Wednesday, October 15, 2014

You Were There

Did you know that you were at the Red Sea?  Did you know that you were freed from slavery in Egypt?  Did you know that you stood at the mountain and heard the voice of God giving you the words of the law, the law of freedom?  If your eyebrows are raised quizzically right now as you read this, I don’t blame you.  “Pastor Amy,” you might reply, “I certainly remember going to Sweden two summers ago but I don’t remember going anywhere in the Middle East!”  And yet, consider the Jewish feast of Passover.  At that celebration those who are gathered speak of how “God took us from the iron furnace of Egypt,” how “He took us through the Red Sea on dry ground.”  Moreover at Passover one can say to the Lord God, “You saved me at the Red Sea and gave me the law to free me from sin and death at the mountain.”  Are the Jewish people who say such things at the Passover simply dreaming?  On the contrary.  They were most certainly there at the Red Sea and at the mountain.  Why?  Because God has said so.  In Deuteronomy, God speaks to the children of the children of Israel, many of whom were not even born at the time that God said to Pharaoh, “let my people go,”  but nevertheless God says to them, “not to your fathers but to you I gave my covenant, it was to you that I spoke with, face to face, at the mountain, to you.” (see Deut. 5) This is why each generation says to the Lord, “You took me out of the iron furnace of Egypt and set me free.”  At this point you might say, “Pastor Amy, that is just for the Jews, not for me, a Gentile believer.”  Here again I would reply to you, “On the contrary.”  The apostle Paul tells us that we Gentiles have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel.  We partake in all its riches. (Romans 11:17f) In Jesus, we Gentiles can now say with the Jewish people, “I was there.”  With the Jewish people, we Gentiles can now say, “the Lord spoke with us, face to face, at the mountain.”  We of the nations thank God that he rescued us too from Egypt and gave us too the law of freedom and life at the mountain and put us too into his congregation formed there in the wilderness, but even more we Jews and Gentile believers thank God for the even greater rescue that he gave each of us at Calvary.  Can we even imagine a rescue, a deliverance that could top the Red Sea?  Yet, there is one, the rescue at Calvary, the “Exodus at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31) that puts the Exodus out of Egypt in the shade; there at Calvary God freed us not from the Egyptians but from the even greater foes of sin and death.  It was there at Calvary that God raised us up, not from out of slavery, but from out of sin and death, transferring us to the kingdom of his beloved son, waking us up from the dead, and giving us the new covenant, written in our hearts, so that without being under the law of Moses, or being obliged to obey even one of its commands, we fulfill it, for God not only supports us and carries all the way, at Calvary, he gives us hearts like his, hearts of faith and love. (Isaiah 55:3)