt with ten plagues was God’s kindness leading him to repentance? Really? I don’t think so.

If not God, then who caused the ten plagues?

Have you ever noticed what happens to the person doing evil or wickedness in scripture? Goliath’s head was cut off by his own sword. Haman was hanged on his own gallows. Satan, who had the power of death, was defeated by Jesus’ death on the cross. The one acting wickedly is always done in by his own wickedness.

Proverbs 26:27 says, “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.” The following list of scriptures says exactly the same thing.

  • Job 4:8
  • Psalm 7:15
  • Psalm 35:8
  • Psalm 141:10
  • Proverbs 28:10
  • Proverbs 29:6
  • Daniel 6:24
  • Matthew 26:52

And, there are many, many more.

But, I want to call out one other scripture in particular. Psalm 7:16 says, “His mischief returns upon his own, and on his own skull his violence descends.” The evil one does violence, and his violence returns on his own skull.

Where was Jesus crucified? Golgotha, the place of the skull. We did violence to Jesus, the image of God, and that violence returned to our own skull. God was kind to forgive us of that. Seeing that kindness, leads us to repentance.

So, who caused the plagues in Egypt? God, who is love, such love that can only be known through the death of Jesus on the cross and his forgiveness from the cross? Or Pharaoh, whose own violence, whose own evil and wicked acts, was coming back on to him?

What was the wickedness that Pharaoh did? First, he had enslaved Israel in his own pride. Second, he worshiped everything but God. Each of the ten plagues is related to an act of worship of something that Pharaoh and Egypt held to be a god. Each plague was the wicked idolatry of Egypt coming back onto itself.

The plagues were an issue of worship. Egypt worshiped false gods to their own destruction. Yet, God was calling people out of Egypt, the culture, the belief system, the education system, etc., to worship him. God was calling people to go on a three day journey into the wilderness to worship him. Three days is the period from death to life. God was calling people to die to Egypt, the world, and come to him for life. God was even calling Pharaoh, if he would but listen. God was moving in the midst of that, trying to get Pharaoh to know him, trying to turn Pharaoh towards him.

The whole issue was about what, rather who, was being worshiped.

We must always remember that the cross, the crucified Christ, changes everything. It is the central pivot point in all of history. It changes, or it should change, the way we read the Old Testament. Jesus’ death removes the veil so that we can see God clearly in the Old Testament.

But, we must remember that even now “we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Let us turn to Jesus, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, so that we can see the Father clearly in all the scripture.

Jesus, Believers, and the World: The True Exodus, A Story of Worship

Today’s Reading: Exodus 5-7

Exodus is the account of Moses leading Israel out of the land of Egypt. But, this story foreshadows another exodus, a greater exodus, the true exodus.

In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses says, “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.” Moses’ prophecy is fulfilled by Jesus. According to Luke 9:35, while Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration with Peter, John, and James, a voice called out from heaven, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

In Exodus, Moses is a type of Jesus.

Israel is the people of God. In Genesis 46, we see that Israel was made of the 70 people that came into Egypt with Jacob. These 70 were the descendants of Abraham. They are connected to the 70 nations dispersed from the sons of Noah and represented the nations of the world that would be blessed through the promised offspring, who Paul says was really Jesus, not Isaac.

In Romans 9:6-7, Paul says, “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.'” Just because you descend from Abraham by flesh and blood does not mean that you are a child of Abraham. Well, then, who is a child of Abraham? Paul says in Galatians 3:7, 29, “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham…And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” The true people of God, the people of the promise, are those that believe the gospel just as Abraham did.

In Exodus, Israel is a type of the believer.

What Egypt is is not as explicitly stated in the Bible, but we can infer what it represents from the whole of scripture. In Matthew 2, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take Jesus and his mother to Egypt. Matthew 2:15 says, “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.'” Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. These are just a few points that help us understand what Egypt is.

In Exodus, Egypt is a type of the world.

Therefore the true exodus is Jesus leading all those that believe in him out so that they are no longer of the world and can worship in spirit and truth.

That was a rather lengthy, but I believe necessary introduction, to what the Holy Spirit immediately laid on my heart this morning as I read Exodus 5.

Moses and Aaron had gathered the elders of Israel. They spoke all the things God told them to speak and did the signs God gave them to do in front of all the people. And, the people believed and bowed their heads in worship.

At the start of Exodus 5, Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh. They tell Pharaoh that God said, “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.” God spoke to the ruler of the world and basically said let my people go so they can worship me. “But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

The Holy Spirit immediately brought to my mind Jesus’ conversation with Pilate just before he was crucified. Shortly before that conversation, the people proclaimed hosanna to Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. They believed he was king and worshiped him like the Israelites believed and bowed their heads to worship at the end of Exodus 4.. But, Jesus is arrested and led before Pilate, who symbolized the ruler of this world.

Jesus had been gathering people, people of Israel, to himself to worship God in spirit and in truth. When Jesus was brought before Pilate by the chief priest and elders, Pilate asked who he was and what he had done. In John 18:36, Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Jesus is saying, “Let my people go.”

Pilate says, “So you are a king?” Like Pharaoh, Pilate is thinking strictly in earthly terms. He’s thinking that Jesus is a king like him, or Caesar, and he wants an earthly kingdom. In John 18:37, Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” I think many read Jesus’ statement as if he was saying “I was born king.” But, I don’t think that’s what he is saying here. Jesus says to Pilate, “You say that I am king.” That’s what you say, but not what I’m saying. Jesus then tells Pilate why he was born – to bear witness to the truth. In fact, Jesus is truth and everyone who is of the truth listens to his voice. Jesus is talking about worship. He is saying, “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.”

But, Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?” Pilate said exactly what Pharaoh said. “I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

Pilate sends Jesus to be flogged. Pilate meets with the Jews. The Jews say that Jesus declared himself to be the Son of God. Now, Pilate was afraid. So, he asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But, Jesus didn’t answer. Clearly this angered Pilate. Pilate said, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” What does Pilate mean by this? I think he was telling Jesus that he has authority to take his life so Jesus better worship him. But, in John 19:11, Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” Jesus was saying I will not worship you, but I will worship the one in heaven who has authority over you.

Most of the rest of Exodus 5 is about Pharaoh trying to get the worship that belongs to God and how the Israelites struggled under the burdens of Pharaoh could not believe and worship as they did at the end of Exodus 4. How so?

God wanted his people to go into the wilderness a three days’ journey to have a feast before him. Three days is the time between death and life, the period of time between Jesus’ death and resurrection. God was calling his people to a new life to worship him, to believe who he is. Jesus was asked what people must do to be doing the works of God. In John 6:29, Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

However, Pharaoh told Moses that by going out into the wilderness to worship he was taking the people away from their work. Moses was just trying to get them our of their burdens. Pharaoh told Moses and Israel to get back to work. Their work was to make bricks. And, Pharaoh was determined to make their work, their brick making, as difficult as he could.

So, Moses was talking about worship, believing, which is the work of God. And, Pharaoh was talking about making bricks, work, burdens. Did you know making bricks is a type of self-worship or the worship of man by man? Genesis 11:3-4 says, “Come, let us make bricks…Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Mankind wants to get worship by building his own city, his own temple, so that man can gather together to themselves.

But, I left something out of Genesis 11:3, “And they had brick for stone.” Man builds with brick. God builds with stone.

Genesis 28:18-19 says, “So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel.” Jacob had seen a vision of a ladder with angels ascending and descending. He saw a vision of heaven and earth connected. So, he set up a stone and poured oil on it – a living stone. And, Jacob called that place Bethel – the house of God. Jacob recognized that God builds his temple, his place of worship, with stones not bricks. Man can make bricks, but he can’t make stones. Only God can make stones. And, only God can make stones live.

Jesus was the cornerstone, the chief stone, the stone that the builder’s rejected. Listen to what Peter says when we come to Jesus to worship, when we go out into the wilderness three days’ journey for a feast, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” God builds his city, his temple, with living stones, men and women who believe, not bricks.

Therefore, Pharaoh wanted to build his own temple through the work of man with bricks. He wanted man’s worship. Of course, Pharaoh is a type of Satan here.

But, God, Jesus, Moses, wants a different kind of work, a work that is believing God. God does this work with living stones. I think Hebrews 11:8-10 sums it all up, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”

Let my people go. Let them go out. Into the wilderness. Three days. From death to life. They won’t know where they are going. But, by faith. By faith dwelling in the land of promise. A foreign land. As strangers. Not of this world. Living in tents. Sojourners passing through. Looking for the city, the temple, built by God. This is what a lifestyle of worship looks like.