20: The Promises to Israel - Saved by the Life

The Present Truth : September 17, 1896

Of Moses we read, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them.” Hebrews 11.27, 28

It was not at the first, when he fled in fear, that Moses forsook Egypt in faith, but when he went out after having kept the Passover. Then the wrath of the king was nothing to him, because “he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” He was under the protection of the King of kings.

Although this text speaks only of Moses, we need not suppose that he was the only one of the children of Israel who had faith; for we read in the next verse of the whole company “by faith they passed through the Red Sea.” But even if it were true that Moses alone of all the company left Egypt by faith, that fact would prove that all ought to have left it in the same manner, and that the entire deliverance was a work of faith.

“He endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” Moses lived in the same way that true Christians of the present day live. Here is the parallel: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried in the fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not; yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1.3-9

Moses and the children of Israel were called to the same inheritance that is reserved for us. The promise was to them in Christ, as well as to us. It was an inheritance to be gained only by faith in Christ, and that faith was to be such as would make Christ a real, personal presence, although invisible. And more, the basis of the faith and hope was the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Christ then, as now, was the head of the church. The true church has not and never has had any other than an invisible head. “The Holy One of Israel” was given to be “a leader and commander to the people” ages before He was born a babe in Bethlehem.

We see therefore that personal faith in Christ was the basis of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. This was shown in the institution of the Passover. Matters had then come to a crisis. Pharaoh had persisted in stubborn resistance until the mercy of the Lord had no effect upon him. His own statement shows that Pharaoh had acted deliberately, and had sinned against light, after the locusts had been sent. He called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that He may take away from me this death only.” Exodus 10.16, 17. He had come to acknowledge the Lord, and he knew that rebellion against him was sin, yet as soon as there was respite he was as stubborn as ever. He definitely and fully rejected all the Lord’s advances, and now nothing remained but to execute such judgment upon him as would compel him to desist from his oppression, and to let Israel go.

The First Passover

It was the last night that the children of Israel were to spend in Egypt. The Lord was about to bring His last great judgment upon the king and people, in the destruction of the first-born. The children of Israel were instructed to take a lamb “without blemish,” and to kill it in the evening, and to eat the flesh. “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” “It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt will I execute judgment; I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”  Exodus 12.5-13

The blood of that lamb did not save them, and they well knew that. The Lord told them that it was but a token. It was simply a sign of their faith in that which it represented, namely, “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” for “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5.7. The blood of the lamb was therefore only a token of the Lamb of God; and they who “endured as seeing Him who is invisible” understood this.

“The life of the flesh is in the blood.” Leviticus 17.11. In the blood of Christ, that is, in His life, we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins; because God hath set him forth, “to be a propitiation through faith, by His blood, to show His righteousness, because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God.” Romans 3.25, R.V. God passes over sins, not in that He compromises with them, but because “the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1.7. The life of Christ is the righteousness of God, for out of the heart are the issues of life, and the law of God was in His heart as perfect righteousness. The application of the blood or the life of Christ is therefore the application of the life of God in Christ; and that is the taking away of sin.

The sprinkling of the blood upon the doorposts signified what was said later: “The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; . . . . and thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Deuteronomy 6.4-9. The righteousness of the law of God is found only in the life of Christ. It can be in the heart only as the life of God in Christ is in the heart, to cleanse it from all sin. Putting the blood on the posts of the door of the house was the same as writing the law of God on the posts of the house and on the gates; and it indicated nothing else but dwelling in Christ—being encompassed with His life.

Christ is the Son of God, whose delight was found in doing His Father’s will. As He was the Passover of the children of Israel in Egypt, so He is ours, because His life is everlasting and indestructible, and those who are dwelling in it by faith share its safety. Neither man nor devil could take His life from Him; and the Father loved Him, and had no desire to take His life from Him. He laid it down of His own free will, and took it again. He laid it down that we might take it, and He took it again, that He might take us with it. The dwelling in Him, therefore, which was signified by the sprinkling of the blood upon the door posts, means being made free from sin, and so being saved from the wrath of God which cometh upon the children of disobedience.

Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday and to-day and for ever.”  Hebrews xiii. 8. Faith in His blood, which was signified by the sprinkling of the blood of the lamb upon the doors of the houses, accomplishes the same result to day that it ever did. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, which was instituted at the time of the Passover at which Christ was betrayed and crucified, we celebrate the same thing that the Israelites did in Egypt. They were yet in Egypt when they celebrated that first Passover. It was an act of faith, showing their confidence in Christ as their Deliverer. So we, through the blood of the covenant, show our faith in the power of His life to preserve us from sin and from the destruction that is coming upon the earth because of sin. In that day the Lord will spare those whose life is hid with Christ in God, “as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”  Malachi 3.17. And it will be for the same reason, because God spares His own Son, and men are spared in Him.

The Last Passover

When Christ celebrated that last Passover with His disciples, He said, “With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22.15, 16. From this we learn that the institution of the Passover had direct reference to the coming of the Lord to punish the wicked and to deliver His people. So we are told, “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.” 1 Corinthians 11.6. The death of Christ is nothing without the resurrection; and the resurrection of Christ means simply the resurrection of all those whose lives are hidden in His life. It is by His resurrection that He begets us to a lively hope of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; and the same faith and hope, laying hold of the same inheritance, was shown by the true Israel in Egypt. The inheritance for which we look is one that is reserved in heaven; and the inheritance that was promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to which God was prepared to lead the children of Israel, was “a better country, that is, an heavenly.”

“The sprinkling of the blood” (compare Exodus 12.5-14; Hebrews 11.27, 28; 12.24; and 1 Peter 1.2-10) is the grand link that unites us in our Christian experience with ancient Israel. It shows that the deliverance that God was working for them was identical with that which He is now working for us. It unites us with them in the one Lord and the one faith. Christ was as really present with them as He is with us. They could endure as seeing Him who is invisible, and we can do no more. He was “slain from the foundation of the world,” and therefore risen from the foundation of the world, so that all the benefits of His death and resurrection might be grasped by them as well as by us. And the deliverance that He was working for them was very real. Their hope was in the coming of the Lord to raise the dead, and thus to complete the deliverance, and we have the same blessed hope. Let us take warning from their subsequent failures, and “hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”

From this point on, our way will be much more plain, because at every step we shall see clearly that we are only studying the dealings of God with His people in the plan of salvation, and are learning his power to save and to carry on the work of proclaiming the Gospel. “Whatsoever things are written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”