Redeemed At High CostErwin W. Lutzer | September 26, 2004
Selected highlights from this sermon
The first Passover was more than a time of deliverance from God’s judgment. It foreshadowed our own salvation.
The Passover ritual, from the selection of the lamb to the sprinkling of its blood, was fulfilled by Jesus. And today, anyone, from any nation or culture, can be saved by the blood of the sinless Lamb of God.
Louisa Tarkington wrote,
I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat by the door
And never be put on again.
Today I’m talking about new beginnings. If God does not have an answer for our past, we can hardly trust Him for our future. Some of you are here today and you are looking for a new beginning, and I want you to know that God is the God of new beginnings. No matter your past, God has something to say to you today. And at the end of this service I believe that many are going to make a brand new beginning.
The 12th chapter in the book of Exodus is where we are today. If you have your Bibles turn to Exodus, chapter 12. In context what has happened is there were plagues that came to Egypt, and God brought these plagues on Egypt because Pharaoh would not let the Israelites depart the land and go to Canaan. And no matter what God did, Pharaoh always hardened his heart. He’d give in and then he’d change his mind. And every one of the plagues was directed against one of Egypt’s gods. For example, they had a god that was supposed to keep cattle from disease, so God puts a disease on all the cattle to mock the Egyptian gods.
The Nile River was worshipped in the land of Egypt and God turns the Nile into blood, and He does it just to show that the Nile cannot be their god. And on and on the plagues go, and Pharaoh always says, “Okay, go,” and then he changes his mind. He hardened his heart.
So God decided there would be one more plague. It would be the most devastating and it would be the one that would finally convince Pharaoh to let the people go. And God says, “I’m going to go through the land of Egypt, and all of the firstborn in every single house will be dead in the morning.” But then the Lord said, “In order to preserve My people, I’m going to give them a ritual which will be a picture of the coming Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.” And that is where we have the Passover, still celebrated by Jewish people today, and described in chapter 12 of the book of Exodus.
Even though many have not seen the President of the United States directly, you would certainly recognize him if he were here with us today. And the reason is because you have seen so many pictures of him. What God does in Exodus, chapter 12, is He gives us a picture of Jesus using a lamb, and then later on Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world and fulfills all that the other lamb was simply a picture of. So that’s the background.
So God says, “I’m going to give this nation a new beginning. As a matter of fact, your calendar is going to date back to this day. It’s going to be the beginning of months, it says in chapter 12, verse 2: “It shall be the first of the year for you.” And then He says in verse 3: “Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to his father’s household, and if the household is too small for a lamb, he and his nearest relative should get together because God wants all the lamb to be eaten as we’ll see in just a moment.
So the first step that they needed to take for deliverance from this terrible plague of killing the firstborn child in every home is God says, “I want you to find a perfect lamb.”
The text says that this lamb had to be without blemish. That means (In the book of Leviticus it’s very clear.) it could not be blind, it couldn’t have a crooked nose, it couldn’t have a broken hoof or a broken leg. It could have no scabs on its body. As far as the human eye could see this lamb was supposed to be as perfect as a lamb can be.
Why that requirement? Remember this is a picture of Jesus, and Jesus was the Lamb of God who was perfect. So the outward perfection of this lamb becomes a picture of the inward perfection of Jesus. The Bible says that He was without sin.
Now this lamb was observed for four days. You were supposed to find him on the 10th of the month and kill him on the 14th of the month. Four days of careful observation! Jesus was observed for 30 years, and not only does the Scripture teach that He was without sin, but even His enemies said, as Pilate did, “I find no fault in Him.” And Judas who betrayed Him said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” Jesus was perfect. In fact, there was a part of Him that no one could see. It was His divine nature which was absolutely holy, absolutely perfect, and even though Jesus was both God and man, He was without sin.
Do you remember David Koresh who died, I believe, with about 85 others in Waco, Texas? He claimed to be the Messiah, but he said he was a sinful messiah. Now friend, between you and me I just want you to know that sinful messiahs don’t count. Sinful messiahs are useless. The Messiah had to be absolutely sinless. And this lamb, as far as the human eye could see, had to be a perfect lamb. That’s the first step.
The second step is they had to kill the lamb. I’m picking it up now in verse 6. In verse 6 it says, “You shall keep it until the 14th day of this month when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Now obviously the whole congregation didn’t kill the lamb. One person slit its throat. But the point is that the whole congregation was gathered around, approving it, and in that sense participating in it. And this lamb was not supposed to die by accident. He was not to die of natural causes. He was to die a violent death because blood had to be shed.
Now what a picture that is of Jesus. A lot of people weren’t involved in the crucifixion, but the leaders of the nation all gave their assent. “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.” And on the day of Pentecost Peter said, “It is this nation that has crucified Christ. You put the Holy One to death,” Peter said.
So you can see here that it typifies Jesus. Not only that, the Bible says that the Lamb was to be put to death rather at twilight. That’s the translation that we have, but really in Hebrew it is “between the evenings.” And according to Josephus, that was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon till 6 o’clock. Jesus was crucified on the Passover, and when did He die? When did He die? Matthew says that from the sixth hour to the ninth hour there was darkness over the whole land. Remember though they were counting time from 6 o’clock in the morning. The sixth hour is noon. And then the ninth hour is 3 in the afternoon. It is after that that Jesus Christ died.
Think about this. While little lambs were being slain throughout the city of Jerusalem, and you could hear their bleating as they were dying, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was dying. He Himself was giving His life and shedding His blood.
And not a bone of this lamb was to be broken, just like Jesus. The Bible says not a bone of Him was broken either. The soldiers came to Him. They found out that He was dead. They hadn’t expected Him to die. They assumed that He did, and they took Him down from the cross, without breaking His bones, to fulfill the Scripture.
When we read the Old Testament in Exodus chapter 12, it is like a mirror that God is holding before us and saying, “When My Son arrives, recognize Him, because He is the fulfillment of the little lambs in the Old Testament times.
So secondly they had to kill the lamb, and thirdly, they had to apply the blood. Now notice in verse 7 the text says these words: “They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts, and the lintel or the upper top part of the door, in which they eat it.” And then it says, “They will eat the flesh of that lamb.” But notice, “They will take the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the upper part of the doorpost.”
Now just visualize this for a moment. Here you have three places where the blood is to be applied—the top of the door, the blood here, the blood here, the blood here. Does that not remind you of the cross?
And then God says this. He says, “When this terrible plague comes and the Angel of Death is going to go throughout the land and slaughter all the firstborn in the land of Egypt,” God says you’ll be exempt from that judgment because (it says in verse 12): “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast, and on the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments. I am the Lord. And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood I will pass over it.” That’s why the Passover is called the Passover. “When I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt.”
The thing that God will be looking for is blood. You say, “Well, why such importance to the blood? You know, the corpuscles and all of the things that make up blood chemically? Why would that be important to God?” Well, what made it important to God is God says, “That’s the value I’m going to place upon it because this is a picture of Jesus, and it’s a picture of the fact that the lamb has to die to save you. Just like the Lamb of God, Jesus has to die to save you. So God says, “I will ask you to put the blood on the doorpost of your house, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” That’s the third step.
Let’s notice now the fourth step in the process. They feasted on the lamb. They feasted on the lamb. In verse 8 it says: “They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, they shall eat it.” And they are to eat it that evening, and they are to enjoy it, and it is to be eaten in its entirety. Why that?
Do you see again what God is saying? He’s saying, “The lamb who saves you is also the lamb who satisfies you. You not only can thank the lamb for having shed his blood so that you will not come under judgment, but you will also have to thank the lamb because the lamb actually satisfies your other needs.” And so God says: “Eat the lamb.” It’s to be eaten with unleavened bread symbolizing the fact that they didn’t have time to even let the bread rise because they all left that night, the Bible says.
Now, what about Jesus? He made this statement in John 6. He said, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, for my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed.” Some people have read that and they’ve said, “Oh, that must mean that we have to literally eat the body and the blood of Christ, that we have to literally eat His flesh, we have to literally drink His blood.” But actually cannibalism is inconsistent with the Old Testament, and it says expressly that blood is never to be drunk, so it’s very clear that what Jesus is saying (The Apostle Paul says, “Christ our Passover has been crucified for us.”) is “You need to feast on Me. I am the bread that came down from heaven. He that eats this bread…” And then He says, “He who abides in me and I in him, he eats my flesh and drinks my blood.”
It is Jesus Christ becoming satisfying to those whom He has redeemed, the Savior who is the one who redeemed us, whose shed blood on the cross rescues us from God’s judgment. He’s also the Savior whom we love. He’s the Savior whom we enjoy, the Savior through whom we have fellowship, the Savior with whom we can spend time. Even if we’re not asking Him any specific request, we just love to be with Him, and we find our souls are satisfied.
There’s a fifth step in this process, and that is they began to walk in the power and the liberty and the freedom of the lamb. Now, you’ll notice the text tells us that they did leave that night. And 600,000 men left. It says in verse 37 of Exodus 12: “And the people of Israel journeyed from Ramesses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds.”
While Egypt was mourning, the Israelites were celebrating because when the Angel of Death came that night (The Bible says he came at midnight.), he struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. You can imagine mothers and fathers going into the room of their children and there they discover that their boy, their firstborn child, is dead. And then they begin to cry, and they begin to grieve, wondering why it is that he died, and so they need some consolation from the neighbors. And the neighbors check their bedrooms and discover that the firstborn is dead too. And all throughout the land, the Bible says there was this huge cry of desperation and a cry of wailing and grief because of all these deaths in Egypt. You read the text and you discover that Pharaoh finally says, “Okay, alright, if that’s what you are going to do, oh God, I will let the people go.”
So the people leave the land, 600,000 men, two million people. You say, “Well, how could that be? I mean, that’s unthinkable—two million people leaving a land to go into a desert area.” Remember that they were all organized. They had elders and they had groups, and the way in which they communicated was they’d have a meeting of all the leaders and they’d agree as to what they were going to say to the people, and that’s the way they let it happen—by word of mouth. No fax machines, no cell phones, thank God! Just word of mouth. And the message got out.
I can imagine a child saying to mom or dad as they were leaving, “How in the world are we going to live? We’ve got some unleavened bread. We have some water with us. A little bit of food! But what are we going to do when we run out of water? What are we going to do when the little bit of bread that we’re taking with us is no more?”
Some of you who are here today are on the verge of trusting Christ as Savior, and what you are saying to yourself is this: “If I get saved, God is going to make so many demands on me. How am I going to be able to live this new life? I mean I can’t even conceive of it. I don’t have the resources. I don’t have the strength.”
Well, the God who redeemed them is the God who is now leading them. They had no idea that God was going to send a pillar of fire and a cloud to lead them. They didn’t know. They’re going to have to trust God big time. They didn’t know that God was going to send the manna miraculously every morning six days a week. They didn’t know that. They didn’t know that the time would come when Moses would simply strike a rock and water would come forth, and enough water for all of the millions of people to drink. They could never have thought of it. They couldn’t have predicted it. They had not seen those kinds of miracles, but all that they did was they began to walk in the strength of the lamb, and in the power of the lamb, and they were redeemed out of slavery and it was between them and God, which is where God often puts us. It’s just between Him and us because apart from His help we have nowhere to go. And God who redeemed them led them, cared for them, blessed them and eventually after many, many mishaps they did make it into the Promised Land.
What I’d like to do is to give you two life-changing lessons based on this wonderful picture of Jesus. First of all, the blood on the door made a sharp distinction between Israel and Egypt. It made a sharp distinction between those who would be spared the judgment of God and those who would be the objects of the judgment of God. And if I might put it this way, God was interested in how the people were living. There’s no doubt about it. But what really mattered when judgment came was whether or not there was blood on the door. That was really the issue. God said, “When I see the blood I’ll pass over you.”
You say, “Well, were there some Egyptians that were also saved? If an Egyptian had put blood on his door would he have been saved?” And the answer is “Yes, of course, he would have been because God says, ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you.’” Now, God did not give Egypt that particular secret because he needed to judge them so that the people would be able to leave the land, and Pharaoh would finally cave in. But today God says to people of all races, of all cultures, “You come to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” and that Lamb is available for you, the spotless Son of God who shed His blood for us. So all God said that really matters is blood on the door.
Let’s put ourselves in the sandals of a firstborn for a few moments, this firstborn in the land of Israel on the Israel side. I mean, he has been real, real rowdy, a rebellious young man. He’s done a lot of things that may even have been criminal, and they’ve had to rein him in. They’ve had to discipline him because he has really been a piece of work.
So news goes out that God is going to judge all the firstborns. All the firstborns in the land of Egypt are going to die on a certain night, and so this boy comes to his father, and says, “Dad, how do you know I’m not going to get it? All of my friends think I am. What makes you think I can be exempt from the judgment? I mean I sure don’t deserve it. I mean I deserve whatever the Egyptians are getting.” The father says, “Son, you sure do, but in the end all of us deserve judgment. But let me take you outside. I want to show you something. Do you see the blood that we have on the door? Blood at the top, blood along the two side posts of the door? I’m going with the promise, Son, that God says, ‘When I see the blood, I’ll pass over you.’ It’s the blood that really matters.”
And I can imagine there is another firstborn who, perhaps, is emotionally unstable. He’s the kind who wrestles with depression. He thinks to himself that his conscience may be far too sensitive. He is one of those boys, you know, who can’t trust anything because life has been so hard for him, and he’s just different than anybody else. And so he’s going through so many doubts and fears, and he is scared to go to bed that night. And he comes to his father, and his father says, “Well, Son, I know that you are going through emotional turbulence. I know that you suffer from all of these things but I want you to know that God says, ‘When I see the blood, I’ll pass over you.’ We’re trusting the blood, Son. We’re trusting the blood. We’re not trusting you or me. We’re trusting the blood. We’ve met God’s requirements. And maybe that boy never slept that night. Maybe he was up all night expecting to be struck dead, but in the end it really didn’t matter because there was blood on their door.
Then if we can imagine Satan, the devil, coming to one of the families in Israel’s side of the land, and saying, “Huh, you don’t really think that you’re going to be spared this judgment, do you? Don’t you know that you are of mixed blood? Look at all of the ridicule you’ve taken. You don’t really belong here anyway. As a matter of fact, because you are of a mixed race (You’re part Egyptian and part Israel), we despise you. And you are thinking that that little blood on your door is going to save you. You don’t deserve to be saved. You should be ashamed of all that you’ve done. You should be ashamed of who you are.”
And I can imagine if that man was thinking as the head of his household, he would say to the devil, “You know, what you are saying is true about me. In fact, you don’t even know half the story, but I want you to know that I’ve got blood on our door, and God says, “When I see the blood I’ll pass over you.”
I like the way in which Martin Luther not only taunted death: “Death, come over here and get me. Tell me what you can do. The worst you can do is to kill me and let me be with Jesus. That’s not too bad.” But he also used to taunt the devil. It is said that one day, perhaps in a vision, the devil came to Martin Luther and said, “Luther, here is a list of your sins,” and Luther said, “Oh, Devil, your list is far too short. There are so many that you have omitted. Do you want me to help you? I’ll give you some that you didn’t even know about. Show me all of my sins. List them. If you run out of chalk get some more. Write them all out.” And then underneath Luther wrote, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.” It’s the blood! (applause)
And then I can imagine there in Israel on the Israeli side of the ledger that there was a family that said, “You know, we find all of this nauseous. I mean, we find it to be repulsive. You know, this idea of blood! It smells bad. You have to kill a lamb, and how mean can you get? And we just don’t like this at all. This offends our sensitive sensibilities. What we think Jehovah’s interested in is our works, our rituals. We’re good people. I’m a good person so Jehovah should accept me and exempt me from the judgment.”
And so what this family does is they take a piece of parchment and they write out all of the good things that they’ve done, and they tack it to the door and say, “Surely Jehovah is going to be pleased with that. Why wouldn’t He be? Isn’t He fair? Aren’t we better than others?” In the morning they wake up and go to the bedroom and their oldest son is dead because God says, “When I see the blood I’ll pass over you.”
Some of you may be listening to this message and maybe I’ve offended your sensibilities. There is a form of Christianity in America today that says the whole idea of blood is offensive. Some liberal theologians have said that it is a slaughterhouse religion that we want nothing to do with.
Well, the Bible says that we’ve not been redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. And that’s why here we preach the blood of Christ because God says, “When you have blood on your door, I will pass over you.”
So the first lesson is that the blood separated those who were saved from those who were judged. And secondly we apply the blood by faith. We apply it by faith. You may be here at The Moody Church for the first time and say, “Well, okay, I want blood applied to my heart. Where’s the blood? Show me the blood. Do you have blood in a flask somewhere here?” No. Listen carefully. When Jesus died on the cross two thousand years ago His blood was shed, and when His blood was shed the Father said, “I will accept all those who trust Him as Savior. I will accept the blood of Jesus as their means of redemption if they give up all hope of saving themselves and trust only Christ alone for their salvation.”
And so at the end of the day, all that you have done in your past, however ugly it is, isn’t really the point. We might wish that it was better but that’s not really the point. The point is, have you accepted the blood that was shed on Calvary as shed for you?
In the 1600s Philip of Spain came to the Netherlands and Rotterdam. He began a huge slaughter because the people had rebelled against him, and they had this slaughter. And he asked his soldiers to go from house to house and kill everybody. And there was a family that was just cowering in grief and fear because they knew they were next. And the father had an idea. They had some animals and he killed an animal and he took some of the blood and he put it on the step and right at the door. And when the soldiers came they opened it and thought that the people had been slaughtered already so they moved on.
God says, “When I seen the blood I will pass over you.” When I stand before God some day and He says, “Why should I let you into heaven?” I will not say, “Well, Lord, you know I did preach to some people, some of whom were listening I hope.” I will not say that. I will say, “Father, I’m here in your presence today because I have received the blood of Christ as belonging to me in my stead.” And God will say, “When I see the blood I pass over the judgment, and you can be with Me forever.”
Let us pray.
Father, today we ask that You shall enable all who have never received Christ as Savior to do so. We pray that their hearts will be open to what they have heard regardless of their past. Regardless of what has happened, today You give them a new beginning as they receive what Jesus did for sinners.
Now if you are here today you can pray this prayer even at this moment. “Lord Jesus, I receive You as mine today. I receive the blood that You shed as belonging to my salvation. I embrace You as Savior.”
If you prayed a prayer like that and you desire to know that you belong to God forever, would you raise your hand, some of you? About four or five here, and there may be others. In the balcony, has God talked to you? You want to receive Christ… Yes, I see the hand here up in front. Others? You say today, “I receive Christ. I receive that blood.”
Father, for those who raised their hands and for those who should have, we pray today that they may embrace the only one qualified to bring them into Your presence. We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.