The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the
nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you,
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age"
February 28, 2016
1) Evidences of Faith: The Blood of the Lamb (Jim Robson)
2) News & Notes
Evidences of Faith:
The Blood of the Lamb
In the May installment of Evidences, we looked at the exodus of the
Israelites from the land of Egypt. In particular, we focused on the
crossing of the Red Sea, and how that crossing foreshadowed the New
Testament concept of baptism. This month, we will focus on another
event which God brought about in the course of freeing His people
from their slavery: the tenth plague.
In order to convince the Egyptians of His deity, engrave the fear of
Himself on their hearts, make Himself known to all peoples, and to
convince Pharaoh to let Israel go, God sent a series of plagues upon
the Egyptians. The tenth -- and final -- of these plagues was the
most terrible of all:
Then Moses said, "Thus says the Lord: 'About midnight I will go out
into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt
shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne,
even to the firstborn of the maidservant who is behind the handmill,
and all the firstborn of the beasts'" (Exodus 11:4,5).
This would be the plague to end the plagues, the one that would
finally cause Pharaoh to send Israel out of Egypt. Moreover, it was
yet one more instance where God showed that He had chosen a specific
people to be His own:
"But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move His
tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does
make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel" (Exodus 11:7).
God had determined that He would shield His people from the death of
their firstborn. However, the Israelites would have to do something
in order to avail themselves of this protection.
In chapter twelve of Exodus, God instructed the Israelites to
conduct a special sacrifice. On the tenth day of that month, which
was henceforth to be the first month in their calendar, each
household was to choose a lamb. If the household was too small to
eat the whole lamb, then two neighbors could share a lamb. It could
not be just any lamb, however:
"Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You
may take it from the sheep or from the goats" (Ex. 12:5).
While it could be either sheep or goat, it had to be without spot.
They were to keep this lamb for four days:
"Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month.
Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel 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"
It is interesting to note the phrasing of verse six; it is as if the
entire people Israel were coming together to kill one lamb. We know
from what has already been said that many lambs were to be
sacrificed, and so to say that "the whole assembly...shall kill it"
seems enigmatic. It is also interesting to note the time of day. If
your Bible has marginal notes, it may point out that the ancient
Hebrew expression rendered twilight literally means, "between the
two evenings." But more importantly, there is the blood: why put it
around the door?
"For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will
strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast;
and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the
Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you
are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague
shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt"
This is why the meal is called the Lord's Passover (verse 11). God
did not enter the houses where the lamb's blood was on the doorposts
and lintel to destroy their firstborn, but passed over them. Thus
God's people would be saved from the death of their firstborn
children by the blood of the lamb.
God commanded the people to observe the Passover perpetually, year
after year, to remind themselves that it was He who had freed them
from slavery and made them into a nation. Along with the Passover,
there was also to be a week-long feast. As you recall, the Passover
was sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the first month. This day
would also mark the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening,
you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the
month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your
houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall
be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger
or a native of the land" (Ex. 12:18,19).
So, no leavened bread could be eaten with the Passover lamb, or for
a week thereafter. The Israelites, God's first covenant people, were
to keep this feast perpetually. Thus it would be an ongoing reminder
to them that God had saved them from their bondage to the Egyptians.
While there are many instances of God saving His people from various
kinds of predicaments recorded in the Bible, the central problem is
always sin. This is a problem we all face, for all have sinned
(Romans 3:23). And it is a very serious problem, "For the wages of
sin is death..." (Romans 6:23). Moreover, it is a problem which we
are helpless to rectify on our own, since everyone who commits sin
is a slave of sin (John 8:34). In the first epistle of John, we are
told that God is all light, purely good, with no darkness, or evil,
in Him. Therefore, we who have sinned cannot have any part with Him,
because we walk in darkness. Our sins separate us from God, and
therefore also from heaven and eternal life, and there is nothing we
can do on our own that can take those sins away:
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have
fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son
cleanses us from sin" (1 John 1:7).
If we believe in Jesus, and thereby live according to the example He
set for us, God will call us His people, and deliver us from the
greatest predicament of all:
"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died
for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet
perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God
demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been
justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the
death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be
saved by His life" (Romans 5:6-10).
So, by the resurrection of Christ, by His victory over death, we
have hope of everlasting life: if we have first been reconciled to
God by His blood. It is the blood of Christ that frees us from our
bondage to sin, and saves us from the death that results.
So then, just as the blood of the unblemished lamb saved the
Israelites from the death of their firstborn, so also the blood of
Christ saves all of His disciples from the consequence of their own
sin: death. The sacrifice of Christ is what allows the just God to
pass over His people when He executes judgment upon mankind for
their innumerable sins...
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being
justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in
Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood,
through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His
forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously
committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness,
that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in
Jesus" (Romans 3:23-26).
Because of the blood shed on the cross, those who are accounted
faithful in Jesus Christ will not receive the punishment for their
sins, but will receive life by the grace of God. Thus God has
delivered us by a truly great deliverance.
Just as we saw that Exodus 12:6 is written as though there was only
one lamb for the entire people of Israel, so we truly have only one
Lamb who was sacrificed for us. We also noted that the original
Passover was sacrificed at twilight, and that the Hebrew expression
literally means "between the evenings." With that in mind, consider
what happened when Jesus was on the cross:
"Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole
land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out
with a loud voice, saying, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani?' which is
translated, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' Some of
those who stood by, when they heard it, said, 'Look, He is calling
for Elijah!' Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine,
put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, 'Let Him
alone; let us see if Elijah will come take Him down.' And Jesus
cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last' (Mark 15:33-37).
The 'sixth hour' would have been about twelve noon, and the 'ninth
hour' about three p.m. So, there were three hours of darkness before
Jesus' death, but normal evening did not begin until about three
hours after His death. There were, in effect, two 'evenings' that
day, and Jesus died between them. The Passover is a vivid foreshadow
of the sacrifice of Christ.
The apostle Paul refers to this in the context of instructing the
church at Corinth to put away from themselves a man who, though
called a Christian, would not repent of his sin. The Corinthian
brethren, rather than feeling pain when considering the spiritual
state of their fallen brother, were evidently proud of their
capacity to embrace him even in his sin, and so Paul rebukes them:
"Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven
leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you
may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed
Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep
the feast, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with
the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
Remember the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Just as God's first covenant
people kept that feast beginning with their Passover sacrifice, so
also do we. They kept their Passover by killing a lamb; our Lamb has
been sacrificed for us once and for all. They kept their Feast of
Unleavened Bread by eating that bread; we keep ours by being that
bread: by purging out the leaven of sinful attitudes, and living
with pure hearts before God.
We have, then, yet another clear example of how the books of the Old
Testament anticipate the events and truths recorded in the New
Testament. In this present case, the book of Exodus was written
about fifteen hundred years before the New Testament was begun, yet
somehow the author could foreshadow the cross of Christ. Sure, one
may dismiss this as mere coincidence, but then what about the
prophecy of Moses, discussed in last month's issue of the Watchman?
Or the bronze serpent (June issue)? Or the crossing of the Red Sea
(May issue)? Or the near-sacrifice of Isaac (February)? At some
point, we must reject the notion that this is all chance, and admit
that there is a pattern. And that pattern leads us to the
inescapable conclusion that the Bible is indeed from God.
-- Via The Watchman Magazine, November 1, 1998
News & Notes
Here are some folks who would appreciate the prayers of the saints:
Penny Medlock has been hospitalized at Saint Simons for the
last several days now.
Rex Hadley was admitted recently to the Mayo Hospital, due to
having trouble breathing. Tests are being done for his heart
Myrna Jordan is now back home recuperating from recent
surgery she had in Savannah.
WordPress version of this week's bulletin:
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith
comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John
8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10;
5) Be baptized in water for the
remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not,
salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM
& 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Ladies' Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
(Gospel Observer website)