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March 23, 2021 12:01 am
The Passover is not merely a remote event that took place four thousand years ago in Egypt. Today, R.C. Sproul looks at this symbol of redemption that was ultimately accomplished by Christ, the Lamb of God.
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Today on Renewing Your Mind. Why the Old Testament is vital to our understanding of God's redemptive plan. Once we understand what takes place in the Passover. For example, and later on in the celebration of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement for for the Jewish people, then we will understand what's going on when John the Baptist comes by the Jordan River and he sees Jesus approaching him. He begins to sing the Agnes day. It's true that the New Testament gives us the details about Christ life is death and resurrection, and those things are critical to our salvation, but we will never understand why all of those things needed to take place without the Old Testament the Bible is one there. It is the story of God bringing the people unto himself. His doctors one of the problems that people struggle with with Scripture is that that seems that so much of the content of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament has to do with the manifestation and revelation of God's wrath and not his judgment. When we hear the record of his mercy and of his redeeming love fully embrace that joyfully. Sometimes we shrink in skepticism and disbelief at the record of divine judgment in the New Testament, the Greek word that is translated by our English word judgment is the word Croesus we get the word the English word crisis from it because a crisis is a moment of of decisive judgment that can affect everything that follows thereafter. What one of the great crisis moments of Old Testament history was the crisis of the Passover because in the Passover. We see this mirror and this drama not only of redemption but also of judgment, and that's what makes it a crisis. There are two sides to the divine judgment.
There is the side of mercy, and there is the side of wrath. And so when we come to the Old Testament record of the Passover, we see that manifestation both of God's grace and of his wrath. Now, this idea of judgment that is accompanied at the same time with mercy and grace is a theme that is woven throughout the Scripture all through the Old Testament and after the fall we have mercy were God stoops to close his is embarrassed to create creatures and at the same time, there is the curse that comes upon himself. This motif is something that we see again and again in Scripture. Now the Passover is announced in the 11th chapter of the book of Exodus where we read these words and the Lord said to Moses, I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt not remember this contest had been going on between the two great sovereigns of that. The one who was the man who was most sovereign in all the world the Pharaoh of Egypt and the ultimately sovereign one, the God of heaven and earth. And in this conflict, in this drama, a contest of of the of wrestling between the two sovereigns there are 10 plagues that are recorded in that particular drama that it's the last one where in the culmination of God's power is seen in the Passover and so he announces this final plague that he's going to visit upon Pharaoh on an eat and on Egypt and he says afterward he will let you go from here and what he lets you go he will surely drive you out of here altogether. So speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man asked from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor. Articles of silver and articles of goal and the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians and Moses said, thus saith the Lord. About midnight I will go into the midst of Egypt and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on the throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the hand mill and all the firstborn of the animal. This is a dreadful announcement saying in this plague, God is going to afflict every firstborn son of every Egyptian family from the palace itself, the firstborn of Pharaoh down to the firstborn of the lowest peasant or servant in Egypt and not only is God announcing that he is going to slay these children but he's also going to send his angel of vengeance or the angel of death to strike the firstborn of all of the livestock of the Egyptians. Now remember, there's been a progressive intensity of the plagues from turning of the Nile into a river of blood in the Nats and the lights in the frogs and so on. But now the lives of the people, and of the livestock themselves are to be taken now. Even to this day. The events that are recorded here in Exodus are celebrated annually by modern Jews and when the Jewish people sit down to celebrate the Passover.
It is the custom for the youngest child who was at the table to say to the father. Why are we doing this. What do these things mean, and then the head of the household begins to recount what God did thousands of years ago in order to bring about the redemption of his people Israel. Not again. The celebration today is the celebration of this marvelous work of liberation.
This marvelous work of redemption and sometimes we overlook that it the redemption that was accomplished for Israel in the Passover was a redemption from the judgment of God. That's important to understand because the whole biblical history of redemption. The whole drama of salvation is a salvation by God and the salvation from God reset again. It's a salvation that is wrought by God, which at the same time is a salvation from God. That is to say what people are saved from or redeemed from is the wrath and judgment of all mighty God.
Let's look then at chapter 12 of Exodus where we read this account. Beginning in verse one now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, this month shall be the beginning of your months. It shall be the first month of the year to you and speak to the whole congregation saying on the 10th of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household and if the household is too small for the lamb led him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb, your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year on the just pause here for a moment as we look at the institution of the first Passover what is going on here is that God is giving detailed instructions to his people to go through a process by which they will escape the visitation of his wrath upon the Egyptian nation and this is so significant in their own history that, in the sense he changes their whole calendar so that from now on this month where the Exodus takes place will be marked as the first month of the year and it is that months that shall be the timeframe in which the annual celebration of this event will take place now again were told that they are to take a lamb that is a lamb without blemish of this already calls attention to what takes place in the New Testament. I've set already several times that we can't really understand the New Testament in the drama of redemption that unfolds their unless we understand the backdrop and background of all of these things in the Old Testament. Once we understand what takes place in the Passover.
For example, and later on in the celebration of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement fruit for the Jewish people, then we will understand what's going on when John the Baptist comes by the Jordan River and he sees Jesus approaching him.
He begins to sing the Agnus Day behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world so that the whole idea of Christ being the Lamb of God is a link to all the way back to the Passover because in the observance of the Passover in this first institution. It is the Lamb that is slain as the provision God makes to cover his people from his own judgment.
Let's look again at the text, then you shall keep it until the 14th day of the same months and then the whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it at twilight and they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it and then they shall eat the flesh that night, roasted and fire with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw nor boiled it all with water, but roasted in the fire its head with its legs and its entrails when you shall let none of it remain until morning.
And what does remain till morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it with the belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand so you shall eat it in haste for it is the Lord's Passover melt. What is going on here is that the Lamb is to be killed, and the blood is to be taken from the Lamb, and that each home of the Jews is to be marked on the outer posts of the door. The door frame with the blood taken from the lien.
The idea is as God sends the avenging angel. The angel of judgment. The angel of death to smite the Egyptians that when the angel comes to a house in which a Jewish person dwells the angel will see the sign on the door post of the blood of the Lamb and everywhere he sees the sign of the covering of the blood of the Lamb. He will pass by.
That's why this is called the pass over because the angel of divine judgment passes over every home that is marked by the blood of the Lamb. Obviously, the symbolism here is set clear is it not for the whole drama of New Testament redemption in the New Testament. It is the blood of Christ that covers all of his people and all of those people who are marked by the blood of the Lamb are those who escape the outpouring of God's judgment at the end of the world, a part of the reason why we struggle with this concept of judgment is that we don't really believe that God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world and yet there's any motif that is woven through both testaments it is that the God who began this creation is going to bring a human history to a terminal point to a point of supreme Croesus or crisis where he's going to call all human beings before him and render his judgment and those who were covered by the atonement of the Lamb will be spared that wrath which is to come. Again, we tend to be at ease in Zion, and assume that there never will be a judgment rendered.
It's important for us to see this drama in the Old Testament because it brings home the point to us again clearly and tersely that God is a God of judgment and God's patience runs out with favor and so when he visits Pharaoh and visits the Egyptian Egyptians. He's not being unjust, but rather just he is the avenging God we have a tendency to think that vengeance itself is inherently wrong because we are told not to be vengeful, but what does God say to us in the Scriptures. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay, so the God who appears here in the Old Testament is the warrior God of Israel, who not only goes into battle for his people, but uses those occasions as instruments of his own divine justice now then let's look back at some more of the elements here of of this supper. It's important to note that when this event takes place. Though the Exodus itself is a once for all event it's never repeated again in Old Testament history only once.
Does God deliver his people from this particular kind of bondage and forms them into a nation.
Yes indeed, there are other redemptive actions that take place the return from captivity, and so on. But as far as this paramount work of of redemption in the Old Testament is surely the most important work of redemption in the Old Testament and occurs once for all.
Just as in the New Testament the supreme work of redemption, the Christ provides for us on the cross is a one time only event.
However, though the event cannot be repeated.
There is to be a ritual that does repeat the rights that are followed. On the night of the Passover and so God says to the Jewish people from now on, every year at the same time for all generations, forever and ever.
I want you to sit down with your children with your children and celebrate this event were not going to repeat it every year in the sense of sending the angel of death to homes throughout the world. But I want you to remember and never forget what I have done for you. I will see that motif in the rest of the Old Testament whenever God gathers his people together. He will remind them I am the God of Abraham, I am the God of Isaac, I am the God of Jacob. I am the God who brought you up out of the land of Egypt and it's as if the purpose of the institution of the celebration of the Passover is that the people of God will never ever ever ever forget what he is done now. The celebration of the Passover was very important to Jesus. One of the few times where the New Testament speaks of deep passion and a visceral bowl of visceral longing that is attributed to Jesus has to do with the biblical record when Christ is coming to the very last stages of his life. He is now in Jerusalem and it's the night before his execution in the Scriptures tell us that he deeply longed to celebrate the Passover one more time with his disciples before he left. And so he gave the detailed instructions for acquiring the upper room and the make preparations for the meal and as he sat at the table with his disciples and they began to go through this ritual that have been repeated for 2000 years among the Jewish people suddenly in the midst of the celebration of the Passover.
Abruptly, Jesus changes the wording of the formula and casts a whole new meaning on the Passover, when he takes the cup and instead of saying that this cup represents the blood of the Lamb that was marking the doorpost of the homes of the Jewish people at the time of the Passover said.
Now this is the this cup is the blood of the new, it is the this cup represents my blood, which is shed for the remission of sin and he takes the unleavened bread and he breaks it and he now adds these words to it. This is my body broken for you eat, ye all of it and so what he's doing is announcing the ultimate Passover and he's doing for his disciples in the New Testament exactly what God did in the Old Testament, instructing them to keep this feast forever thereafter, saying as often as you come together and drink of the cup and eat of the bread you show forth my death until I come. It's as if Jesus is saying the same thing that the father said to Moses, don't ever forget this. You can't repeat my atonement but you can remember it by repeating this ritual in the celebration. So we see a direct link in the teaching of Jesus between the Passover in Egypt and the institution of the Lord's supper.
Now in that regard, the Passover is not simply a remote event place to 4000 years ago in Egypt, but it's self foreshadows and prepares the world for the coming of the ultimate Exodus which is accomplished by Christ. Another some details here that I want to look at before we finish notice that God requires that the bread that is eaten in the Passover be on leavened bread. The reason for this is in the Old Testament 11 or yeast which causes the bread to rise, and so on is a symbol for corruption and so the bread that is to be used in this moment of celebration is to be a bread that is holy, a bread that is consecrated and set apart again symbolizing that God has set apart his own people and has consecrated them as he spares them from his wrath in the Passover event we remember how Jesus uses this negative symbol of the leaven in the New Testament when he says, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, the false teaching of the Pharisees is like a poison that can go in and spread throughout the church and and corrupt the whole body and so God is and is specific at this point say no leaven in the bread. Then he says that they are to use wine and bitter herbs. That's an interesting combination because again we see the double edge character of this act of redemption that the same time it is an expression of supreme wrath and judgment on the eat on the Egyptians.
It is in that very moment the supreme act of grace and mercy for those who are spared. Calvin tells us for grant example how suitable it was that wine was used in the Passover and again in the New Testament because it is better sweet. On the one hand, the Old Testament Scriptures speak of wine as that which maketh the hard glad and at the same time it has a kind of burning sensation to soak the bitter herbs mixed together with the wind talks about how there is something sweet about God's redemption, and yet something profoundly painful that is added to it and then finally, those who celebrate the Passover are commanded to wear a belt. What's the significance of that so often we hear in the Scripture. This admonition is God gave to Job, gird up your loins like a man and then I will answer you in the New Testament were told to gird up our minds for the truth and so the reason for this imagery is that in the ancient world, the common garb of the people was long flowing robes and people could move around quite easily with these robes, but if they wanted to run where they wanted to go into battle they had to hike up the rope and tie a wide belt around her waist so that their legs could be freed for rapid motion and God is saying wear a belt around your waist.
It's your sandals on your shoes.
Have your staff ready at the moment that you might leave in haste because our God waits for years and decades and centuries to fulfill the promises that he had made to the forefathers when the day of redemption comes, he asked swiftly and he said I want you to be ready to move as soon as the instruction is given, and so all of this symbolizes the celebration of what God is about to do to bring about the most remarkable men of redemption in all of Old Testament you're listening to Renewing Your Mind it a listen for Dr. RC Sproul series dusted glory. St. Augustine famously said the new is in the old concealed the old is in the new revealed what Augustine was pointing out there is the remarkable way in which the two Testaments of the Bible are connected and an example of that is what Dr. Spruill said in today's lesson. The whole idea of Christ being the Lamb of God is like all the way back to the Passover.
We are pleased all week two air selected messages from this classic series in which you Dr. Spruill explains every book in the Bible. Helder woven together into one narrative would like to send you the special edition of this 57 part series for your donation of any amount to litigator ministries you can make your request firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us. One of my colleagues is standing by now to take your call at 800-435-4343. Tomorrow we will take a look at an event from the Old Testament that is had an impact on every man woman and child. To this day that dramatic moment that God gave Moses the 10 Commandments since Wednesday on renewing your