HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, May 30, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Never Forget” – Communion & Sharing Sunday
Text – Exodus 12-13, 15:1-21, Matthew 26:17-30, John 14:23-29
In preparing for this morning, I was reminded again of the strong connection between God’s rescue of the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt and of the rescue from enslavement to sin that Jesus has provided the world. On this Communion Sunday, it is good for us to recognize the precursor that God provided of His ultimate plan of salvation that this morning’s story from Exodus provides us with. Last week we left Moses and Aaron in the palace of the Pharaoh being ordered to, ‘Get out. Take everything and everyone with you!”
This morning, I want to begin by taking a step back to an earlier event that immediately preceded Pharaoh’s final expulsion of the Hebrews from Egypt.
PAY ATTENTION…AND REMEMBER– Exodus 12:1-14
“While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the Lord gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron: 2 “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. 3 Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. 4 If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and how much they can eat. 5 The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.
6 “Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight. 7 They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. 8 That same night they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal—including the head, legs, and internal organs—must be roasted over a fire. 10 Do not leave any of it until the next morning. Burn whatever is not eaten before morning.
11 “These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord’s Passover. 12 On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the Lord! 13 But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 “This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is a law for all time.”
God was about to bring the final plague upon the land of Egypt—the death of the firstborn. He chose this time not to simply prevent the plague from impacting the land of Goshen, but required the Hebrews to host a special meal in order to participate in God’s rescue. Their act of obedience was to serve as a tangible reminder, to be enacted annually, of how God had worked on their behalf to bring them out of Egypt.
The Hebrews are told to celebrate the Passover with a meal, but with very specific directions. They are to eat their meal in haste—a roasted lamb or young goat, with bitter salad greens and flat bread—fully clothed and ready to travel. The blood of the animal is to be painted on the sides and lintel of the door as it will serve as a protection for all those inside. When the Lord sees it, He’ll “pass over.”
When you think about it, it wouldn’t have made much sense to them. Eating, but prepared to make a run for it. Why the hurry? No yeast in their bread. What’s God got against yeast? Bitter greens. Yech! The death of an animal to prevent the death of a loved one. How does death stop death? They could have simply refused. Yes, they have Moses’ instructions, but they didn’t fully know how things were going to play out or even why these precise directions were necessary. However, the Bible doesn’t record any hesitancy on the parts of the slaves to comply…at least not this time. They have witnessed the last nine plagues—whether directly experienced or observed from afar—which have given credence to Moses’ instructions. So, they obey. And when the order is given to leave immediately, they may have experienced some organized chaos, but they’re ready.
But how does this story directly connect to Jesus, beyond obvious ancestry?
Matthew 26:17-19, 26-30
“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?’ 18Jesus told them, ‘As you go into the city you will see a certain man. Tell him, “The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.”’ 19 So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there…
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘Take this and eat it, for this is my body.’ 27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, ‘Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the new covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.’
30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Jesus himself lead the disciples through the Passover meal, but applied it, not to their ancestors’ miraculous escape from Egypt, but directly to what was about to happen to and through him. Through the Passover meal, he was providing them an ongoing means of remembering the sacrifice he would make for the world. He was the final sacrificial lamb that would ever need to be offered up to secure humanity’s salvation. It was his body that would be killed and his blood that would be spilled so that those who obey Him will be protected from spiritual death. You may not have considered this fact, but in the Church, we are in actual fact celebrating a spiritual Passover remembrance each time we partake in communion.
But first back to our story…We know from last week’s lesson that the Hebrews had been protected from the destruction of their firstborn and were now hastily evicted from Egypt, but they still weren’t ‘out of the woods’ so to speak. God wasn’t done with His plan for Egypt and her king. There were still those who refused to acknowledge His supremacy. So, shortly after having told the Hebrews to, ‘get out’, the Pharaoh and others once again had a change of heart and set out to kill and/or reclaim their property—the Hebrew slaves.
Word had gotten back to Pharaoh that the Hebrews appeared to be lost, walking around in circles, and had hemmed themselves in, the Red Sea blocking their escape. With hearts once again hardened, the Egyptians rushed to exact their vengeance. As the dust of their approaching chariots rose in the air, the recently freed slaves’ horror also rose with it.
REMEMBER…AND TRUST THE PLAN – Exodus 14:13-31
“13 But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.’
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! 16 Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. 18 When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!’
19 Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. 20 The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.
21 Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. 22 So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side! 23 Then the Egyptians—all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers—chased them into the middle of the sea. 24 But just before dawn the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion. 25 He twisted their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive. ‘Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!’ the Egyptians shouted. ‘The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!’
26 When all the Israelites had reached the other side, the Lord said to Moses, ‘Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.’ 27 So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived.
29 But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides. 30 That is how the Lord rescued Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that day. And the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. 31 When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”
Despite the evidence of the plagues and their enacted Passover feast, the Hebrews still hadn’t learned the crucial need to ‘remember.’ Each new crisis took them back to ground zero—this would be just the first of many such times. Their seeming incapacity to remember, prevented them from learning to trust God, and left them fearful when faced with obstacles. God had a plan that He shared freely with Moses, but the enemy barreling down on them exposed their lack of faith. Their refusal to recall what God had done for them in the recent past, would continue to dog them throughout their years of wandering in the wilderness. Each time the people faced a crisis they panicked, got angry or grumbled.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want my faith in God to resemble that of the Hebrew slaves—perpetually moving from panic to praise and then back again. We too are called to remember and trust ‘The Plan.’ We are children of our heavenly Father, who has a plan—He wants us to trust Him without reservation.
“Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.”
Just as God revealed His plan to the Hebrews through Moses, God has already revealed His plan to us through His Son. Jesus is coming back! In the meantime, Jesus has given us his gifts of peace of mind and heart, and in His place we have the Advocate—the Holy Spirit—to guide us, just as the angel of the Lord and the pillar of cloud and fire guided the Hebrews throughout their time in the wilderness.
Remembering what God has already done and has promised to do should fill us with hope for the future, no matter what obstacles we may find ourselves facing today. We know from Scripture, from Church history, and even from our own testimonies that God is good, He rescues and He fulfills His promises. Amen? [Amen!]
We need to remind ourselves that we are no longer slaves—neither to sin, death nor any of the evil influences of this world. Our daily challenge is to remember what Jesus has done on our behalf so that we can continue in freedom—from fear, anxiety, the need to control and all manner of enslavements that act as barriers between us and God.
Remembering also provides us with the ability to trust in God more fully and can give us strength to endure, even in seasons of uncertainty and persecution. Because today is ‘Communion & Sharing’ Sunday, I wanted to share two quick stories of fellow believers who know persecution for their faith firsthand:
Voice of the Martyr – The Church in China – It is reported, that persecution of Christians today in China has reached and is surpassing the level of persecution experienced during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.
Story #1 – Zhao Weikai, Church Leader in China
“Zhao Weikai is a leader of the Xuncheng Reformed Church in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, China. The church had been raided in November 2020 and again on December 30th, when security officers disrupted a Bible study in the home of Pastor An Yankui (see this report).
In the early morning of May 17th, Zhao's home was raided by approximately 20 police officers. Without providing a warrant, the officers seized computer equipment and books. Zhao and his wife Li Xin were taken for questioning under charges of "proselytism." Li was released that evening, but Zhao was ordered to serve a 15-day administrative detention. Several times in the past, Zhao had been "invited" to "talk" with police because of his refusal to abide by the religious mandates of the Chinese Communist Party.” Would you continue to live your faith so bravely as Zhao and his wife do under those circumstances?
Story #2 – Dr. Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid
“For many years, ChinaAid, an organization founded by Dr. Bob Fu, has been a significant voice for Christians in China. As a partner of The Voice of the Martyrs, they have worked to expose the abuses of the Chinese government, encourage the persecuted, and equip leaders to defend the rights of citizens so they can experience the blessings of faith and freedom.
This week's story from China (Zhao’s) is only one of the many that have come to our attention through the tireless work of our friends at ChinaAid. It is for this reason that we extend our heartiest congratulations to Dr. Fu upon receiving the 2021 Wilberforce Award. The words of VOMC's Chief Executive Officer, Floyd Brobbel, aptly describe Dr. Fu's tenacity: "Bob is an example of one who uses his freedom to serve those who are bound. There is no 'quit' in Bob when raising a voice for his persecuted brothers and sisters in China."
The Wilberforce Award was established in 1988 to recognize distinguished Christian leaders who exemplify the principles and commitment of William Wilberforce, an English statesman who waged a 40-year campaign which led to the abolition of slavery in Britain. VOMC joins in acknowledging the significant impact Dr. Fu has made throughout the world. To learn more about the work of ChinaAid, go to www.chinaaid.org.”
Bob Fu has dedicated his life to serving God and His Church. Do we live lives that demonstrate that we are God’s Ambassadors—planet earth is not our home? Do we refuse to ‘quit’ when working in and for God’s Kingdom?
Never underestimate the value of remembering God’s obvious work on our behalf and recalling to mind the promises contained in Scripture.
What do we do in the face of crisis? Does our story read like the Hebrews? Or will we follow the example of our brothers and sisters in China and other parts of the world who refuse to forget who it is they serve?
As we move to our time of Communion, I want to encourage you to remember what Jesus’ has done on your behalf. It is because of Him that we now celebrate His great “Passover” deliverance for all who follow and obey God.
References & for Further Study
“Remind Me” – Ginny Owens – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO6JREQlV_M
Voice of the Martyrs (VOMC) – Monthly publication available - https://www.vomcanada.com/subscribe.htm (free within Canada)
Voice of the Martyrs (VOMC) – Weekly persecution and prayer alert available - https://www.vomcanada.com/about-emails.htm (free)
Sunday, June 6, 2021- “God Provides” (Exodus 15:22-16) - ONLINE Only
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!