Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The End Is Just the Beginning

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Leslie Basham: What’s the big picture of the Bible all about? Here’s Erika VanHaitsma.

Erika VanHaitsma: Passover, indeed all of Scripture, is a love story.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of, Holiness: The Heart God Purifies, for March 30, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, it’s Friday—not just any ordinary Friday. This is a Good Friday. Once you hear the story of what took place on this Friday thousands of year, ago what we commemorate today, you might at first say, “How could that be good?” But it is actually the best new ever to come to this fallen, broken world.

And my friend and one of our team members here, Erika VanHaitsma, has been teaching us this week here on Revive Our Hearts, pointing us to the Old Testament story of the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. If you’ve missed any of that, be sure to go to ReviveOurHearts.com, and you can listen to the audio or read the transcripts of this week’s sessions. They’ve been really rich and precious.

And today we come to the pinnacle of why Jesus Christ came to this earth and what made it indeed a Good Friday.

So, Lord, tune our hearts, tune our ears. Give us hearts to receive and believe and eyes to see Christ for who He is and to find in Him eternal life, forgiveness of sin, and all that we need for time and eternity. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Erika, thank you.

Erika: In many ways, it’s the classical love story. The hero, an amazing man who’s willing to overcome any obstacle to rescue and win the heart of the woman he loves. The bigger the obstacle, the stronger the hero’s love appears, doesn’t it? And oh, how we rejoice at the end of the story when the bad guy is defeated and finally they come together. The good guy wins, and the girl is free to be with the one who has proven his love.

Our God is a Lover. And as we’ve been discovering this week, one level of Scripture is that it’s a love story—a story of a God who’s so passionately and intensely in love with His people that He would rather die than live without her.

We saw this in the exodus, as God came bounding over the mountains and leaping over the hills to set Israel free from Egypt and Pharaoh. He gave them Passover, the Festival of Unleavened Bread to remind them of their new status—no longer slaves to Pharaoh, now slaves to God.

Citizens of God’s kingdom, they are a new nation, a holy nation, different and set apart as their God is holy, so that this holy God can dwell among them. But those old task masters—sin and death—continue to separate God and His beloved people.

But it wasn’t just Israel that was separated from God by sin and death, was it? Sin and death kept God from those who were outside the Covenant with Abraham.

If you’re not Jewish, you’re a Gentile. I’m a Gentile. And, actually, the Bible says we were even farther away. Paul tells Gentiles in Ephesians chapter 2, verse 12, to “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”

So this covenant, that obligation that bound God to Israel kept everyone else out. So we didn’t have any promises from God. We didn’t have any hope that we would get promises from God. We had no reason to expect anything from God as Gentiles except for maybe wrath and judgment. Who were we to be known and loved by this amazing God? And yet, we are, aren’t we?

According to God’s grace and God’s mercy, that was always the plan. Way back in Genesis 15 (we talked about this Monday) when God tells Abraham He was going to bless the whole world through Abraham’s family, this is part of what He was talking about. God didn’t save Israel simply for Israel’s sake because God is not the God of Israel only. The God of Israel is the God of the world and, therefore, even Gentiles have been called by a God who loves us, and He has invited you to join His kingdom. He knows your name.

And according to God’s amazing plan, it was around the time of the Passover celebration that our Passover Lamb was slain, but His blood was too precious to be put on doors. His blood gets applied to us.

It was on the cross that God took us, that God took you and God took me, from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. The decisive blow to the power of sin was given on the cross. It’s ownership of mankind was destroyed. And in the resurrection, death has been defeated. It no longer can hold us. The last major obstacle between God and His people has been removed.

First Corinthian 15 states, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 'Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?'” (vv. 54–55). God has come down once again, bounding over the mountains, tearing heaven and earth, but this time the mighty powers of sin and death have been canceled forever.

Because of the cross and the resurrection, we now have a new owner. We now belong to God. It’s because of the cross, God the Father is able to say of you, “She’s Mine. That one right there, she belongs to Me.”

Romans 11 talks about how we have been grafted in to this covenant between God and Israel. We are now part of the people of God. So as disciples of Jesus, as citizens of God’s kingdom, we, too, have been called to join in with Israel and remember this night, the night our God set us free—but not from Pharaoh—from the kingdom of darkness, from the power of sin and death.

Because of the faithfulness of Jesus unto death, the spirit of the living God resides in you. No longer in a building, God’s presence is in His people. We have access to the very throne room of heaven because of this. That’s an amen!

One thing that frustrates me about Hollywood—their movies and, honestly, their real-life romances—is that they seem to stop once the couple gets married. Have you noticed this? Once they come together and have a wedding, it’s like everything is downhill after that. You never get to see what happens afterwards.

But in God’s view, that’s just the beginning. Unlike the typical Hollywood story, the biblical story doesn’t end with just the beloved one coming to rescue the girl. If the Bible followed Hollywood’s story pattern, then the exodus would go something like this: God and Pharaoh would have that showdown. Pharaoh would be defeated and a broken man. God and Israel would go walking off into the sunset hand-in-hand, and the last scene would probably be the sun setting over them, and then boom, the movie goes black, the curtain comes down, the story is over.

But there’s more to story than just that, isn’t there? The Book doesn’t end in Exodus. It continues. The marriage is not the end. It’s the beginning. God’s not done. The relationship hasn’t fully been consummated yet for one thing. The dwelling place of God is not yet with man. Even after the exodus, God’s not able to intimately dwell with His people, is He? There’s still a Tabernacle, a Temple. They still can’t see His face.

Even for us, the Bible says the Holy Spirit has been given as a down payment, a guarantee that something greater is coming. In other words, getting saved is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning. Just because you know Jesus doesn’t mean the excitement is done and you just get to kind of float around until you die and be with Him. There’s so much more!

Song of Solomon chapter 2 describes the coming of the Lover as bounding and leaping. This Lover is excited. He is anxious, wanting to be with his beloved. Why does he come? The poem continues, “My beloved spoke and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me’” (v. 10).

The Lord comes to be with the one He loves, to enter into the most intimate of relationships, to take her hand and walk every single day with her.

God didn’t redeem Israel from Egypt and then leave them to wander around. We talked about this on Tuesday and on Wednesday. Neither did He instantly transport her up to heaven, did He? He left them on earth, and He brings them to Mount Sinai to begin this relationship.

And once they’re in this covenant, He still doesn’t take them out of earth. He leaves them and comes down to be with them, to walk with them. The relationship is to begin here. Now, we serve the same God, and we, too, have been saved for the same purpose.

God’s not American, and He’s not a revolutionary. He’s God. He’s interested in you personally. He loves you deeply. But can I humbly suggest He’s not interested in your personal rights and freedoms.

His ways and thoughts are much higher than that. He knows He’s God. He knows what He deserves. He doesn’t have to win most popular. He doesn’t have to get enough votes. All the world could cry “fowl” against Him, and He would still be a good God.

Salvation is not about simply getting away from hell and getting to heaven when you die. It’s not a type of fire insurance. This amazing God rent the heavens, not only so that you could be set free from fear of eternal punishment, but so that He could be with you today so you could know Him intimately right now.

The Creator of the universe set you free from slavery to sin so He could take your hand and walk with you. Remember, you’ve been brought out so that you can be brought in. The power of sin and death have been removed so that you can belong to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son right now and have true intimacy with God today.

You are now part of the covenant people of God. You now have a new Master. Your eyes can now see Him. Your legs can walk after Him. You can hear the voice of your Beloved calling you, “Arise, come walk with Me today.”

Second Corinthians 5:17 states, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone. [Egypt has finally been left behind] The new has come” (paraphrased). (That new loaf of bread we’ve been celebrating.)

Just like Israel, you also have been made new. You are to put to death the old and begin again. You are not a slave to sin. You are not bound by the fear of death. Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Sin can no longer control you. Death no longer can keep you.

But that also means you’re not your own. You’ve been bought with a price. You, too, belong to someone.

So what does the Lord your God require of you?

  • To fear the Lord your God.
  • To serve Him only.
  • To be like Him.
  • To love what He loves and to hate what He hates.
  • To forgive as He forgives.
  • To serve as He served.

But it’s to come from a heart of love—love for this amazing God who did so much to save you.

It’s about the relationship. God’s not interested in robots. God is a lover who wants a relationship, to walk with you, to talk with you today. He wants you to set aside times each day to be with Him, each week to focus on Him, even now in the midst of the craziness of your busy, unending-every-moment-has-something-planned life. God wants you to stop and just be His, being transformed into the image of His Son even now, and then one day we will see Him face to face.

Revelations 21: 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and he will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’ (vv.1–5).

It is only a matter of time, and our Lover is coming to dwell forever with us. Come, Lord Jesus—what a day that will be!

At its heart Passover, indeed, all of Scripture, is a love story—a love story about a God whose love for His people is so passionate and intense that He would rather die than live without them. There is no problems too big our God cannot solve it, as the song says.

Nothing is going to come between God and His people, neither Pharaoh, nor all the gods of Egypt, neither a sinful, proud life, nor death, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nancy: Amen! Thank you, Erika.

We’ve gone from the first book of the Bible—earlier this week: Who is God? What is He about? Why does He want a people? What does this covenant mean? And how has He pursued after a covenant relationship with His people?

And then Erika VanHaitsma has taken us to the very end of the story, in what we celebrate this week, the Cross of Christ, is what makes all that possible.

And, Erika, as you were talking, I couldn’t help but think of just a few other verses in Revelation. From chapter 1, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (vv. 5–6 ESV). So this is matter for worship, for adoration.

And then the very last chapter of the book, the end of the story as we see the New Heaven and the New Earth, where all things are made new, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life . . . flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb . . . on either side of the river, the tree of life" (vv. 1–2 ESV). Remember, the Tree of Life was back in Genesis. And Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden, barred from eating of the Tree of Life because they chose instead to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

And what did this pursuing God do? He came after them, to love them, to be with them that they might come back and eat of this Tree of Life. “The tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever” (vv. 2–5 ESV).

Amen. This is good news indeed.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminding us of the power of the gospel.

Before Nancy, we heard from our guest teacher, Erika VanHaitsma. All week she’s been showing us how the Bible is one grand love story. She’s also been inviting you to take your place in that story.

If you’ve missed any of the teaching this week, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

A group of women have been listening along with us this week, and we’re going to hear how these messages have been affecting them.

Liza: Erika talked about when Jesus came that they were expecting a Messiah, but to deliver them from Rome just as He had delivered them from another anarchy. But He came to deliver them from a much more sinister and more evil plot against them.

In our own lives, I want to be rescued from the same. I want to be rescued from the struggle. But God is always at work, ruthlessly killing the thing that is actually killing me, getting the Egypt out of me. So I’m just thankful for a Messiah who came to right the things that were actually wrong—not the things on the outside, but the things on the inside.

Nancy: And it’s those circumstances that are pressing in on us that sometimes that’s where our focus is. “Lord, get me out of this. Fix this. Solve this. Change that. Change that person.”

And it’s not that God doesn’t care about those things. It’s that He wants to use those as part of His process to turn our hearts upward toward Him so that He can deliver us from the things that are really keeping us in bondage—and that’s not the circumstance or the mate or the child or the health issue or the financial challenge. It’s us. It’s my pride, my selfishness, my control. He’s wanting to loosen and remove my grasp on all of that so I can be held in His grasp.

So the thing that seems the hardest can actually be the greatest expression of love, and that’s what we see at the cross as we’ve been talking about it this week. Thank you, Liza.

Marilyn: My desire and prayer is that my comfort will never ever stand in the way of God’s plan for my life.

Nancy: That could be hard. Right? And you’ve been through some hard things, Marilyn. But you’ve seen God through the uncomfortable things, the hard things, bring about beauty. And could we ever have had the beauty of the resurrection if we didn’t have the discomfort and the pain of the cross?

So what Jesus endured for us so that we could have life, so that God’s plan could be fulfilled in us, He’s calling us today, in some way, never to have to repeat that cross, in the sense of bearing the judgment of God. But He uses those little crosses, those discomforts, to actually accomplish His plan. It’s not that He does His plan in us in spite of those problems. He actually uses the pain, the discomfort to bring about resurrection life. It’s amazing!

Woman: I loved when Erika shared about how in the Old Testament so many people say, “He’s a mean God, unkind.” But what a powerful picture when she pointed out if that’s your firstborn child—any of your children, it doesn’t matter—you would do anything to rescue them, to get them back.

So many times, I think, in Scripture we see things in our limited vision, but like in that Corrie ten Boom story, when she’d share the backside of the tapestry, and you just saw the mess. But when she’d turn it around, it was a beautiful display. It reminds me of how sometimes through our eyes, we read Scripture, we hone in on something, but it’s just a small, little part. But when we pull back, and she’s talking about the different layers, and to see it was His love.

I just think, like a mother lion just trying to get her cub, or when you tell your kid, “Stop!” And they just hear you saying, “Oh, you’re always ruining my fun!” But they were just going to get hit—a car was coming, and you were protecting them. It’s just that conflicting perspective. I think in eternity we will look down and see, “Oh, that hurt, but it was protection. It was for my good. You used that.” So, thank you, Erika.

Nancy: Will not the judge of all the earth do right?

It’s a really messed up world. But it’s not messed up because God messed it up. It’s messed up because we ran from Him. The whole story of Scripture and the whole story of history is God coming after His people, to rescue and redeem them, and to make all things new.

Sometimes it looks like His ways of doing that aren’t always comfortable or easy or explainable, but they’re always good, and they’re always right. And we will see and thank Him for that in that day, what we can only by faith trust now. Right?

Woman: I appreciate what you said about God is not concerned about our personal rights. I’m not sure if that’s the way you phrased it, but it reminded me of the True Woman Manifesto where it says, “Selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for us.”

It’s something we need to be reminded of today in our culture, especially for women. We’re being told over and over again to insist on your personal rights and focus on ourselves.

Nancy: And what we forget is that when we yield up those rights as Christ did, and we say, “It’s not about me. It’s about Him and His glory and Christ being magnified,” that becomes the pathway, the doorway into our true joy and happiness. So what we think we’re giving up—Jesus said, “You hold on to your life, you’re going to lose it. You lay it down, you’re going to get it back and so much more.”

So you want to be really happy? Lay down your rights as Christ did for the joy that was set before Him.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth knows the truth will set you free. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted.