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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

January 2022

Exodus 12:14-20: Come on and celebrate

‘This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day until the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.

17 ‘Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.’

In his excellent book ‘Celebration of discipline’, Richard Foster wrote about the spiritual discipline of ‘celebration’ (alongside other more familiar disciplines such as prayer, worship, fasting, confession etc). More recently, his son Nathan also wrote a more personal story of his own journey with the disciplines in a book entitled, ‘The making of an ordinary saint.’ Here are some of his comments about celebration:

“The spiritual discipline of celebration leads us into a perpetual jubilee of the Spirit. We are rejoicing in the goodness and the greatness of God. As Saint Augustine said, ​“The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.“…

Perhaps the most important benefit of celebration is that it saves us from taking ourselves too seriously. It is an occupational hazard of devout folk to become stuffy bores. Celebration delivers us from such a fate. It adds a note of gaiety, festivity, and hilarity to our lives.

Celebration gives us perspective on ourselves. We are not nearly as important as we often think we are, and celebration has a way of bringing us the needed balance. The high and the mighty and the weak and the lowly all celebrate together. Who can be high or low at the festival of God? Together the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless all share in the goodness of God. There is no leveller of caste systems like festivity.

Celebration is not just an attitude but also something that we do. We laugh. We sing. We dance. We play.”

In verse 17 we read “Celebrate…because…”

In each ordinary day there are so many reasons to celebrate, if we can but see them. Maybe that is why Dallas Willard told John Ortberg, ‘You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.’ There are certain things we only notice when we slow down sufficiently to be able to appreciate them.

Someone wrote about the person who ‘when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He’s here but he’s not here. He rejects the here, is unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then the it will be ‘here.’ What he is looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it is all around him. Every step’s an effort both physically and spiritually because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.’ (Quoted by Henri Nouwen in ‘The Genesee Diary’, p.8).

I know I can be that person at times. But the truth is there is so much of God’s goodness to celebrate right here, right now.

PRAYER: Lord, please forgive me for all that I miss right under my nose! Help me to see and savour your goodness in every single day.

Exodus 12:14-16: House-cleaning

‘This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day until the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.

“Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch – as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

The Israelites were to begin to celebrate Passover one year after coming out of Egypt. For them it would mark the beginning of a new year, and it was to last for a whole week. Today we note the prohibition regarding ‘yeast’ or ‘leaven’. Why was this to be absent from the bread?

  1. It relates to the actual circumstances of the first Passover night (12:8, 34 & 39), and calls it vividly to mind. Leaven takes time to rise, and Israel had to be ready to leave in a hurry;
  2. It was to become a symbol of sin (see 1 Corinthians 5:8; Luke 12:1).

The fact of the matter is repentance is not a ‘one off’.The Christian life not only begins in repentance but it also continues in that spirit. We are constantly challenged (and perhaps never more so than around the Lord’s table) to “Get rid of the old yeast…” If you were to clean your house once, on the day you moved in, but never again, you would eventually find yourself living in a filthy hovel. House-cleaning is a repetitive and continuous necessity. It’s also hard work, but  it has to be done.

“All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” 1 John 3:3

Thought: Which ‘room’ do I need to clean today?

PRAYER: ‘Lord, I heard someone say that you are more interested in the production of my character than you are in my comfort. Help me to also be committed to making progress in holiness. Show me where the dust lies and the cobwebs lurk, and give me the grace to remove them, for your sake Lord. Thank you, in Jesus’ Name.

Exodus 12:14: Special days

This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance.

Let it be said that every day is sacred, and provides many reasons for thanks giving. The abbot of a monastic community told Henri Nouwen: ‘…we form communities and we experience all of life as a gift of God – that is why praise is so central – praise for God’s gifts.’ (John Eudes: ‘The Genesee Diary’, pp.6,7). In the bustle and busy-ness, the stresses and strains of every day life, we may miss the wonder and specialness of each day.

But there are certain days which carry great significance, and they are to be noted and remembered and celebrated. For me, keeping a journal is an aid to memory. It reminds me of markers and milestones on my journey, and brings to mind facets of God’s goodness I might sometimes forget.

God wanted His people to always remember the miracle of the exodus, so he gave them Passover; Jesus wants His people to always remember the wonder of salvation, so He has given us the Lord’s Supper. You may recall that it was at a Passover meal that Jesus instituted what we now call communion. Again we come face to face with Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of Passover.

Exodus 12:12,13: ‘I’ve got the blood on the door of my heart…’

 ‘On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

I had some South African friends who formed a singing trio, and I remember them belting out an old gospel song that included these words:

‘I’ve got the blood on the door of my heart, and all my life is beneath its cleansing flow;

And when God, He looks at me, He know more sees the things I’ve done, He only sees the blood of His crucified Son.’

This, of course, is imagery taken right out of Exodus 12. As we have seen, the Passover lamb points ultimately to Jesus. For the people of Israel then, as for us now, it was the application of the shed blood which made all the difference between salvation and judgment.

In terms of God bringing “judgment on all the gods of Egypt” (12), we could ask, ‘How so if idols are not real?’ But I wondered, could it be that the judgment is on the demonic powers lying behind idolatry, exposing them, defeating them, and demonstrating the far superior power of the living God? Then I read Tom Hale’s commentary and he explained that this judgment also fell on those human beings the Egyptian people worshipped. They too lost their firstborns.

Whatever the correct interpretation may be, we can say in the words of a more recent song that ‘Jesus is the winner Man’, and in Him we win too!

PRAYER: Today, Lord, I want to thank you again for the precious blood of Jesus that takes away all my sin as I trust in Him and His Cross.

Exodus 12:9-11: Ready for off?

Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire – with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

As regular communicants, believers gathering around the Lord’s table who feed on Christ by faith, are we flexible? Are we ready for off? We must be ever ready to leave on the next journey the Lord has for us. This may not be a physical, geographical movement from one place to another, but the Lord’s people need to be adaptable and adjustable, always open to the movements of the Spirit. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut, and, as someone said, the only difference between a groove and a grave is one of depth!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, please keep my walk with you fresh and alive, and help me to live in a state of readiness to ‘move’ at your bidding

Thought: “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Exodus 12:6-8: The wondrous Cross

Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door-frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.

Three other aspects of salvation are typified in these three verses:

  • The fact that we are all, by our sin, responsible for Jesus’ death (6);
  • The truth that the blood of Jesus must be personally applied to our hearts (7).
  • The reality that we get to feed on Christ by faith (8). ‘We trust Christ that we might be saved from our sins by His sacrifice, but we must also feed on Christ in order to have strength for our daily pilgrim journey. As we worship, meditate on the Word, pray, and believe, we appropriate the spiritual nourishment of Jesus Christ and grow in grace and knowledge.’ Warren W. Wiersbe, Old Testament commentary, p.163.

The Cross of Jesus truly is ‘Wondrous’, and to think that we can ‘survey’ it in documents written centuries before the historical event! ‘How marvellous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be.’

PRAYER: ‘May I never lose the wonder, the wonder of the Cross.’

(Apologies that there will be an interruption in these notes next week. I hope to return to writing them w/b 16th January. Thank you again for your interest and support

Exodus 12: 5: Perfect

The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

Yesterday I had the privilege of having a thirty minute conversation about the Cross with a fellow-believer. My heart still burns at the thought of it. We chatted about how there is a ‘river of blood’ running through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation; about how God has clearly made known His way of salvation.

No wonder Alec Motyer writes about the ‘sacred precincts’ of Exodus 12. You feel over and again that you are on holy ground. It gives you the tingles. At every turn you run into Jesus and His Cross. For example, today’s verse points to Jesus who came into the world and lived the only perfect human life. So he was able to offer Himself to God as both Priest and Victim – the one full, final, perfect offering for sin.

But, as Alec Motyer says, ‘How could Israel have ever accepted that, nevertheless, this was a great new beginning (12:2) and that (of all unlikely – even absurd things) their deliverance would hinge on what they were to do with a lamb and blood?’ ‘The message of Exodus’ p.128. It takes faith to accept salvation on God’s terms – as my friend and I observed in the course of our conversation.

‘There is a way for man to rise, to that sublime abode;

An offering and a sacrifice, a Holy Spirit’s energies,

An Advocate with God.’

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that Jesus paid it all; only He is worthy.

Exodus 12:4: Satisfaction

If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbour, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.

This reminds me of the hymn, ‘Now none but Christ can satisfy’ – a song describing the spiritual search through arid places prior to finding (or being found by) Christ.

I understand that one of Peter Seller’s former wives said about him, ‘All his life he was searching for something he never found.’ He was a comic genius, but, tragically, he was also a tortured soul.

When I first met my wife, Jilly, who was not then my wife, she was a participant on a ‘Christianity Explored’ course. She was a ‘seeker’, looking into the Christian faith. In a brief conversation she told me that all her life she had been searching for something, but had always felt an emptiness in her heart. Apparently I said to her, ‘That’s your God-shaped hole.’ (Augustine famously said that God made us for Himself and our hearts find no rest until they rest in Him).

The Passover lamb, which as we know prefigures Christ, brought satisfaction. Everyone could eat and be satisfied. Ultimately Jesus fulfils this picture. He fills the heart as nothing and no-one else can, and He satisfies the hunger of all who turn to Him by faith.

By the way, it’s a lovely thought isn’t it about households ‘sharing’ a lamb? As Christians, we have Jesus in common, and sharing Him is the essence of all true fellowship.

‘Now none but Christ can satisfy, no other Name for me. There’s love and life and lasting joy, Lord Jesus found in thee.

Exodus 12:3: Take the medicine

Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.

We have had a couple of bottles of a rather strong cough medicine in our bathroom cabinet for a long time. I had often heard the virtues of this particular linctus being extolled. In fact, someone once asked me to pick up a bottle for him and his wife when they were quite poorly. It was the first time I’d heard of it, but I knew he held it in high regard!

However, when a pre-Christmas cold left me with a lingering chesty cough, I stopped looking at the bottles and admiring them, and I actually took some. It was only then that I was able to experience the beneficial effects for myself. I’d heard ‘testimony’ given by others, but now I knew its efficacy.

The gospel is the good news about Jesus – the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.But Christ (the gospel) has to be personally appropriated. Each person has to “take” Jesus for themselves, and to themselves. Jesus is the unfailing cure for sin-sick people, but He must be taken.

One day, when I was pastor of a little church in Lancaster, I was serving communion, and I suddenly felt a tug on my trousers, somewhere around my knees. I looked down into a pair of big brown eyes, and a delightful Ugandan boy looked up at me and said, ‘I want to get Jesus!’ Jesus wants us to ‘get’ Him. We so need Him.

Of course, I had to keep taking the medicine after imbibing the first drop. I didn’t merely take one amount, but several. As Christians we never outgrow our need of the gospel. How we need to keep on preaching the great gospel truths to our own souls. We never stop taking the medicine.

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