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Exodus 1:15-22; Hebrew Midwives and the Fear of the Lord

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100425_exodus01_15-22.mp3

4/25 Exodus 1:15-22 The Hebrew Midwives and The Fear of the Lord

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

We’ve seen that God has made promises to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; promises to bless them and cause them to be fruitful and multiply and through them to bless all the peoples of the earth. We’ve seen the faith of God’s people tested as they have had to wait for what seems like inordinately long periods of time and endure painful adversity and trials as they waited for the fulfillment of God’s promises. God promised to make Abraham into an innumerable multitude and he was childless until he was almost a hundred years old. When he attempted to help God keep his promise by having a son with his servant girl, God said no, his barren wife would be the one to give him the promised son. After Isaac was born, God told Abraham to kill him as a sacrifice on the mountain. Abraham learned that nothing could prevent God from keeping his promise, so he set out in faith to obey, but God prevented him. God chose Isaac’s younger twin Jacob to be the heir of his promises. Jacob was a schemer and bargained for the birthright and stole his father’s blessing, so God kept his promises to Jacob through the scheming trickery of his wily uncle Laban, who swapped the older ugly sister for the younger one that Jacob loved on his wedding night. Jacob was in hard service to Laban for many years, but it was during this time that God increased his family. Jacob’s sons hated Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but it was through this hardship that God intended to save the family of Israel. God put Joseph in charge of Egypt, and brought the family together in Egypt. Now, 400 years later, they are increasing in number as God had promised, but they are slaves in Egypt under a cruel Pharaoh who wanted to reduce their population.

God was blessing his people. The Pharaoh had tried plan A and it had failed. He ruthlessly oppressed the nation of Israel and made them work as slaves. He made their lives bitter with hard service, but the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied. Now the Pharaoh is moving to plan B. He calls the Hebrew midwives into his confidence. If ruthless oppression was not effective in controlling the population, he would add to their affliction the selective secret murder of all the male infants. The picture we have here of Pharaoh is desperate – desperate because in that culture, the monarch of the most powerful country of his day would never hold audience with women, especially women of an inferior race.

15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.”

We see how depraved and black the heart of this Pharaoh was. Pharaoh’s command is completely contrary to nature. Women are the carriers and givers of life, and he was calling on them to become destroyers of life. The role of a midwife was to assist in the life giving process of birth. And he is asking them to slaughter the ones they are bringing into the world.

It is not hard to make application of this today. Doctors and nurses, who have taken an oath to preserve life are called on to become executioners and mercenaries to kill the elderly and the unborn. Brothers and sisters, this ought not to be. We each must do what we can to protect the lives of those who cannot protect themselves.

It is interesting that we have the names of these two midwives. Shiphrah and Puah. Shiphrah means something like ‘Dawn’ or ‘Fair’; Puah means ‘Fragrant’ or ‘Splendid’ [Stewart, p.75, cf. Strongs]. They are introduced in a way that carefully identifies them as prominent characters in the events that unfold. This is a striking contrast to the Pharaoh. Pharaoh is not a name but a title, like ‘king’, and good scholars continue to debate and work hard to identify which Pharaoh this refers to. There have been some good guesses, and some seem to make more sense than others, but the bottom line is that although we know much about ancient Egypt and we know the names and history of many of the Pharaohs, we don’t know for sure which Pharaoh this was. Moses could have given his name, but he didn’t. It is deep irony that we have carefully preserved for us the names of these two Hebrew midwives, but we don’t know the name of the most important and powerful monarch of his day. To cause someone’s name to be forgotten is the utmost dishonor. To remember someone’s name forever is extreme honor. God tells Moses how his own name is to be remembered:

Exodus 3:15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

All those who seek to make a name for themselves will not be remembered:

Isaiah 2:17 And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

This is a principle we see in scripture:

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (c.f. 1 Peter 5:5)

In the context of another birth – the birth of the promised deliverer:

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

God moved the mighty Pharaoh off his throne and caused him to not be remembered, but the names of two humble midwives have been remembered for almost 4000 years! Why? Look at what is written of them:

17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.

This is the first time God is explicitly mentioned in the book of Exodus. Genesis opens with ‘In the beginning God’, but in Exodus, God is strangely absent in the opening chapters. God is certainly there and certainly at work, as we have seen, keeping his promises and moving sovereignly and providentially in the lives of his people, but he is unmentioned, behind the scenes. This is the first thing said directly about God, and the fear of God is commended. As the Psalms and Proverb says:

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Psalm 112:1 Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Lest we think that this is merely an obsolete Old Testament principle, we see it again as foundational in the New Testament:

Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

If we’re looking for a biblical New Testament church growth model, here it is: walk in the fear of the Lord. The result: the church multiplied.

In the Proverbs, there is a promise connected to fear of the Lord:

Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.

Proverbs 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.

The fear of the Lord results in life. Life, satisfaction, rescue. But what is the fear of the Lord?

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil, learning to hate what God hates. The fear of the Lord is knowing that God rules all things and will bring a just reward to each person. The fear of the Lord presupposes life after death. The implied threat if the midwives disobeyed the Pharaoh would be physical death. But instead of fearing the king of Egypt, Shiphrah and Puah feared God. They knew that one day they would stand before the God of the universe and give an account. It was more important to them what God thought of their action than what any man thought, no matter how powerful he was. Their chief aim was to please God, even if it had severe temporary consequences.

The fear of the Lord is not theoretical. It has direct practical implications on life. The text doesn’t say that they feared the Lord so they did not fear Pharaoh. That is implied, but what it says is that they feared the Lord so they did not do as the King of Egypt had commanded them. Their fear led to action, and their action had consequences. In their case, fear of the Lord meant direct disobedience to the dictator of the land. Rather than killing the male Israelite infants, they helped them to thrive. As this was an undercover plan with the midwives, it would have taken some time for their obedience or disobedience to his command to become evident. But it would inevitably be known.

18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?”

This is the interrogation that precedes execution. When the sovereign king of all the land summons you before his royal court and says ‘why have you done this? Why have you disobeyed my command?’ there is good reason to believe that your life is quickly coming to a close. This would be akin to asking for any last words.

19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”

This sounds like a bold slap in the face to the king and his culture. This is like saying ‘your women are weak. The Hebrew women are strong’. This may have been similar to the prevailing opinion in our culture that you can’t have a baby without a doctor, an anesthesiologist and an epidural. The high society Egyptian women have to be pampered and babied and they were so out of it that they wouldn’t know if their babies were stillborn. These Hebrew women are tough – they deliver their own babies without any help.

Even if these two women hadn’t been habitually and consistently disobeying the king’s command, saying this sort of thing would be the kind of thing that would get you killed for sure. But with the Pharaoh’s plan being an undercover one, this story may have had just enough reality to it that the Pharaoh couldn’t rightly condemn them. Apparently, his plan was for them to deliver the baby, check the gender, and strangle it if it was a boy before he had the chance to cry, so the mother would think it was stillborn. The Pharaoh couldn’t expect these midwives to show up after the mother was holding her baby, take it out of her arms and kill it without blowing the secrecy of the whole operation. Remember, the Pharaoh had said ‘the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them…’ (v.9-10)

20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

This is the first action God takes in the story of Exodus, action on behalf of Shiphrah and Puah. Because of their fear of the Lord as the giver of life, God dealt well with them. Again it is re-affirmed that God was keeping his covenant promises. The people multiplied and grew very strong. Pharaoh’s plan B had also failed. In fact, even the Hebrew midwives, who were probably midwives because they couldn’t have any children, now had families of their own. So rather than a successful reduction of the Israelite population, now even the barren women are bearing their own children and the population is exploding. But the story does not end here with ‘and they all lived happily ever after’. Pharaoh moved on to plan C. As I said before, God’s blessing is not always sweet to the taste. God’s blessing does not make everything pleasant. God’s blessing is fruitfulness in the midst of affliction with the hope of future redemption. God’s blessing was on the Hebrew midwives and God was multiplying his people and making them strong, but opposition intensified.

22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

Pharaoh moves here from undercover operations to overt hostility. He calls on all the Egyptians to take action against the Israelites. First taskmasters, then God-fearing Hebrew midwives, now all his people. In the midst of God’s blessing, persecution intensifies.

This is but another chapter in the drama of redemption. Ever since Genesis 3:15, when God said:

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Satan has been seeking to destroy the promised offspring of the woman. From Cain and Abel, to Pharaoh and the male children, to Herod and all boys under 2, culminating at the cross of our Lord Jesus.

Revelation 12:4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.

Satan continues today to try to swallow up God’s people:

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

But we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We can persevere under affliction because this is not all there is! We have been called to his eternal glory in Christ!

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Jesus prayed:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

The fear of the Lord for us today is humbly recognizing what we justly deserve from a holy and righteous God:

2 Thessalonians 1:7 …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death…

And embracing with joy what we have been given in Jesus Christ!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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April 25, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 1:1-14; God the Sovereign Promise Keeper

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100418_exodus01_1-14.mp3

4/18 Exodus 1:1-14 God the Sovereign Promise Keeper

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

Exodus is a book that moves from bondage to redemption, into relationship characterized by worship. Throughout God shows himself to be the sovereign promise-keeper. That will serve as an outline of the book:

Outline (Longman, p.34):

Redemption: Exodus 1-18 God saves Israel from Egyptian bondage

Relationship: Exodus 19-24 God gives Israel His law

Worship: Exodus 25-40 God instructs Israel to build His Tabernacle

The first word in the book of Exodus is not translated in most English versions. The first word is ‘and’. Right from the beginning, we are told that this is not a stand-alone book, but really chapter two in God’s history of redemption. Exodus continues the story that started in Genesis. The first eleven chapters of Genesis give God’s sovereign working in the ancient world, and the last 39 chapters focus on God’s sovereign working through one man and his family. God chose Abram and made huge promises to him, and he confirmed those promises to his son Isaac and to his son Jacob. God promised that he would make them into a great nation and bless all the nations of the world through them.

The last 13 chapters of Genesis chronicle God’s action in the history of Joseph, favorite son of Israel, who was hated by his brothers, stripped of his clothes and sold as a slave into Egypt. He was falsely accused and imprisoned, but in time God raised him up through his integrity, gifts and wisdom to be the second in command of all of Egypt. God used him to rescue the land from a severe famine, which also brought his brothers down to Egypt from Canaan looking for food. Joseph recognized the sovereign hand of God acting even in his suffering to keep his promises to his fathers.

Genesis 45:5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

God used Joseph to preserve the lives of the family of the promises, and bring them under the provision and protection of Egypt. In Genesis 46, we have a genealogy of the sons of Jacob or Israel, listing seventy descendants at the time they moved to Egypt. In the original, the first six words of Exodus are identical to the first six words of Genesis 46:8, another reminder that this is the continuation of God’s redemption story which began with creation:

Genesis 46:8 Now these are the names of the descendants of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons…

What we have in Exodus is an abbreviation and summary of this chapter in Genesis.

(chart: family tree)

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Seventy would be quite a family reunion, but it was not even close to the innumerable multitudes that God had promised. Most of us in this room can count to seventy. God had promised:

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God made his covenant with Abram and said:

Genesis 15:5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

After God provided a substitute for Isaac on the mountain, God said:

Genesis 22:17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…

To Isaac he said:

Genesis 26:4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

To Jacob he said:

Genesis 35:10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.

So Exodus begins with the descendants of Israel numbering seventy, and Joseph and his brothers died and all that generation to whom God had made promises died. But the promise of God still stands. God had reassured Jacob:

Genesis 46:3 Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. 4 I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

God promised himself to go down with Jacob to Egypt, to make of him a great nation, and himself to bring him up again. Even in the midst of pain and adversity, God is making good on his promises. It says:

7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

This language clearly points to the fulfillment of God’s promises to multiply the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to become a great multitude. But it points to more than that. The language points back to the creation mandate that God gave to man at the very beginning:

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God restated this to Noah after the destruction of the flood:

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. …7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.”

This is the language used to describe the exponential growth of the people of Israel in Egypt. Jacob clearly articulated that this growth was the work of God himself.

Genesis 48:4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’

God commands that we be fruitful, but God is the one that makes his people fruitful. Exodus 1:7 could be more literally translated:

As for the Israelites, they grew, they were fruitful, they swarmed, they increased, they got powerful more and more, and the land was filled with them.” (Stewart, p.61)

God was fulfilling his promises to his people. He was making them fruitful and strong and filling the land with them.

Enter the new Egyptian dynasty:

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

Joseph had rescued Egypt from natural disaster by preparing wisely for the promised famine. The Pharaoh honored him and extended generous hospitality to his family. Now, with a new dynasty in place, old ties were broken and he felt no obligation to honor old agreements. That the new king did not know Joseph does not mean ignorance of his national history so much as lack of a special relationship. He chose to act as though the Israelites were a threat rather than an asset. So he launches a public campaign against the foreigners. He spins things a different way and paints Israel as an internal threat to national security. He says they are too many and too mighty. God had made them fruitful and powerful, but God’s blessing is often perceived as a threat to an unbelieving society. Up to this point in the narrative, Israel was the name of a family. This Pharaoh uses the term here in a new way. He refers to them as a distinct people or nation within a nation. The new king is afraid of the potential threat this people group could pose to his power and position. So he decides to take action to keep them from multiplying and to reduce the potential threat to his dynasty.

God had commanded his people to be fruitful and multiply. Pharaoh, in seeking to keep them from multiplying, will find himself fighting against Israel’s God. He says ‘Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply.’ His language again brings us back to Genesis, where the people gathered on the plains of Shinar in rebellion against God

Genesis 11:3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

The people wanted to make a name for themselves by building a city and a tower in opposition to the name of God. They did not want to be dispersed and fill the earth as God had commanded, rather they gathered themselves together against God. Another detail that ties these two stories together is that they both involved making bricks and building cities. And in both accounts, God directly intervenes.

But God does not instantly make things better. Here’s what the Pharaoh does:

11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.

At the time of Joseph, the Israelites maintained their identity as shepherds, and were even employed by the Pharaoh as contract herders for his royal flocks in the grazing lands of northeast Egypt. The logic seems to be that if we reduce them to meaningless cogs in the machinery of the empire, they would lose heart and cease to be a threat. If they were afflicted with heavy burdens they would have neither the time nor the strength to procreate. They would likely require long periods away from home for the laborers, which would take them away from wife and family, weakening the moral fabric of their culture. Virtually working two jobs, their agriculture would suffer, and they would become more dependent on Egyptian society for the basic necessities to sustain their existence. The Pharaoh’s plan was a brilliant one.

12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.

The plan was logical and should have been effective, except that Pharaoh had picked a fight with God. When you find yourself fighting against God, you are on the losing side. Notice that it does not say that they multiplied in spite of the oppression; rather it indicates that increased oppression led to increased fruitfulness. This has been true of the church throughout her history. In times of peace, God’s people get lazy and take for granted his gifts. As Tertullian (ca. 160-220 AD) observed so long ago, ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’ semen est sanguis Christianorum [Tertullian Apologeticum ch. 50, 13]. Oppression directly resulted in increased fruitfulness. The Egyptian people bought into the propaganda of the Pharaoh, and they became terrified of this internal threat to their great country. But things often get worse before they get better. God’s blessing resulted in greater intensity of persecution.

13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

God’s blessing is not always sweet to the taste. The Israelites were being blessed by God. He was making them fruitful in spite of the oppression. God’s blessing didn’t mean freedom from oppression; rather it meant fruitfulness in the midst of affliction with the hope of future redemption. God’s blessing can sometimes be painful in the short term. God’s blessing is not always what we would choose for ourselves. Notice the words that are used:

11 … taskmasters ..afflict … heavy burdens. … 12 … oppressed, …. 13 .. ruthlessly … work as slaves 14 … bitter … hard service, … work… work … ruthlessly … work as slaves.

All this should make us long for deliverance. For rescue. For release. Not that work or service is bad. The repeated demand of God to this Pharaoh was ‘let my people go that they may serve me’ (3:12; 4:23; 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3, 7, 8, 10, 11, 24, 26; 12:31). We long to be transferred from a harsh and cruel slave-master to the service of a kind and generous king.

Paul puts it this way:

Romans 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

We have been purchased:

1 Corinthians 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We are transferred to a new Master:

Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

And that new Master is Jesus:

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus Intro; Why Study Exodus?

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100411_exodus_intro.mp3

4/11 Introduction to Exodus

Why study Exodus?

Where does Exodus fit in the Scriptures?

Review of Genesis

What is Exodus about?

In the coming year Lord willing, I’d like to tackle the book of Exodus. We’ve spent the last year and a half listening to the letters of the Apostle Peter, and before that we went through the book of Genesis together. When we ended Genesis, it was tempting to continue right into Exodus, because Exodus is really the continuation of the story that began with Genesis. I’m excited to get back to Exodus, with its message of redemption and the presence of God among his people. I’m excited to see what God will teach us as we study this important book of his word. This morning I’d like to introduce to you this second book of our Bible, look at why we would want to study it, what role it plays in the scriptures, look back a little at the contents of Genesis to review the background and forward to what Exodus has in store.

The main reason I want to study the book of exodus is to free up seats in the sanctuary. We’ve been a little overcrowded and I figure if we take a long Old Testament book and look at it in tedious detail, we’ll weed out the weak and we should have plenty of empty seats available.

Seriously, why would we study any Old Testament book? What is the relevance for us? Doesn’t Jesus make the Old Testament obsolete?Here’s what Jesus says:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

In other words, Jesus did not come to do away with the Old Testament, but to bring it to climax. In fact, when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, Moses and Elijah were speaking with him about his exodus, (translated in the ESV as departure):

Luke 9:29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

When Jesus talked to some of his disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection it says:

Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

According to Jesus, the books of Moses, including Exodus are all about him. All the Scriptures are all about him. So we can expect to learn about Jesus by studying Exodus. We can expect to see Jesus through a look at the Old Testament. Paul says:

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

So Paul expects us to receive instruction in the Old Testament Scriptures. We can expect to gain endurance and encouragement from Exodus. We can expect it to give us hope. Paul says to young pastor Timothy:

II Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

According to this, we in the New Testament Church are expected to teach out of the Old Testament. All of the Old Testament is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and training in righteousness to make us competent and equipped. We are expected to know and use this book. Not only that, but a study of Old Testament Scriptures is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. The pivotal message in all scripture is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and we should be able to see that message clearly in Exodus.

Where does Exodus fit in the Scriptures?

The Old Testament is typically divided into three main sections; Law, Prophets and Writings.

Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ״ך) an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. The acronym is based on the initial Hebrew letters of each of the text’s three parts:

Torah תורה meaning “Instruction.” It is also called the Chumash חומש, meaning “the five” or “the five books of Moses”. In Greek, it is called the Pentateuch. Exodus is the second book in the Torah. The Torah is often referred to as the law of the Jewish people.

Nevi’im נביאים, meaning “Prophets.” This term is associated with anything to do with the prophets.

Ketuvim כתובים, meaning “Writings” or “Hagiographa.”

Torah – the law

Pentateuch – ‘pentateuchos biblios’ the fivefold book

Jews designated books from the opening Hebrew words

Septuagint (Greek) named books according to their contents

The Greek names were taken over by the Latin Vulgate translation

berēšît – in the beginning

Genesis – origin

šēmôt – names “these are the names of the sons of Israel”

exodus – departure

wayyigrā – and He called “the Lord called to Moses”

leuitikon – the Levitical book

bemidbar – in the wilderness “The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai”

arithmoi – numbering

debārîm – words “These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel”

deuteronomion – repetition of the law

Jesus referred to the three sections of the Tanakh, or Hebrew Scriptures:

Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

More often this is abbreviated to ‘the law and the prophets’ or simply ‘the law’ or ‘the law of Moses’ or even just ‘Moses’

Exodus is the focal point of the Torah, which describes the founding of Israel as God’s chosen nation. Genesis serves as the prologue to Exodus.

Review of Genesis

Genesis is a book of beginnings: it gives us the origin of the universe; origin of the earth; origin of man; origin of sin, guilt and punishment; the origin of death and decay; origin of family; culture; languages; agriculture; industry; the origin of the Hebrew nation as God’s chosen people; Genesis is the beginning of the revelation of God’s grace in salvation.

Genesis enlarges our view of God. He steps onto the stage of history with the affirmation that he IS. He exists. He is the uncreated creator of all things. The self-existent one who had no beginning. The omnipotent one who spoke all things into existence by the breath of his mouth. The one who is ultimately and absolutely in control of all things. He is a God who can be prayed to, believed, trusted in, because he can do things. He can change things. He can make things happen. He is a God who takes pleasure in all that he does. He approves of what he made and takes time to enjoy his creation. He is intimately involved in his creation forming, molding, shaping, breathing life, coming down to speak and act. He is a God who is trustworthy and faithful to always keep his promises. He can even bring his good purposes out of the evil actions of men.

Genesis gives us a proper view of our role in creation. We were created by him and for his pleasure, to display his glory and reflect his image. We were created in relation to God – to rule for him over creation, to walk in relationship with God and obey his commands. But we chose to disbelieve his word and rebel against his rule and exalt ourselves above him. We sinned against him and severed our relationship with him and brought toil and pain and death into his good creation. We then tried to hide, to cover up our sin with our own efforts, and to shift the blame to others, even to God himself.

But even after this, God took action to restore us and made promises to us. He promised that he would one day send one who would crush the head of the serpent.

Genesis falls into two main divisions:

Genesis 1:1-11:26 – Universal history; history of Mankind

Genesis 11:27-50:26 – Particular history; history of one family

God chose to work through one undeserving man to bring hope to the world. He spoke to an idol worshiping pagan named Abram and said:

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Later God promises to Abram the bondage and subsequent deliverance of his chosen people.

Genesis 15:13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

The book of Genesis closes with a promise of God’s presence and deliverance, and Joseph dead and in a coffin in Egypt.

Genesis 50:24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Content of Exodus

That is where Exodus picks up the story. Genesis is the preface to the book of Exodus. Exodus picks up the story with the increase of Abram’s descendants into a great mob in Egypt as promised, and with their slavery in Egypt as promised, and with God visiting them and rescuing them. Exodus continues with God defining the people as a nation, giving them his laws and instructing them to built the tabernacle, the place where he will once again dwell with his people. We can outline the book through these major gracious acts of God:

Outline (Longman, p.34):

Exodus 1-18 God saves Israel from Egyptian bondage

Exodus 19-24 God gives Israel His law

Exodus 25-40 God instructs Israel to build His Tabernacle

This is the outline we are given by God in Exodus 6, where he declares what he will do.

Exodus 6:1 But the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” 2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.”’ 9 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

In Exodus, we see the founding of Israel as a nation, escaping its captivity in Egypt, receiving the law that defines it as a nation and serves as its constitution, and building its central worship site, the tabernacle. In Exodus, we see that all of these were a result of God’s grace – given as a gift to undeserving people.

That these are gracious undeserved acts of love from God becomes evident in the narrative. The story is punctuated by the ill-deserving sins of the people. God chooses Moses, a murderer, to be the leader of his people. In the middle of God’s supernatural rescue of the people out of slavery, they grumble and complain. God provides protection and food and water, and they demonstrate that their hearts long for ‘the good old days’ of Egypt. God initiates a covenant with them and swears to be their God, and they make a golden calf and bow down to it and claim that it was what rescued them from Egypt. God is patient and renews his broken covenant with this rebellious people. He provides a way for sinful people to have their sins covered so they can approach a holy God. God promises to be their God, to be present with them. This is a major theme of the book.

Theme: the presence of God

The book of Exodus moves us from the absence of God who is seen to be distant, with the promise that he will visit his people, then revealing himself individually to Moses, to the presence of God among the community of Israel and climaxes with the visible manifestation of the presence of God inhabiting the tabernacle. God makes a covenant with his people to explain the nature of his relationship with Israel. The Hebrew people are brought from bondage to a cruel Egyptian Pharaoh to bondage to Yahweh, a good and generous slave master.

Exodus is pivotal to all of God’s revealed truth. Throughout the biblical narrative, the event of the exodus is referred to. The people of God look back on the exodus as evidence of God’s faithfulness to his promises. Later in the Babylonian captivity, Israel looks to their second exodus, where God will again deliver his undeserving people by his great strength. God’s character as holy, revealed in the giving of his law and in the very design of the tabernacle, saturates all of Scripture. It is through Jesus, our passover lamb and substitute, that we are redeemed. The covenant that Jesus makes in his blood is the fulfillment of the covenant that God makes with his rebellious people at Mount Sinai. God reveals himself in Jesus as a God who has come near, Immanuel, who has tabernacled with us. Jesus, who leads us, protects us, provides and cares for us. Our final exodus, accomplished by Jesus on the cross, is the deliverance out from the power of sin to gladly serve our new Master and Lord.

My prayer as we study the book of Exodus together is that we enjoy the presence of almighty God with us, that we acknowledge ourselves as undeserving recipients of his love and grace, that we embrace Jesus as our passover lamb slaughtered in our place, that we experience Jesus who shepherds us through the wilderness, that we are brought out from under the cruel bondage of sin and into the glorious freedom of joyfully serving the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resurrection; His and ours

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100404_resurrection_his-ours.mp3

4/04/2010 Resurrection: His and ours

Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is Risen! (He is risen indeed!) He is Risen! (He is risen indeed!)

So what? What difference does it make? What difference does it make in your life?

We believe that Jesus, existing as God from all eternity, came to this planet and took on full humanity, was born of a virgin girl, lived, taught, performed supernatural signs, offended many, was executed on a Roman cross. We believe he was three days in the grave, and rose from the dead. We believe that Jesus appeared to many during the forty days following his resurrection and gave many convincing proofs to many eyewitnesses of the truth of his death and resurrection. We believe that he ascended into heaven and is alive today at the right hand of his Father, and he is coming back for us. We believe these things to be true authentic historical events. Objective historical facts.

Throughout history there have been many attacks on the fact of the resurrection, and there have been many good books written outlining the undeniable evidence of the historicity of the resurrection. Many honest skeptics have sought to disprove once for all the Christian claims to the resurrection, and upon examination of the evidence, have bowed the knee to Jesus as their living King.

I’m going to assume this morning that we all believe in the historical facts of Jesus and the resurrection. I’ll assume if you are a skeptic this morning, that you have the integrity to honestly evaluate the historical evidence for yourself and pursue the historical truth about Jesus. There is nothing more urgent or more important than knowing the truth about Jesus, so if you are a skeptic, if you have doubts or questions, I want to welcome you here – I’m glad you’re here – and I want to encourage you in your pursuit of the truth. Don’t give up! You can find answers to your questions, and more importantly, you will find God if you seek for him with all your heart.

The question I want to deal with this morning is ‘So what?’ Assuming Jesus did rise again, what difference does it make? What’s the difference between a person that believes in the resurrected Jesus and a person that believes the gospel stories to be full of myth and fairy tale? Or let me put it this way: would someone be able to tell that Jesus is indeed alive by observing my life? What practical effect does the resurrection have on me? What does my belief in the resurrection do for me on Monday morning?

For answers to these questions, we are going to look to God’s word. How did the apostles, who followed Jesus and were eyewitnesses to the death and resurrection, interpret the events? What did they teach concerning the resurrection and its practical effects on believers?

Our first step in understanding the significance of the resurrection is to see that the resurrection is inextricably related to who Jesus claimed to be and what he claimed to accomplish. We know that Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, but we don’t celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus day or expect his resurrection to have any significance for us. The resurrection of Jesus was unique because Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God and by his death he claimed to be the sacrificial substitute lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The meaning of the resurrection is directly related to the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus was God’s final stamp of approval that the work Jesus completed on the cross in bearing our sins was accepted, and it is indeed ‘finished’.

Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know– 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Acts 17:30 …God … commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

The gospel message and the resurrection

The resurrection is an essential part of the good news message of Jesus. When Paul summarizes the gospel in 1 Corinthians, he says:

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Paul summarizes the saving events of the good news message as Christ’s death for our sins, his burial, resurrection, and appearances, all in fulfillment of God’s promises in the scriptures. The resurrection was an essential part of the gospel preaching of the apostles:

Acts 4:2 …they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Acts 17:18 … he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

Paul even goes so far as to say

1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? … 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. …19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The whole idea of salvation assumes that after this life is over we will be held accountable for our actions, and because we all have sinned against God, we somehow need to find a way to escape the righteous judgment that is coming. The resurrection of Jesus plays a vital role in our salvation:

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Peter connects our new birth to the resurrection power of Jesus.

Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Paul here ties our forgiveness and salvation, being raised from spiritual death to life to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The resurrection of Jesus secures the certainty of my future resurrection to eternal life

The resurrection of Jesus is not only an essential part of the gospel message of salvation from eternal punishment, but it also secures the certainty of my future resurrection to eternal life.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus claims not only to be resurrected, but to be the resurrection. He is the one who gives eternal life to all who believe in him.

2 Corinthians 4:14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

Because Jesus was resurrected and is alive today, he is able to secure our future salvation.

Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

The resurrection of Jesus and power for Christian living today

But the resurrection of Jesus from the dead does more than secure for me my salvation and a future place in heaven. The resurrection of Jesus is life transforming power for me today.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

My life is not my own. Because I have been given new life by Jesus, that life is to be lived for Jesus and not myself. Paul expands on this concept at length in his letter to Rome.

Romans 6:2 … How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

We are united to Jesus in his crucifixion. When he died, we died and the power of sin over us was broken. When he was buried, our old self was buried. When he was raised from the dead we too were raised to newness of life. Through the power of the resurrection, we can live to God. Because Christ’s resurrection power is at work in us, our bodies can be presented to God as instruments for righteousness. The resurrection has practical implications for how I use my body.

Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. …6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

I am under new ownership. I am free – free to bear fruit for God in the new life of the Spirit.

Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

This is life-transforming truth. The resurrection life giving Spirit of God lives in me. He gives life to this body of death. I am animated by the Spirit of God. I have resurrection power at work in me. The Spirit of God gives life to me right now to live a transformed life.

Galatians 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Because Jesus died for me, I died with Jesus, and now Jesus lives through me. It is not me anymore, but Christ living through me. I live in total dependence on him.

When Paul prays for the church in Ephesus, he prays that they would know this resurrection power.

Ephesians 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

He calls it immeasurably great power toward us. It is the working of God’s great might that he worked in the resurrection of Jesus. That is the resurrection power that is at work in us right now today! In Philippians 3, Paul expresses the incomparable greatness of knowing Jesus.

Philippians 3: 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Paul says he presses into Jesus because Jesus has made him his own. Paul’s prime desire is to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection. His desire is that the resurrection power of Jesus would be a reality in his life, carrying him through his sufferings, ultimately being found righteous in Christ through faith.

So let’s ask our initial question again. Jesus is risen. What difference does it make in my day to day life?

1. The resurrection is good news for me because it means that Jesus sacrifice on the cross as my substitute was accepted by his Father.

2. The resurrection is good news because it gives me confidence that I will find escape from the just wrath of a holy God on judgment day.

3. The resurrection of Jesus assures me that I too will be raised to eternal life on that day.

4. The resurrection power of Jesus is at work in me right now to supply the power for living a God exalting God honoring God glorifying life. Jesus did indeed rise from the dead and because he is alive, his resurrection life is in me to transform me and display his glory through me. Today I live not for myself but for Jesus, because Jesus is alive in me.

He is Risen!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

April 4, 2010 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment