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Posts Tagged ‘instructions’

disciples

Matthew 11 begins by informing us that what it is about to speak of takes place directly after he had finished instructing his disciples.  What was it that he did first for those few?  And what did it have to do with this next step of ministry? Let’s consider Matthew 10 first.

This is that which Christ promised to those closest to him just before he sent them out on their own, apart from his bodily presence for the very first time.

Firstly, he gave them what they most needed.  Jesus gave to his ministers something no one else but he had.  Jesus gave his disciples authority.  No, not authority of their own or authority apart from submission to him.  Authority over evil.  Before he even began to give the guidelines for their good conduct, Jesus gave his guys authority over evil.

Next, Jesus promised, warned, and instructed his men to do very specific things once they had been given the authority over evil.  With the exception of a very few details, these are the very things any and all disciples of Jesus Christ are called to do and accept.

And, by the way, there are no Christians who are not disciples.  No one follows Christ in a half-baked, shallow, read a verse once a week way who follows him legitimately, rightly, and truly.  There is no such thing as believers who are not disciples.  There are believers and unbelievers.  Believers are disciples who follow and accept the following instructions.  Unbelievers are those who don’t.  Period.

Instructions from Jesus:

Go to the Jews first.  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, exorcise demons. Give all things related to the gospel freely; without charge.  Take no money, no extra clothes, and plan to stay with locals you will meet when you get to wherever I send you.  If and when you or the gospel is rejected, leave.  Be wise.  Be ready for suffering.  Do not worry.  Trust the Holy Spirit.  My message will bring division between friends, family members, colleagues, and communities.  You will be hated.  Persevere.  You will be persecuted.  Leave when you are persecuted, leave, but keep going and keep preaching elsewhere.  You will be slandered, just like me.  Do not fear.  Say everything I tell you.  Expose sin.  Do not fear men, but God.  Remember, God is extremely concerned about caring for you.  Never, ever be embarrassed or ashamed to be mine; to belong to God.  If you are, I will be ashamed of you, too.  This mission will not be peace, but conflict.  The gospel will divide people – even close family members.   If someone is not willing to suffer, he CANNOT follow me.  If someone is not willing to submit and surrender all of his life to me, he will lose his life.  He who does surrender all of life to me will get to understand and live out the true meaning of life.  When people receive you, they are receiving me and the Father.  Those who receive you will be rewarded.  Anyone who does anything of service and love toward one of you – no matter how small – will never lose his reward.

How’s that for a sales pitch?  What if every preacher and teacher of the gospel gave this disclaimer to each and every disciple?  Here’s what you will face.  This is what you’re signing up for when you start coming to church and rightly loving Jesus.  If you are not willing, don’t come.  You’ll just be in dead weight standing in the way of the gospel.  If you are not willing, do not come.  If you are willing, do not worry or fear.  I will be with you.  You are mine.  Perhaps the church would achieve quality over quantity if this message started being propagated ubiquitously again.  I don’t know.

Directly after dropping these bombs on his disciples, Jesus goes on to teach in the nearby cities.  John heard he was in town – that is, John the Baptist; Jesus’s cousin by blood.  You know, the guy who did gymnastics in the womb when he was introduced to his cuz, who was also in the womb of his mama then, too.  John – the first person on earth to recognize the Messiah – and this – while they both were fetuses.  Yes, that John.

That John was now a grown man.  That John was now juxtaposed between jail jargon and Jesus gossip. John was in jail and he was hearing about Jesus.

John found a need to send his own followers to his friend.  He sent them to Jesus to ask if he was the true fruit of Our Father.

“Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” ~Matthew 11:3

Are you the one?  Are you the Savior?  Are you the Messiah; the master; the materialized man of my Maker?  Are you, Jesus?  Are you really him?  Are you him?  Are you my Savior?  Are you really?

Because I did what you said.  Remember?  I was the lone voice calling out unashamedly telling of your soon arrival on the scene.  I was content to live a life separated from comfort and camaraderie if it meant I could just be captivated by you and your coming.  I was intensely willing to walk always in the wilderness.  I was unapologetic, unrefined, and unconcerned with what anyone might wonder about what I was because I thought I knew just who you were.  So, now, I wonder.

I wonder.  I wonder whether I was wise.  I wonder whether I was in the right wilderness.  I wonder what it all meant because I want nothing less than worthiness.  I pioneered a life that plowed down a new path for the spiritually impoverished people of your promise.

But I wonder.  I wonder who you really are.  I wonder why I’m really here.  Because I did what your Spirit said.  I never cared what they thought.  But you were supposed to save.  And I have been silenced and locked tight like a slave.  I am about to be slain.

So are you going to save, Savior?  Or should I seek someone more sane?

So the brave spirits came and they stopped to see the Savior.  They, John’s disciples, were surely seeking some simple solutions.

“Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” Matthew 11:3

And with an answer as gentile and unoffending as a dove, Jesus just described his deeds.  He questioned those sent seekers asking, “What do you see?”

Just tell John about the justice.  The blind see.  The lame walk.  The lepers are cleansed.  The deaf hear.  The dead are raised.  The poor hear the good news.  Divine healing.  That is what I came to bring.  Healing for the soul, not merely the body.  I heal the body so you may know there is hope and healing for your hell-bent souls.  I am Jehovah-Rapha.  Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

But, wait!  Our bossman is in the big house, Jehovah-Jireh.  How is that blessed?  How is that blessed?  How is that blessed?!

Just tell John about the justice.  Tell him what I told my disciples, and you guys listen close, too.  Doubt has no place in the hearts of my people.  Doubt will derail and devastate you, dudes.  Doubt cannot deny my divine deeds.  Just tell John about the justice you just saw and do not doubt.  Persecution, suffering, and ostracism are all part of the package.  Tell him I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

 

 

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giver

Today I am looking at Exodus 35:1-19.  The passage begins where the sin of idolatry caused Israel and God to leave off.  All has been reconciled between God’s people, Moses, and God after their sin and it’s time to go back to the place where progress stopped.  These are the things God was about to have the people do when he found them worshiping the golden calf.

The very first thing he instructs is a Sabbath rest.  The very first instruction is for the people to imitate God and rest once per week.  God is essentially saying, first and foremost, trust me.  You have to trust me.  If you don’t trust me first, you won’t succeed in anything you do.  If you can’t trust me to provide for you every single day of your life – and prove it by ceasing to work one day in every work week – you can’t live at all.  Death was the penalty for breaking the Sabbath.  Death!  The very first thing God tells his people to do is trust him to give to and provide for them and the penalty for disobeying is death.  Kinda gives you a fresh perspective on how God expects us to trust him, huh?  Likewise, works religion leads to nothing but spiritual death.  The punishment for self-sufficiency in religion is spiritual death, and, eventually if not repented of, eternal death.  We must rest only in Christ and his finished work on the cross and trust him alone.

The second thing God instructs is for the people to give back to him.  That’s how it works.  God gives and provides all we need, and then expects a return.  He does not obligate or mandate the return or how much.  He simply asks for a voluntary return of gifts to be given to his house for the benefit of his people.  When we give to the good and betterment of others, God considers it giving to him.  What a generous God!

So God says, trust me to give to you and give back to each other for my glory and the building of my house.  Those are among the first instructions Almighty God gave to his people after he delivered them from oppression and slavery.  Consider that in light of the fact that each one of us is delivered from the oppression and slavery of sin.  Trusting God’s provision and giving back to him are priorities in every saved sinner’s life.

There were primarily two ways to give back to God in the building of his house.  The first was to give of their goods and the other was to give of their skills.  Those who gave of their goods were called “willing” or “generous” and those who gave of their talents were called “skilled” or “wise-hearted.”

God loves a cheerful giver.  Everyone who was able to give anything to the betterment and building of the tabernacle was called by God and Moses to give for the good of others and the glory of God.  God made it voluntary, not mandatory that the people might judge for themselves what was right to give to God.  God, in his infinite wisdom, made it less about how much we give and more about how willing our heart is to give.

I just love what Matthew Henry says:  “Those that were rich must bring in materials to work on; those that were ingenious must serve the tabernacle with their ingenuity; as they needed one another, so the tabernacle needed them both.  The work was likely to go on when some helped with their purses, others with their hands, and both with a willing heart.”  

Amen!  And that is how the church is supposed to work!  Now, I am going to do something I generally never do.  I am going to tell you a story about a man I know who embodies the truth of this passage.

My husband and I have been away on vacation over the past week.  We are in the Bahamas and we have explored the island of Nassau.  Not only has Tim given of himself and his hard-earned money so generously to bring me here, but I have watched his incredible generosity toward the local people here.  It’s not because he has money to throw away.  It’s because he has compassion for people who have less than.  He gives the vendors more than they ask for when selling their goods while most people bargain them down to the lowest dollar.  He gives people more than they expect and this is his character trait, not a one-time vacation fluke.  This is Tim, every single day.  He uses his craft to glorify God with his skills and talents.  He works hard and treats people fairly when doing a service for them.  He gives generously out of his heart a good return to the Lord’s work and the building of God’s Kingdom.  He is the same every day in the area of giving and he always thanks God for his amazing provision for our family.  The text calls a man who can work skillfully with his hands “wise-hearted.”  If I have ever known anyone who embodies this description, it is my husband.  I am so thankful that God has provided this wise-hearted, always willing to give generously to others, Christian man for me.  What a blessing he is!  Surely this is how God has instructed men to behave in the area of giving.

This is how God gives to us – more than we deserve, expect, or imagine.  He lavishes us with his love.  What a great God!  Give back to him.  He is worthy.

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hate

 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. ~Matthew 10:1

Jesus is still calling disciples.  He is still giving his disciples authority over evil spirits, disease, and every kind of affliction.  What are his instructions for his disciples?  What are Jesus’s instructions for those whom he calls?

In Matthew 10:5-15, we find that Jesus sends his disciples first to the Jews.  They were the religious people of his day.  Interestingly, he calls them “lost sheep.”  These were the descendants of Abraham.  They were “God’s people.”  That’s where he sends his guys.  Go preach to them he says.  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.  In other words, all the things they have been seeing Jesus do, he tells them to go and do as well.  He then tells them to give the gospel freely and to take nothing extra with them when they do.  Essentially, give and trust me for your return and your provision.

And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. ~Matthew 10:11-15

Jesus’s disciples were instructed by Jesus to be discerning of how they were received.  When they are not welcomed, Jesus tells them to leave and he assures them that severe judgment – judgment worse than that that will be poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah! – will come to those who do not accept them.

The next thing Jesus does is warn his disciples.  He does not pull any punches.  Jesus is not a used car salesman.  Jesus never baits and switches.  He tells his guys right up front what they will face and it is not their best life now.

He tells them to be wise and innocent.  In verses 17-18 he tells them this:

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

Hey guys, you’re gonna go to court – kangaroo court, that is, just like he did.  The court proceedings will be a mockery with no valid charges and no justice.  Still, you will be charged.  Disciples, don’t be surprised when you are dragged into court as guilty men.

Nextly, you are going to be flogged in their synagogues.  You will be abused, beaten, and injured, where?!  In the synagogues.  In the very place they call my house.  Disciples, don’t be surprised when you are mercilessly abused by men who profess religion most loudly at a place they claim is God’s house.

You will be dragged before governors and kings for my name’s sake and to bear witness to them and the godless.  Disciples, don’t be surprised when your legal authorities question you.  This is for God’s glory and a witness of the gospel to them.

Do not worry, disciples.  The Holy Spirit will give you words to say.

 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. ~Matthew 10:21-22

Disciples, don’t be surprised when even your own family members want to kill you.  Do not be surprised when everyone hates you simply because you love me.  Everyone will hate you.  Everyone will turn their backs.  All men.  Don’t be surprised.

Think about that.  I don’t think we think about the magnitude of this until it actually happens to us, and when it does, we are surprised.  Jesus told his disciples that this was what they should expect.  This is what we sign up for when we follow Jesus wholeheartedly.  So what is Jesus’s advice for his disciples after he tells them the hardship and rejection they will face?

Persevere.  Persevere, disciples, persevere.  Keep moving on to another place and another place and another place when you are cast out and abused for telling my truth.  Do not give up.  You are my mouthpieces; my witnesses, my sufferers here on earth.  Do not worry.

He reminds them that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  It is the false prophets that thrive on false peace saying, “Peace, peace.  Comfort, comfort.  Prosperity, prosperity.  All is well, all is well” when all is not well and there is no peace.  He says instead, I have come with a sword.  That sword is the Word of God and it divides.  The truth hurts and it divides the true followers from the false followers, the light from the darkness, the real converts from the false professors of religion.  He adds that if we love anyone or anything more than he, we cannot follow him.  How’s that for an altar call?  This is Jesus’ call.

Finally, in verses 40-42, converse to the severe punishment and judgment he has spoken over those who would reject his disciples, here he promises reward and blessing for those who would receive and welcome them.

Matthew Henry says this: “Persecutors are, in this respect, worse than beasts, that they prey upon those of their own kind…It is very grievous to have men rise up against us, from whom we might expect protection, from professing men, men that have a form of godliness, and make a show of religion.  They will scourge you in their synagogues, their places of meeting for the worship of God, and for the exercise of their church discipline: so that they looked upon the scourging of Christ’s ministers to be a branch of their religion.  Paul was five times scourged in the synagogues.”

They will falsely charge you and malign you severely, disciples.  They did it to me.  They will do it to you.

If Jesus calls you, you will face much trouble in this life – with neighbors, with friends, with the state, with the country, with the law, with the church, with family, with everyone.  Jesus promises that.  If they called Christ “Satan” how much more will they malign those of his house.  The scripture asks that rhetorical question.  Jesus asks it of his disciples to expose the truth.  The answer is much, much, much more!  We will be maligned and hated because of our love and allegiance to Christ and his Word.

Blessed are we when this happens said Jesus!  Great is our reward!  Be encouraged, faithful disciples!  Do not lose heart!  Persevere.  Amen!

 

 

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moses-on-the-mountain-01w-10x7

It was the third day.  The people had prepared themselves for the coming of God.  They had been given very strict instructions – lines not to cross lest they die.  In Exodus 19:16, we find the people of God awaiting his coming.

Come he did, along with thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, and very loud trumpet blasts.  Can you even imagine standing there?

There have been times in my life when the Lord has called me to do things that were very intimidating; uncomfortable; even scary.  As I went full of fear, in that moment before I saw him, I remember how I felt.  Although afraid, every second guess of why I should just forget it was silenced by two things: 1. knowing with absolute certainty his voice and 2. knowing I was prepared.

Knowing we have spiritually prepared ourselves before facing a spiritual event gives us confidence when we are afraid and do not understand what God is doing.

Have I prayed?  Have I heard from God beforehand?  Have I fasted?  Have I waited for his instructions?  Have I obeyed in as much as I already know?  Am I continuously listening for Him?

If these answers are yes, that go time moment is far less dreadful.

Here, even the mountain was trembling.  The trumpet was becoming increasingly loud.  It was then that Moses spoke and God answered.  He answered in thunder.  The Lord came down onto the mountain and Moses alone went up to him.

Matthew Henry notes, “Now, at length, comes that memorable day, that terrible day of the Lord, that day of judgment, in which Israel heard the voice of the Lord God speaking to them out of the midst of the fire, and lived…Now it was that the earth trembled at the presence of the Lord, and the mountains skipped like rams, that Sinai itself, though rough and rocky, melted from before the Lord God of Israel.  Now it was that the mountains saw him, and trembled, and were witnesses against a hard-hearted unmoved people, whom nothing would influence.” 

All this preparation, all this warning, all this waiting, all this fearful pre-meeting, and what does God tell Moses when he finally gets to the top of the mountain?

Hey, Moses!  How are you old buddy?  Let’s do lunch?!

No!  God tells Moses to go back down and tell the people the very same things he has already thoroughly told them and warned them about.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and may of them perish.’ “ ~Exodus 19:21

Moses is still huffing and puffing from climbing the mountain.  He has to be like, um, God.  You already told them that stuff.  You made me draw lines and limits around the mountain before I came up, remember?  We prepared our garments.  We did not go near our wives.  Remember, God?  We already did that.

Now.  We can infer a couple things here.  One, God was very serious about his instructions.  Two, God doesn’t mind sending us back to do the same things over and over if they are imperative.  And three, God cares a whole lot about people.  He does not want to see them needlessly die because they are disobedient.  God is willing to run his messengers up and down mountains in order to save His people from sin.

“And the Lord said to him, ‘Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you.  But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.’ “ ~Exodus 19:24

God does not even answer when Moses makes the point that what he is instructing has already been done.  In fact, he says it a third time.  God tells Moses to go get Aaron and bring him up, and, oh, by the way, Moses, don’t let the people near here or I will kill them.

God is pretty serious.  God has a way of doing things.  He has an order.  He has specific methods and he expects obedience.  If there is anything we learn from this passage, it is that God wants things done His way and he wants us to be involved.

God could have told Moses to bring Aaron with him before Moses got to the top of the mountain.  That is not the way God wanted this thing done.  This is God’s way.  If I were Moses, I would probably be thinking, “Wow.  I just climbed up this mountain in obedience and now I have to go right back down and get Aaron and say what I already said and come right back up…why didn’t God just tell me in the first place.  I don’t understand this.”

Sounds just like something a Dad would do, doesn’t it?  God’s ways are not our ways.  But isn’t it just like him to test us; to test our obedience and our faith; to meet us only to send us away to get others who need to come to Him as well?  These are the kinds of things God does while we are standing around scratching our heads trying to understand why he chose to do them in the unusual ways he so often does.

“So Moses went down to the people and told them.” ~Exodus 19:25

Moses obeyed.  Moses did not argue with God.  He told God he had obeyed and God said, obey again.  So he did, and this, for the sake of everyone else and their extremely important adherence to God’s very particular instructions here.

God’s methods are often hard to understand.  His ways are not our ways.  He uses these kind of things to test our faith, to test our obedience, to see if we’re listening, to know if we’re faithful.

And he already knows those answers.  It is we who need to know for ourselves how faithful or faithless we really are.

Do not be discouraged if you spend a considerable amount of time preparing to do exactly what God commands and when you get there he sends you back down the mountain to do the same things you just got done doing.  He may want someone else to come meet him along with you.  He wants everyone to obey.  It is in these times that he is using you, just like he was using Moses.  Moses is about to see the glory of God.  He would not have seen it apart from his amazing obedience to God’s specific instructions.

“Note, in divine things we must not covet to know more than God would have us know; and he has allowed us as much as is good for us.  A desire of forbidden knowledge was the ruin of our first parents.  Those that would be wise above what is written, and intrude into those things which they have not seen, need this admonition, that they break not through to gaze.” ~Matthew Henry

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family1

After Moses delegated responsibilities to the chosen men around him, the whole company of Israel came to a new part of the wilderness.  Just 50 days (think Pentecost) after their deliverance, God moves them from one wilderness (Sin, found on the west side of the Sinai peninsula) to another (Sinai, found on the east side of the Sinai peninsula).  Lives lived in God are lives lived one wilderness after another.  Ask John Bunyan.

Now, they had overcome enslavement (Exodus 12).  They had overcome thirst in the desert (Exodus 15:22-24).  They had overcome hunger (Exodus 16).  They had overcome fatigue by working together (Exodus 17:12).  They had overcome in battle against their enemies (Exodus 17:13).  They had overcome a poor model of leadership (Exodus 18).

They had fought with God and rebelled throughout all of those victories which were given solely by the gracious mercy of God alone.  God was faithful to these most unfaithful people.  God was acting, moving, and working mightily on behalf of his people.  Matthew Henry puts it this way, “Now observe, that the maker, the first mover, of the covenant, is God himself.  Nothing was said nor done by this stupid unthinking people themselves towards this settlement; no motion made, not petition put up for God’s favor, but this blessed charter was granted ex mero motu – purely out of God’s own good-will.  Note, in all our dealings with God, free grace anticipates us with the blessings of goodness, and all our comfort is owing, not to our knowing God, but rather to our being known of him.”

So.  They’re ready to live in the shade with their umbrella drinks, right?

Wrong.  Time to camp out in…the castle?…Beach house?…Vacation spot?….No.  Time to camp out in a brand new wilderness.  The new wilderness comes complete with instructions in preparation for the instructions.  Apparently the instructions that were being given in preparation for the instructions about to be given were both profoundly important.

So what were God’s plans for this perpetually proud and imperfect people of His?

Priesthood.

Priesthood!!! What?!  Hey, guys.  I know you don’t like to listen and you’ve grumbled and disobeyed me the whole way here but you’re all gonna be my priests.  Either God isn’t as smart as he’s made out to be or He loves us in ways we cannot even fathom.

All of them, from the least to the greatest were to become a kingdom of highly honored, holy hallelujah nation of card-carrying tangible treasures for none other than the Almighty Father of all the world.

The way that this was about to happen was by:

1. Remembering the amazing love, protections, deliverance, and providence God had shown to them, (Exodus 19:4)

and,

2. Obedience to Him (Exodus 19:5)

These are the profoundly important instructions which precede the profoundly important instructions, commonly known as the Ten Commandments.

Remember God’s un-stinking-believable grace.  Obey Him.

Henry says this: “Obey my voice.  This He is said to protest earnestly to them.  Only obey in deed, not in profession and promise only, not in pretense, but in sincerity.  God had shown them real favors, and therefore required real obedience.  He assures them of the honor he would put upon them, and the kindness he would show them, in case they did thus keep his covenant.  Then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me…he expresses it in that which was inclusive of all happiness, that he would be to them a God in covenant, and they should be to him a people.”

Plain and simple.  Do this and you will be my priests; my treasure; my glory; the apples of my very eye.

What grace!!!  Do you even know who these people are?  How they’ve sinned?  The faith they’ve lacked?  The complaining they’ve done?  The pain they’ve caused God’s prophet?  The miserable, many, misguided mistake-makers they really are?  These guys were just like us!  Still, God’s words for these particular preferred people is simply this:

“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.  These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” ~Exodus 19:5-6

WOW! WOW! WOW!

“They were brought not only into a state of liberty and honor, but into covenant and communion with God.  This, this was the glory of their deliverance, as it is of ours by Christ, that he died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” (Henry)

Now that’s a God who redeems.  That’s a God of unmitigated grace.  That’s the God of Redeeming Grace.

So the prophet says those very words to the people and “all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.  And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that he people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.'” ~Exodus 19:8-9

They listened.  They listened.  Of course we all know it didn’t last too very long but I’d say this is progress for a people ever arguing with God’s providence.

God is getting ready to do something absolutely incredible.  Buckle your seat belts, kids. It’s time to watch Daddy drive.

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strong

Upon leaving Egypt, God laid out very specific instructions about how to remember what he has just done for them.  God’s people were not just coming out of slavery, oppression, and harsh treatment at the hands of a false god named Pharaoh.  They were also being led into a very long and life-changing land of need and dependence on the true God named Jehovah-jireh; Yahweh; Adonai – “The Lord who provides.”  (First named such by Abraham at Mt. Moriah as he found provision to sacrifice in his son’s stead.)

God has already spoken specifically on how to remember the Passover with a meal.  Now he instructs his people on how to remember this Passover by consecrating their firstborn children and animals to Him.  They all must be set apart and redeemed.  Furthermore, in order to remember their great and mighty deliverance, they were instructed to avoid leaven on specific days and in specific ways.

Interestingly, the Lord calls them first, to remember (Exodus 13:30), second, to go (Exodus 13:4), and third, to keep the service of his present instruction when they get to the place where He is taking them (Exodus 13:5).  First, past.  Second, present.  Third, future.  Past. Present. Future.  The Lord is speaking to His people’s past, their present, and their future.

In between all of these instructions, God is emphasizing one particular idea.  Four separate times Moses is called to say this to the people:

For with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. ~Exodus 13:3,9,14,16

Matthew Henry quotes, “The more opposition is given to the accomplishment of God’s purposes, the more is his power magnified therein.  It is a strong hand that conquers hard hearts.” God wants his people to get this.  Children, I saved you.  I delivered you.  I saved your children.  I delivered your children.  Remember!  Remember!  Remember!  I AM strong! I AM strong!  I AM strong!  I AM strong!  Past – remember.  Present – go. Future – remember.  You are weak, but I am strong.  You can trust your God.

 Remember and do not forget!  We serve a God who saves!  We serve a God who delivers.  Remember, Christian brother.  Remember, Christian sister.  He is strong.  Remember.  Go.  Remember.

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member

Here, the Lord elaborates further on the Passover commemoration instructions.  The whole company is just leaving Egypt.  God wasted no time in instructing His people on exactly who may come celebrate and how they are to carry out this grand remembrance of His mercy and greatness toward them.  Moses and Aaron are taught exactly who may eat, who may not, and a few more details on how it may and may not be eaten.  All obligations of the Passover meal point to Jesus Christ and His church.

The underlying theme for the people of God here is preparedness.  No one may come to this meal uncircumcised.  Circumcision was to the people of Israel what regeneration is to Christians.  No one can come to the table celebrating God’s great mercy and miraculous deliverance lest he be first converted and circumcised of heart.

We are shown that anyone may come as long as he is circumcised.  No foreigners may come.  No one who is a hired servant or compensated in any way for his work may come.  But every slave who has been both bought and circumcised may take part.  If there is ownership of a slave – a slave that has been purchased by the people of God – that man is as welcome at the table as a blood-born Jew.

Furthermore, they must always eat the meal inside and all together in one house.  Slaves did not eat one place and masters another.  No.  All together and never outside where foreigners or hired hands would be able to take part.  And the animals’ bones must never be broken.

Lastly, one law applied to all who ate.  The rules applied across the board.  Jews did not have special privileges over sojourners or slaves.  This must have been quite unsettling to Jews because it indicated that their privilege and position with God was based not in their bloodline, but their earnest dedication to God.

The only ones who may come to the Lord’s table are those who have been properly prepared.  Preparedness is for us, conversion.  No one who works for salvation is welcome.  Likewise, no one outside of salvation may eat at Christ’s communion table.  Yet, all are welcome if they have been purchased – bought by the blood of Christ.  Those who are owned by the Father may come freely but those who are trusting in self-sufficient works are wholly unwelcome.  Everyone is to come into one house.  Some are not relegated to a lesser, lower place because the basis of belonging is neither work related nor nepotistic in nature.  The basis of belonging to Christ is, and always has been, our true love and dedication to Him.  No favoritism has ever been condoned in the house of God.  All are bound by one law and no one has privilege or position based on anything other than their love for God and His for them.

What a beautiful picture of how the church ought to look – how God’s people ought to come to feast upon Him.  Prepared.  Grace-dependent.  Unified.  Equally honorable.  Equally honored.  Collectively submitted to a singular law based solely upon grace and our response to it.

Praise God for His mercy!  They did not have to be Jews to celebrate the Passover with equal treatment and honor in the house of God’s people.  Slave, pilgrim – no matter!  It was their house, too!  I do not have to be from a particular family or social class, structure, or group to celebrate His grace and my deliverance with equal treatment and honor in the house of God.  It is my house, too!  If He is my deliverer, I am, and always will be a full-privilege member of his company.  I am included on the merits of one condition: His faithfulness.  Praise God for his mercy toward even me – a weary sojourner who has absolutely nothing but the blood (His – not mine!) to bank on!

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