Revive Our Hearts Radio

God Delivers His People, Day 1

Leslie Basham: Sunday school lesson time. God delivered the Israelites out of slavery by sending what? Yes. Plagues on Egypt. But Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth asks, “Do you realize how amazing that is?”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We listen to these stories and we say, “Yes, Yes, Yes. Know that. Done that. Been that. Seen that. Heard that.” We lose the wonder. But put yourself in the sandals of those Israelites who’ve never heard about this before. It’s all new. It’s all fresh. They bow down, and they worship. This is amazing news!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, April 4, 2016.

If God has delivered you from sin through faith in His Son Jesus, do you remember the wonder of being forgiven? Nancy will help you re-capture that wonder in this two-day series called “God Delivers His People.” She recorded this on the road when Revive Our Hearts was on tour in Indianapolis. If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can catch a live recording session with Nancy. You can join her in the North Atlanta area April 26, or the South Atlanta area April 28. Get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com. Now, let’s listen.

Nancy: I don't want to embarrass anyone here, but how many are old enough to remember when men first walked on the moon—1969 was the year? A lot of us in this room. For those of you millenials who weren't around then, July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off headed for the moon.

As you may recall, there were some unexpected complications in their descent to the moon four days later. That caused some frayed nerves among the controllers back in Houston. You can imagine the huge relief those controllers felt when they finally heard the voice of Neil Armstrong say, "Houston, tranquility base here. The eagle has landed."

Well, on the twenty-fourth of July, eight days after takeoff, the Apollo 11 crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. President Nixon greeted the crew returning, and he said, "This is the greatest week in the history of the world since Creation."

Now . . . it was surely an historic week when men walked on the moon, no doubt about that. But there have been far more significant weeks in history. Tonight I want us to look at two of those—one in the Old and on in the New Testament.

For every Jew who was alive at the time, the exodus from slavery in Egypt was without any doubt the greatest week in the history of the world since creation. This was a story that was rehearsed over and over again in Scripture. God keeps coming back to this matter of, “When I led you out of Egypt,” the exodus out of Egypt and with that the Red Sea crossing.

Parents would tell their children, and they would tell their children, and they would tell their children. It was passed down from one generation to the next, this great amazing story of redemption.

And that story, as we read about it in the book of Exodus, let me invite you to be turning to the book of Exodus if you have your Bible with you, because we are going to be spending some time there this evening. But that story foreshadows and anticipates God’s grand plan to redeem His people from bondage—from our bondage to sin and to Satan. This story of the Exodus pictures what God has done for every person who is a believer in Jesus Christ.

Now this story has been on my heart in recent days. May 14, 1963 is actually my first conscious memory as a four-year-old child of kneeling before my bed by myself. I didn’t know a lot of theological terms or jargon or answers, but I knew that Jesus was calling my name and that He had given His life for me and that He was wanting me to receive what He had done for me.

I don’t know what the words were that I prayed. All I know is that there was an amazing eternal transaction that took place that day. I spent the last fifty years trying to figure it all out—trying to sort through it, and I’ve not been able to.

I'm just as amazed today—"I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean. How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be. How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior's love for me." 

So this was an amazing day, but it’s been an amazing journey with the Lord. I’ve been meditating and reflecting on this redemptive story, which is a far greater, grander event and story than what I could have possibly comprehended at that point in my life. It’s greater and grander than I can comprehend to this day.

I’ve been reflecting coming into this marker season. I’m big on commemorating the deeds of God. I hope you’re big on that because it is so good to remember what God has done and where He found us.

That’s what I want to talk about tonight as I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be saved—what it means to be redeemed—what God has saved me from and what He has saved me for.

There are a lot of different metaphors in Scripture that are used to speak of salvation. They each highlight different aspects of God’s amazing grace in our salvation. There’s the metaphor of adoption into God’s family. That’s a sweet one! There’s the metaphor of being the bride of Christ. There are other pictures that tell us something about what it means to be saved.

But I think one of the most significant pictures is that of deliverance from slavery—deliverance from bondage. So if you found Exodus in your Bible, let me ask you to turn to the first chapter. We’re not going to camp there long. We’re going to end up in chapter 12. But I just want to give you some background and context here for this redemptive story.

The children of Israel had been made slaves in Egypt. As to how they got there, well, you’ve got to read the book of Genesis and that will tell you that part of the story. But now they’re slaves in Egypt, and they are being treated harshly.

Verse 13 of Exodus 1 says:

[The Egyptians] ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

So this is their predicament. This is their condition. They are slaves, and the Egyptians are making their lives miserable. One generation after another over the course of 430 years the Israelites are born into slavery. In the Jewish community at this time, there would have been adults, there would have been elderly people, there would have been children, there would have been teenagers, there were families, there were good people, there were bad people as we measure these things socially.

But they were all in the same plight. They were all slaves. No exceptions. They had no other life. They had no options. They had no choice about it. They were born into it, and they had no hope of doing anything other than dying in that same condition of slavery. They had no hope for ever seeing a different condition or a different future for themselves or for their children or grandchildren. The children of Israel were helpless under the fist of Pharaoh. They could not save themselves.

The fact is, neither could I and neither could you save ourselves from our slavery to sin and to Satan. We had no hope. That’s the condition we were born into and apart from God’s intervening grace, that’s the condition in which we would die. That’s all we would ever have been able to know. That’s all our children and grandchildren for generation after generation could ever know is being in bondage to sin and to Satan if God had not had mercy on us and intervened.

Now, as you study the Old Testament, Egypt gives us a picture of this world system. And Pharaoh gives us a picture of Satan who was an evil, harsh, demanding taskmaster. So after 430 years of this bondage, this slavery, this hardship, the children of Israel became desperate.

We read in chapter 2, turn to Exodus 2 verse 23:

The people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.  And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew (vv. 23–25).

God knew. God saw them. He heard them, and He knew. The people were miserable. They cried out finally in desperation with nowhere else to turn, no other hope. They cried out for rescue and for deliverance. And at those times over so many of those years, it must have seemed to them as if God was a million miles away or maybe that He didn’t exist at all. But God did exist, and He knew what was going on. He cared, and He heard the desperate cries of His people, and He set out to deliver them when they cried out for rescue.

He did that by means of a deliverer that He sent to Egypt. I’m so thankful as I contemplate what God has done in my life over these years that He knew the misery that had been caused by my slavery to sin. You say, “As a four year old? How miserable could that have been? How sinful could you have been?”

Well, the Scripture has a lot to say about how sinful we are, how sinful we are when we are born—that we are born alienated from God, enemies of God, opposed to God. We would have never sought after Him. We would have never pursued Him. We would never have loved Him. We would never have wanted to know Him if He had just left us in the condition that we were born into, but God in His mercy stirs our hearts to cry after Him. When we cry out to Him, He reminds us that He has sent a deliverer to rescue us from our slavery.

So in chapter 3 of Exodus, God appears to Moses. Moses who grew up in Egypt, but has now spent forty years in the desert of Midian as a fugitive from Egypt. Verse 7 of chapter 3:

The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, [He says this to Moses] and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Now, I’m going to go on here in just a moment, but this is the first of several reminders that we see: God doesn’t just rescue His people out of the land of bondage, but His desire is to take them into a good land, to a good place where they can walk with Him and be His people. So He says to Moses in verse 10:

Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

God tells Moses that Pharoah is not going to agree to release the Israelites, and the creates a problem. In fact, there is a battle that ensues. There's a battle of the wills and a great drama of redemption.

In this drama, the protagonist is Jehovah, the God of heaven and earth. The antagonist, the opponent to God, is the gods of Egypt. The believed in the sun god named Ra. They considered him the most powerful god. They called him the king of gods. They considered Ra the creator of everything. And Pharoah himself was believed to be a god—to be the son of Ra.

And so here are these gods of Egypt in the peoples' minds, pitted against the one and only true god, Jehovah. There are points where it seems that the gods of Egypt of winning. Now, those gods are no gods at all. They had satanic power behind them, but these forces of heaven and hell are arrayed against each other in this drama of redemption—the goal of which is to get God's people out of Egypt and into this land that He has promised them.

But God's even bigger goal than that is to demonstrate that He is indeed the only one God of heaven and earth, that He is not one of many gods, that He is not another god. He is the true God.

And so God in the plan of redemption wants to get us out of Egypt and out of slavery and bondage to the gods of this world and the misery caused by our bondage to sin and to Satan. He wants to set us free, and He wants to take us into a good land where we can walk with Him and be His people and enjoy His presence and be fruitful and multiply spiritually and proclaim His praise to the ends of the earth.

But before all that happens, there’s this huge contest of the wills there in Egypt. Pharaoh digs his heels in. He refuses to let God’s people go. So as you remember God sends . . .  Even if you haven’t read the Bible, you’ve probably seen Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments. Get it from the Bible.

You remember how God sends this series of wonders and plagues to demonstrate His power. He’s taking on these different false gods of Egypt. In the process He makes a clear distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites who are His chosen people. In the process, Pharaoh is given many chances to repent, to bow before the God of heaven and earth, Jehovah God. But each time he refuses. He thinks that he is god.

So we come to Exodus chapter 11, verse 10:

Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

So God is out to redeem His people from centuries of bondage, but the prison doors are tightly locked. There is no means of escape. There are two million Jews. How are they going to get out of this country? You just don’t escape under stealth of night. This is a big deal getting this nation to be born out of Egypt. The doors are tightly barred. There is no way out. They cannot save themselves. They can’t get free.

The question becomes, as you see this contest getting more and more intense, how in the world is God going to set His people free? Pharaoh is so stubborn. He won’t give in. He won’t surrender control. How is God going to do it?

Well, then we come to chapter 12, which is where I want to camp for our remaining moments tonight. It’s one of the most important chapters in all of God’s Word—certainly in the Old Testament. It’s the story of the first Passover—the story of how God set His people free and got them safely out of Egypt. 

And this true story is intended to provide a picture for us of the means by which God would one day save His people from their bondage to sin and Satan.

And so, chapter 12 of Exodus verse 1:

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.”

This coming deliverance out of Egypt was to be so significant that it was going to rewrite the entire calendar. They’d have a new first month of the year. The Passover and the delivery out of slavery would now be the beginning of months, the first month of the year, for the Jews. This was going to be a turning point, a watershed experience, not only in their lives but for generations to come. It would be a watershed experience for each of them individually but also for the nation of Israel corporately. This was the way they would mark time from now on. They would always point back to the exodus, to when God delivered us—when God passed over our houses and did not kill our firstborn sons, but delivered us out of Egypt. In this chapter, everything changes because we have a delivering God who is making all things new.

Verse 3:

Tell all the congregation of Israel [God says to Moses and Aaron] that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household.

Now, the entire nation was going to be redeemed out of Egypt. But redemption is also a very individual and personal matter. Every person had to take a lamb represented by the family head. Every person had to exercise faith and take a lamb.

Verse 5:

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. . . .

Now what day did they get the lamb selected? On the tenth day and what day were they going to offer it up? The fourteenth day. The lamb stays with the family for those four days. Now, if you've ever had children, you know that four days is plenty long enough for your kids to get attached to a lamb—or any other kind of animal. Imagine how those children became connected to that family lamb. The fourteenth day of the month. What’s to happen?

The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight (vv. 5–6).

What a bloody mess in every home of the Israelites. Thousands and thousands and thousands of homes. That meant thousands and thousands and thousands of lambs dying. Every household was to take a lamb, a male without blemish. Those lambs were to serve as a substitute for every believing Israelite. The way their faith would be evident is that they obeyed God. They took the lamb and they killed the lamb. Those lambs would die, and as a result, the Israelites would be spared from God’s judgment.

Verse 7:

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 (vv. 7–8).

Now, I’m just skimming the surface of this passage tonight. There is so much more of it. But you see the lamb is killed. The blood is shed. It’s spread on the door outside the home, and then they cook and eat the lamb.

I love what my friend, Charles Spurgeon, says about this point. He says,

The Paschal lamb [the Passover lamb] was not killed in order to be looked at only but to be eaten.

And our Lord Jesus Christ has not been slain merely that we may hear about Him and talk about Him and think about him, but that we may feed upon Him.

So they eat the lamb and then verse 11, chapter 12:

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.

That’s the first time we see that word. This lamb, this meal is the Lord’s Passover. Why is it called that?

Well, 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 all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.

Now, God considered Israel to be His firstborn beloved son. So if Egypt was unwilling to release God’s firstborn son, then God was going to avenge Himself and take vengeance on Egypt by taking their firstborn sons. And in so doing, He would also show His greatness and His power and His victory over the gods of Egypt that were considered so powerful.

And in the process, the Israelites who had believed God, who had obeyed God, had killed the Lamb, had shed the blood, had eaten the lamb, they would be spared from judgment and delivered from slavery. But they had to demonstrate faith by offering those sacrificial lambs. That shed blood on their homes would be a sign of their faith. It was their only hope of escaping from the wrath of God.

Verse 13:

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 . . .

God had said, “I am going to pass through the land. I am going to kill the firstborn of every Egyptian family, but when I pass through the land, if I see the blood, I will pass over you and your house.”

And no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

Now, it’s impossible to overestimate the significance of this day in the history of Israel. This was the beginning of a new nation. They were to be delivered out of bondage by God and set apart for His kingdom purposes. They would be under new government, new laws. They would be distinct among all the nations of the earth as those who belonged to Jehovah.

And so verse 14 tells us:

This day [This day that’s about to come. God’s giving directions to Moses and Aaron. This day, this day of the Passover, this day of the exodus, this day of redemption] 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.

Skip down to 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, in verses 21–27, Moses gathers together the elders of Israel, all slaves, and he tells them what God has just told him (the instructions God has just given him). So we have this repeated in that paragraph. After Moses tells the people what God has said, verse 27 tells us:

And the people bowed their heads and worshipped.

It was the first sign of hope that they had experienced in 430 years. From generation to generation to generation, they were born a slave—live a slave, die a slave. And now God’s saying, “I’m going to set you free.”

But there’s a process here. There’s a process of redemption. There’s a drama of redemption. “You’ve got to take this lamb. You’ve got to kill this lamb. You’ve got to spread the blood. You’ve got to eat the lamb. And the night will come when I will pass through Egypt. I will kill the firstborn of every rebellious, unbelieving, Egyptian home, and I will pass over every home where I see the blood.”

They tell this story. And we’ve heard it so many times. That’s one of the problems those of those of us who have been in the church all our lives. We listen to these stories and we say, “Yes, Yes, Yes. Know that. Done that. Been that. Seen that. Heard that.” You know. Some of you go to College Park Church and your pastor preached this passage six weeks ago. I wish I’d had a chance to hear it before I decided to share it tonight.

And you’re thinking, Yes, I’ve heard that. I know that” We lose the wonder. But put yourself in the sandals of those Jews, those Israelites who’ve never heard about this before. It’s all new. It’s all fresh, and they bow down and they worship. This is amazing news! This is Old Testament gospel. This is the story of deliverance, and they’re getting to be a part of that.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth instilling in us a fresh sense of wonder that God would deliver His people. Today's message is part of a two-day series called "God Delivers His People." 

Okay, I have two questions for you.

  • First, are you thankful to be able to hear teaching like this?
  • Second, do you have any cell phones around your house you’re not using any more?

Those questions may seem unrelated, but they’re not. You’ve heard us say Revive Our Hearts is a listener-supported ministry, and we rely on your donations to keep the program coming to you every day. But what you may not know is that support doesn’t always have to be a cash donation. You may also be able to support Revive Our Hearts by donating your used electronics. Or, you can donate a vehicle, a gift card, or assets like stocks. You may be able to make a big difference for Revive Our Hearts with items you’re not even using.

When you visit ReviveOurHearts.com, click on “donate” and then “non-cash gifts.” You’ll be asked to briefly describe your item, and then you’ll get some instructions on next steps. Again, to support the ministry with your used electronics, gift cards, vehicles, or other items, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, Nancy will continue helping us re-capture a sense of wonder over God’s love.

Nancy: Have you forgotten how amazing it was that, out of all the billions of people on this planet, He would have chosen you to belong to Him?

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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