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February 14, Day #45 – His Death Was That Door

Today’s readings in Exodus bring us to chapters 13-14. The last thing we read in chapter 12 was that “All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded” (verse 50). Doing “just what the LORD commands” is the definition of obedience, which, throughout the Old Testament, is God’s standard for power. Wherever we see God’s people obeying Him – there we find the power of God at work – because obedience testifies to the power of God. Chapter 13 introduces us to the consecration of all “firstborn males – whether man or animal” (verses 1-2). Why? God indicated that, “on this day, tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for us when we came out of Egypt. This observance is like a sign – a reminder - that the law of the LORD is to be on your lips’” (Exodus 13:8-9). We cannot minimize the importance of this sign. Israel was meant by God to be a national people with the Word of God “on their lips” – meaning that they were to testify to the rest of the world God’s plan of redemption for man’s sins. The sign is a pointer to Christ and His sacrifice. In this chapter, we also see that “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him” (verse 19). Joseph knew that the nation of Israel would not be in Egypt forever, and he did not want his bones to remain in that heathen land. Moses followed through with Joseph’s request after Joseph prophesied that “God would come to their aid” (verse 19). In His timeframe, God does everything that He says He will do. He asks us to follow through with those things that He assigns to us. Clearly, if we do our part, we will receive His blessing. Then, in chapter 14, we see how the Israelites – after their rescue from Egypt - continue to face daily struggles - as Pharaoh approaches to recapture and take them back to bondage. This is a picture of our daily struggle with Satan who desires to “recapture” us for his purposes. However, Moses tells them to “stand firm” (verse 13). In the face of our daily struggles, Paul tells us the same thing: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). “The Lord will fight for us. We only need to trust Him and be still” (Exodus 14:14).

Proverbs 4:20-27 gives us six clear, practical ways that show us what it means to “stand firm.” God wants us to apply these practices in our daily lives as we walk with Him. The writer tells us (1) to “pay attention” to his “words” (verse 20). Then, he advises us (2) to “guard our hearts” (verse 23); (3) to “keep our mouths clean” (verse 24); (4) to “direct our eyes straight ahead” [i.e., to avoid evil distractions and temptations; (verse 25)]; (5) to "take only ways that are firm” (verse 26) [i.e., reliably steadfast and immovable (verses 23-26)]; and (6) to “think about where we go” (verse 27). All this seems easy enough, but it’s a daily struggle. However, with the Lord’s help moment by moment, He provides the victory.

Matthew 27:45-66 relates to us the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see that the people have now crucified Him, and those who “passed by hurled insults at Him” (cf., Matthew 27:35-39). “About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out … My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (verse 46). Here, Jesus is addressing both the Father and the Holy Spirit as God. As the sins of the world are placed on Christ, this is the darkest moment of all history – the time when God the Son becomes separated from His Father and the Holy Spirit. In another moment, Jesus “cried out again … and gave up His Spirit” (verse 50). Jesus is not a victim here; He retains full control. In that same “moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (verse 51), signifying that from the very moment of Christ’s death, man’s way to God has been made open - by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice. We see an earthquake, dead people are resurrected, and the centurion's recognition that Jesus truly was the Son of God. Matthew is detail-oriented so that we understand that none of this is coincidental - Jesus came for this purpose and He was truly dead. In spite of these events, the Pharisees are still so obsessed by their opposition to Jesus that they try to mix in to these events even after our Lord’s death. Pilate says, “make the tomb as secure as you know how” (verse 65). All of man’s collective knowledge in the universe could not secure that tomb tight enough to keep Christ in the grave. We remember our Lord’s words in Revelation 3:7 – “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut ….” His death was that door.

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