From darkness to light, this is the story we all share as the people of God. He draws us out to draw us in. From the birth of Israel to the church today, God delivers and dwells with his people. He draws us out of our sin, our Egypt, and draws us into his presence, into relationship with him.
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Good morning to you all. My name is Anthony Moore. I am the campus pastor in Fort Worth. It's good to be with you again. We're going to continue our walk through the book of Exodus. I want to invite you to turn with me in your Bibles to Exodus 12. As is our custom in Fort Worth, I want to invite you to stand with me and turn in your Bibles to Exodus 12.
We're actually going to look at chapters 11 and 12. We're going to focus in on chapter 12. If you could, here at Flower Mound and I guess at the other campuses too, we're looking for space. If you don't mind, would you just scoot toward to the center of the aisle and leave the outside seats available so the ushers can find seats for everybody. Make sure there are no seats in the middle.
One of the things I love that Matt does when he's preaching as he has been preaching through Exodus is he has been willing just to read huge portions of Scripture. If you think about it, if we believe about the Bible what the Bible says about itself, that it's the inerrant Word of God that has been delivered to us, then one of the best things we can do is just read it. We're actually going to read 31 verses of Exodus 12. I pray our hearts would be encouraged here by it.
"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 'This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household.
And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.
In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover. 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 all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.
On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever.
In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.'
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, 'Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.
For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.
And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, "What do you mean by this service?" you shall say, "It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses."' And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.
And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, 'Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.'"
As you're being seated, let's go to the Lord in prayer.
Father, our prayer is quite simple this morning. I pray, Lord, that we would understand the manner and the sufficiency of your love for us in Christ Jesus. We pray that that would be enough for us. We pray to that end in the matchless name of Christ by the power of your Spirit, Lord, amen.
In 1994, Susan White wrote a book entitled Christian Worship and Technological Change. In the book, she contemplates elements of Christianity post Hitler's terrible Nazi war camps. She raises the question, "Can we confess and intercede before a God who seems to not have heard the cries of the Jews in the death camps? Can we pray in the same way to the God of classical theism, the God of power, wisdom, might, and mercy in a post-Holocaust community of faith?"
In a like way, David Power, in the 1980s, raised a more direct and specific question. He asked, "Can we in truth celebrate eucharist after the Nazi holocaust and in the face of an imminent nuclear holocaust, and in a world half-populated by refugees, in the same way as we did before the occurrence of such horrors?" Provocative questions, are they not? I just want to entertain them just for a second.
Would it not seem like a matter of contradiction for a Jewish Christian man or woman to celebrate the Lord's Supper, this supper that boasts of this delivery from slavery and granting of freedom? Would it not seem like a matter of contradiction for them to celebrate that supper while at the same time they're prisoners in Nazi war camps?
Or, for an American slave, to celebrate the Lord's Supper while at the same time having chains on their feet. Doesn't that seem like a matter of contradiction? Let me press more personal. Let me go more internal and spiritual for us. Let's just ask the question, "In what way can we have confidence in Christ and his gospel while we still struggle with sin?"
Some in here still struggle with the same sin post-conversion as you did pre-conversion. In what way can we celebrate and toast the cup and the bread that celebrates deliverance from slavery when death still stings us? We still feel the sting of death on family members. Let me put it like this. Here is the main question I want to answer and pose with this text…Has our God mistaken slavery for freedom?
To state it another way, how can we boast victory and deliverance in the midst of voluntary slavery to sin? How can we boast that? How can we boast in our confidence in the gospel in Christ as we struggle with suffering and difficulties in this world? Has our God left us? We come to a story in the Bible about God's people needing this very thing, deliverance from slavery.
It's important to note that when we drop down into chapters 11 and 12, we drop down right into the midst of divine judgment, famously referred to as the ten plagues. Hopefully you know what is going on up to this point, but nine of the ten plagues have already happened. Watch this. With chapter 11, there is yet again another pause in divine judgment for one last prophetic plea and warning. He pauses yet again before the tenth plague to offer another opportunity for response and repentance.
As a matter of fact, if you look at the nine plagues, what you should understand is that all of the first nine plagues are really threatening the tenth plague. What is astounding about that then is even in the midst of divine judgment, there is grace. Even when Pharaoh abuses God's grace over and over and over again, guess what? There is more grace. I want you to consider this. Look with me at verse 2 of chapter 11. We read about God telling Moses,
"'Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.' And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people."
Here's the point. God told Moses all the way in verse 19 of chapter 3 that he was going to bring about a judgment with mighty acts, wonders, and deeds in such a way that all of the Egyptians and Pharaoh himself would be wowed by God and in so doing pay homage to Moses and all of the Israelites. He tells them, "I'm going to bring judgment. When I do, they're going to be so wowed by me that they're going to pay homage to you."
This will really blow your mind. God told them all the way back in Genesis 15 that this was going to happen. You're not putting it together yet. Look at this. In one breath, God declares that he's going to judge Egypt. Then he takes 12 chapters to do so. Think about all of the drama that has happened in there. God gives the people of Egypt and Pharaoh more opportunities to repent.
Here is what is so astounding about this, unbeliever. All throughout the Scriptures we read of stories like this and other stories where mankind abuses God's grace, abuses God's grace, over and over and over again. God extends more grace. He gives more grace, even though they abuse his grace. I want to show you this. I found a popular website. It's a website for atheists where they share rebuttals about Christianity or toward Christianity.
They get on there and share just the different stories they've had as they've encountered and had arguments with Christians. One of their most famous rebuttals that they share with one another… They're getting this from philosophers of old. What they like to do is walk before us as Christians, and they put a table or something to stand on, and they say, "Listen. If your God really exists, then I'm going to stand on this table. If he really exists, then he'll knock me down off of it. If he really exists, then he'll strike me down dead for mocking him."
So they stand on the table, and they stand there. With their watch, they just kind of time and wait for 15 minutes. On this website, they're just laughing back and forth as they said that Christians, rightfully so, were kind of looking around with awe, like, "What is going to happen?" They would just stand there. At the end of 15 minutes, they would go, "See? I told you your God doesn't exist."
I love the way one of my professors rebuts this. He says, "It's not that you've proven that God doesn't exist. Really, philosophically, you have more work to do than just that. What you've just proven is if there is this all-knowing, all-powerful God, the only thing you've proven with this is that he's awfully gracious and merciful." We can see that here. Don't miss this then. Finally, in chapter 11, where God has been extending the hand of grace, he then exchanges it for the hand of judgment.
Chapter 11, verse 4: "So Moses said, 'Thus says the Lord: "About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill…" I'm not missing anybody. "…and all the firstborn of the cattle.
There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel."'" The Lord brings judgment. Hear me. What we should take from this…
I wish we could just preach on this for a while, but hear me. Our God is gracious. Our God is loving. He is longsuffering. He is not weak. For you to make that conclusion that he is weak is of devastating and eternal consequences. God brings judgment, and it involves the killing of firstborn of animals and people. He kills people. He doesn't miss. He knows, and he kills them. I think the question we ask in our hearts is, "Why? Why do that, Lord? Why does that happen?"
Because sin and disobedience against God's Word always brings death. Always. We're told this in the book of Genesis, but here's the thing. We don't always get to see it take place this quickly. We don't always get to see it take place immediately. Sometimes we think we can be disobedient or sin against God and somehow God is just joking or lying or is just playing around with us. Just know that this is a picture of what happens because of sin. People always die.
Wait a minute. I want to be careful here because we're talking about the Passover. We're talking about the death of children and babies. What I want to be careful to do is say that I'm not saying that children passing away is always the result of sin on behalf of the parents specifically or directly. That's terrible. I would never argue that. You have no biblical case for that.
What I'm arguing is that, ultimately, all suffering and struggle and death in this world is a result of sin in general. It's the consequences of sin as a whole. Romans 8:20: "For the creation was subjected to futility…" I know what you're thinking here. I know what you're thinking because I'm a pastor, and I have to walk into different rooms like this and feel the weight of that and try to explain.
Listen. When one little precious child cries, one little tear from one child is enough to shake and rock the universe. What it oftentimes does in our hearts is we want to look at God and go, "Hey, give me an explanation. Explain. Explain to me what is going on," as if without God, there would be no pain or suffering. You know, the biblical worldview doesn't look at God as the problem. The biblical worldview looks the opposite way.
I love what G.K. Chesterton said. A famous newspaper wrote out and asked philosophers and authors to write in and weigh in on this one question: What is wrong with the universe? They sent out to a bunch of philosophers and authors and said, "Hey, write in." He has all of these philosophers writing in these great treaties on what they think is wrong with the universe.
G.K. Chesterton wrote back and said, "Dear sir, I am. Yours truly, G.K. Chesterton." The real issue is us. As one theologian put it, we are both the garbage of the universe while at the same time being the crown and glory of God's creation. You know how I know it is true? It's because of the biblical category of justification. If you think about the notion of justification, what justification says in the Bible is we have to be able to give justification to God for what we've done, not that God has to give justification to us for who he is and what he has done.
The second reason why God's brings judgment, why he brings the ten plagues… Chapter 4:22 says it shows God's love for his firstborn, Israel. He loves Israel. It's astounding. If you've been reading this story at all, you should be asking yourself, "Why? Why on earth does he love Israel?" If you remember, the way they get into captivity in Egypt was just this little thing where they were trying to sell off and kill one of their brothers. That's how they got there.
They were sinful before they got to Egypt. After they leave, they're going to be sinful again. They are wicked and depraved. They're worshipping some of the same Gods the Egyptians are worshipping. There is nothing special about them. In many regards, we can't even tell that they love God for God more than just wanting him to free them from their slavery.
Why does God love them? He just loves them because he's motivated by his own love and glory. That's it. He just loves them. It's grace. If you took this concept here in the Old Testament of God being motivated by love for his people, to pursue them and love them, and you put that in tandem with how we oftentimes understand the gospel, I think it helps correct some misunderstandings of the gospel.
I love Sinclair Ferguson here when he points out things. He'll say things like, "The gospel is not, 'God loved us because Jesus died." Isn't that so close? That's not the gospel. "God loves you because Jesus died," as if Jesus is having to convince the Father to love us, as if there is discord in the Trinity, or as if Jesus is the loving one, and God the Father is this mean, wrathful God who is just trying to get at these wicked people, and Jesus is in the way, keeping this wrathful God from getting to us.
No, no, no. The gospel is not, "God loved us because Jesus died." The gospel is, "God loved us, so Jesus died." Jesus helps us understand or answer the question, "In what way, in what manner has the Father loved us?" What Jesus does is says, "In this way. This is how Daddy loves you." It's John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." God loved us, so Jesus died. He knows what he's getting.
That's why Jesus dies, because he loved us. I love Sinclair Ferguson here. He gives further explanation here. Listen to this. "The subtle danger here should be obvious: If we speak of the cross of Christ as the cause of the love of the Father, we imply that behind the cross and apart from it, he may not actually love us at all. He needs to be 'paid' a ransom price in order to love us.
But if it has required the death of Christ to persuade him to love us ('Father, if I die, will you begin to love them?'), how can we ever be sure the Father himself loves us—"deep down" with an everlasting love? True, the Father does not love us because we are sinners, but he does love us even though we are sinners. He loved us before Christ died for us. It is because he loves us that Christ died for us!" Amen.
This is the gospel. Motivated by nothing else than his love for his people, his gives his Son to us. This is the context for chapter 12. This God, being motivated not by these sinful Israelites in and of themselves but motivated by his love, to love his people and to pursue them. This is the setup, the framework for understanding chapter 12.
See the structure here of chapter 12. It's the institution and the arrangement for the Passover in verses 3-13. It's preparations for the celebration of the unleavened bread in verses 14-20. It's the celebration of the Passover in verses 21-28. Then it's the actual tenth plague and the Passover from verses 28-31. I want you to see how funky verses 14 and 17 are. Look how weird they are. I'll explain in a second.
Verse 14: "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast." Verse 17. "And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever."
Now, wait a minute. The Lord is giving instructions to Moses to give instructions to the Israelites on how to remember and celebrate the victory that he's going to give them, even though he hasn't given them victory yet and they're still in slavery. He's telling them how to remember the victory he's going to give them even while they're still in slavery. Isn't that astounding? "This is how you're going to celebrate and remember the victory I'm going to give you that I haven't given you yet."
The Lord wants them to trust in him. He wants them to know that his deliverance is sure and steadfast, that it will come, but can you imagine Moses going back to the people of Israel with all of the naysayers who are in there and with the guards maybe standing right here? I bet Moses uses that universal look. You know that universal look when you look at somebody and you want to tell them they're small, so you look at them like this. I bet Moses did that.
He walked back, and the guards are standing right here, and he stands before the people of Israel and some of the naysayers say, "Hey, what did God say?" He says, "Well, what God said was to get your walking shoes on and to get your walking stick and to put on your clothes because we're about to be up out of here, y'all. As a matter of fact, go ahead and make some bread, but that bread isn't going to have time to fully cook yet because we're going to be up out of here that quick, y'all."
The Lord is wanting them to count their victory while they're in the midst of slavery, and I think that's true even for us, believer. In the midst of our struggle and difficulty, I think the Lord wants us to count our victory. I think in the midst of our anxiety and fear, the Lord wants us to count and number our victory. Even in the midst of feeling the sting of death, even in battling with sin, I think the Lord would have us count our victory.
"Wait a minute, Anthony. Are you going all prosperity gospel on us, somehow advocating for this, 'Name it and claim it,' victory type of theology?" No. What I hate about the prosperity gospel is it makes God out to be this huge, divine Santa Claus where he just gives us whatever we want, but I also hate the prosperity gospel because it tells us to count our victory on the basis of those things or our circumstances.
I think the way the Lord wants his people to celebrate the victory even in the midst of suffering and difficulty by seeing their victory is on the basis of the blood of the Lamb. That's how we count our victory, by what he has done. I love the way D. A. Carson illustrates this. He says you can imagine two Israelites the day before that horrible night. The two of them are standing and talking.
One of them looks at the other and says, "I have to be honest. I have a lot of anxiety, fear, and worry." The other one looks at him and goes, "Why?" He's like, "The reason why is… Don't you know all the weird things that have been going on here with all of the plagues and everything? Gosh. I'm scared." The guy looks and goes, "Why are you scared?" He says, "Listen. It's easy for you to say. You have three or four sons. I just have one. I'm nervous about this."
The guy looks back and says, "Listen. Did you do what the Lord requires of you? Did you put the blood above the doorpost? Did you do that?" The guy goes, "Yeah, but I just have some anxiety." The other guy looks back and goes, "I'm not scared at all. Bring it on. I trust the Lord." That night, the angel of death passes over. Here's the question. Whose child is killed that night? Which man loses his son? The answer is neither. On what grounds? It's not on the quality of their faith. The victory over death is counted on the grounds, on the basis, on the foundation of the blood of the Lamb.
It's the object of our faith not the quality of our faith that gives us hope. There is a ground of our victory before God, and it's the blood of the Lamb. Your victory should never be measured in terms of current circumstances, self-fulfillment, the absence of suffering, or even present struggle with indwelling sin.
Christian victory is dependence on Christ, who has purchased the victory on our behalf. If you think about the Passover then, everything that is happening here then becomes about the next generation remembering this victory that the Lord has given. It's remembering the victory that is theirs by means of the blood of the Lamb that becomes the entire point of the meal. Look at verse 24.
"'You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, "What do you mean by this service?" you shall say, "It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses."' And the people bowed their heads and worshiped."
The significance of the Passover becomes about the next generation and generation forever hearing about the Lord's deliverance of his people. Watch this. There will be some who celebrate the Passover when they themselves never even wiped a bit of blood on a doorpost. There will be some who celebrate the victory of the Passover, though they themselves were never in slavery.
Now, how can that be? That makes no sense, that the Lord would want generations and generations and generations to remember this victory that he has given when they themselves were never in captivity, when they themselves were never enslaved to Pharaoh or Egypt. It doesn't make sense unless the Lord has something bigger in mind than just freeing his people from captivity to Pharaoh and Egypt.
It only makes sense if their memory of this Passover is pointing to something bigger. We know their memory is pointing to something bigger. Stick with me here. When we read in John 13:1, "Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father…" we remember verse 3 of Exodus 12, "…every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses…" that Jesus is the Lamb of his Father's house.
We read in Hebrews about the unblemished blood of Christ, and we remember the unblemished blood of the Lamb in Exodus, chapter 12, verse 5. We read about Jesus' statement in John 6, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you do not have eternal life…" and we remember the Israelites eating the flesh of the lamb that saved them in verse 8. When we hear again in Hebrews that the blood of Christ was sprinkled so that the destroyer would pass by, we think of and remember when God executes judgment on man and beast but passes over his people in Exodus 12:12.
When we read in John 19:29, "…so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth," we remember the hyssop that was used to sprinkle the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorpost. In verse 22, when we read in the book of Isaiah that it pleased the Father to crush the Son, we remember verse 23, that the Lord looked. He looked on the blood on the doorpost, and he chose to bruise the lamb and not his people for freedom.
We know. You get the point. This is all about the efficacy and the sufficiency of the Lamb that is yet to come, Jesus Christ. I see that doesn't have you out of your seats yet. Okay. In Genesis 4, with Cain and Abel, we hear about Abel sacrificing this lamb that represents one person, one-to-one. We jump then to the night of the Passover, and we hear about this lamb that is sacrificed that represents one family, not one person. If we're to jump then to the Day of Atonement, we hear about this Lamb that is sacrificed. It doesn't represent just one person or one family but actually represents one nation.
When we jump to the gospel of John, at the beginning of the gospel of John and the end of the gospel of John, we hear the author look on the appearance of Jesus when he comes out. He looks and says, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." We know and trust that his blood is the ground of our victory over sin and death because of the book of Revelation. Revelation, like Exodus, looks to a Lamb who rescues people from judgment. Revelation 5:
" And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'" Amen.
Remember that. It points to the finished work of Christ and the sufficiency of his work and his blood on our behalf. As we draw to a conclusion here, I really just want to set before us two things by way of application.
The first is, unbeliever, think about this. I want you to consider this. The Lord knows how to draw distinction. He boasts that, even in the passages we read earlier, he knows how to draw distinction between Egypt and Israel. All throughout the Old Testament, we know that he knows how to draw distinction. He'll say, "Eat this; don't eat that." He'll say, "Be like these people; don't be like these people. Fellowship with these people; don't fellowship with these people."
He'll make and draw distinction, but when his wrath gets ready to pass through and go through Egypt, he chooses sovereignly to make one distinction. Is there blood on the doorpost or is there not? Hear me. Hear me, unbeliever. Do you see that? It pleased the Father to bruise the Lamb, his Son, Jesus, not you, for your sin.
If you would by faith confess your sins and trust and believe in Christ, and every one of us here who understands Christianity and are believers will tell you that our right standing before God is on the basis not of how clean we are, not in how we manage our sin, but our right standing before God is on the basis of the blood of the Lamb. Unbeliever and believer, the grounds of our victory over sin and death will be and must be the blood of the Lamb.
Second, believer, I still want to answer this question. I still want to answer the question, "How do we walk in confidence in Christ and his gospel in light of our present circumstances and difficulty?" How does it help? How does the sufficiency of the blood of Christ help with the man who just lost his wife?
How does the sufficiency of the blood help with the man or woman who is struggling with indwelling sin, with anxiety or fear? Let me illustrate it like this. From my understanding, World War II came to an end, and many prisoners found out that the war was over by these planes flying over and dropping these pamphlets.
I can imagine that some of the captors, when they first saw these pamphlets being dropped from the sky, picked them up and said immediately, "Okay. Well, all of you prisoners are free to go." I also imagine that some of those captors looked and got the pamphlet and thought, "This is a hoax. This is fake. This is not real." So they just kept the people in captivity.
I can imagine that one of those prisoners walks by, picks up the pamphlet, looks at it and sees and reads that the war is over, yet he realizes that in many regards he's going to have to go right back to his old drudgery. He's going to have to go right back to maybe digging that same ditch he was digging before.
I want you to see this. It's not just that he has future hope, that his victory has already been purchased by another and will be made fully known to him in time. This future hope also puts new wind in his sails. He does the same task of digging that ditch, but he does so with something curiously different about him, and it's his hope in the victory that has been won by another.
So to the question, as if us taking the Lord's Supper in the midst of our struggle and difficulty is a contradiction, the answer is no. In one sense, the Lord's supper is just like that pamphlet to us. It reminds us that our victory has already been purchased and won by the blood of the Lamb, and it points us to our sure foundation there, that the grounds of our assurance and victory is anchored in what Christ has accomplished.
That reality means that yes, we mourn. We mourn just like the rest of the world does, but we don't mourn as those without hope. We battle with sin. We battle with the difficulties of this world, but we battle not as those who don't understand that the victory has already been won. Every moment of suffering we know is producing an eternal weight of glory, making us and preparing us for another day, an eternal day with Christ. It's on the basis of that victory and our hope in that day that changes everything and the way we see and handle things here and now.
It puts winds into our sails right now, knowing that our victory has already been won and purchased by the Lamb. In many regards, what I'm trying to set before you is 1 Peter. In the book of 1 Peter, he sets before you this hope. He begs them to see this hope and this trust in Christ in such a way that it causes them to see their present circumstances completely differently. Listen to 1 Peter, chapter 1.
"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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
Let's pray to our God.
Father, we'll finish with exactly where we began. We want that our hearts would understand and be overwhelmed with the manner and sufficiency of your love for us in Christ. We confess, Christ, oh what love you have for us. Lord, I pray and beg that your people would see your love for them in Christ Jesus, and that would be enough. Teach our hearts to be satisfied with Christ alone. Teach our appetites to hunger for Christ alone. We pray to that end in the matchless name of Christ and by the power of your Spirit, amen.