Wednesday, February 17, 2021

February 17 - Exodus 14, Hebrews 6

Key verse: Exodus 14:22

Big idea: God parted the waters to bring His people out.

The Passover is the beginning of Israel's life as a nation. God marked them out by the blood of the Lamb, bringing His mercy in response to their faith. They had been freed from slavery and been recreated from the pieces of their old life into something new; something holy. Their story serves as the prototype for ours: when we place our faith in the blood of the Lamb, God passes over us in judgment and makes us into His children. It is not just a metaphor. The Passover actually happened and created the nation that God used to bring the Messiah and His word into the world, so that their rescue is intimately connected with our own. But the parallels are impossible to miss. We might have expected Jesus to die on the Day of Atonement, where the Israelites fasted and confessed their sins. Instead, we find out that He died on Passover, going even further back into an event that deals with exodus, creation, and freedom. 

After Passover night, the Israelites had a problem: they were still in Egypt. They were God's people! They were free! They had been saved! But they were still in the land where they had been enslaved and no one looking from the outside would know what had happened. So God brought them out of the land, through the Red Sea. There was a clear visual distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptians when the Israelites were immersed in the water and came out on the other side. Like the Passover corresponds to salvation, passing through the Red Sea corresponds to baptism. This is not something I made up. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:1-2: "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." The Israelites were baptized into the Holy Spirit's presence in the cloud that led them and baptized in the waters of the Red Sea. God always sets His people apart spiritually first, in response to faith. Then, He publicly sets us apart because of that internal reality. He brings us out of our old way of living and habits to bring us into a life that will point people to Him.

Discussion idea: What other major events in the Bible involve large bodies of water? How do those relate to these themes? Consider Genesis 1, Genesis 6-8, Joshua 3, and Revelation 21, among others.

Prayer focus: Lord, help me to represent You with my life. Baptism publicly identifies us with you and serves as the qualification to be part of your local church; help me to live with my church in a way that points people to You.

Key Verse: Hebrews 6:19

Big Idea: The Son of God is our anchor.

When people say things, sometimes they follow through, and sometimes they do not. When they don't, sometimes it is their fault, and sometimes it is beyond their control. Because of this uncertainty, when someone wants to assure you that they are going to make a particular effort, they say things like "I promise." Jesus taught that Christians should not need these kinds of oaths, because we should be people of such integrity that when we say "yes," people know we mean "yes," and when we say "no," people know we mean "no" (Matthew 5:37). But with God, there is no uncertainty. He never lies, and can always accomplish what He says: His word needs no special assurances, because He is faithful and true. Yet, when He made His promise to Abraham, He did swear. Maybe that is not shocking enough to us. He went beyond what He really needed to do to reassure us. Our hope is secure. 

When we face difficulties in this life, we know that God's promise to make us His own is sealed with an oath and testified by the death of His Son. We can hold tight to the refuge we have found; it will never move. The author of Hebrews uses a powerful image: our hope is an anchor for our souls. There may be some wordplay here, the Greek word for anchor (ankyron) and the word for Lord (kyrios) sound very similar. But whether that wordplay was intended or not, the analogy is clear. Anchoring a boat means that you are secure no matter what happens on the surface, and our hope in God is the same. Jesus has promised that all of us who put our faith in Him are secure, and no tossing and turning of life can shake that anchor. 

The anchor of our hope is not placed in the shifting mud of the ocean floor or in an abstract idea or theological construct. Our anchor goes within the curtain, into the presence of God. We have an anchor because we know that the greatest struggles of this life were already overcome by Jesus. We have an anchor because we know that whatever struggles we face, we have a perfect advocate in Heaven. We have an anchor because we know that the same Jesus who is enthroned in Heaven is coming again to end death and pain once and for all. While the waves of this life may toss us side to side, we know that beneath the surface, God's plan is secure. The Son of God is our anchor!

Discussion Idea: When was a time that you felt unstable and insecure? How did someone help you to feel better? How does Jesus' role as our anchor help us to handle the storms of life?

Prayer Focus: Identify some turbulence in your life, and specifically pray for God to be your anchor in those areas.

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