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The Christadelphian | March 2016

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Sunday Morning

Deliverance from darkness

The same joy shown by Israel in their redemption from Egypt should be evident in the lives of those who have escaped the darkness of sin and death.

It’s never in doubt, is it? There are always lessons to be learnt. The scripture abounds with such and sometimes they are spelled out for us by New Testament writers, such as 1 Corinthians 10:11,12. The very events about which Paul is writing are detailed for us to make the lessons more telling:

  • Verse 7: The making of the golden calf;
  • Verse 8: The guile of the Moabite women;
  • Verse 9: The fiery serpents;
  • Verse 10: The complaining that led some to desire a return to the darkness of Egypt.

It is this last which set off my train of thought for this exhortation, which starts in Exodus 3.

Here is Moses experiencing a manifestation of God Himself. He was commanded to take off his shoes because the ground on which he was standing had been made holy by this manifestation of God’s presence (Exodus 3:2-5). The angel then speaks as the mouthpiece of God (verse 6). What is it that he says? God sees the plight of His people – “affliction”, “sorrows” and “oppression” (verses 7-9). Only God Himself, through the one whom He had chosen, could bring deliverance for His people from their daily experiences in the darkness of Egypt.

We are well aware that the work of the Lord Jesus is prefigured by this man Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18) and notice just how close is this prefigurement – “And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do” (Exodus 4:15). [1] So Moses brings the children of Israel a promise of a great deliverance from the gross darkness of Egypt into the welcoming light of God’s promised land. But note that the Israelites had already appealed to the Lord for deliverance (He “heard their cry”). They knew just what the oppressing darkness of Egypt was like – they struggled with it every day!

Darkness of sin

So we ask ourselves, did we appeal to the Lord to deliver us from the oppressing darkness of this present evil world, as we did when we came to our baptism into the Saving Name? Did we realise to the full at that time the crippling nature of our own bondage to sin, death and the ways of this world, that we then lived in gross darkness? Did we realise then the sort of oppression we were under? Did we sorrow over our sins (Matthew 5:4)? Were these things more real for us than the bondage of the darkness of Egypt was for them (Hebrews 2:14,15, Romans 7:24,25)? Israel cried unto the Lord in desperation and God Himself promises them fourfold (Exodus 6:5-8). Notice the word “redeem” in verse 6, which sets the heart racing!

He was calling them out of darkness to be a people for Himself. They were to experience a token sign of this during the penultimate plague – “… but the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Exodus 10:23). Yes, they had light – what a token was that! If we were not so familiar with these ideas, we would surely be overwhelmed by this wondrous prophecy: that the great deliverance we have in Christ is pictured here for us and for the Israelites while they were in the darkness of Egypt. Is that joyous deliverance into the light of the Gospel message as real for us as the deliverance from the darkness of Egypt was for them?

But just look at the words that are used in Exodus 15 as Moses, Miriam and the Children of Israel sing antiphonally unto the Lord (Exodus 15:2,13,16). Meditate on these rich words so full of prophetic meaning – “salvation”, “redeemed” and “purchased”. We go back to Exodus 12 in order to appreciate everything fully. Gradually the family became identified with the unblemished lamb (Exodus 12:3,5). We too gradually identify ourselves with the Spotless Lamb and ultimately come to share his mind. He took upon himself our sorrows and our oppression (Isaiah 53:3,5). We have been redeemed, i.e., bought with a price, but just now we think not so much of the price itself but rather of the immense cost to the Father. The Pharaoh of Egypt would have wailed and lamented over the death of his son – “and there was a great cry in Egypt” (Exodus 11:6)! Imagine how much our Heavenly Father must have agonised as He saw His Son desperately hanging upon that tree, racked with pain, pouring out his soul unto death.

All of this was achieved for our sakes by our loving Father and His wondrously submissive Son. Then the words of the Apostle John come into my mind – please read them carefully – “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19). Dare I ask? Do you hanker after the darkness of this world that we have so surely left behind? Dare I ask whether there are times when that gross darkness seems preferable to the light – perish the thought? Just think about the words of the prophet:

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

Then think on some more of John’s words: “… because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now …” (1 John 2:8,9). It is absolutely no use us saying that we walk in the light, if our hearts are not there and we hold some resentment towards one of our brethren or sisters – surely, such belongs to utter darkness!

Sorrow, oppression, redemption

So as we come around this table to remember the wondrous love of our Father and the great sacrifice which He made, we recall to mind Jesus’ humble submission for us to his Father’s will – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us …” (Romans 5:6). Our beloved Lord Jesus was indeed racked with excruciating pain, surely we are ashamed of ourselves! Sadly my brethren, isn’t it true that we are far less conscious of our sins and the stifling darkness that surrounds us than we ought to be? Do we sorrow over our sins as we should because of the distress they cause to our Heavenly Father? Do we feel the oppression they bring upon us or the desperate need of laying down our burden at the feet of Jesus? Forgiveness is the most wonderful gift in the new life in Christ (1 John 1:7,9). This is why we plead for forgiveness – all for the sake of the Lord Jesus.

As we come to take this emblem of his body into our hands and share the cup which speaks so clearly of his shed blood, let us resolve to confess our sins each day before the throne of grace through our mediator. We beseech our Father’s forgiveness for our Redeemer’s sake, thinking of the darkness he experienced – and all for our sins of thought, of word and of deed. Let us determine by his strength to leave for ever the gross darkness of this world. Let us set our faces towards the glory of the Promised Land, singing triumphantly with the Israelites of old:

“Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O LORD, which thy hands have established.” (Exodus 15:17)

Trevor A. Pritchard

[1] Quotations are from the KJV.

 

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