The Triumph of Redemption and The Work of God
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
We are now to consider the second main division in this series of studies. The title proposed for this is
THE TRIUMPH OF REDEMPTION AND THE WORK OF GOD, 12. 1 to 18. 27 Read the passage carefully. The first subject to be developed is
Redemption by Blood - the Slain Lamb, 12. 1-51.
"This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you", 12. 2. Redemption is the first step in true life, for a man's life is of no account until he begins to walk with God. The Israelite's calendar was reckoned from their deliverance from Egypt.
Note that the lamb of the Passover was
Selected, w. 3-5; "they shall take to them every man a lamb. . . ye shall take it out from the sheep". The Lord Jesus Christ was God's choice for the redemption of mankind.
Sufficient, v. 4; the household might be too little for the lamb, but the lamb was not too little for the household. So it is with our Lord Jesus. He is sufficient for man's every need.
Scrutinized, v. 6; "and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month", for the lamb must be proved to be without blemish. Although under hostile scrutiny, the Lord Jesus was declared to be without fault at all. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
Slain, v. 6; "and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening". There was the collective as well as the personal aspect of redemption. Each dwelling was an expression of the whole. Christ is the Head of the Church and also Director and Lord of each one of His members. Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, and yet as the Son of God we can each say that He loved me and gave Himself for me.
Satisfying, v. 8; this was a memorial feast, eaten "roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs". They were not saved by eating the lamb, but by doing so they were reminded of the ground of their salvation. The fire and the bitter herbs expressed the cost of their redemption. Practical holiness, though not the basis of our salvation, is connected with our enjoyment of it.
Substitutionary, v. 13; "the blood ... a token . . . and when I see the blood, I will pass over you". The blood was the evidence of the death of the substitute, the first year lamb for the firstborn son. So the death of Christ was substitutionary, He died for me. It was neither the faith nor the feelings of the Israelite that saved him. By faith he applied what God had provided for his deliverance.
The second topic treated in this section of the book is
Redemption by Power - the Strong Hand, 13. 1-22. "Remember this day ... for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place", v. 3; cf vv. 9,14,16. Their deliverance was entirely the work of God; neither they nor their children were to forget this; see w. 8 and 14. It is good to find the whole family at the Lord's supper, the child's question "What is this?" - what mean ye by this service -providing another occasion for telling of God's deliverance and our redemption.
Throughout their pilgrim journey, God was both a guide and a guard, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, w. 21-22. At the outset of their long and weary journeyings, God led His people "not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near" lest in their inexperience of the path of conflict, they returned to Egypt, v. 17; so He led them about and encompassed them with His presence. God always leads us by the right way; the shortest way is not always the best.
In the third part of this section the topic is
Redemption by Practice - the Sovereign Purpose,
14.1 to 18.27. God's purpose for His people knows no obstacle - not the mountains of Pi-hahiroth and Baal-zephon, the Red Sea, nor the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, could halt the mighty power of God on behalf of His people. It was for them only to "stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord . . . And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses", 14. 13, 31. Then they lifted up their hearts in praise and song, for the Lord had triumphed gloriously, 15. 1.
Having brought them out of Egypt, the Lord would bring them into Canaan, but meanwhile they would learn that to be preserved in trial is often better than to be exempt from it. And so they journeyed on and came to
Shur, 15. 22, the Place of Disappointment and no Water. After triumph came the test. Three weary days of journeying into the wilderness brought them to Shur where lack of water led to bitter disappointment. In our journey through life our plans do not always materialize] it is then that we are cast back upon the Lord, without whom we had never known deliverance at the start. Our disappointments are often His appointments.
Marah, 15. 23, the Place of Distress and Bitter Waters. Here was reflected the people's attitude towards Moses, but his reaction was not one of bitterness for he sought the Lord for guidance, v. 25. He found the answer in a tree. Have you taken upon yourself a work of leadership amongst God's people? Have you known misunderstanding and criticism in seeking to do His will? Remember the cross, for "it makes the coward spirit brave, and nerves the feeble arm for fight".
Elim, 15. 27, the Place of Delight and Abundant Waters. "And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and three-score and ten palm trees". For every "Marah" on life's journey there is an "Elim" not far away. God does not forsake His people, for passing through the valley of weeping, He makes it a well; the rain also fills the pools, and every one appears before God in Zion, Psa. 84. 6-7.
Sin, 16. 1, the Place of Depression of a Hungry People. The people complained, "Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt", 16. 3. The sin of discontent is still with us; only as we depend upon the Lord shall we experience His provision day by day. God supplied their need with flesh in the evening as the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning a daily portion of "bread from heaven"-a small round thing as small as the hoar frost on the ground, v. 14. To trust God daily was to prove His faithfulness; better than the flesh pots of Egypt was the angel's food that He supplied. The gift of manna was for all, but each one must gather for himself. For each there was a different need, but the supply was enough for all. Spiritual life for today cannot be sustained on yesterday's experience. For the sixth day there was a double portion so that the sabbath may be observed and that they should be reminded of Genesis 2. 2. There is never a command that cannot be obeyed, and as for the Israelite in the matter of the sabbath, so for the Christian the Lord's Day is not a burden but a blessing.
They were to keep an omerful of manna for their generations, 16. 32, 34, for the time when, in Canaan, it would be replaced by "the old corn of the land". Soon we shall be done with the wilderness food, but we shall never be done with Christ.
We could think of others, who, in their time suffered the depressions of the wilderness. David said, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines", i Sam. 27. 1. But what actually happened? Saul was slain on Mount Gilboa and David's throne was established for ever. What of Elijah, following his courage on Mount Carmel? He fled for his life from the threatenings of Jezebel. Yet Jezebel was dashed to pieces on the pavement, and Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind!
Next, the children of Israel pitched in
Rephidim, 17.1, the Place of Doubt of a Distrusting People. There was no water here and they expressed their unbelief in the words "Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?", 17. 3, and they tempted the Lord saying "Is the Lord among us, or not?", 17. 7. How easily can circumstances cloud our confidence in a faithful and loving God! But God was faithful in displaying His patience and His power. What God did in the heart of the earth, Moses demonstrated in the eyes of the people, by smiting the rock and supplying their need. In New Testament language, "they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ", 1 Cor. 10. 4.
Now, after the miraculous provision of the past, we read "Then came Amalek", Exod. 17. 8, a type of the flesh. We need deliverance not only from the slavery of Satan but also from the sins of the flesh. While Joshua fought with Amalek, Aaron and Hur held up the hand of Moses in intercession, w. 10-12. Our Great High Priest ever lives to make intercession for us. His hands will never hang down, He does and will prevail.
Chapter 18 gives good advice to those called to leadership. One of the greatest signs of capacity for leadership is the ability to call others into fellowship in responsibility and service. There is no virtue in expending energy in work which may be delegated to others. Truly great men are humble enough to accept advice from others, when it agrees with the commandments of God, 18. 23-24.