The central theme or event of the Old Testament was the Exodus. Moses led the children of Israel out of literal captivity and slavery to the Egyptians and forty years later they made it to the Promised Land. The reason for the Exodus was not only to free Israel from the oppressive rule of the Egyptians, but also to lead them to the Promised Land where they could freely worship God and be a beacon of light to the surrounding nations.
Israel failed in their calling and it was not long until they were living more like the pagan nations around them than a called out people with a special mission to bring God to those nations. The prophets we read in the Old Testament were messengers of God warning the Israelites that they were going to go back into captivity if they don’t put their trust in God. Of course Israel didn’t listen and the Assyrians came and took the Northern Kingdom into captivity and eventually the Babylonians took Judah into captivity as well.
After years of captivity a remnant of Judah returned on a new Exodus to the Promised Land to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem around 457 B.C. After the initial excitement and events surrounding the rebuilding of the city we have the writings of the prophet Malachi and then the four hundred “silent years” in which God doesn’t speak to the people through the Prophets.
When we come to the New Testament a lot has happened to the Israelites over the last four hundred years. They have had times of freedom, but great times of persecution as well. The Seleucid Empire under Antiochus IV, in an attempt to humble the Jews, desecrated the Temple by offering pigs on the Altar. This led to the famous Maccabean wars that eventually led to the defeat of the Seleucids and the Temple restored to its rightful place.
Freedom did not last long for Israel and once again they found themselves a subject state but this time to the powerful Roman Empire. It was into this world that Jesus was born, ministered, preached, was crucified and on the third morning was resurrected.
The Jews were no fools. They understood that the original Exodus out of Egypt had never brought them the prosperity, prestige, power and freedom that it was intended to do. They understood the place of captivity and Exodus had been played out over and over throughout their history and that the true final Exodus was yet to come. They unfortunately understood that the new Exodus was to be a political event that would free them from Roman oppression. They longed for a new Moses, a Messiah that would lead them on their new Exodus out of captivity and into freedom.
Yet, for any Jew who was paying close attention to Jesus they couldn’t help but notice that Jesus was reenacting the Exodus story through His actions, teachings, and life. His family had fled to Egypt when Herod decreed all the boys under the age of two would be killed in the Bethlehem area. He had come up out of Egypt just like Moses led the people out of Egypt.
He had been baptized in the waters just as Moses baptized the people in the waters of the Red Sea. He went into the wilderness to face His temptations and tests just as Moses led the people into the wilderness to face their tests of whether or not they would trust God to lead them. Jesus provided bread to the people just as Moses had provided bread to the people in the wilderness.
But, there was a great difference between Moses and Jesus. Moses was the spokesman, or mediator for God to the people. The blessings, the law, the leading, the deliverance out of bondage was all God’s doing. With Jesus everything is different because He spoke, acted, carried out signs and wonders on His own authority. And through His three and a half years of ministry many Jews could comprehend that Jesus was special and not like the false Messiah’s that were everywhere during that time in history.
And then every hope of Jesus as the promised Messiah came crashing down on that Friday when the Roman authorities and Jewish religious leaders teamed up to crucify Him. All their hopes were dashed as they looked up at the outstretched arms of Jesus nailed to the cross. But even here for a well tuned in Jew, even the outstretched arms of Jesus was a reminder of Moses stretching out his arms to bring blessings and victory in the wilderness.
Moses outstretched arms to Pharaoh brought destruction and an overthrowing of his kingdom of darkness and satanic control. Jesus outstretched arms was freeing the world of the darkness and demonic control that held so many in bondage. The ultimate blessings of God were being poured out to humanity on that cross.
Jesus the Messiah was carrying our sins to the cross and in their place was offering us freedom. The new Exodus was the true fulfillment of Moses Exodus. In Jesus, the new Israel, true freedom from sin and the free offer of grace were being offered for anyone who wished to accept.
But, was the cross the end of it? What would the death of the Messiah, the true Exodus, the true Moses, the true Messiah, the true Adam mean? Then three days later,
1 “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.
3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.” Mark 16:1-6
The sacrifice is accepted, Jesus is risen and our sins forgiven and forgotten. Our Exodus out of slavery and bondage is complete and the one greater than Moses, Jesus, has led us home.
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…