Today’s readings are from Exodus 11:1-12:21; Luke 14; Job 29 and 1 Corinthians 15.
In Exodus 11:1-3 God speaks to Moses, telling him that this last plague would be decisive. Pharaoh would let them go, in fact “drive you away completely” (v. 1). Yahweh would give them favor in the eyes of the people and they would ask “every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry” (v. 2).
David Guzik justifies this by saying…
This is how the slaves of Israel received their “back wages” from their time of slavery, and how they did not leave Egypt empty-handed.
The final plague is the death of the firstborn, symbolic of the nation’s strength and vigor for the future. This counters the attempt to kill all the male children of the Israelites (1:15-22). Thomas Constable notes:
The theological lesson that Pharaoh and the Egyptians were to learn from this plague, was that Yahweh would destroy the “gods” that the Egyptians’ gods supposedly procreated (i.e., all their firstborn sons). Pharaoh was a supposed “god,” and so was his firstborn son who would succeed him. The Egyptians attributed the power to procreate to various gods. Fertility was a “power” for which the Egyptians, as well as all ancient peoples, depended on their gods. By killing the firstborn, Yahweh was demonstrating His sovereignty once again. However, this plague had more far-reaching consequences, and was therefore more significant than all the previous plagues combined.
Someone has written:
I would like to shake my head at the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart and marvel at how he could be so unable to see the truth that is so clearly before him. But when I consider my own situation, I cannot. How often have I, like Pharaoh, ignored God, over and over again, insisting that I see things clearly and that I am right? Father, forgive.
God gave directions to the Israelites on how to rescue their firstborn from the avenging angel, through the celebration of Passover. Abib is the first month in the Jewish calendar, corresponding to March-April in our calendar. The spring was an appropriate time for the Exodus because it symbolized new life and growth. Israel had two calendars: one religious (this one) and one civil (23:16). The civil year began exactly six months later in the fall. The Israelites used both calendars until the Babylonian Captivity. After that, they used only the civil calendar.
The Passover was a communal celebration. The Israelites were to observe it with their redeemed brethren, not alone (v. 4). They celebrated the corporate redemption of the nation corporately (cf. Luke 22:17-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-29).
The sprinkling of “the blood” of the lamb on the sides and the top (“doorposts and lintel”) of the doorway into the house was a “sign” (symbolizing, to the passing death angel, that God’s redemptive protection applied to the household, and to the occupants, that they and their firstborn sons must be “passed over” because of the blood; “when I see the blood I will pass over you”; v. 7; cf. v. 13). It had significance to the Jews. The door (doorway, the doorposts and lintel) represented the house (cf. 20:10; Deut. 5:14; 12:17; et al.). The smearing of “the blood” on the doorposts and lintel with “hyssop” was an act of “expiation” (“cleansing”; cf. Lev. 14:49-53; Num. 19:18-19). This act consecrated the houses of the Israelites as altars. They had no other altars in Egypt.
The entire ritual signified to the Jews that “the [lamb’s] blood” (“life poured out”; cf. Lev. 17:11) of a sinless, divinely appointed substitute, cleansed their sins and resulted in their setting apart (sanctification) to God. The application of the blood—as directed—was a demonstration of the Israelites’ faith in God’s promise that He would pass over them (v. 13; cf. Heb. 11:28).
The Israelites were not to eat any uneaten parts of this meal again as leftovers (v. 10). It was a special sacrificial meal, not just another dinner. Moreover, they were to eat it “in haste” (v. 11), as a “memorial” of the events of the night when they first ate it, the night when God provided deliverance for His people.
God told them to eat the Passover with their “sandals on [their] feet” and their “staff in [their] hand” (v. 11). This reinforced the sense of urgency with which they had to eat the meal.
We know from Paul that Christ is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) and Peter said he was a “lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).
The Passover anticipated the death of Christ in at least seven particulars: (1) The Passover lamb had to be “without blemish” (v. 5), and Jesus was without sin. (2) The Passover lamb had to be “a male” (v. 5), and Jesus was a male. (3) The Passover lamb had to be young (“a year old”; v. 5), and Jesus was a young man. (4) The Passover lamb had to be examined over a period of four days from its selection to its killing (“you shall keep it until the fourteenth day”; v. 6), and Jesus lived a meticulously examined life. (5) The Passover lamb had to be slain in public (before “the whole assembly of the congregation”; v. 6), and Jesus died in public. (6) The “blood” of the Passover lamb on the Israelites’ doorposts was “a sign” that God would not destroy the family’s firstborn (v. 7), and Jesus’ blood is the sign of His death, and that through that death, believers are saved from coming judgment. (7) None of the bones of the Passover lamb were to be broken (vv. 5, 46), and none of Jesus’ bones were broken when He died (Ps. 34:20; John 19:33, 36), despite the brutality of His death (Thomas Constable).
Luke 14 has some great teaching about discipleship. Once again, Jesus is excoriated for healing a man on the Sabbath. Jesus again argues that what they would do for “a son or an ox that falls into a well” should be done for a man caught in a disease.
Jesus then talks about humility. When you go to a feast, Jesus says, choose the lowest place. You can only go up from there (14:7-11). And if you throw a party, don’t just invite the rich, but give special place to the poor who cannot repay you (14:12-14). The point of both parables is–“don’t exalt yourself.” It is also about God’s grace in exalting the humble.
Jesus continues His parables about banquets, this time speaking of a great banquet with many invitations (14:17), however people give excuses about not attending (14:18-20), so the master tells them to go bring “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame (14:21), because he wants his house to be full (v. 23). The original invitees (Israel, esp. the religious elite) would not be welcomed (v. 24).
Jesus ends this chapter speaking of the cost of discipleship–that it involved putting Jesus first above all others, even the closest relationships. Jesus is using hyperbole, an overstatement, to make a point with maximum impact. He uses this often:
- Cutting off one’s hand (Matthew 5:29-30)
- A camel passing through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24)
- Accepting violence and robbery without resistance (6:29)
- A timber in one’s eye (Luke 6:41-42)
Jesus states something in a striking, unforgettable way, a way that challenges us to stop and think. No earthly tie, however close, must take precedence over our allegiance to and obedience of Jesus. He is Number One — by far! No person even comes close!
Not only that, but following Jesus costs us our very own life. We no longer belong to ourselves. We are to deny ourselves (say “No” to ourselves) so we can say “Yes” to Jesus. This involves carrying our cross, an instrument of shameful, excruciating death.
Therefore, we must count the cost ahead of time, like thinking through our marriage vows before we say them on our wedding day (vv. 28-33).
Ultimately, we must give up everything (v. 33). Again, this is hyperbole, but it may be reality in some cases. We see this attitude personified in some famous disciples:
- Peter, James, and John leave their nets (5:11).
- Levi leaves his lucrative tax collecting business (5:27-28).
- Zacchaeus gives half his fortune to the poor (19:8).
- The Rich Young Ruler is unwilling to renounce his wealth and follow, and goes sadly away (18:22).
When talking about salt losing its tang in 14:34-35 we must realize that the salt of Jesus’ day, obtained from the evaporating waters of the Dead Sea, was far from pure. It was possible for the salts to be leached out and what is left becomes stale and useless. True salt cannot be washed out, but what looked like salt could. So, to summarize this final section of Luke 14:
Jesus looks at the large crowd traveling with him today, and he says:
- Your allegiance to me must be complete; every other allegiance must pale before it.
- You must be constantly ready to die for me, if necessary, as you follow me.
- You must count the cost before you start to determine if you are committed enough to follow me. If you realize that you aren’t, then don’t even begin.
- You must give up everything you have to follow me.
- You must retain the distinctive flavor of uncompromised disciples.
In Job 29 Job looks back on his life, longing for the former days (vv. 1-11) and explaining why he enjoyed them (vv. 12-25). Job’s fellowship with God evidently meant the most to him since he mentioned this blessing first (vv. 2-5a). “When the Almighty was yet with me” (v. 5) means when God had displayed His favor to Job (cf. Gen. 28:20).
In verses 7 through 10 pictured what was probably his daily routine. Anderson says, “Job’s review of his life [in this chapter] is one of the most important documents in Scripture for the study of Israelite ethics.”
1 Corinthians 15 is the resurrection chapter.
The Corinthian church has another problem. They don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. Yes, they believe that Christ was raised from the dead, but they don’t believe that this extends to the bodies of Christian believers.
Where did this thinking come from? Probably, they are reflecting a typical Greek dualism between spirit (good) and body (bad). This view seems to be reflected in Paul’s mission to Athens before he went to Corinth.
“‘… He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.’When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject.'” (Acts 17:31b-32)
Paul approaches his argument as follows:
- Reestablishes the commonly-held belief that Jesus was raised from the dead (15:1-11).
- Shows the absurdity of their contradictory beliefs that Jesus was raised, but believers will not be (15:12-34).
- Explains the form in which the dead will be raised — bodily (15:35-58).
On the Gospel, D. A. Carson has a good article.
In vv. 12-19 Paul argues against the illogical consistency of the Corinthians’ belief about the resurrection. Here’s Paul’s argument.
You preach Christ is raised from the dead
AND that there is no resurrection of the dead.
That is a logical contradiction.
If Christ has not been raised from the dead…
- Our preaching is useless
- Your faith is empty.
- Paul is a false witness.
- You are still in your sins.
- Those Christians who have died are lost.
- You are to be pitied, since you have no eternal hope.
I love verse 20, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” If the NT had punctuation marks, Paul would have included several exclamation marks here.
Paul now turns to the second phase of his argument (15:20-24), that through the resurrection great blessings flow to mankind. Using the idea of federal headship, Adam is our head, resulting in death, while Christ can be our head, resulting in resurrection.
When all resurrections have happened, the end will come (15:24-28) in which Christ will reign.
Then Paul turns again to exhorting the Corinthians on the importance of a hope in the resurrection of the believers (15:29-32). I think the idea of “people baptized for [the dead]” does not mean that our baptism can change the status of the dead (and save them), but it speaks of someone being baptized in place of a martyred person. Why would anyone want to be baptized into an outlawed movement, taking the place of other martyrs unless there was a resurrection from the dead?
Some philosophers (Epicureans) believed that if this life is all there is–then “eat and drink, for tomorrow, we die” (v. 32b). This is not the type of company Christians want to keep.
In verses 35-49 Paul instructs them on the nature of the resurrection body. Paul uses two analogies (seeds and types of bodies), which he then applies to the resurrection of the dead (vv. 42-44).
The Corinthians believed that they were alive in a new kind of “spiritual” existence from the time they trusted Christ. This is the only type of resurrection they saw. They did not believe that human bodies had any future beyond the grave. Paul wrote to help them see that their physical bodies would be raised to continuing life, but that those bodies, while physical, would be of a different type than their present physical bodies. They would be spiritual, but of a different type than what they thought of as spiritual.
Paul now returned to his analogy between Adam and Christ (cf. vv. 21-22) to reinforce his argument, which he had brought to a head in verse 44. In vv. 50-58 Paul brought his revelation of the resurrection to a climax, in this paragraph, by clarifying what all this means for the believer in Christ. Here he also dealt with the exceptional case of living believers’ transformation at the Rapture. Transformation of each believer’s spirit, soul, and body is absolutely necessary for him or her to enter the spiritual mode of future existence. This transformation will happen when Christ comes.
I love this victory cry that Paul gives near the end of 1 Corinthians 15:
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul concludes by encouraging them to remain faithful (v. 58).