************ Sermon on Hebrews 11:28 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on April 30, 2017

Exodus 12:1-13
Hebrews 11:28
"Moses' Faith (3)"

I The First Passover
A Israel was enslaved in Egypt. The people cry out to God. God raised up Moses to deliver them. So Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh's court with the message: "Let my people go." But Pharaoh refused.

The first nine plagues are unleashed on Egypt. But Pharaoh does not budge. So Moses goes to Pharaoh with an awful message, a message God gave to him as he was returning to Egypt:
(Ex 4:22-23) 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, (23) and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'"
This is the tenth plague, the plague on the firstborn. When it is unleashed it proves to be the most terrible and awful of the judgments: the death of the firstborn of Egypt.

B Can you imagine yourself as one of the Hebrews at that time? On the tenth day of the month of Nissan you carefully pick out a lamb. It needs to be a male, a year old, and spotless. The selected lamb is brought into your house and remains with your family until the 14th day. Why? So all of the family is part of what happens. So every member of the family is engaged. Think especially of the children. They see the lamb. They play with the lamb. They lead and feed the lamb. They love the lamb. Maybe they even sleep with the lamb. He is like a member of the family.

And then on the 14th day of Nissan the lamb is taken outside. Its neck is exposed. Its throat is cut. Its blood is caught in a basin. A branch of hyssop is dipped into the blood and used like a paintbrush to apply the blood to the doorframe of the house. The lamb is cooked. And then the family sits down to eat the lamb.

Imagine the father trying to explain this to his children. Hear him trying to explain why the lamb has to be killed. Hear him explain the angel of death going through Egypt. Hear him explain why they need to eat standing up and dressed in travel garments ready to leave Egypt at a moment's notice. Hear him explain the roasted lamb, the bitter herbs, the unleavened bread.

And then listen to the screams and cries of all the households who lost their firstborn.
(Ex 12:29-30) At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. (30) Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
Death throughout Egypt. Death on the firstborn of all the nation. Not a house without someone dead. All night long you hear the screaming and the crying and the mourning and the wailing.

C None of this is nice to think about. There is no way to clean this up and make it politically correct. It reminds us that there is nothing pretty about divine judgment. But don't ever forget that judgment fell on people who were guilty; the Egyptians were not innocent bystanders. If you have problems with this I'm afraid you are having problems with the holiness and justice of God. We need to be able to praise and glorify God for both the display of His love in all of its wondrous beauty and also the display of His wrath in all its terrifying holiness.

D You know what happens next. Listen to what Scripture says in Exodus 12:
(Ex 12:31-33) During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. (32) Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me." (33) The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. "For otherwise," they said, "we will all die!"
This is the first Passover. This is how God delivers His people out of Egypt.

We can say so much more about the Exodus and the Passover and the plagues. But I am not preaching from Exodus tonight. Rather, I am preaching from Hebrews and the two things the Passover shows us about the faith of Moses.

II The Israelites are as Guilty as the Egyptians
A So what does the Passover show us about the faith of Moses? First, we learn Moses believed the people of Israel, the covenant people, were as guilty before God as were the Egyptians. Look at verse 28:
(Heb 11:28) By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that [HERE IS THE REASON] the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
Moses kept the Passover so the firstborn of Israel would not be killed. Why would they be killed? Because they were guilty!

Moses knows that Israel is guilty before God. Moses knows that Israel is not exempt from the judgment of God. The children of Israel also deserved to be killed by the angel of death. That's what Hebrews is saying and that's what Moses believed. In the same way, we also are guilty. And, we also are not exempt from the judgment of God.

Hebrews uses a bit of a strange word here. The word "touch." So the destroyer of the firstborn would not "touch" the firstborn of Israel. Touch. Isn't that a strange way of expressing the angel's work of death? Touch suggests how simple and easy it is for the angel of death to do his work. All it takes is a touch. A simple touch. A fatal touch. A touch that should be felt even by the Hebrews. Remember how God touched Jacob? God touched Jacob and Jacob walked with a limp the rest of his life. God's touch is all powerful. God's touch is not something to make light of or ignore.

B Many new Christians are puzzled by the death of Egypt's firstborn. They wonder why this had to happen. But they are asking the wrong question as far as the Passover is concerned. The question is not why did God kill Egypt's firstborn but why didn't God kill the firstborn of Israel? After all, they were just as guilty as the Egyptians. Remember what Paul says? "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). This isn't just true of the Egyptians. This is true of Israel too. And, it is true of you and me.

We know the Hebrews were not spared because they were more holy that the Egyptians. Can I remind you of all their complaining and rebellion and lack of faith in the wilderness? Can I remind you of the golden image they made for themselves just days after coming out of Egypt and crossing the Red Sea on dry ground? No, Israel was not holier than Egypt. Israel was not more worthy of God's favor. Israel was not spared because Abraham was her father. Israel was not spared because she lived by a higher moral code. Israel was not spared because she worshiped the one only true God while the Egyptians had a multitude of gods.

Similarly, why am I saved when some of my neighbors are not? Not because I am better. Not because I read the Bible and pray and put money in the offering plate every week. Not because I am a pastor or an elder or a deacon or a Sunday School teacher. Not because I was raised in a Christian home. Not because I have a strict moral code.

There is nothing praiseworthy about the people Moses led out of Egypt. They were guilty and Moses knew it. They were just as guilty as the Egyptians. That's why Moses instituted the Passover at the Lord's command. So the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the Israelite firstborn -- the firstborn of people who also deserved judgment and punishment.

C The people of Israel were just as guilty as the people of Egypt. Therefore, God would have been perfectly just in killing the firstborn of Israel along with the firstborn of Egypt. Yet, He didn't. He spared the firstborn of Israel. He provided a means of salvation for the Hebrews but not for the Egyptians.

Question: Why did God provide a means of salvation for the Hebrews and not for the Egyptians?

The answer lies in the grace of God. The answer lies in the love of God. The verse that best explains this when it comes to Israel is found in Deuteronomy 7:
(Deut 7:6-8) For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (7) 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. (8) But it was because the LORD loved you ...
Now think about how circular this sounds. The Lord set His affection on you because the Lord loved you. The Lord loved you because He loved you.

Why do you love me? Because I love you! That is what God was saying to Israel that night in Egypt. "Why am I saving you? Because I love you. Yes, you are guilty. Yes, you are no better than the Egyptians. But I love you." And, that is what God says to you and me: "I love you. Yes, you are guilty. Yes, you are not better than any of your neighbors. But I love you."

So the first thing we learn about Moses' faith is that Moses believed the people of Israel, the covenant people, were as guilty before God as were the Egyptians.

III Saved by the Sprinkling of Blood
A The Passover also shows us a second thing about the faith of Moses. By faith Moses believed that deliverance would come by means of a substitutionary victim. By faith Moses knew that the sprinkling of blood would save the children of Israel. By faith Moses believed that God would deliver Israel by means of a sacrificial lamb and its blood sprinkled on doorframes. We are talking about deliverance from Egypt and from the destroyer of the firstborn.

This means Moses also knew that deliverance would not come by sword and spear and chariots and horses. This means Moses also knew that deliverance would not come through a big and mighty army. Deliverance comes by way of a substitutionary death. Deliverance comes by the killing of a lamb. Blood needs to be shed. Remember what we read earlier in Hebrews? "Without the shedding of blood," says Hebrews, "there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22). Remember what Paul writes to the Romans: "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). Justice demands the shedding of blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, no deliverance from Egypt, no salvation from the destroyer of the firstborn. There needs to be the shedding of blood.

And to impress this upon the hearts and minds of people, this ceremony was performed year after year, decade after decade, century after century. Think of all the lambs that were killed. Think of all the blood that was collected and sprinkled.

Many people are turned off by this. They don't like the Old Testament because it is so bloody. But do you think it was any better for the Hebrews? Do you think they enjoyed killing their lambs? It was a messy, smelly business to kill a lamb in the front yard. It was very unhygienic to spread blood on the doorposts. Think of the flies this would attract and the disease. Do you think fathers had no problems answering the questions of their children?
Daddy, why are you taking the lamb outside?
Daddy, why is that knife in your hand?
Daddy, what are you doing?
No daddy, I love the lamb. Don't do that.
And then daddy had to explain: "If I don't kill the lamb then God's angel will kill you (or your older brother)."

B Those who know their Bibles realize that the story of the Passover points ahead to Jesus. Jesus is the Lamb Who provides deliverance for a guilty people. For this reason, Paul refers to Jesus as our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5). And, John the Baptist announces the coming of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. Furthermore, Peter has this to say:
(1 Pet 1:18-19) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
Each one of these is a reference to Jesus as the Passover Lamb.

In the Passover, God is preparing us for the Gospel. If the blood of a lamb preserves the Jews in Egypt than how much more will the blood of Jesus save us?

C Remember, we are talking about Moses' faith. Would Moses have been saved if he did not have faith? What about an Israelite family? It does no good to know about the Passover and the lamb if you do not act upon it. A Jewish family might pray and worship but if the blood is not applied to their home, it does them no good. The Passover became a call to have faith in the grace and love and mercy of God. The Passover became a call to believe.

Now let me ask two questions you might have never thought of asking. Do you think every Jewish family killed a Passover lamb that last night in Egypt? And, though there was death in every Egyptian household, does this mean not a single Egyptian was saved?

Don't answer too quickly. I say this because the Bible clearly states that "many other people" left Egypt with the Hebrews (Ex 12:38). They left because they believed. And, there are scholars who believe that not every Jew left Egypt. They stayed because they did not believe.

Yes, God judged the Egyptians. Yes, the Israelites also deserved judgment. But by grace and through faith the people who left Egypt were saved by the shedding of blood.

D Now what about you? Do you believe this? Do you believe a lamb, the Lamb, needs to be sacrificed? Do you believe His blood needs to be sprinkled for you to be saved?

It is not enough to know about this. It is not enough to sing songs about this. It is not enough to learn the Bible texts that teach this. It is not enough to understand what the Catechism says about this. You also and especially need to believe this. By grace, you need to take the blood of Jesus and paint it on the doorposts of your heart. By grace, you need to accept Jesus as your Passover Lamb. By grace, you need to be washed in His blood so the angel of eternal death passes over you.

Go to Jesus. Ask to be sprinkled by His blood. Ask to be saved by Him Who died for you.

"By faith Moses kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel" (Heb 11:28). My hope and my prayer is that you also have this kind of faith.
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