Friday, January 15, 2016

"Saved by the blood!"

Day #16

Scripture Reading:  Exodus 9 - 12 ...

Reading about Israel's slavery in Egypt and God's deliverance through the plagues, it would be easy to read this only as an interesting story, rather than a picture of redemption ... of our deliverance from the slavery of sin through God's pouring out of His wrath on Christ on the cross.  But a picture it was, and still is.  These were real people, the Egyptians and the Israelites, but God says again that He is going to make a distinction between the people and possessions of the Egyptians and the people and possessions of HIS people, Israel (9:4).

The lie being told and believed by many today, inside and outside the church, is that God doesn't make any such distinction today between believers and unbelievers, between those who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and those who do not.  People quote verses like Romans 2:11, “God does not show favoritism,” or Ephesians 6:9, “He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him,” or James 2:1, “ ... as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism” ... and they declare that God loves everybody, that all people are God’s children.  But the context of those verses refers to Jews and Gentiles, masters and slaves, and rich and poor.  God does NOT show favoritism between these groups.  BUT, when it comes to forgiveness and eternal life, ALL who believe in Jesus enter into God's kingdom, while all those who do NOT believe in Jesus are outside of God's kingdom.  God DOES make a distinction, and a worse judgment than the plagues in Egypt awaits those who are not "saved by the blood.”  Redemption, salvation, deliverance is offered to all who will come to God through the blood of the Lamb shed on the cross, but only those who receive God’s offer by faith through the work of His Holy Spirit within them will be saved!

God DOES make a distinction!  In order to save some, God uses even the evil of mankind to accomplish His purposes, overruling their wicked plans and turning them for good.  God now sends Moses to say to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth" (9:16).  When the Bible says God hardened Pharaoh's heart it means that God withdrew the influence of His Spirit and allowed Pharaoh to do what his sinful heart wanted to do.  God used the sinful arrogance and willful disobedience of Pharaoh to reveal His power and judgment on Egypt, while at the same time revealing His mercy and compassion toward those whom He had chosen.  He made a distinction based not on what the people of Egypt or Israel had done or not done, but upon His sovereign choice to bless Israel, His chosen people.

The Apostle Paul speaks of this in Romans 9.  After explaining that God chose Jacob, not Esau, he asks, “What then shall we say?  Is God unjust?”  Then he explains God's sovereign choice this way:  "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy ... God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden" (Romans 9:16-18).  And to the charge that this is unfair, Paul writes, “Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?!” (Romans 9:20).  God explains His choice of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob many years later as Moses writes in Deuteronomy 7:7-8:  “The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

Were it not for the compassion and mercy of God, Israel would have been left in Egypt ... and we would be left in our sin.  The blood of the lamb spread over the doorposts pointed to the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.  By an act of faith the Israelites put the blood on the doorposts of their homes and trusted that the angel of death would pass over them (12:23).  As Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples before He went to the cross He said, “Do this in remembrance of ME”  (Luke 22:19).  By an act of faith we receive the blood of Jesus as our payment for sin and are freed from our slavery to sin and eternal death.

When judgment comes, the whole world will know that the LORD makes a distinction between those who are in Christ and those who are not.  The picture of the Passover reveals God's sovereign choice of a people for Himself.  God has not forgotten Israel, the Jews, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God's promises remain for His chosen people.  Yet His promise to Abraham stands that in his “Seed” all nations on earth would be blessed.  Some from every people, tribe, nation and tongue would be chosen by God, would receive His Spirit, believe in Jesus and become part of His chosen people.

When we celebrate the Lord's Supper we are testifying that Jesus is OUR Passover Lamb (I Corinthians 5:7) and we are trusting in His blood for forgiveness.  As Peter writes in I Peter 1:18-19:  "You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed ... but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."

The writer of Hebrews says, " ... by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (10:14).  "Therefore ... we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus ..." (10:19).  Praise the Lord for the picture of salvation in the Passover, and the fulfillment of His promise to send the Savior, the perfect sacrifice for sin!  Imagine the joy of the Israelites as they left Egypt ... so what should OUR joy be in leaving sin and death behind as we head for the final promised land?!!!

"O, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  His love endures forever!!!" (Psalm 107:1).  If you know Jesus today, it is because God chose YOU!  Thank God that you are “saved by the blood!”

"Father, the picture of judgment and salvation in the Exodus happened to real people.  The present judgment and salvation that you offer in the Gospel happens to real people.  And the future judgment and salvation that leads to eternity will happen to real people.  Thank You for choosing ME to be one of Your children through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God whose blood covers my sin in Your sight and gives me LIFE!!  To YOU I give my praise and thanks, now and forever.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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