Exodus chapter 12 is an interesting passage of scripture. On the backdrop of the holiday season coming up for us, the Lord would have it that the passage we’re going to talk about today also talks about a Jewish festival. And in fact the Jews celebrated seven festivals. Those are described in Leviticus 23, if you want to read about them. Actually, if you want to know a little bit more about Jewish festivals, I went ahead and linked two articles for you. If you click on our app and you click on sermon notes, you’ll see at the very top of today’s sermon notes two articles. One is on the seven Jewish festivals, if you want to learn about those. They’re beautiful pictures of what Jesus would ultimately fulfill for us or will eventually fulfill in its fullness for us. He has fulfilled some of that to a degree.
But there is the festivals of Israel that are, that are celebrated. They had seven. And they also had five sacrifices that they could participate in. And an article in our sermon notes is on there as well. And so you can read about both of those. But here in Exodus chapter 12 you see this combination of both on this holiday time, this festival you see and you see sacrifice. Both of these coming together for Israel in what we call the Passover. And the Passover is an important celebration to understand in scripture. In fact, I would say the imagery that takes place here in this Exodus becomes a lot of what the New Testament borrows from for us to get a bigger picture of what God is after for our lives through Him. And so this story of Exodus is peppered throughout scripture as a major theme to understanding the Bible.
And we’re on this series together talking about the King and kingdom. And so we see this story of rescue that God’s on. If you’ve been with us last week, you see the story of the Exodus is this idea of exiting where Israel, where they were slaves in Egypt and God comes in and rescues them and brings them this new identity in Him. And that’s very relatable to where we are in our relationship with Christ. That God pursues us for salvation, for rescue, and brings this new identity in Him. This idea of from slavery to freedom because of what Christ has done. Exodus plays that story out beautifully for us in a physical way, demonstrating what God also does for us spiritually. And so when you look at this idea of Exodus, you start to see what God’s teaching us. But just asks the blanket question, what is God teaching us in this Exodus?
You know, I think of God bringing Israel festivals in their history. They had seven of them. Holidays and festivals, even in Israel’s day, were never perfect. And I think that’s important to bring up, considering the holiday season for us. Because holiday seasons are messy because people are involved. Hardship can be involved. And so holidays and festivals aren’t perfect. They’ve never been perfect. I don’t even think they’re perfect here for Israel. When you consider even their state of mind going into this moment. God doesn’t describe, we’re going to read this passage in Exodus 12 in just a minute, but God doesn’t describe all of the backdrop of the chaos and everything going in Israel’s life as he tells him to celebrate this Passover. But if you know how this story is set up, God is calling them on an Exodus to leave Egypt. So while they’re about to celebrate a holiday, they’re also packing to move.
They’re packing to move. And not only that, we know about in Israel’s history, when they went to Egypt, God greatly multiplied them during this time. So there’s also lots of kids. So you can imagine this kind of holiday season. You’re packing to move, the kids are going everywhere. You’re trying to wrangle them in the middle of that mess. And God’s like, you know what we need? Let’s have a holiday. While you get your boxes out, let’s throw this festival together. You can imagine, not only these kids are around, not only this packing, but everyone else around them, they have to hate them. We’ve just read in the Exodus about nine out of the 10 plagues taking place. And you think the Egyptians picture of the Israelites in this moment, it isn’t one full of compassion and grace. And so here they’re in the midst of this moment. Everyone around them looking at them in hate. They’ve just gone through these nine plagues. They’ve been oppressed by Pharaoh, they’ve been long time slaves. And now God says to them, it’s time for a holiday. In what scenario is that the perfect way to celebrate?
But holidays and these festivals, especially for Israel, they can also be beneficial. Not always, because I think a lot of that has to do with the intentions and motivations behind our heart for which we participate in those things. But holidays and festivals can be beneficial. And maybe, perhaps this is why God doesn’t share the chaos of everything taking place behind this Passover is because he really wants us to focus on the central idea for which it exists. He could have peppered this story with the difficulty that Mary Jane and Sue faced and trying to get the kids together and prepare this meal while Jim went out back and tried to throw everything together in a home up on the wagon so everyone could go. He could dove into that, but he didn’t. And I think the reason those particular details or any other details really aren’t found is because God doesn’t want us to get lost in the significance of what this represents.
And if I know anything about holidays, maybe more American holidays I could say, is we’re really good at taking something with good intentions and transforming it to mean anything other than. You hear even in times like today, the idea of Christmas and people utter words like Christmas as if it’s a burden. I don’t think it was ever intended to be a burden. And the reason I think it becomes a burden to us is because we take American ideology and place it on something that was designed for I think, well intended meaning. We don’t feel important in our culture today unless we have possession or we’re producing. And if we’re not possessing or we’re not producing to help us feel valuable, we just want to numb minds by entertaining. And so we sort of package that into our holidays. Is that really what makes it significant?
And I think when you look at Exodus 12, God just highlights the specific purpose for this festival. So that in the muck of everything else that comes along with it, we don’t lose sight of what makes it so meaningful? I think festivals, holidays, they are important. They help us celebrate meaning, identity, they give us purpose, they highlight value, they create community, they develop habits. I think it’s important for families to come up with certain traditions that help families root itself in identity. But I would say that identity needs to be significant. Because we can get lost in what we place value in and really lose ourselves by pursuing things that never gave us value to begin with. I hope that’s not too pie in the sky of a statement. But the point is this, when you think about Israel’s festival or even what we’re about to go through this season, I think it’s important for us to highlight not the details of everything but instead not lose focus of what is it that makes this so meaningful. When walk away from Thanksgiving or Christmas or Passover, which we still celebrate Passover by the way today. I’ll tell you about that in a minute.
But why is it so important? And if you miss that by participating in everything else, you miss the point. And I really want to look at the Exodus today in a way that I think drives to us the point. And let me just give you two thoughts. If I get to the end of this and I have not hit these two thoughts, I will tell you I failed today. But there’s a part of this Exodus that God wants us to experience this idea of emptiness. Now I don’t mean you just get in this meditative state and you empty yourself. But what I really mean is this death to self. This laying down of self. So I think there’s this part of Exodus about being empty, but there’s also this part of Exodus about being filled. And we need to see the significance of both. And I think sometimes we’re hesitant to approach the idea of what it means to lay down self so that we can be filled. But this Exodus drives us to these concepts. Let me read this story for us. There’s some verses in Exodus 12 I have highlighted for us to get the detail out and I’m going to talk about some significant ideas from this text of scripture.
But Exodus 12:3, “Speaking to all the congregation of Israel saying on the tenth of this month, they’re each one to take a lamb for themselves according to their father’s households, a lamb for each household. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old, you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the 14th day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of their houses, in which they eat. For I will go through the land of Egypt on the night and I will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both male and beast, and against all the gods of Egypt. I will execute judgments. I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.
This is where they get the name of the Passover. And no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. This seems contradictory, doesn’t it? Like go kill something and now celebrate. So we’ll talk about what that means. Then in verse 21, “Then Moses called for all of the elders of Israel and said to them, go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families and slay the Passover lamb.”
Let me just ask one central question, when you read through that text. Why sacrifice? Why sacrifice? Doesn’t God care about the animals? Isn’t life precious? How barbaric to kill a lamb? Doesn’t God care? What do you think? Does God care about the animals? About life? Maker of all things who design all of creation for His purposes, including animals? Does He not care for that which He has created? Why sacrifice?
I want us to recognize when you read this section of scripture, no doubt we should not take it lightly when we talk about the removal or the taking of life. I think it’s precisely the point that God is getting at in this section of scripture. God is not flippantly telling us to sacrifice animals as some bloodthirsty maniac without concern of life. It doesn’t fit the character of God as we’ve seen it. It doesn’t fit the character of God right now. If you think about it, God is coming to Egypt to rescue people who are slaves, who have the sentence of death on their heads. That’s not a God who hates life. That’s a God who cares for life. Even at the beginning of creation when God designed us, he tells us that he made everything good and when he looks at humanity, the crown of creation, he tells us to be fruitful, multiply, blessed, subdue the earth and care for it.
God isn’t flippant about sacrifice. In fact, I would say in this passage, he’s being very intentional behind his purposes. God knows our nature and I think he knows being made in his image, we won’t take this lightly. And he’s shown even in his own carefulness and explaining this to us, he’s not just saying in some bloodthirsty way, go kill things until I’m happy. He’s very specific about the identity of the animal for which is being sacrificed here. And there isn’t just an immediately take its life. There’s a process through which Israel would go through in the sacrifice of this animal that God wanted them to confront. And it was relatable to their own condition. And when God tells him to sacrifice, he says, a lamb, make it be a male without blemish. Jesus is using this as a picture of the ultimate illustration for a lamb who would become the sacrifice for us. Jesus. One who is sinless, a male that is spotless.
So God is being very intentional about this. And I think at the same time he’s using this as a way of recognizing our own depravity, which produces death. Our sin, the Bible tells us the wages of sin brings death. And when scripture talks about death, what death means is separation. So what God is using as this physical illustration to demonstrate, uh, to Israel where ultimately all of our hearts rest. Because here’s what we inevitably find out. When God brings Israel out of Egypt, the nature for which Egypt expresses by oppressing people continues to be the nature that humanity expresses throughout all of its days. Israel doesn’t just need rescued. We all do. So God isn’t just flippant about this, but rather he’s being particular and he’s recognizing this depravity of humanity that ultimately ends in death because Israel is being oppressed to this point. And the idea of this lamb dying. It’s very sobering to this reality. You know how it goes when things die. It’s eyeopening, isn’t it? It makes the heart sensitive to the beauty of what life is.
Since I’ve lived in Utah, my wife and I had to put down two dogs. I don’t know why this has happened to me both times. Every time I show up there, the two times I’ve shown up to put our dog down. I had this particular prayer that the Lord did not answer. But I remember I walked in the door and I’m just thinking to myself, God, I got to hold this together. Just whatever. Just just don’t let this be like some young girl. I don’t want to, as a grown man, just be weeping. And every time I’ve gone to the place to put our dogs down, it’s always like some 15, 16 year-old girl. I walk in, they’re like, what are you here for? I’m trying to hold it together. I put down my dog and I walk out. The first time I did it, oh man what a mess. The second time I held it together for about 10 seconds. And then I go out and I call my wife every time. I don’t know, just a wimp.
Life is important. Life is precious. And I think God knows this in the story and that’s the very reason he’s coming to rescue Israel. And that’s the very reason that he’s being specific as to the type of animal that’s being sacrificed. God cares about them. And at the same time, it acknowledges our depravity. And our depravity is important to confront. Because the result of it is death. This physical demonstration in Egypt. Israel, slaves. Israel walking a road that leads to death, Israel needs rescued.
Could you imagine being Israel in this day? The Passover day. The way that God would have individuals in Israel make a sacrifice. Even the sacrifice, it wasn’t passive in a sense that God didn’t have people directly involved. The priest would ultimately kill the animal. But what God would have people do in Israel is they would take the animal, the headship of a family would take the animal to be sacrificed and they were to place their head on the animal. And they were to confess their sin. And their hands would be on that animal as life would pass. That’s a very sobering reminder as to the result of sin.
When you think about this idea of sin and depravity, I don’t want us to leave us in the thought of just guilt and shame. I think God has more for us than guilt and shame. In fact, I don’t think God wants us to walk in guilt and shame. I think God wants us to walk in freedom. And that’s where God is taking Israel in this. God wants them made new. God wants them walking in freedom. But here’s something to consider in our culture today. When we talk about the cross of Christ. We put it up here at our church, the cross of Christ.
We’ll look at the cross and we recognize he’s the lamb of God and he was sacrificed for us. Man, I am so loved. And it’s true. You are. That God would demonstrate his love to you while you’re yet sinners. You are incredibly loved by God. And it’s not because anything that you’ve done, but it’s of what he’s done for you. He has placed incredible worth on you. What greater worth than God’s own life?
But something else to consider as you look at the cross of Christ. You’re also incredibly deprived. What would it take for God to have to give his life? That’s sobering, right? Head on the lamb. Life drains. Why? The wages of sin is death. And so this moment it’s being honest with our depravity. Because we need grace.
Now one of the beautiful things about recognizing this is we know how this works on the backdrop. The purpose for God doing this isn’t to look at you and say you’re awful. You just need to walk around like you’re a horrible person all day and just feel guilty. You killed Jesus. Jesus willingly gave his life for you. Jesus cared for you in that way because Jesus had great hope for your future. And the way his spirit could transform your life.
And so this is what gives us a beautiful thing for us as people is that when we recognize our depravity, God doesn’t want us to sit there in sin. Because God wants to bring us freedom in that slavery. And here’s the wonderful thing about Jesus, is that with Jesus the story doesn’t end there. That Jesus brings forgiveness. Jesus brings new life and Jesus brings freedom. And God wants to take care of the past so that we can walk in the goodness of that before him.
And when you know, positionally, that’s where you are in Christ. So you don’t have to walk in guilt and shame. You get to walk in newness because of what Christ has done. It gives you an incredible position in anything that you encounter in life when you mess up. I can tell you this week, at some point, I’m not going to tell you when or how this came about, but I had to utter these words that I am always reluctant to utter to my wife. I only remember doing it once and it was this week, but I had to say, “Honey, you were right.” But why could you do that? Or with your kids? I like to think I’m the perfect dad, perfect husband, perfect pastor, perfect everything. But truth is I blow it up or I mess up or whatever, whatever word you want to use there. I’m not perfect, but in my imagination.
But here’s the good news. God doesn’t want to keep me in that judgment. He wants to bring me in his grace in relationship, in newness and freedom in life. When you have no certainty as to what your guilt will produce, then you’re skeptical to trust. You just want to hide it. You want to bury. You want to step away from it. You want to try to cover it up. You want to try to perfect it in yourself. But Jesus is showing Israel, look, you have no way of escape. You have no rescue. You are a slave. But what does God do? He brings the rescue and he brings freedom. It’s in his nature and so in the soberness of this animal that gives us life, it’s to awaken our hearts when it gets callous to really where the depravity of our self leads us to death.
We try to pacify it like I’m better than someone else. I’m not as negative as that person. They do worse than me. I’m okay. You know? If they’re not worried, I’m okay. But God brings us to the reality that all of us will face death. And all of us need rescued. And God’s not just going to pass over it be indifferent to anything that we’ve done because God is just. If you believe this, if you believe God is good. We like to think that about God. God is good. Can I tell you, it necessitates, in order to believe God is good, God has to be just. Because for God to allow injustice to exist, he could never be good. In order for God to be a good God, he must bring his justice. And because God brings justice, those on the right side of his justice can experience his grace and love.
In order for God to be good in order for God to be just, he doesn’t just pass over sin as if indifferent to it. It demands that God do something with it. And we want to find ourselves on the right side of his justice. It’s interesting when you think about the idea of justice and mercy in society today. Any culture that wants to exercise justice will always do it at the sacrifice of mercy. And any culture that wants to exercise mercy will always do it at the sacrifice of justice. There is only one place where justice and mercy can both be fully vetted out and not sacrifice. And that place is only for the cross of Christ.
It’s only because Jesus becomes that lamb of substitute that both His justice and mercy poured out completely in Jesus. That God doesn’t forsake any of it, but all of His goodness is made known. And that’s what makes this event so incredible is that God is not simply just leaving us in depravity as if to guilt us. But to rescue. This what it means when I said in the beginning to be empty. God created this sobering moment. So finally in ourselves we give up in trusting in us to accomplish these things. It’s impossible. I can’t reconcile with God. I can’t make God love me. I can’t do anything to obligate God. But God still chooses too. Where? Through the lamb. Through the lamp.
What he’s teaching Israel is an incredible statement as it relates to sacrificing. We just asked the question why sacrifice? In Leviticus 17:11, he tells us that sacrifice really doesn’t come without substitute. Leviticus17:11 is this highlight verse about really what Israel sacrifices encapsulate. But it says this, “For the life of a creature is in the blood and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar. It’s the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
So the blood is symbolically a representation of a life. This idea of substitute. He says, I’ve given this to you as a substitute for atonement. And this word atonement literally means “at one.” So what it’s acknowledging for us is that we’re not at one with God because of sin. God is Holy, he is perfect, he is good, we are not. And therefore God’s not going to just pass over that as if it doesn’t matter or be indifferent to it. He wants to pass over it in a way in which justice is poured out righteously so that he is good. And so he wants you at one and how does he gives us that demonstration of being at one? Well, through the sacrifice of an innocent perfect lamb, spotless lamb. And he says this blood, which is a representation of a life that becomes a substitute for your life.
There is life in the blood. Now there are certain phrases when you read in scripture that I think just need to be stated. And there are certain phrases or certain statements that when you say them, they need more than just a period. If like ever think about this statement here, it just does not fit with a period, right? It is your birthday. Who does that? I know some people when it comes to their birthday, they take off the word birthday in the end and they substitute with word week or month. It is your birth week, it is your birth month. And they expect you to say with several exclamation points, right? And when you’re young, that’s usually how you say it. It is my birthday!! You never say this indifferent, this statement, it’s either “It is my birthday!” Or then you get older and you’re like, “It is my birthday.” But it’s never just a flat statement. And I think the same thing is true with what he’s saying. Leviticus 17. When we read a statement like this, it’s not something we just pass by. But rather he’s saying, there is life in the blood
For 1,500 years this celebration continued throughout Israel and Jews still celebrate it today. I think the question while we look at why sacrifice, maybe the more important question that we would ask today as a church is why don’t we sacrifice anymore?
So here God uses this illustration. He brings us to our depravity that we empty ourselves in our nature before the cross of Christ because we don’t come with anything to offer and the intentions are that God would fill us up through this substitute. And so this begins to answer the question. So why do we sacrifice? We see that. But now let’s ask the question why, why do we not sacrifice anymore? And I think the scripture starts to tie this Passover story into the New Testament. And this is what it says in Hebrews 10, “For the law, since it was only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things can never by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
So here’s what he’s saying is, they do these sacrifices, but the reality is they have to do this every year. And the reason this is happening every year is because these sacrifices won’t ultimately take away your sin. They’re really a shadow of something greater. And Colassians 2:16, it tells us what that shadow is. “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival.” It’s talking about the Passover festival. “Or a new moon.” The reason they bring up new moons is every new moon, they had sacrifices on that day. It’s the beginning of a month for the Jews. “Or a Sabbath day. Things which are a mere shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”
So what he’s saying in Colassians 2 is people get up caught up in these religious ideas of they do these things to merit God’s grace. They do these things so that God finds themselves acceptable. They obey these religious laws as if God’s like, okay, you’re good enough. I’ll let that slide. But what he’s saying is no, when you read the Old Testament, everything in the Old Testament is a picture. And what it’s an ultimate picture of is what Jesus would be for you. The substance of what it is belongs to Christ. Which is why Matthew 26, Jesus gives us this illustration on the Passover.
He says on the Passover night while they were eating, Jesus took some bread and after blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, take eat. This is my body. When you taken a cup and give him thanks, he gave it to them saying, drink from all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. So we still celebrate Passover today. We just call it communion. The communion that we partake of monthly here as a church is a picture of what the Jews celebrated every year in the Passover. And Jesus now gives that ultimate demonstration in the story of his body being that lamb that takes away sins.
Now I know some people refer to that what we call communion as sacrament. Other people refer to it as communion. Sometimes I’ll use those words interchangeably, but I want you to know this. A communion or sacrament, there is a distinction between the two of them. Sacrament literally means you partake of it in order to merit God’s grace. You earn his grace, which is not grace. Communion is I partake of it because of His grace. I’m not taking it in order to make God love me, I partake communion because God loves me. Does that make sense?
And so there is a stark difference between the image that creates. And Jesus is willingly giving his life for us in this story. And in 1 Corinthians 15 it tells us why. What ultimately is achieved here in verse 54, death is followed up in victory. Oh, death, where is your victory? Oh, death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. When I think about the idea of coming before God empty. Jesus does this, it tells us in this story, he’s going to fill us up.
I think that it’s important to recognize in our Christian walk when we look at things like this, the difference between guilt and repentance. Worldly guilt doesn’t no one any good. You can drive people to do things out of guilt and it will last for a little while, but when their motivation isn’t one of joy and love from their heart, it’s really no good for anybody. And you’ll get a result, but you’ll be disconnected from the person. And the same thing’s true with God. If your motivation for walking with Jesus is guilt, in that guilt you’re still going to be disconnected from God. We are guilty for sure, but this is why the Bible doesn’t talk about you walking in guilt. But rather what it talks about is repentance. And there’s a big difference between repentance.
Repentance isn’t this idea of paying penance. Repentance is this idea of agreeing with God. It’s this laying down of self and this picking up this new identity in Jesus. Laying down me and taking on the Lamb. Because in the Lamb I have His identity. And when we walk out today in worship with God, what Jesus would prefer in your life is for this new nature of position in him. And the joy of what that represents in you because of what he’s done for you.
And Hebrews 10 says this, look at this, “But he (Jesus), having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting that time forward until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet. For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Why do we not sacrifice anymore? Because one sacrifice perfected at all. The spotless Lamb.
That’s the beauty of Jesus. But I want you to notice a couple things here. Verse 13 is really where the Jews missed Jesus. The Jews had a picture in their mind that when Jesus came, he was going to bring this deliverance. Just like in the Exodus. He’s going to bring this deliverance and they were going to raise the gods people and they’re going to walk with him as their King. And he was going to physically rule and reign on earth and they were looking for that. But when Jesus came, the first thing that he brought freedom in wasn’t physically, but rather spiritually. And he gave this promise that he’s going to return and he will bring wrath against sin. But he will rule and reign physically.
And here’s the point of all of this, and this is why the Jews missed this. What Jesus is saying is look before God brings the fullness of who he is with his kingdom and glory to rule and reign with wrath against injustice. He wants to first rescue our spirit to give us opportunity to find freedom in him. Because if God would completely to bring that right now, he would bring judgment on everyone. But rather God is delaying his judgment in order to offer us grace. He wants us to find freedom in him. And so it says waiting for that time until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. And then he says this for by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Can I just tell you as you think about the picture of Passover as it relates to us today, if there is one verse that we could just read and I would just say, please don’t put this on a shelf. Please don’t forget this passage. This is where our spirit wrestles. Look what Jesus says he’s done for you. He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified, those who are set apart.
What is saying is when Jesus died for you, for your sin, he didn’t just die for the sin that you’ve done in your life. He’s died for all sin throughout your life. He’s perfected for all time. God’s taken care of your past, your present, and your future. Why would he do that? Because he wants you filled with him. He wants you with him. He wants you to connect it in him. He wants you positionally walking in him, not performing for his acceptance, but rather walking because you have acceptance. Not striving for his love, but rather living because you have his love. Not doing things to get position, but rather acting because you’re in position in him.
We do a lot acting out of fear, pain, guilt. But God wants us to respond in faith, hope and love. Faith, hope and love is what he calls us to walk through and it’s because of the of who he is. You have a place to empty yourself. You have a place to confess. Not because of your perfections, but because of him. And you know what’s on the back end of him. It’s grace and love and goodness, and he desires the best for you and he wants to shape you new in his heart. But this happens when our lives are surrendered to the Lamb as we lay our hands upon his head and we just say before him, God, you’re the one that’s good. God, fill my soul with the goodness of who you are.
I love it, the end of Revelation. Let me give you this last story and I’ll close. In the end of Revelation, this beautiful picture of all of this culminating together. This King who’s come from this rescue. This lamb who has taken us out of the Exodus of Egypt as slaves and he looks at our own spiritual condition, still wrestling as slaves and we find freedom in Jesus. And the end of revelation, this beautiful story. And John is in this picture of heaven, he describes it. He says, “I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals and no one in heaven on earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it.”
In John’s day, it was common for leaders to pass these documents around, these scrolls around. And they would be sealed. And these particular seals would have certain seals on them that only the person that had the authority to break the seal could open it up. And John’s crying right now because he can’t break the seal. And what you find in this story is there’s actually seven seals. And what’s interesting in John’s day is when a leader would give a document that was sealed, it would actually, they would seal it as they rolled it. They placed a seal, roll it up, place a seal, roll it up, place in seal, roll it up. And so the person in lowest command that would read it, could break the first seal. And the person in next authority could break the second seal. And he could be aware of both points of the document, but only the first guy could know what was under the first seal. And it would go on until the seventh seal, the person with the highest authority.
And so John is weeping because this document was seven seals. No one can open. And then it says in verse five, “And one of the elders said to me, stop weeping. The lion that is from the tribe of Judah. The root of David has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals. I saw between the throne,” and this is important. Look, verse five he’s saying, look, this is the lion. The conquerer who’s done this. You don’t have to worry. You don’t have to be concerned in this anymore. There is victory. He breaks the seal, he has all authority. And then John turns, it says, “in between the throne with the four living creatures, these are the angels and the elders. Look what it says.
The Lamb was standing, he’s described as a lion, but yet he stands as a lamb, as if slain. And then it says having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God. So now into all the earth. Look, if this ever happens to you, you’ve got problems. You need to see a doctor. But what it’s saying us in scripture is seven is a number of completeness and the idea of eyes is this all seeing omnipresent of God. And the idea of horns is one of authority. In seven horns, this all powerful picture of God. And then he says, and he came and took the book out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne. When he’d taken the book, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song.
They sang a new song because they were able to find a place where their soul could be open and honest and empty and confess and got filled that soul with a new song of rejoice and it says, worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals for you were slain and purchased for God with your blood from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. The idea of the slaying of a lamb wasn’t in vain. It’s a picture of God’s pursuit for your heart, for freedom that you could be made new. He’s perfected you for all time.
I see too many Christians walk around with guilt and shame without the hand of the position of the Lord on their lives. They walk in the past rather than in Jesus. I heard a story once of a father that was driving down the road and he was driving with his son and a bee flew into the vehicle. And the son started to panic because he was highly allergic to bees. And the father reached out with his hand and he caught the bee and he squeezed and he moved his hand to the window and he let the bee go. But because they were driving down the road, the bee immediately came right back in. And this time the boy is even more panic because he knows the bee is going to be ticked. And the father sees his sons stressing out over this bee with anxiety and the father slams on his brakes and he reaches out with his hand once again. But this time, rather than grab the bee, he takes his other hand and he points to it, and the son sees. It’s the sting, the stinger. The bee has no more power. I’m free.
When scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 the sting of death is gone and you have victory in Jesus. I hope our soul resonates with what that goodness represents for our lives all of our days. Yes, this world may leave us checkered in our past and yes, we may have struggles and battles that we face. But in Jesus the sting is gone. And because of that, you don’t have to walk in the anxiety of fear of things.
But you can lay it all down at the cross of Christ and allow your soul every day to be made new in him because in Jesus, you have been perfected once and for all because of what Christ has done. It’s not about us. It’s about his story. This King pursuing our soul to make us new. And in that love and grace, my failures, I can confront. My struggles, my battles, because I know in Jesus there is the embracing of love that cast all of it aside because the sting is gone.