Reading Ramblings – July 27, 2014

Date:  Narrative Preaching #5—The Exodus, July 27, 2014

Texts: Exodus 12:21-40; Psalm 73; Luke 22:1-20

Context: Thus far our narrative preaching cycle has covered Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and Abraham & Isaac.  We fast forward roughly 400 years to God’s deliverance of Abraham’s descendants from slavery and death in Egypt. 

Exodus 12:21-40 — After decimating the nation and people and gods of Egypt through a series of divine-ordered disasters, God prepares for the final blow that will set his people free from slavery and the threat of annihilation.  God prepares his people, warning them about the destruction to come that night, and providing them with the means of seeking his protection.  The Exodus from Egypt is the single most important event of the Old Testament history of God’s people.  It is the defining moment for both God and Israel.  Who is Israel?  The people that God himself delivered from slavery and death.  Who is God?  The one who saved his people through his mighty power.  God demonstrates here that there is no power on earth—physical or spiritual—equal to him in power and might, as well as in love and care for his people.  As such, the Hebrews are commanded to remember this night for all generations, to retell what God did for them as a reminder of who they are and who He is yet today.

Psalm 73 — How easy it is to lose hope!  How easy it is to allow the circumstances of our individual and  corporate lives obscure the love and power of God.  After all, the wicked always seem to have a leg up on things, while God’s faithful seem more often than not to struggle.  Is it any wonder that we are tempted to envy those who follow their own hearts rather than the intentions of God?  Is it any wonder that we are tempted to abandon God’s way for the more expedient and profitable way? 

We are called to remain faithful against the temptation to abandon our God in favor of our appetites for power or riches or personal pleasure.  We are called to recognize that in God’s good timing, those who reject him and destroy others for their own gain will be called to account.  Their temporary victories and pleasures are only that—temporary.  Evil has been defeated in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and will one day face judgment and certain punishment. 

Our focus is to remain on our God and who He has created us to be in him.  This is to be our ultimate pleasure and the highest good we can hope for.  Nothing else will last.  But proper relationship to the God who saves us lasts forever.  We cannot remain faithful on our own strength, but must lean on the strength of our God to support us and hold us steadfast until the end. 

Luke 22:1-20— The Old Testament Exodus paved the way for the first covenant, the Mosaic covenant that was given by God at Mt. Sinai following the Hebrew departure from Egypt.  It was a covenant based on the performance of duty.  Those who followed the covenantal stipulations demonstrated their participation in the covenant, as further identified by their lineage as descendants of Abraham.  This covenant could not be kept.  Even before God had finished dictating it, his people were rejecting him, defying his commands, and worshiping an idol made of gold.  While they came to repentance, the remainder of the Old Testament would be a continual ebb and flow of obedience and disobedience (mainly disobedience). 

In Jesus Christ, the new covenant is established.  This covenant is not based on lineage or obedience.  It is based solely on the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God.  His willingness to go to death not for his own sins but for ours, and his subsequent resurrection from the dead, is the act by which all humanity is welcomed back into the good graces of God the Father.  Amnesty is offered to everyone who will simply recognize their state of rebellion (sinfulness) and accept the terms of amnesty in the incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension and promised return of Jesus the Son of God.  What we cannot do ourselves through force of will in terms of obedience, Jesus has done on our behalf. 

From the earliest days, the Church has recognized the Lords’ Supper as the pivotal embodiment of this arrangement.  The Lord who saves us is the Lord who continues to feed us with his presence.  As circumcision helped to incorporate individuals into the people of God in the Old Testament, Holy Communion is the special gift of God the Son to his faithful people.   It is the sign of the new covenant, a covenant not dependent on our behavior, but on the grace and mercy of God.  As the people of God’s first covenant continue to observe and remember God’s goodness in the Passover Seder, the New Testament people of God also share in a meal where God the Son himself is both presiding and the food.

 

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