Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 3: The Exodus: The Disruptive Truth of Israel’s Separation from Egypt
Lesson 48 – Exodus: Submission and Obedience, or Rebellion and Hardening
30 Jan 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
One of the things we want to review about the Exodus event is that this event is the result of what started with Abraham, with God’s election and God’s means of justification. Those two elements constitute a character of how God disrupts paganism, because those two truths undercut the foundation of paganism. Paganism is founded on the assumption, the presupposition that man, autonomous man, can rule. Paganism believes, as we have said again and again, that there is no creator and if there is no Creator than there is just a Continuity of Being, i.e., men are a little bit more intelligent than the animals and the gods are a little bit more intelligent than man, but all are part and parcel of the same universe. That being the case, certain things follow and of course, one of the things that follow is that is on the pagan basis, as we saw again and again last year, there is a limitation of man’s knowledge. He is bracketed in time and in space. No matter how brilliant you are, no matter how educated you are; you will never escape that box. No man, no woman can escape the box. It is forever an expression of our finitude and because we are creatures made in God’s image we operate from within the box.
But on the pagan basis, apart from the Word of God and in rebellion from the Word of God, autonomous man mimicking Satan believes that even though he is limited to this box, he can define what is outside of the box, that he has this mystical power of definition, so he can define good and evil, he can define ultimate truths. That is the pagan presupposition, which emanates from pride. That’s the manifestation of an autonomous, prideful heart. And that’s what underscores paganism and it’s precisely that that’s chopped down to size by element number one. It is that doctrine of election where God exercises his sovereignty and his omnipotence over against man’s choice and man’s power, and shows Himself to be superior and He interferes and disrupts the plans of man. Therefore, when you see how God calls Abraham out of Ur, God calls the Jews out of Egypt, it is a surprise event, it’s unforecast by the techniques of man’s reasoning. Man’s reasoning would never have forecasted an Exodus. Man’s reasoning would have never had forecasted this odd trek taken by Abraham and his son and his son’s son. So election forces the attention from man back to God, and makes God sovereign and man a little lord with a little “l” instead of a capital “L”.
The second element that lies behind this is justification, as we learn with the call of Abraham, is that God not only defines good and evil, but God, toward the fallen creature brings him into a state where God can have fellowship with him. God can have fellowship with a sinner only because somewhere God has acquired a righteousness acceptable to Himself that he credits to man. It’s not because of some inherent goodness on man’s part. And it’s this second element that we want to spend some time on, on how this shows up? We spent time last week on the first element, how that showed up in the Exodus narratives. It shows up on the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh is faced with further and further revelation and he rejects and he rejects and he rejects and he rejects. So every time there’s additional revelation, there’s more rejection, additional revelation, more rejection, etc. and this escalation, all it is doing is hardening Pharaoh’s heart.
It’s an irony because we often think of preaching the Word of God as softening hearts, but we forget that preaching of the Word of God can harden men. The exposure to Scriptural truths can set in concrete a rebellious heart, so rebellion plus the Word of God, minus any kind of redeeming grace equals cement. The Word of God never returns void; the Word of God always accomplishes one or the other. We don’t often think about that because we get into this evangelical salesman type thing and if the Word of God doesn’t appear to do something, it is because we are using the wrong technique. The Word of God causes rebellion to become more and more profound or it induces by a gracious work of God subjugation, a submission, and obedience to it. We studied that in connection with the first element that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened but Pharaoh hardened his heart, those two mysterious processes. And, it was precisely, this is so critical to remember from last time, we want to ask ourselves a funny question at this point. Suppose Pharaoh didn’t harden his heart and he in fact agreed to let the Jews leave Egypt. Then what would the Exodus have looked like? Well, it would not have looked like the grandeur of the Exodus we read about in the Bible. It would have looked like a deal had been negotiated between Moses and Pharaoh; it would have been a work of man. It became a work of God precisely because of the rebellion. It was exactly because Pharaoh hardened his heart that gave God the opportunity to show forth his power in a grand and glorious fashion. So the Exodus’ grandeur grew out of the rebellion and obnoxious rejection of Pharaoh to what God wanted to do. Had he just let the Jews go, there wouldn’t have been all those catastrophes, there would not have been a display of the might hand of God. So, that was the first element.
One other feature about the first element is the fact that election forces us to be face to face with God’s plan over and against man’s plan. God is incomprehensible and omniscient and it means if He is calling the shots and it is His plan and were finite, we can never understand all the ramifications of His plan. You know that and I know that, because things happen to us in our Christian lives and we wonder why did that happen, or you see it happen to somebody else, why did that happen? And you know very well that we never really find out why that happens, what we do is we trust God’s character that He had a good reason in mind and that’s as far as we can go. But the Scriptures teach that behind all the mystery, there isn’t darkness. Behind all the mystery there ultimately is light and behind all the mystery there is a reason.
I want to track some verses. I just want to review something we mentioned last week toward the end of the class that there was a rational connection between the Exodus and the call of Abraham and, of course, anybody who reads the Bible realizes that yes, that’s there, I take that. But I want to review this because I want you to see that at bottom, history has a purpose. If the Bible isn’t true, then we can’t show that history has a purpose and if we can’t show that history has a purpose there’s no real sense in studying it. Why bother with a pile of marbles? It’s precisely this as to why I believe that students in school don’t feel a hunger to learn a lot of subjects. I think the reason they aren’t really excited is because they really aren’t convinced there’s anything out there worth learning, there is nothing exciting to learn. The only exciting thing is to pop pills, or do a shot or something, that’s the exciting thing. But that’s an emotional thing; it’s not an intellectual thing. When it comes to reasoning, there is nothing exciting to reason about anymore, they think. And what we have is in a practical street level of the common man, we have recapitulated with the existential philosophers that have been saying all along, namely, there is no such ultimate reason.
But in Exodus 2:24, yes there is ultimate reason. “God heard their groaning,” centuries after Abraham, and what does it say the key to history is, “and God remembered His contract with Abraham, with Isaac, with Jacob.” For us, looking forward to our future in history, Jesus Christ is going to return and it is going to be because of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God will remember his Covenant and He will once again act in history in a dramatic and glorious way. But His action will surprise the generation that it happens in; it will be an utterly unforecast thing. They can’t understand this; this is a catastrophe, a miracle interruption. But it is not, when it comes from the standpoint of God’s plan, it was there all along. He has His plan and he rationally pursues His plan.
Exodus 3:15, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ Every time you see that triumvirate name, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you are to think of the covenant back in 2:24. Those three names, when you see them collectively put in a clause in the Bible, it’s a code so to speak, for the Abrahamic Covenant. So you’ll see that those three names seem to occur a lot together; just remember whenever you see that, it harks back to the Abrahamic Covenant. And we could go on verse after verse after verse, we don’t have time, if you wish to see that verse chain of references, it is on page 51. You can look it up in the concordance if you want to, just look up the word “covenant” and see how often it occurs.
We want to move from God’s interference with man’s plans to God’s ability to render man in such a state that He Himself can come with His mighty presence into our lives. The dilemma is seen in a very simply story in Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve fell, what were they doing? The next scene that you see in the Bible is them hiding. Who told them to hide? Why is there this hiding all of a sudden? Its shame and guilt, shame and guilt of the sinful heart hides from God, flees from God, doesn’t want God, and avoids God. Because the sinful heart feels like I’m not meeting His holiness and because I’m not meeting His holiness, I’m not acceptable; I don’t like being rejected and particularly I don’t want to encounter the ultimate rejection, which is my Creator. That’s a total rejection, people can reject me, but for my Creator to reject me means I am absolutely worthless. That is too powerful a medicine for any person to take, so on go the fig leaves and we hide and we try to pretend that we have some value. But, the value that we’re pretending here is our self-induced value; it is our man-made value. But God ignores the man-made value, so when God comes to us and calls to us as He does in Exodus 3, somehow God has rendered us in a state where we can stand it. We said that revelation in God’s presence, the fact that he can approach sinful Israelites in the Exodus, he comes and he reveals this name, this “I AM.”
This name of God is new. On page 52 of the notes I give you some quotes from Dr. Payne who is an Old Testament theologian and he quotes Exodus 6:3, God tells Moses “and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Yahweh,” or LORD, or Jehovah as some of the English translations translate it, “I did not make Myself known to them.” This has caused a problem and my quasi-sarcastic note on page 52 is “The old liberal critics (and ill-informed present ones who are often found teaching high school and college religious courses) understood that, in spite of the Genesis text, the name was never used in pre-Mosaic times.” So therefore, all of a sudden they become literalists and it’s strange, these critics, they never take the Bible seriously until there’s a verse that fits their scheme. Now all of a sudden we become a literalist, all of sudden, oh yes, verse 3 is literally correct. But because we are not careful, students of the spirit of the text, they misinterpret what is said in verse 3. Obviously, God spoke as Yahweh before Moses.
The question is how much did the people know about that name. He didn’t make Himself known by that name and we have to realize that the text of Genesis was written by whom? Abraham? No. Who compiled the Genesis text in its present form? It was Moses. So Moses already had the benefit of hindsight and he knew God as Yahweh. The question is, what does God mean when He says in verse 3, I appeared to them as God Almighty but I did not make Myself known to them. Now, with this little verse we’re introduced to something that we will get into later on and that is the idea of a dispensational progress to history, that God revealed certain things to a certain age, and men and women who live within that age are responsible to the revelation available in that age. But then along comes another age and God reveals more revelation about Himself and then we are held accountable to a higher standard or more content of revelation because God has advanced His revelation. Here is one of those cases where he did.
We said last time that this word, “ I AM”, is understood, “I am with you,” and the burning bush was an example of that, I AM, because the fire was in the bush, but the bush was not consumed, the bush being a picture of Israel, the fire is the oppression. And God speaks out of the fire and He speaks as I AM. So God is in the midst of His people when they are being oppressed. They are not destroyed, they cannot be destroyed. It is the same thing that Jesus said in Matthew16, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, period! So the same principal in the Old and New Testament alike. But the I AM, the word Yahweh, or as it’s sometimes translated, Jehovah, that is the central name in the Old Testament Bible. That is the name of God.
We want to watch how that code word appears and how Jesus uses it. Turn to Matthew 28:19, quoted often as the Great Commission. Keep in mind the Jewish context here. Jesus was a Jew; His hearers were Jews. All their life they had this Tetragrammaton, the four-letter word that they would refuse to pronounce that looked like this. YHWH, read from right to left and filling in what we think are the vowels we get Yahweh, filling in what we think are the vowels, nobody really knows. But this was the sacred name of God and it harks back to the birth of the Jewish nation, that He was in their midst in Egypt while they were yet sinners, Christ died for us. While they were in Egypt, God was with them. He heard their groanings and He saved them. In verse 20 as Jesus closes out His ministry, he drops this little code word in. If you read this fast, you won’t catch it, but if you think about it… in verse 19, He has already given the sacred name of the Trinity to the disciples and then he closes in verse 20 with a clause that modifies the main verbs in verse 19 and in this clause He says, “teaching them to observe all that I command you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Now for a Jew to hear that meant a lot more than us Gentiles listening that, we’d take that, oh He’s going to be with us kind of in spirit, you know, no problem there. But it is much more heavily loaded than that. He is saying I have the nature of the God of the Old Testament. This is a claim to deity in verse 20. It’s clever; it’s in code, so the careless reader won’t see it.
But more explicitly than Matthew, John wrote his gospel in such a way that, if you remember the prologue to the Gospel of John, he says “we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth,” [John 1:14] John had his insight into the nature of Jesus. Now several times in John’s Gospel, he remembered those days when he was right near Jesus and Jesus said these things. John 8 gets into a big dialogue about Abraham. And in this particular section, they are arguing about who is the real son, who is the real seed of Abraham is what they are arguing about. In John 8:56 Jesus drops this very offensive statement. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and he was [very] glad.” We could spend a couple of hours talking about what that means. There is a heavy verse. Does that mean that he saw, he looked forward in the corridors of time, does it mean that Abraham actually was conscious of the Messiah? Does it mean that after Abraham died and Abraham was in Paradise that he saw this? We could discuss all that. But the Jews really picked up on it and in verse 57 which is one of those little incidental verses that tells you a little bit about Jesus’ personal appearance, because Jesus wasn’t anywhere near 50, He was 30 at the time this was written. Scholars have pointed out that when they say that you were not yet 50, they were probably referring to the fact that He had prematurely aged by the stresses and the strains of His ministry. He looked a lot older than 30, but he was not anywhere near 50. John 8:57, “The Jews therefore said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham’?  Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came to be,” in the Greek, “I AM.’”
Look at those verb tenses. Something is wrong with those verb tenses, isn’t there? Does it make sense to say, before Abraham came to be, past tense… let’s draw a timeline here and check these verbs out. Here Abraham came into existence. Notice the two different meanings of these verbs. Abraham came into existence. He was born. This is the present day, let’s put this as T0, this was the time that this event happened. So Jesus is speaking at this point and time and He says, “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.” I AM is present which means be a verb operation in present time, but also he was I AM before Abraham came to be, so it must have been verb in action in existence prior to Abraham, which means He is claiming eternality, which means this is a flashing force of this glory as the God, Yahweh. This is so ironic that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, of all the people on earth with that name, make Jesus not God, when the New Testament is full of these Jehovah codes for Jesus.
Look at John: 14:23. This is the promise of the Holy Spirit. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.” That’s the same kind of complex idea, I AM with you. You see, it is that Yahweh nature of God, I AM with you, just like in the burning bush, I AM with you wherever you may be.
Finally, John 18:3, that dramatic scene in the Garden of Gethsemane when the temple police come up; these are tough guys. The reason the temple police were pretty tough and well-trained, by the way, was because they had millions of dollars’ worth of money to protect. Remember, the Jews, and their holidays, people would come and have moneychangers; that’s why Jesus got in trouble with the moneychangers. And they had a little deal, a business, it was a slick business, where what they would do is they would sell you things that you had to have under the Mosaic Law, but it was in their currency, so you had to come from all these different places. Of course, they had to exchange the money. Well, you know the rate of exchange was fixed, so these guys were making money like crazy on the side. Lots and lots and lots of money was flowing in that temple area. Who protected it from robbers? The temple police. These are the guys that show up in verse 3. “Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.” The priests come out there, the Pharisees, lanterns and torches, and they received the cohort, probably Romans, and officers from the chief priest. So they are reasonably well armed and men that can take care of themselves.
Watch what happens. Jesus asks a very innocent question, verse 4, “Whom do you seek?” Verse 5, “They answered Him, Jesus of Nazarene.” All He says in the Greek is Egw eimi (ego eimi) and what do you notice happens? “And Judas also who was betraying Him was standing with them.  When therefore He said to them, ‘I am He,’ they drew back, and fell to the ground? One of those little tiny observations in the text of the Scripture. Can you imagine? I have never seen a Hollywood dramatist do this one in a movie. Here is this spectacle of probably dozens of well-trained guys approaching this one man, because the other guys are asleep, maybe they have woken up by now, but the point is he doesn’t have a big-trained force with Him. And all he says is two words in the Greek, Egw eimi (ego eimi) I AM.
But it is written in such a way that you can take it two ways, I am He, the guy that you are seeking, or you can take it in a deeper way, that this is the code showing up again. I AM the One who was in the burning bush. Apparently, it is to be taken two ways. It seems to be an answer to the question in verse 4, but yet on the other hand, it has this deeper, more profound sense, that he is the Jehovah that appeared in the burning bush. In fact, the proof of it is that these guys fall backwards when it happens. What was this force that suddenly flattened these guys? I mean, the Garden of Gethsemane you can walk to. There’s nothing really, it’s a hill, but it’s not like a 45 degree slope, these guys didn’t trip on rocks. What knocked them over? The presence of God knocked them over. So, this is the nature of God and what we want to see is when the Exodus happens, the name of Jehovah, that I AM the One who is with you attains new meaning. And it’s this presence of God that shows that somehow, they didn’t understand it then, somehow He has resolved the righteousness problem so this holy God can have fellowship with sinful people.
We are trying to summarize this section on the meaning of the Exodus. There are a couple of points that I want to make before we get into some of the doctrines that follow from this. I want to emphasize something on page 53. Follow as I read this. “The meaning of the Exodus comes from the disruptive separation of God’s elect people out from the old pagan status quo—the highest level fallen society could ever achieve. Noahic civilization had achieved a grandeur in Egypt that anticipated the best of the arts, technology, and science of modern civilization. All such effort, while noble and good and revelatory of man’s dominion nature under God, is spiritually perverted and limited. Civilization” and this is the key, “cannot undo the fall.” That’s the lesson of the Exodus. The finest civilization of the ancient world did not solve the problem of man’s spiritual descent. “Civilization cannot restore man to God. It cannot ultimately satisfy man in the depths of his heart. It cannot serve as a substitute for the Creator God.” The meaning of this Exodus event is that God walked out, took His people and he walked from the greatest civilization that the ancient world knew. And why did that happen? Because it was lacking in something. It’s not that God didn’t like the pyramids. It’s not that God didn’t like the mathematics. It’s not that the Jews, for example, didn’t take the metallurgical arts of Egypt with them, sure they did, they used them to make tools. So, they took the technology from Egypt. They took the mathematics from Egypt. They took the art from Egypt. They took the language from Egypt. But they left the system of Egypt. They walked out.
At the bottom is sort of a collective thing that we want to see about the vision of the Bible as far as going from Genesis to Revelation. We tend to think because of our isolated state as Christians in our day, because evangelism is one on one and we are one individually to the Lord, we evangelize this person. The person becomes a Christian, etc. we tend to think of ourselves as individuals, sometimes grouped together, but basically individuals. But what I am trying to get at here is that for God to complete His plan of salvation on earth from the standpoint of the original purpose of creation of Adam and Eve, He’s got to transform the earth and re-establish man in a righteous civilization once again. It can’t be just a club of isolated individuals. There has to be a collective solution to the problem. So the last sentence in that third paragraph I say, “Ultimately we must enjoy His presence, publicly and corporately on earth.” That’s the goal of history’ it’s a powerful goal of history, this planet, not some other thing out in the galaxy somewhere. It is this planet at this point in this universe that man must collectively once again as the human race worship God. The same human race, yes, but it must be restored what was begun in Eden. “Our created homeland and the holy kingdom, a new civilization that replaces this completely fallen civilization.” It is not true that we Christians don’t have a vision for the future. We surely do. The difference is we have another route to get there.
What we are going to deal with then, is… by the way, the next paragraph is also a commentary. Somebody mentioned in the Q&A last week, gee, we’re getting into politics here a little. Yes, we are. What you are going to see in the Exodus in the next chapter is for the lawyers, because then we get into the nature of law. But we are getting into political and legal areas now. Just as last time we got into biological, geological things in Genesis. The Bible always interferes with every subject you can imagine. It is always butting itself into every area, never leaves any area separate by itself. “Paganism, of course, tries to have its “exodus’s,—attempts at starting new and better societies. However, because Paganism casts aside the truths of the creation and the fall, it has no hope of separating good from evil.”
Remember, we went back to this diagram and we’ve shown it again and again? Let’s review that. What did we say is the difference essentially between, when you get right down to it, what is the difference between the Christian worldview and the pagan world view when it comes to good and evil. The Bible and the Bible alone says that there was time between the creation and the fall when everything was good. The Bible says that it was possible to have a physical universe free from sin. In paganism, good and evil have always been there. Read your mythologies, the gods and the goddesses are as evil as men are. They have always been evil. There has always been this, and because it has always been, guess what? It always will be. On the pagan basis, good and evil never gets separated, because they can’t get separated. And this is not a philosophic diagram, this is not just philosophy, this is why when we come back to this paragraph here.
Let’s finish. ‘However, because paganism casts aside the truths of the creation and fall, it has no hope of separating good from evil. Now here are the political ramifications, “Therefore pagan counterparts to the Exodus event—which are revolutions, ethnic cleansings, etc.—always wind up as disasters. On its own faith, existence of human and natural evil is ‘normal’ and unremovable. One evil simply replaces another.”
Do you see the difference here? There are some powerful ideas at work in the Scriptures. And what it does, it shoots down the old Marxist dream that if we just have a revolution and do away with that institution and that institution and that institution and this institution, we can cleanse the board. And we can get started with a new fresh, wonderful society. But it’s doomed to fail from the very starting point, because flesh just replaces flesh. You get another brand of it, but it is still flesh, it’s still fallen flesh. And that’s why revolutions fail. We have lived to see the collapse of one of the greatest attempts in the history of the human race to create a perfect society and that was communism. We have lived to see the fall of the Berlin Wall. The fall of the Berlin Wall will go down in history as a momentous occasion, probably a kin in future historians’ viewpoints to the fall of Rome. It was the collapse of a dream that captured the minds of millions of people, poor students in backward countries to brilliantly educated ones in high civilization. Russian geniuses who were just infatuated with this idea, can’t we get society straightened out, and all they did was create the most immobile, inefficient, evil, empire the world has ever seen. That’s what the flesh does. The desire may be good, but the result is always evil flesh replacing another kind of evil flesh. For example, the Communists like to say, and they always did, oh well, back in the days of the Czar, we had all these awful massacres. In the days of the Czar, the massacres were in the order of a thousand or less. In the days of Stalin it is in the millions. So tell me about the Czar? All you do is you amplify the destruction.
We want to pass from the Exodus as an event, keeping in mind the analogue because in our minds or our imaginations, we want to protect our minds against the human viewpoint of the world. The counterpart to an exodus is a modern idea of a revolution. You know, the hostage situation right now in Peru. Those people that take those hostages in Peru are part of the old Communist group that tried to cause a revolution in Peru. What’s their dream? Why do they do these stupid things? Oh they’re terrorists! But terrorists don’t happen. There are ideas that cause the terrorism, stupid ideas, yes, but they’re ideas, they have dreams, they have passions. There are stories that are told to encourage people of the total worldview. But our counterpart to that is the Exodus. The Exodus is where you look if you are troubled by these things that happen in modern society, in our modern day to purge out the confusion. The way to do it is to soak in the text of the Exodus. Fill your mind, saturate it, with the dynamics of what God did to Egypt a genuine revolution, a genuine removal and a separation that really resulted in the separation of good and evil. It was a successful one and it was all done by faith.
What two things you can you think of where faith was most exercised in the Exodus, two dramatic events. One happened at night and the other happened in the day time. One of them happened at night, when the announcement went out that you put blood on the door to save your first born. Is there any way you could have forecasted that. Think of how stupid that sounded, blood on the door, to say, oh my son’s all right, no problem, he had a vaccine last week, he’s never been sick before. Why do you I have to worry about my son? Give me a break. This is just some religious superstition. And in a few hours you found out just how stupid it was. Can you imagine the screams and the horrors?
Cecil B. DeMille does it good in The Ten Commandments, with the creepy green stuff, you know it goes across the sky and dribbles down the street. Give him an “A” for imaginative effort, but this was scary kind of stuff. But to apply the blood on the door required a step of faith. You had to trust that that would do it, when you didn’t even know what was coming. Because it would be different if he did it street by street and block by block, you know after about four blocks got knocked off, the people in the fifth block, yeah I guess this does work, let’s try that. But it wasn’t. It was putting blood on the door for something not yet experienced. Our salvation is a lot like that. We don’t know what hell is. We don’t know really what Christ did on the cross as He hung there in darkness. We might have a little bit of a feeling of it but I would imagine our ideas of hell are so far removed from the reality of God’s holiness and His wrath that we just clasp our mouth in awe if we ever got even close to that kind of stuff. He keeps all that off to the side. He says you trust my Son’s atonement and I’ll take care of the rest.
And the second place was when they were surrounded by Pharaoh’s army with their wives and their children. Here they had gone out there, they thought they had freedom and now here comes Pharaoh, the most powerful armed force on earth. The Egyptian chariot force was analogous to today’s military to an armored mechanized infantry group because mechanized infantry combines the best of infantry and armor. That’s why it’s called mechanized infantry. And they use it because the armor gives the shock and it gives the speed. One of the things that modern battle has done, this why we got in trouble at desert storm, was it is so fast. One man who got the honor, I forgot who he was, he was who was a tank commander, a Captain, got one of the chief awards in Desert Storm because he was leading a tank platoon. I think he only had three tanks, and they were going at night, and they came across this ridgeline and in his night vision all of a sudden he saw about six or seven Iraqi tanks sitting there. Thankfully, the Iraqi tanks were set in the sand, they weren’t mobile. His tanks were. In five minutes, less than five minutes, that Captain instructed his tank platoon on targeting which tanks to take out. They successfully destroyed all the tanks and the battle was done, and they started to capture soldiers. It was all over in less than five minutes. [blank spot]
So here they come and you’ve got an infantry standing here unarmed, and then Moses comes to you and says, now what I want you to do is not swim, I want you to stand still, because today you are going to see the salvation of the Lord. Whether you are going to trust the Lord for something like that? And that was one of the great faiths. So, from beginning to end, this Exodus event that we’re studying is a series of “by faith” steps. And we want to remember that. It’s glorious, it’s grandeur, but if you were in the event, you would have to have exercised faith at point after point.
We want to come now to some of the doctrinal outflows of the Exodus on page 54. We go back to a thing that we studied with the Noahic flood. That is the way God judges and how salvation and judgment always occurred together. You remember with the flood we went through this, that God in His judgment always has a salvation. You can’t have one without the other. You can see it in Romans 6, the flesh is crucified. To be saved, there has to be judgment. I take in these set of notes the five great truths that we learned back with the flood. We take those same five characteristics because they show up again and again. But one of those truths we are going to expand because now the Exodus is one step beyond Abraham and now we begin to see God has adding some material to the picture. In the grace before judgment, I think we have made the point, in the first paragraph there, I quote Exodus: 8:19.
Remember we mentioned how when the plagues happened at first, the magicians were able to do what? The demonic magicians were able to simulate all of the genuine miracles, until the frogs or something happened and they couldn’t do that one. Those demonic infested priests and all their satanic blindness, recognized something Pharaoh didn’t even recognize and that marvelous quote, those, they say were “the finger of God.” Pharaoh, you better listen! This guy’s got the goods. Pharaoh didn’t listen. Then in Exodus 9 you see a progress. One is a quotation from Exodus 8. The next quote is from Exodus 9. There’s been progress and by chapter 9 there were Egyptians who feared the word of the Lord.
During this period of grace, even in the middle of all these plagues, God was giving a chance for repentance. That God is a gracious God and there’s always grace before His judgment. He’s always gracious, gracious, gracious, gracious, gracious. He doesn’t lower the boom right away, if he lowered the boom right away, we would not be here. He puts up with us, trying to woo us to Himself, to a voluntary submission before He breaks every knee, to forcibly have everyone bow to His Son.
The second characteristic that we saw back in the flood was the perfect discrimination that God does. In the last paragraph on page 54 I give you the verses; we covered those, where in the plague of insects, the plague of pestilence, of hail, of darkness and of death of the first born, there is not just a statistical approximation, there is an exact separation that goes on between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The ability of God to control His wrath, all of this power, power we can’t even imagine, all of this hatred for sin that we can’t even imagine when it is deployed, it is deployed with surgical precision. Perfect discrimination!
Finally, in Exodus 11:7, I quote that verse on the bottom of page 54. That’s the textual summary of all those plague events. If this were a class in Exodus, we would be diagramming it all; that would be one of the essential verses because that verse summarizes all the other chapters leading up to that verse. The Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel; another feature, every time God judges.
The third item on page 55 is the “Appropriation by faith.” We just got through covering that. When God works because He works with justification and election, He cuts out anything that we can do. And if he cuts out what we can do, then we can only receive it, and we receive it by faith. So salvation scripturally is always by faith, never has been by works. Even in the Old Testament, it was not by works. That was a misinterpretation of the Old Testament by the Pharisees. So faith was always exercised throughout the event.
Finally, into the fourth point we mention, that “Man and Nature are involved.” Clearly, surface water of the Egyptian lakes, the Nile, the Red Sea, animal life was involved, meteorological extra-terrestrial elements were involved, death itself was involved, physical death. When God judges, He also judges physically. What evidence do you have or from the four Gospels that show even in the strange few hours when Jesus Christ bore the sins of the world, doing this mysterious wondrous work that we can’t comprehend, what physical evidence went on simultaneously during those three hours to show there was a disturbance in the light, in the electromagnetic spectrum around Him hanging on that cross. There was a physical disturbance. It was so pronounced that it was called darkness. Whatever it was? I have often wondered how far it extended. I have often sought for some evidence, textually in other writings, to see if anyone observed this or whether it was localized to that area around the cross. But there was enough of a physical disruption in the continuity of the physical universe that when this atonement was going on, it bothered nature.
So whenever God judges, nature is involved. What evidence do we have in our own salvation? Our salvation isn’t going to be complete until out bodies are resurrected, so these bodies go away. Thankfully! We have a resurrection body to replace it, and all the health insurance companies will go bankrupt. That will be a grand and glorious day, but salvation isn’t finished until we receive the resurrection body. The salvation in the Scriptures is not just psychological, it’s not just spiritual, it’s also physical and you want to keep this in mind as you go through this text.
Then we come to the one way of salvation and that leads us to the fact that when God saves, He didn’t have five arks for Noah, He had one ark for Noah. He didn’t have a cafeteria of options, difference styles of design. I think Noah’s style of design wasn’t right said some of the pagans so they designed their own arks and floated them around too. There was only one design because only one design would work and only one design would reveal what God wanted to reveal in it.
We come now to this strange thing that offends people about the Old Testament. Usually if you talk to somebody and they see you reading the Bible, they say, ooh, that’s slaughterhouse religion, I don’t like that, the Bible is a bloody mess. It is a bloody mess. During the times of the great sacrifices in Solomon’s temple the blood must have flowed by gallons, all over the place. Flies all over the place, it was a dirty mess, grotesque by our standards. So we don’t deny that this is messy. The problem is why is it messy? So we want to look at atonement and then we are going to look at some of these things about atonement.
Turn to Genesis 2:17, all the way back to creation. While we are in Genesis 2, before we get to verse 17, take a look quickly at verse 7. That’s the picture of the construction of the first human being, and in that picture you have the body created, then you have the spirit breathed in, and that produces soul or nephesh. Soul comes from the Greek word, psuchos, and nephesh is the Hebrew, both mean the same thing and usually it is translated by most translations as “life.” So you have these two components, the physical and the spiritual. God says in verse 17 that you’re going to die. Of course we know from the rest of the Bible that it’s death in both realms. So the question now is, how do we get living again? The atonement is the only method that the human race has to deal with death, because God’s justice is restitutionary in nature.
You’ll see this expression when we get into the law. Life for life, that whatever pays, it must be of equal value and the heart of God’s justice is a restitution in order to restore. Therefore, if the sinner has lost his life, he is minus life, and there’s the dilemma. If I’ve lost my life through death, then I no longer have the assets to atone. So if a life has been lost, I can’t self-atone. We have a minus on both sides here because this is my life, I’ve sinned and I’ve died so I’ve lost my life and I don’t have life to give for my life because I have lost it here and I don’t have it here. Therefore, the atonement is by nature, substitutionary, there’s got to be another life coming from somewhere into this equation to make it work. And that’s the heart of the blood atonement. The idea there is that it’s inherently substitutionary.
That’s why on page 56, “The idea of atonement involves halting this death-curse after sin has occurred. Atonement, in order to be effective, must involve substituting another life—not under the death curse—for that of the sinner and transferring the sinner’s guilt to the credit (imputation) of the sinless substitute. Thus completely useless is the pagan notion of atoning for one’s own sin by one’s own good works or punishment. The sinner has no live to offer in his own behalf! That’s the problem. In primitive tribes, there are versions of blood atonement, animals are sacrificed. Some of these witch groups around Hartford County, every once in a while they find some dog that’s been mutilated or something. This fascination with blood, do you know where it comes from? Because deep down in our hearts, we know very well blood has something to do with this. The demonic tries to falsify that urge; Western men try to suppress the urge, but both are wrong. There is an inner nature, an awareness that blood must be shed. Think of it for a minute, every religion that you know, outside of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, name one that deals with a blood issue. Who has an atonement? Now some of the spiritists go out and sacrifice animals, but that really is a faint memory of the truth.
Here in the Genesis we have the curse. In Genesis chapter 3 after the curse, you have the first sacrifice, Genesis 3:21; there is the first atonement in history. Not much is mentioned, but God had to get those skins from something. With all due respect to the humane society, the first animal ever killed was killed by God. Not to be down on animals, by the way, because they are creatures made for us and we need to take care of them. But God killed the first animal and He did it because we sinned. So we caused, ultimately, the death of the first animal because we sinned. And this theme continues, and I quote various verses on it, I won’t belabor the point, but this idea that blood is necessary for atonement means that during this period of history, where this can happen, because this is bounded, there is going to come a day in history when it’s all over, when repentance is impossible, when the good and the evil have been fixed. That’s why the Book of Revelation ends the way it does. Let him who sins, sin always basically is what it’s saying, and let him who is righteous, remain righteous, always. By that time evil and good had been separated and now there’s an impenetrable barrier between them. But during our time in history, during the day of grace, there’s time for repentance, there’s time for crossing over, there’s time for change and during this time, that’s when the blood of atonement works.
Turn to 1 Corinthians and you will see a mysterious thing about the resurrection body yet to come. In 1 Corinthians 15, which is the central New Testament passage on resurrection, a statement is made by Paul about the nature of this coming body. He says, [verse 50] “now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” And he describes this and that and so forth. But if you read down through that passage and you read about Jesus’ resurrection, body and you discover the interesting fact that the resurrection body has flesh and bone. Don’t think of the resurrection body as plastic, or some sort of titanium, some sort of material. It has flesh and bone because when Jesus walked around in His resurrection body, He looked like a normal person. It has flesh and bone but there is never a mention of blood. It seems that the blood is gone; it’s fixed, it can’t be destroyed, it’s immortal and it can’t be atoned for, the Day of Atonement is over, the day of grace is finished.
What we want to see as we come to the Exodus of this event in this doctrine of judgment and salvation plays up the blood more than back with Noah. With Noah, we got the big idea, now we add to it this blood atonement on the door. And of course, it doesn’t take too much of a Christian imagination to imagine the door. You walk through the door, it’s got a doorsill, and it’s got two sides and a top. And if I put blood on this side, this side, and this side, and you connect them with lines, you’ve got the cross. Kind of interesting, but the blood atonement opens up for us a whole new area of doctrine and we want to next time we want to look at those three great words for salvation in the Bible. Each one of them has its own little specialized meaning. We are going to look at the word redemption, the word propitiation and the word reconciliation. If you have limited time, if you will just read Exodus 19 and 20 to get started on the Mosaic Law.
Someone handed me after the class or pointed out to me last week when we were talking about the Exodus and why you have to believe in a supernatural Exodus and you get in trouble when you don’t because sooner or later the ability to fit the Scriptures to secular history gets you in trouble. Here is a good example of it. This is the U.S. News and World Report for May, 1995, the one that has the Pharaoh on the cover. And they discovered a lot of tombs in Egypt and of course, one of the tombs that they are concerned with is who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Well, on a liberal basis, the Pharaoh would be Rameses. This is the one, you know, Easter now you’ll see Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments and Yul Brynner plays Rameses in that film and that is because Cecil B. DeMille was a liberal Jew and he believed that his construction of history forced an Exodus that would be in the 1200s. You cannot get the Exodus to be in the 1200s biblically, it’s got to be 1440 so you make it 1440 and it can’t be Rameses as the Pharaoh. Remember I took you through the dramatic dimensions of the Exodus and showed how the Exodus was supernatural and repeatedly in the text it said that it never had a thing happen like this before and never will it happen again, trying to show you the dimension of that.
And then although the text doesn’t say it, it basically argues that Pharaoh led his army after the Jews, into the Red Sea and it says that the army was destroyed. Pharaoh is never mentioned again and so you would infer that Pharaoh was killed. Of course, if you don’t accept the text like that and you are trying to oonch it into secular chronology, you want to keep Pharaoh alive, because all the Pharaohs lived. Well, it’s ironic and I had forgotten this when I was telling this, here is the mummy of Rameses and by bone tests that they have done on this mummy, the guy was ninety when he died. So obviously, Pharaoh Rameses can’t be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The Pharaoh of the Exodus lost his life, and the Pharaohs led their armies, like we said, they were the guys that were the point people then, they weren’t the guys behind the lines that said, yeah, go get them. They were out there with the front line troops. So there’s an example of why we want to be careful and why we really don’t, as Christians, I don’t think we have good control of ancient history and I don’t think we have to be intimated by it, but we really don’t know what’s going on in ancient history that well, if the Bible is correct what we learn in the university and what we read in the books is not really kosher stuff, something’s wrong with it.
Question asked: Clough replies: The Gospel of John, I use this expression but I don’t mean it in a secular way, the Gospel of John plays with our minds in a way that the other Gospels don’t. For example, John starts his gospel by saying “We beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And all of these little events that he isolates to write in his gospel are so loaded, they’re literally true but they’re true in a profoundly deep way. But you know, there’s one famous thing that happened in Jesus’ life that John doesn’t tell us, and all the other gospel writers do tell us, and that’s the event on the Mount of Transfiguration. When Jesus was on the mountain, Mark mentions it, Luke mentions it, Matthew mentions it, that they stood transfixed as Jesus suddenly His deity began to shine forth, and then just as quickly as it happened it disappeared and He was back to normal.
It’s interesting that John doesn’t record that. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it just means that when John selected his material, remember he wrote after the other guys, the other guys had all different perspectives of Jesus, all were true, but they were all looking for different things, and the human nature of the writer of the Scripture comes out, because John probably was the youngest guy, he was probably a teenager when Jesus was doing his ministry, probably one of the younger people, a young man maybe in his early 20s, and he had a whole lifetime of reflection. And he must have thought to himself as he wrote the gospel, what do I want to do in my gospel that Matthew hasn’t done in his, that Luke hasn’t done in his, that Peter, Mark haven’t done in theirs. And it seems that what must have gone through his mind is the Holy Spirit gave him such a depth perception of Jesus that he took ordinary events and rather than describe the Mount of Transfiguration, which would have argued that you saw His glory only now and then, what John did is he took event after event after event after event to show that you saw His glory all the time, but you had to look for it. Just that little absence of the Mount of Transfiguration is a powerful pointer to the fact that John saw Jesus’ glory all the time. This is not to demean Matthew, Mark, Luke; it’s just to simply say that they had other things on their mind in their portraits of Jesus. But not John, John gives us the most intimate portrait of Jesus, the real heart of Jesus. John was given the grace to peer into Jesus’ heart to the point where he saw His deity, in case after case after case. And these little Egw eimi’s (ego eimi’s), now you wonder why the other guys didn’t report that, like that incident in the Garden of Gethsemane, you’d think that would be memorable, here these guys, probably armed, and then they’re falling all over themselves because He just said
Egw eimi (ego eimi), maybe they didn’t get a good view, maybe they were back off somewhere, they’d just woken up and weren’t too alert, and maybe to them it looked like the guys fell down, they didn’t quite catch the glimpse, it must have happened just a little fraction of a second, there must have been something, whether it was a flash of light, whether it was just a shockwave that out from Him, but something happened, something physical happened that forced these people down to the ground. But again, it’s just the wonder of the Word of God to see that it’s always God-inspired, everywhere you go in it the footprints of God are throughout it. I don’t know now anybody could say these are the works of men, they just haven’t read the Bible very carefully.