April 9, the Twenty-Eighth Day of Lent

April 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.

-Hebrews 11.28-

The author of Hebrews continues to shift the focus of the passage from Moses to the people of Israel. This verse ends the material that directly deals with Moses as a person; after this, the passage will begin to examine the history of Israel’s people as a whole, starting with the story of the Exodus and progressing on.

This verse references the event of Passover, which can be found in Exodus 12.1-24. The last plague that God caused to fall upon Egypt was the death of the firstborn son of every household; however, the Israelites would be spared from this plague if they put the blood of a lamb upon the doorposts of their house. In this way, God’s agent of death would know to spare the occupants of that house.

God also instructs the Israelites to make this event a holiday to be observed throughout all time. This was a turning point for the nation of Israel, a part of their history and identity that would not be forgotten. Part of the significance of this event was that the blood of a lamb spared the people from God’s wrath. This imagery would be used by the authors of the New Testament books in many ways to speak of Christ’s work. Just as the blood of the lamb on the doorpost prevented the death angel from striking the household, so does the blood of Christ shed on the Cross allow us to be free from God’s punishment for our sins.

Moses only had God’s command to rely on here. How does the blood of a lamb on a doorframe prevent anyone from dying? It doesn’t make sense. However, Moses had faith in the one who gave the command, and his faith was justified. Along the same lines, how does the death and resurrection of Christ bring about redemption for creation? Honestly, that doesn’t make much sense either.

So here we have a couple of options. We can crack open a few theology textbooks and see what the great minds across the ages have had to say about the matter; we can find a theological construct to explain this phenomenon so that it does make rational sense. There’s nothing wrong with this approach. However, this approach will ultimately fail if we do not take another approach.

We realize that Jesus Christ is the one God sent (John 1.29-34), which leads us to the realization that the work of redemption began with Christ’s ministry among humanity. His life consisted of bringing God and God’s creation back together. After he ascended into Heaven, the church received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.1-12) in order that they may carry on Christ’s work. As part of the church today, we also have received the Holy Spirit and are agents of redemption, just like Christ. There are constructs and ideas about how all this works, but the bottom line is that they are worthless if we do not start with the assumption that this reality is truth. To be part of the church, we must live by faith.

As we journey through Lent together, may we be agents of redemption.

“Dear Lord, thank you that I am included in your plans to bring your creation back to yourself. As Moses, help me to follow your instructions by faith so that your will may be accomplished. Please forgive me for the times when I have been presented with opportunities to bring your life and love into situations and did not; help me to recognize those moments so that they will not be wasted. Be with your church and empower us to do your will as we await Christ’s return. Amen.”

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