Afternoon Sermon: Who Should Receive The Lord’s Supper And How?, Baptist Catechism 103 & 104, 1 Corinthians 5:1-8

Baptist Catechism 103 & 104

Q. 103 Who are the proper subjects of this ordinance?

A. They who have been baptized upon a personal profession of their faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance from dead works. (Acts 2:41,42)

Q. 104. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?

A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves, of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body; of their faith to feed upon Him; of their repentance, love, and new obedience: lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves. (1 Cor. 11:27-31; 1 Cor. 5:8; 2 Cor. 13:5)

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 5:1-8

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:1-8, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

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Q. 103 Who are the proper subjects of this ordinance?

A. They who have been baptized upon a personal profession of their faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance from dead works. (Acts 2:41,42)

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV).

The Lord’s Supper falls under the category of “ teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” It is to follow baptism, therefore. 

Baptism marks the beginning. The Lord’s Supper signifies the continuing. 

Baptism may be compared to a wedding. The Lord’s Supper may be compared to an anniversary dinner.

In baptism, we say, “I believe”, and “Jesus is Lord”. In the Lord’s Supper, we say “I still believe”, and “Jesus is still Lord”.  

In baptism, God says, “this one is mine”. In the Lord’s Supper, God says, “I am ever faithful and with you still.” 

Q. 104. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?

A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s Supper that they examine themselves:

One, of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body 

Two, of their faith to feed upon Him…

Three, of their repentance, love, and new obedience…

 lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

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Conclusion

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: Who Should Receive The Lord’s Supper And How?, Baptist Catechism 103 & 104, 1 Corinthians 5:1-8

Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:28-7:13; The Righteous Kept Through Judgment

New Testament Reading: 2 Peter 2:1–11

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.” (2 Peter 2:1–11, ESV)

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Old Testament Reading: Exodus 6:28-7:13

“On the day when the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, the LORD said to Moses, ‘I am the LORD; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.’ But Moses said to the LORD, ‘Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?’ And the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.’ Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the LORD commanded them. Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh. Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’’ So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” (Exodus 6:28–7:13, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

The passage that is before us today functions as an introduction to the story of the ten plagues. 

In verses 8 through 13 Moses and Aaron work an introductory miracle before Pharaoh by casting Aaron’s staff before him so that it would turn into a serpent and then back again. This introductory sign is significant, and we will consider it shortly. But we must also pay careful attention to what God said to Moses and Aaron in verses 1 through 7, for the words of God to help us to understand what he was demonstrating through the outpouring of the ten plagues.

So then, you can see that this passage is divided into two parts: One, the record of God’s word to Moses in verses 1 through 7. And two, the record of the first miracle performed by Moses and Aaron before Pharoah in verses 8 through 13. 

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God’s Word To Moses and Aaron

First, let us consider God’s word to Moses. 

To do this we should pick up in verse 28 of chapter 6 where we read, “On the day when the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, the LORD said to Moses, ‘I am the LORD; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.’ But Moses said to the LORD, ‘Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?’” 

I am the LORD

I am uncircumcised lips

In verses 1 and 2 of chapter 7, we find God’s response to Moses: “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land’” (Exodus 7:1–2, ESV).

So here was the arrangement: God would speak to Moses, and Moses would speak to Pharoah through Aaron. The Hebrew actual says, “I have made you God to Pharaoh”, not “I have made you like God”. Clearly, the meaning is that Moses was God’s representative. Moses spoke with divine authority and Aaron functioned as his intermediary. 

One very important thing to remember is that Egyptians considered their Pharaohs to be divine. They were thought to be incarnations of the gods. I think you can see that what we have here is a showdown. God is about to put Pharoah in his place. And he is going to use two very insignificant men (worldly speaking) to do it. Moses the exiled shepherd, and Aaron the Hebrew slave were used by God to Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, to open shame. 

In verses 3 through 4 God makes two commitments. The first concerns Pharoah, the second concerns Egypt. One, he says “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you.” So here is that theme again which we have considered in previous sermons. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Two, God said, “Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment” (Exodus 7:3–4, ESV).

Let us carefully consider the second of these two “I will” statements. When God said, “I will lay my hand on Egypt”, he did not mean to bless, but to judge. The context is very clear about that. God judged Pharoah, and he also judged Egypt in the Exodus. Secondly, “God promised to bring [his] hosts, [his] people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.” So this second “I will” statement really consists of two commitments: God’s commitment to judge Egypt, and to bring Israel out. 

The title of today’s sermon is, “The Righteous Kept Through Judgment”. I think that is an accurate description of what God accomplished in the Exodus event. He poured out judgment on the wicked idolaters, but he kept his people. He protected them, preserved them, brought them out of bondage to lead them towards the promised land. One of the things we will see as the Exodus story unfolds is that God knows how to do this. He is able to pour out wrath on the ungodly while preserving his own.  

Peter drew attention to this reality in that passage we read just a moment ago. In 2 Peter 2 we are reminded of how God preserved Noah and his family while judging the world with a flood, and how he preserved Lot and his family while pouring out his judgments on Sodom and Gomorrah. And after reminding us of these historical events, Peter concludes, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…” And I would argue that this is a major theme in Exodus too. Here God speaks to Moses and promises to simultaneously judge the Egyptians and to keep the Hebrews. Again, he would “lay [his] hand on Egypt and bring [his] hosts [army], [his] people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment” (Exodus 7:3–4, ESV). I’m wanting you to see that this is kind of a big theme in the Exodus story, and it is kind of a big theme in the overarching story of redemption that is told in scripture. Peter knew this. And that is why he said, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…” 

This should matter greatly to us, for we, like Noah, Lot, and the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, sojourn in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation” (to use Paul’s language from Philippians 2:15). We must know for certain, therefore, that God is able to simultaneously judge the wicked and to keep the righteous. He knows who are his, and he is able to preserve even while he pours out his wrath. 

This should matter greatly to us always, but especially in these days when we sense that the wickedness around us is so very great. You can sense it, can’t you? Things aren’t right. So much is wrong in this nation and world. God sees it all, and he is able to judge with precision and to keep those who are his to bring them safely into the Promised Land. This should bring us great comfort and peace, brothers and sisters. 

In verse 5 we find these words: “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” This brings us back to a point that was made in previous sermons. The Exodus event was a demonstration of God’s power and supremacy over all things in heaven and on earth, yes, even the King of Egypt, and the so-called god’s of Egypt. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD”, God said. 

Verses 6 and 7 tell us about Moses and Aaron’s obedience. “Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the LORD commanded them. Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.” 

Notice this about Moses and Aaron. Though they had their doubts, their shortcomings, and their failures, they were obedient. They are to be commended for this. But we must also acknowledge that they were obedient by the grace of God. God was very patient with Moses, wasn’t he? He put up with Moses’ lack of faith and he reassured him over and over again that he was LORD, and that he would surely do all that he had promised. Lord’s may we be faithful like Moses. Be gracious to us as you were to him, we pray. 

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Moses and Aaron’s First Sign

We come now to the second half of our text for today wherein we learn of the first sign that Moses and Aaron worked be for Pharoah. Signs demonstrate things. Soon we will hear about the ten signs that God worked in Egypt which we commonly call the ten plagues. But here we learn of an initial sign. 

Verse 8: “Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent’” (Exodus 7:8–9, ESV). 

Evidently, it was Pharaoh’s custom to request that miracles be performed before his eyes in order to prove that things were true. Soon we will learn about the wise men and sorcerers of Egypt. Evidently, these had learned how to comply with Pharaoh’s demands by working  “miracles” for him. As the narrative unfolds they will be exposed as frauds, charlatans, tricksters, and not real miracle workers. But the wonders performed by Moses and Aaron would be undeniably the works of God. The magicians of Egypt will admit it themselves after the third plague, saying, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said” (Exodus 8:19, ESV).

So here is what Moses and Aaron were to do when the Pharaoh requested a miracle: Moses was to say to Aaron, “‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent” (Exodus 7:9–10, ESV).

What is the meaning of this sign?

The staff is a symbol of authority, it is a tool in the hand of is owner, it is a common thing.

The serpent was a symbol of Pharaoh himself. 

When the staff (a symbol of authority, a tool in the hand of is owner, a common thing) was transformed into a serpent (and then taken up again), it signified that the LORD had authority over Pharoah, that Pharaoh was a tool in the hand of his Maker, and that he was a common thing, and not in fact divine as he claimed. In other words, the LORD was the one who brought Pharaoh into existence and exercised authority over him in life and in death. 

Pharaoh could not allow this sign to stand unanswered, so he “summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents…” (Exodus 7:11–12, ESV). That this was mere trickery and not a true miracle is proven by the next statement, “But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs” (Exodus 7:11–12, ESV). And to this, the magicians of Egypt had no answer. In other words, it is not hard to imagine that the magicians of Egypt were able to produce the illusion of staffs turning to snakes, but they could not duplicate the miracle of Aaron’s staff (snake) swallowing theirs. 

This passage concludes with the words, “Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said” (Exodus 7:13, ESV).

Signs and wonders have this effect on people in the scriptures, they convince some, and they harden others. We see this is in the ministry of Christ too. He worked signs and wonders before the people to demonstrate that he was from God, and that he was the Christ, just as he claimed. The elect of God were softened by these signs, convinced and drawn to saving faith. But many were hardened. And their hearts grew progressively harder as they denied one sign after the next, some even coming to the place of attributing the work of Christ to Satan. They could not deny that miracles were being performed before their eyes, but neither could they bring themselves to admit that this Jesus was the Messiah, so they claimed that he worked by the power of the Evil One.

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Reflections

I would like to conclude today by offering two reflections on this passage. 

One, I wish to return to the point that God is able to keep his people while pouring out his just judgments upon the wicked in this world. As I have said, he demonstrated this in the days of Noah, Abraham, and Moses. And Peter was concerned to remind New Covenant Christians of this reality. Why? Because we, the New Covenant people of God, are sojourners too living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Or to state it differently, God’s people today do not live in a land of their own but are foreigners, spiritually speaking. This is not our home. We are exiles and aliens, spiritually speaking. And the nations in which Christians live today are all wicked, to one degree or another.

Our situation is comparable, not to Israel in the promised land after the conquest (Israel ceased to sojourn when they came into the land to possess it), but to Noah as he lived amongst the idolaters, to Abraham as he sojourned amongst the pagans, to Lot as he dwelt in the midst of the perverse, and to Israel in Egyptian captivity. All of these lands were liable to God’s judgment, and God’s people were there interspersed. This is our situation. And I am saying that God is able to simultaneously judge the wicked and to keep the godly. By this, I do not mean that the godly will never suffer. No, I say they will be kept. They will be kept from falling, and they will be kept for all eternity, but the wicked will be judged, for God knows who are his, and he is able to keep them. 

These truths should always comfort God’s people, but especially in times of trouble. And these are times of trouble, aren’t they? These days are not characterized by physical war, but it seems that there is a war of another kind raging. It is an invisible war, an ideological war, a technological war. And it seems to me that this world, and this nation, is cruisin for a bruisin. Right is called wrong, and wrong is called right. Corruption and injustice are running rampant. The strong are oppressing the weak. 

With the exception of the technology, none of this is new. This is the story of humanity. And I am saying that God knows how to deal with this. He knows how to keep his people while pouring out his judgements on the wicked. We need to hang tight to Christ, brothers and sisters, and trust in our Sovereign King. 

Two, I wish to reflect for a moment on our eschatology (our doctrine concerning last things). And I wish to connect it to what we are seeing in Exodus and also what we are seeing in the world today. Do you remember our study through the book of Revelation, brothers and sisters?  Do you remember what I taught you concerning the proper interpretation of that book? I firmly rejected the interpretation that is so common today, which is to interpret the book literalistically, and as if it pertains only to the future. Instead, I taught you that the book is meant to be interpreted symbolically (if that isn’t obvious, I don’t know what is), and idealistically. In other words, the book of Revelation does not only have to do with the future (yes, some events described in the book are future events only), but for the most part it describes to us how life will be on earth for the people of God always and until Christ returns. We noticed that Revelation is not organized chronologically, but that it recapitulates. It tells the same story over and over again, but from different camera angles, if you will. I’m here trying to summarize many sermons in one brief statement, but I think it is pertinent. 

These pretribulational, premillennialists preachers — and there are many of them today — what do they say when times get tough? It’s the same thing over and over again. These are the last days! The end is near! Here is THE Antichrist. This is THE mark of the beast, etc., etc.  You would think that people would catch on. These men are frauds. And that they are frauds is proven by the fact that they are wrong time and time again. Their error is not in seeing that these forces are at play in the world today, but in claiming that they are able to know the Lord’s will concerning the time of the end. The scriptures explicitly warn against doing this, and yet they do it! Their error is not in seeing that antichrist is present in the world today, but in saying this is THE one. The same may be said regarding the mark of the beast. It is not a literal mark, brothers and sisters, but signifies one’s allegiance either to Christ and his kingdom, or to the Evil One and his. When these pretribulational, premillennialists preachers say “these are the last days”, they forget that the Christ and his Apostles were saying the same thing 2,000 years ago. And what did they mean by it? They meant that this is the last era of human history before Christ returns to make all things new, for there is nothing left to be accomplished except the final judgement and the consummation of Christ’s Kingdom. No distinct time of tribulation, and certainly no distinct future millennium awaits us. In other words, yes, these are the last days. We have been in them ever since Christ rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, and we will be in them until Christ returns. When will that be? The scriptures are so very clear… no one knows. 

So what should we think when we see powerful rulers oppress God’s people and oppose all that is good? What should we think when false prophets arise and seem to prevail? What should we think when we hear of wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines (not to mention blood moons)?  Should we lose our minds and say, the end is certainly near? No, we must see these things as more of the same. The people of God have experienced them ever since Christ ascended. Indeed, they have been experiencing trials, tribulations, and persecutions from the time of Adam’s fall into sin and the first utterance of the gospel. 

I wonder if you remember that Revelation is filled with imagery drawn from the Old Testament in general, and the book of Exodus in particular. Think especially of the dragon of Revelation 12 who pursued the pregnant woman into the wilderness and attempted to consume her and the child with a flood of water imitating from its mouth, but the earth opened to swallow the water to deliver the woman and child. That’s Exodus imagery, brothers and sisters. Those are Exodus themes. And so my point is this: the book of Revelation helps us to see that the kinds of things experienced by the Hebrews in Egypt under Pharaoh will be experienced by the people of God until the Lord returns. 

The Pharaohs themselves were a type of antichrist.  They opposed the Christ before he was born as they attempted to exterminate the Hebrews who were entrusted with the promises of God, and from whom the Messiah would emerge. The whole course of human history is marked by this theme on to this present day. But what are learning? The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” He proved it at the time of the Exodus.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 6:28-7:13, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:28-7:13; The Righteous Kept Through Judgment

Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:13-27; They Were Priests

New Testament Reading: Matthew 1:1-2, 17

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers… [Verse 17] So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:1-2, 17, ESV)

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Old Testament Reading: Exodus 6:13-27

“But the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge about the people of Israel and about Pharaoh king of Egypt: to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. These are the heads of their fathers’ houses: the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi; these are the clans of Reuben. The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the clans of Simeon. These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, the years of the life of Levi being 137 years. The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, by their clans. The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, the years of the life of Kohath being 133 years. The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites according to their generations. Amram took as his wife Jochebed his father’s sister, and she bore him Aaron and Moses, the years of the life of Amram being 137 years. The sons of Izhar: Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. The sons of Uzziel: Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri. Aaron took as his wife Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. The sons of Korah: Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph; these are the clans of the Korahites. Eleazar, Aaron’s son, took as his wife one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites by their clans. These are the Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said: ‘Bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt by their hosts.’ It was they who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the people of Israel from Egypt, this Moses and this Aaron.” (Exodus 6:13–27, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

The genealogies of the Bible  are important. We learned that in our study of the book of Genesis. And they are important for many reasons. They are often used by Moses in his writings to mark divisions in the narrative. That was true in Genesis, and it is true here. We are about to learn all about the so-called plagues that God poured out upon the Egyptians through Moses. This genealogy helps us to transition from a focus on the birth, early life, and call of Moses to the act of deliverance that God worked for the Hebrews through him. This genealogy functions like a commercial break, if you will, but it is a meaningful break, as we will soon see. It helps us to process what has come before, and it helps to prepare us for what is to come in this great story.

Broadly speaking, the genealogies found in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the OT; the writings of Moses) should remind us of the promise of the gospel that was first declared in the hearing of Adam and Eve after the fall. In brief the promise was this: from Eve a Savior would eventually emerge (Genesis 3:15). But we were also informed that Satan would have his seed too. And in this world there would be perpetual hostility between the seed of the woman (God’s people), and the seed of the serpent. And concerning the seed of the women who would one day crush the serpent’s head, we learned that he would emerge from the Hebrew people. The first indication of this was found in Genesis 9 when Noah pronounced a special blessing on his son, Shem. And this message grew even more clear in Genesis 12 when Abram (Abraham) was set apart from the nations. God promised that from him a great nation would come. And from them, the Messiah would emerge to bless all the nations of the earth. 

So then, these genealogies that we find in the Pentateuch are not merely ancestral records. No, they all have something to do with God’s plan of salvation. They look back (in one way or another) to the promise of salvation first uttered in Genesis 3:15 — a Savior would come into the world, and he would come into the world through the woman, that is, through the process of procreation — The genealogies of the Bible are rooted in that promise —  and they look forward (in one way or another) to the Christ, the son of Adam, the son of Abraham, the son of David, the Son of God. 

The genealogy of Exodus 6:13-27 plays an important role in the Exodus story. Not only does it mark a transition in the narrative (as I have said), it also answers important questions concerning what we have already encountered, and sets the stage for stories we will encounter later. In particular, this genealogy answers questions regarding Moses and Aaron. Where did they come from, and what were their credentials? Furthermore, names are introduced to us in this genealogy of people who will become prominent in the Exodus story for good or for ill. Lastly, Christ is present in this genealogy.  So let us consider these three things: One, the genealogical history of Moses and Aaron. Two, the genealogical history of other significant figures in the Exodus story. And three, the presence of Christ in this genealogical record, not as a direct descendant of Levi, Moses, or Arron, but of others who are mentioned almost in passing.

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Moses and Aaron

First, we must consider the genealogical record of Moses and Aaron. And as we do we find that they were priests. This is significant. Moses was not only a prophet. He, like Aaron, descended from Levi, the priestly tribe of Israel.

This genealogy begins with Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Remember that it was Jacob that took his family down into Egypt when they were threatened by the famine. He went down into Egypt with his 11 sons and their families. Joseph was already there. So this is a genealogy of Jacob. He is called by his other name, Israel, in verse 14. There Ruben is called “the firstborn of Israel”, or the firstborn of Jacob. 

Clearly this is a very selective genealogy. Of Jacob (or Israel’s) twelve sons, only three are mentioned: Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. And when it comes to Reuben and Simeon, only their sons are mentioned. The genealogical record stops there: ​”the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi; these are the clans of Reuben. The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the clans of Simeon.” 

It is only the tribe of Levi that is amplified. Three of Levi’s sons are named: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Their sons are also listed. But everything comes to focus on Moses and Aaaron so that we might know where they came from. Moses and Aaron descended from Levi, from Kohath, and from Amram. We are told that “Amram took as his wife Jochebed his father’s sister”, that is to say, his aunt, which would be forbidden under the law of Moses. 

So then, you can see that this is a very incomplete and misshapen genealogical record. Only the first three of Jacob’s (Israel’s) sons are mentioned — it stops with Levi, and nothing is said of the other 9. And it is only the genealogy of Levi that is traced out. In other words, this doesn’t look like a nice, symmetrical, family tree when you diagram it out. Instead, it looks like an arrow which points in the direction of the Levitical and Aaronic priesthood.  

What are we to make of this, then? Was Moses sloppy? Did he forget to come back to this genealogical project to fill in the gaps before this book went to the publishers? No! He accomplished exactly what he set out to accomplish, and that was to highlight the priesthood. His aim was to publish his and Aaron’s credentials, as it were. They Levites. They were priests. This means that they were qualified to oversee and promote the worship of the God of Israel. 

Do not forget about the theme, brothers and sisters. Israel was redeemed to worship. Moses was to say to Pharaoh, let us go so that we might worship. In Israel, it was the priesthood that led the way. Both Moses and Aaron were priests. And they would be responsible to oversee the construction of the tabernacle, to give instructions concerning the worship of God, to oversee it, and to preserve it’s purity. 

Worship, worship, worship. The theme is already present in the Exodus narrative, but it will become the central theme in chapters 19 and following. Israel was redeemed to worship. Moses and Aaron, the great delivers of Israel, they were priests descended from Levi.

The implications of this are massive. You too have been redeemed to worship. You have been rescued from bondage, forgiven, and cleansed to worship God and to live for his glory. This is Paul so famously says in Romans 12. After describing what Christ has done for us to save us from our sins, he says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1–2, ESV). In other words, having been delivered, worship. Live now for the glory of God, not by sacrificing animals at the temple, but by presenting “your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. The worship of God, the glory of God, is central to this story, and that is why Moses demonstrated that he, and especially Aaron, were priests. They led Israel out of Egypt to worship. 

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Other Significant People

I have said that this genealogical record hones in upon Levi and then eventually Moses and Aaron, and that is true. But there are other significant people mentioned too. Again the genealogical record surrounding Moses and Aaron is very, very selective. This means that Moses was making a point. 

Another person highlighted in this genealogy is Korah. Korah was a cousin to Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron were born to Amram, and Koarah was born to Amram’s brother, Izhar. This means that Korah was also a Levite and a priest, therefore. 

Certainly there were many, many others who descended from Levi who are not mentioned. Why Korah? Well, that will become clear in Moses’ fourth book, the book of Numbers. In Numbers 16 we learn that Korah led an uprising against Moses and Aaron. In verse 1 we read, “Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, ‘You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?’” (Numbers 16:1–3, ESV). This didn’t turn out too well for Korah. To make a long story short, “the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us up!’ And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense” (Numbers 16:32–35, ESV). 

Korah’s rebellion, as it is called, was a big deal in Israel’s history. And Korah is highlighted alongside Aaron in this genealogical record, one, to prepare the reader for that story, and two, to set the stage for the contrast between true and false worship that will soon develop. Worship, worship, worship. This is a major theme. We have been redeemed to worship. But we are to worship, not according to the opinions of men, but rather, according to the word of God.  

There are two other black sheep mentioned in this genealogy, two of Aaron’s own sons, Nadab and Abihu. They served alongside their father in the tabernacle. But one day, they offered what Leviticus 10:1 calls “unauthorized fire before the LORD, which [the LORD] had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1, ESV). Things didn’t go so well for Nadab and Abihu either. Leviticus 10:2 says that “fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.”

So then, you can see what Moses was doing with this genealogy, can’t you? When we read it, we see a bunch of rather unfamiliar and hard to pronounce names. But when the people of Israel to whom Moses originally wrote read this genealogy, they would have immediately understood what Moses was drawing attention to. Worship, worship, worship — purity in worship. These stories regarding Koara, Nadan and Abihu will not be encountered until we read Numbers and Leviticus. The events themselves happened later in Israel history, after the Exodus from Egypt, in the wilderness, and after the tabernacle was built. But by mentioning these names here in the Exodus story, Moses reminded his audience of where all of this was heading. As I said, this is like a commercial break, but a meaningful one. The theme of worship is kept front and center, and so too is the importance of purity in worship. 

There is one last name that I wish to draw your attention to, and this is the name Phinehas. Phinehas is the last to be mentioned in this genealogy. In Exodus 6:25 we read, “Eleazar, Aaron’s son, took as his wife one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites by their clans” (Exodus 6:25, ESV). So Phinehas is the end of this genealogy. 

He was not a black sheep like the others, but is to be regarded as a priestly hero. In Numbers 25 we learn that Israel was consumed with idolatry and fornication. The wickedness was so great that God sent a plague upon the people. As the Moses, and others who feared the Lord wept, at the tent of meeting “one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel… “ to lie with her in one of the chambers at the temple. Can you imagine it?! In Numbers 25:7 we read,  “When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand” (Numbers 25:7–9, ESV). 

He was regarded as a hero. He did what a priest of Israel was called to do — they were to keep the temple pure. Psalm 106 reflects upon this event in Israel’s history when it says, “Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed. And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever.” (Psalm 106:30–31, ESV)

So then, the genealogy of Exodus 6 is very selective. And if we pay attention to the men highlighted  — especially Aaron, Korah, Nadab, Abihu, and Phinehas — we see that a story emerges. Big events in Israel’s history are embedded in these names. These names anticipate those events, and the people of Israel would have recognized that as they received this book from Moses’ hand.

Worship, worship, worship. Purity of worship. Flee from idolatry. Flee from immorality. Do not go the way of Aaaron in his weakness, of  Korah, Nadab and Abihu. Have the zeal and courage of Phinehas instead. That’s how we are to interpret this genealogical record.

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Christ

Now, I have one more observation concerning the names mentioned in this selective genealogy, and that is that Christ is present here. 

You might be tempted to say, well, how can that be? Christ did not descend from Ruben, Simeon, or Levi, but from Judah, and nothing is said of the line of Judah. Well, that is not entirely true. Though the line of Judah is not traced out here, two from the tribe of Judah are mentioned, and Jesus Christ did in fact descend from them. 

In brief, “Aaron took as his wife Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and the sister of Nahshon…” (Exodus 6:23, ESV). Amminadab and Nahshon were of the tribe of Judah. Aaron married a Judahite, therefore. And King David did descend from this Amminadab and Nahshon who are mentioned in this very selective genealogy. This means that Jesus did too.

In Matthew 1 we find the genealogy of Jesus, and in verses 4 through 5 we read, “and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king” (Matthew 1:4–6, ESV). And you know where this genealogy lands. It demonstrated that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the promised Messiah. 

Isn’t that marvelous to consider? Even though Jesus did not descend from Levi — he the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and a priest according to the order of Melchizedek — he is still present here in this genealogy through Aaaron’s marriage to “Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and the sister of Nahshon…” 

Redeemed to worship. That was true for ethnic Israel in an earthly sense. But it true for spiritual Israel on a whole other level. Redeemed to worship. Redeemed by Jesus the Messiah from the domain of darkness and transferred into his glorious and eternal kingdom so that we might worship God the Father through the Son in Spirit and in truth.  

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Reflections

One, if God has been faithful to bring the Christ into the world through many seemingly insurmountable challenges for the Hebrew people just as he promised, will he not also be faithful to bring the work of Christ to a completion? We must be confident that he is able no matter how dire things seem to be in the world.  

This concept may be applied on an individual level. God will be faithful to finish the work he has begun in you. He will bring you to completion in Christ, and bring you safely home. But here I am thinking in terms of his kingdom work. God promised an earthly kingdom to Abraham, and he was faithful to bring it into existence in the days of Moses, and later David. And he promised a heavenly kingdom to Abraham as well. This was the kingdom that Abraham looked forward to by faith. This kingdom was inaugurated in the days of Christ. And it will be this kingdom that God will being to a consummation in the new heavens and earth. So yes, I am drawing your attention to God’s faithfulness again. But in particular, I am drawing your attention to God’s faithfulness and his power to accomplish his purposes even through dire circumstances. 

Think of how impossible it must have seemed to the Hebrews that the promises made to Abraham would ever be fully fulfilled. They must have felt as if they were finished, as if the Egyptians were too strong, and as if their problems were truly insurmountable. And yet, God preserved them and worked powerfully amongst them to save them. We should be reminded of all that as we consider this little genealogy and trace it back to Adam and Abraham, and forward to David and Christ. God was faithful to bring his kingdom in to existence just as he promised. 

Two, connected to this, consider the weakness of the Hebrews. They were great in number. Hundreds of thousands would be led out of Egypt. But they could not be more weak politically, economically, and militaristically. They were thoroughly oppressed, beat down, and disheartened. They had no power, no might. And yet, consider what did for them. Consider what God did through them. As 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…” (1 Corinthians 1:27–28, ESV). This principal did not begin with Christ and his Apostles. It was established in the days of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and with Israel. This is how God works in the world, brothers and sisters — through the weak and insignificant ones. He uses the broken hearted and downtrodden ones. 

This is our heritage, brothers and sisters. We should not be surprised to see this same pattern in our day. And we must learn to think differently regarding power and weakness in the world. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul discusses how in Christ there is strength in weakness. And he concludes with these words, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV). This is backwards and upside down when compared to the thinking of the world, but this is how we must view power and weakness in Christ.

This very much pertains to what we are seeing in the world today, doesn’t it? There are forces for evil that seem so very big and powerful, and the forces for good and for God seem so small, weak and insignificant. But we must remember the saying,  if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).

Three, in closing I wish to draw your attention to this: though the Hebrews were terribly oppressed under the Egyptians, their family, cultural, and religious identity was maintained to some degree. This is made clear by the fact that genealogical records were kept. Distinctions between the tribes of Israel were maintained. Aaron and Moses knew they were Levites, and that this had significance pertaining to the worship of God in the days of the Exodus. 

It’s impossible to know to what degree this cultural identity was maintained, but here is the point I wish to make. Maintaining our familial, cultural, and religious ties will be key for us as the prevailing culture around us grows darker and ever more hostile to God, to Christ, and his kingdom. We must stick together, brothers and sisters. We must maintain our devotion to God, to the worship of God, and to the family of God in this present evil age.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 6:13-27, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:13-27; They Were Priests

Afternoon Sermon: What is the Lord’s Supper?, Baptist Catechism 102, 1 Corinthians 11:23–34

Baptist Catechism 101

Q. 102. What is the Lord’s Supper?

A. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ; wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to His appointment, His death is shown forth, and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace. (1 Cor. 11:23-26; 10:16)

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23–34

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–34, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

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The question, what is the Lord’s Supper? Has been somewhat controversial throughout the history of the church, and especially at the time of the Protestant Reformation. Over time, four views emerged concerning the substance of the bread and the wine. These four views each differ in their opinion concerning what Christ meant when he said, “this is my body”, and “this is my blood”. How are we to take that?

The Romanist view is called transubstantiation. It is the idea that when the priest blesses the elements they do actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus. The Reformers dismissed this as unbiblical, nonsensical, and superstitious. 

The Lutherans, following Luther, hold to a view called consubstantiation. The idea here is that the elements remain bread and wine, but that the real body and blood of Christ are present all around the element when they are blessed. 

Those following the Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, hold to what is known as the memorialist view. The idea here is that Christ is not present at all in or around the elements, but that the church is merely called to remember the work of Christ in the Supper. 

And finally, the Calvinists walk a middle road between the memorialists and the Lutherans by insisting that though Christ is not present bodily, he is present in a special way spiritually when the church assembles to observe the Supper. The Calvinist position agrees with Zwingli that the Supper is a memorial and that there is no real presence of Christ bodily. And the Calvinist position also agrees with the Lutherans,  that the Supper is more than a memorial, for Christ is present according to his divinity. We hold to the Calvinistic position here at Emmaus.  

When Christ said, “this is my body”, and “this is my blood”, it should be clear to all that he was not speaking in a literal way, but rather meant, this signifies or represents my body and blood. That would have been the natural way for the disciples to take it, for they sat with him and watched him hold the bread and cup with his hands. They could easily distinguish between the bread and his body, and the wine and his blood. Add to this the fact that Christ also said “this cup is the New Covenant in my blood”. Clearly, he meant that the cup represented the New Covenant with all of its promises and terms, just as the bread and cup represented his body and blood. The disciples must have known that he was speaking figuratively. 

And when Christ instituted the Supper he did call his disciples to remember him. “Do this in remembrance of me” he said. So the Supper is a memorial. It is a time for remembering and for giving thanks. 

But we say that it is also more than a memorial. The Supper is to be viewed as a means of grace through which God nourishes his people by the Spirit. That it is a means of grace is proven, in part, by the fact that to eat and drink in an unworthy manner results in judgment. That is what Paul clearly said in 1 Corinthians 11: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.” If the Supper were only a memorial — if it is true that Christ is not really present at all — then why the judgment? I think we must view the Supper as more than a memorial. Christ is present. The Supper is sacred, therefore, not because Christ is present bodily, but because he is present in his divinity and by the Spirit. The Supper is to be approached with reverence, therefore. 

This is what our catechism teaches. 

“The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament”, it says. True, the Lord’s Supper was instituted as Christ celebrated the last Passover with his disciples. But the Lord’s Supper is distinct from the Passover. It is a new thing, “an ordinance of the New Testament instituted by Jesus Christ.” So then, if we wish to know what the Lord’s Supper is and how it is to be observed, we must go to the New Testament scriptures and listen to the words of Christ and his Apostles. 

The word “wherein” indicates that we are about to learn what happens in the Supper. “[W]herein by giving and receiving bread and wine…” So these are the elements: bread and wine. 

And these elements are to be given and received, “according to [Christ’s] appointment”, that to say, in accordance with his instructions. 

When this is done faithfully, “[Christ’s] death is shown forth”. The breaking of the bread is a symbol of Christ’s broken body, and when the cup is presented, it is a symbol of Christ’s shed blood. We are reminded of the incarnation, of Christ’s sinlessness, of his substitutionary sacrifice. We also remember his resurrection, his ascension, and the hope of his eventual return. 

And those who receive the elements in a worthy manner are “made partakers of [Christ’s] body and blood”. Listen to 1 Corinthians 10:16 which is listed as a proof text in our catechism. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16, ESV). So there is a sense in which when we partake of the bread and cup we participate or have fellowship or communion with, Christ. Sounds like more than a memorial to me! 

But notice the qualifications that our catechism makes to help guard us against the errors of the Romanists and the Lutherans. “[W]orthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of His body and blood…” “Corporeal” means fleshly. “Carnal” means bodily. The point is clear, isn’t it? When believers partake of the Supper worthily and by faith, they feast on Christ, not in a fleshly way, but spiritually to the nourishment of the souls. They partake of Christ and receive “all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.”

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Conclusion

This is a wonderful summary of what the scriptures teach regarding  the Lord’s Supper. 

One, It should move us to never neglect the sacrament, but to partake each Lord’s Day, knowing that it is a means of grace. God nourishes his people through this ordinance. 

Two, it should move us to partake worthily. That is to say, by faith and with repentance.

Three, it should move the church, particularly the elders, to guard the table. Elders must warn Christians to come worthy, and warn the faithless to abstain, for here our union with Christ is signified and enjoyed. The Lord’s Supper is a sacred meal to be enjoyed by Christ’s church. It is not for the world.  

Q. 102. What is the Lord’s Supper?

A. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ; wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to His appointment, His death is shown forth, and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace. (1 Cor. 11:23-26; 10:16)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: What is the Lord’s Supper?, Baptist Catechism 102, 1 Corinthians 11:23–34

Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:1-13, He Who Promised Is Faithful

New Testament Reading: Hebrews 10:19–25

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19–25, ESV)

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Old Testament Reading: Exodus 6:1-12

“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’ God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’ Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.’ But Moses said to the LORD, ‘Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips? “But the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge about the people of Israel and about Pharaoh king of Egypt: to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 6:1-13, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

In the Exodus event, many things were accomplished. Most obviously, the Hebrews were set free from their burdens as God overpowered the Egyptians. But I have been trying to convince you that there is more to the story. Not only did God act in the Exodus, he also spoke. Not only did he redeem Israel, he also revealed himself more fully to them and to us than he had before. 

One thing I have tried to convince you of is that the Exodus was a picture of the redemption that Christ has accomplished. Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage to become a holy kingdom in the land of promise — all of that was earthly and temporary — but in Christ, we have been “delivered… from the domain of darkness and transferred…to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13, ESV) — this is spiritual, heavenly, and eternal. So then, the first Exodus accomplished through Moses was a picture of the second and greater Exodus accomplished by Christ. And that is what I mean when I say that the Exodus was not only a redemptive act, it was also an act of revelation. The Exodus revealed through types and shadows something about what would be accomplished later by the Messiah. 

I have also said that the Exodus revealed God’s just judgments and his mercy. In the Exodus, God poured out his wrath upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but he showed mercy to the Hebrews. So then, in this historic act, the glory of God was displayed. His power was shown. His judgments were administered for the whole world to see. And so too his mercy. He was kind to the Hebrews. He knew their suffering. He rescued them, not because they were worthy, but because he determined to set his favor upon them. In fact, this right of God to sovereignly administer his justice and mercy is central to the Exodus story. We have already encountered this theme, and it will emerge over and over again. It reaches its apex in Exodus 33 in that scene where  Moses spoke to the LORD on the mountain saying, “‘Please show me your glory.’ And [the LORD] said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy’” (Exodus 33:18–19, ESV). This right of God to show mercy and grace to whomever he wills is here attached to the name YHWH. This is what the Apostle Paul draws our attention to in that Romans 9 passage wherein he teaches about God’s right to show mercy to whomever he wills. The point I am making is that this doctrine regarding God’s absolute sovereignty over judgment and mercy was not merely taught in the Exodus, it was displayed! God demonstrated this right of his when hardened (act) of Pharaoh’s heart, in the just judgments that he poured out upon the Egyptians (act), and in the undeserved kindness shown to the Hebrews to deliver them from bondage and to lead them towards the Promised Land.     

This morning I wish to draw your attention to yet another truth about God revealed in the Exodus event: the LORD is faithful to keep his covenant promises. In the Hebrews 10 passage we read just a moment ago, we heard this exhortation: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful…” God is faithful. He keeps his covenant promises. There are many passages of scripture that teach this. But I am saying that the Exodus event was a demonstration of it. God did not merely say with words, “I am faithful”. No, in those days he said, “I am faithful” with action. 

As we transition now to our text for today, let us briefly recall how we got here. Moses and Arron went to Pharaoh just as God had commanded them to and they said what God commanded them to say: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1, ESV), but Pharaoh would not listen. Instead, he responded by placing an even heavier burden upon the already overwhelmed Hebrews. The Hebrews were crushed. And Moses was greatly discouraged too.“ Moses turned to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:22–23, ESV). The passage that we are considering today is the LORD’s response to Moses. It is very great. 

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The LORD Reiterated To Moses His Present Commitment (6:1)

First of all, we see that the LORD simply reiterated to Moses his present commitment to set the Hebrews free. Verse 1: “But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land” (Exodus 6:1, ESV).

The words, “now you shall see” are significant. They support what I was saying just a moment ago concerning the Exodus event being a demonstration of the power and glory of God. Everyone — Moses, the Hebrews, Pharaoh, the Egyptians, indeed, the whole world — would see God’s power displayed. 

The words, “for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land” refer to Pharaoh. Moses knew how strong Pharaoh was, but here God reassures Moses that Pharaoh’s strength was not a problem for him. God would actually move Pharaoh to drive the Hebrews out of the land even while retaining his political and military might. Those who know the Exodus story know that this is precisely what happened.  

Consider this: there was absolutely no way that Moses understood how this could be at this stage. The words, “for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land”, must have left Moses thinking, Ok, I hear you, LORD,  but I can’t comprehend how you will do it. Perhaps you have experienced something like this before. Perhaps you are experiencing it now. You look to the future and you just don’t see a way out. You don’t see any possible solutions to the problem you’re facing. Nevertheless, we must trust that God is faithful.    

Perhaps the most important thing to notice about verse 1 (and the verses that follow) is that God did not provide an answer to Moses’ questions. “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?” The LORD did not explain himself to Moses, but in essence said, wait, watch, and see. In other words, the LORD did not answer Moses in that moment with words; instead, he would answer Moses with the passing of time, and with action. 

Sometimes we never get answers to our “why?” questions. This is because there are some insights that belong to the LORD; they are not for us. This is what Moses says in Deuteronomy 29:29, where he writes, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, ESV). What is his point there? His point is that there are things that we will never have answers to. God’s plans and purposes are often mysterious. Sometimes the only thing we can say regarding this event or that is, God knows. But God has not left us entirely in the dark. He has revealed something of his plans and purposes, and he has given us his law. We are to be content with this. And we are to trust and obey.

*****

The LORD Reminded Moses Of His Past Covenant Promises (6:2-5)

After the LORD re-ups with Moses concerning his present commitment in verse 1, he then reminds Moses of his past covenant promises in verses 2-5. “God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant” (Exodus 6:2–5, ESV).

If you are thinking, this sounds familiar, there are two reasons. One, I did touch upon this text a little in a previous sermon. But more importantly, the book of Exodus is repetitive. This is not the first time that mention has been made of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and of the covenant that God made with them. Here the LORD reminds Moses of the promises that he made in the past. 

Moses needed to be reminded of the promises of God. And you and I need to be reminded of them too. Do not grow weary of hearing the same message over and over again, brothers and sisters. It is good for the people of God to hear the gospel over and over again so that our faith might be strengthened, and so that we might learn to apply the truths of the gospel more thoroughly to each and every circumstance of life. The gospel  — that is, the good news that Christ has accomplished salvation in fulfillment of the promises of God previously made, and that the forgiveness of sins and the hope of life everlasting is available through faith in him — should never grow old to us. We should long to hear it again and again so that we continue to believe. And as we contemplate the gospel, we must strive to order every aspect of our lives accordingly. The gospel of Jesus Christ is to shape our thoughts, emotions, appetites, and actions. Moses needed this reminder, for he was wavering. And you need to be reminded of the gospel of Jesus Christ each Lord’s Day through Word and sacrament. 

So let us carefully consider the reminder that Moses received. 

God spoke to him, saying, “I am the LORD.” This was not the first time they had met! So this is a reminder. Perhaps you will remember the passing observations that I made last Sunday: when Moses turned to the LORD in his despair he did not refer to him as YHWH, but called him Adonai, which simply means Lord or Master (5:22). Of course, it was not wrong for Moses to cry out to God by this name. But given the context, the choice of this name over YHWH is certainly significant. It would be us choose the title, God, over the name Father, in a time of crisis. Yes, God is God, but in times of difficulty, we should remember that he is Father. Similarly, God is Adonai. But Moses needed to remember that he is YHWH at this moment. So here, when the Lord says, “I am the YHWH”, it is a timely and fitting reminder.

The LORD continues, saying, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them” (Exodus 6:3, ESV). This is the verse that I touched upon in a previous sermon. It’s an important verse. Here God says that he did not make himself known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by his name YHWH. Instead, he  ​appeared to them as El Shaddai, that is, as God Almighty.

This is a perplexing statement because the name YHWH is found throughout the book of Genesis and is often on the lips of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Clearly, the name YHWH was known to them, for they addressed God with it. What then is meant by the words, ​​“I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them” (Exodus 6:3, ESV)?

As I have said before, I think the meaning is this: Though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew the name YHWH (it was on their lips), the full meaning or significance of the name was not revealed until it was given to Moses as God spoke to him out of that bush that was burning yet not consumed. As Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob addressed God as YHWH, they thought of him as El Shaddai, which means God Almighty. But as Moses, and all of God’s people after him, addressed God as YHWH, they were to think of him as the Great I AM, the self-existing, eternal, and unchanging God who not only makes covenant promises but also keeps them. That is what the name YHWH came to signify after God revealed the meaning of his name more fully out of the burning bush.

In fact, one thing we must recognize is that God revealed his name to Moses, not only out of the burning bush, but throughout the Exodus event. I’ve already made mention of that passage in Exodus 33 where Moses says to God, “‘Please show me your glory.’ And [the LORD] said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy’” (Exodus 33:18–19, ESV). So even there near the end of Exodus YHWH is still revealing his glory to Moses by way of his name. And here in this passage we see the same. The LORD is reminding Moses of his name and giving him even further insight into its meaning.

Perhaps another way to explain this would be to say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew YHWH as the covenant-making God, but Moses and the Hebrews would know YHWH as the covenant-keeping God. In other words, God made promises to Abraham, but in the days of Moses, those promises would be fulfilled. It is one thing to make promises; it is another to keep them. And those who keep their promises are rightly called faithful. In brief, this is what was revealed in the days of Moses through the Exodus event: YHWH is faithful. He is the covenant-making and the covenant-keeping God.   

Notice, this is precisely what God says to Moses in verses 4-5: “I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.”  In other words, I promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that I would give them Canaan; now I am going to keep that promise. 

I suppose this is, in a roundabout sort of way, an answer to Moses’ question, “Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:22–23, ESV). God’s answer was essentially this: Moses, this isn’t the end of the story. I promised these people Canaan, and I intend to follow through on my commitment. Moses, this isn’t the end of the story. If it were the end, then your complaint would be valid. But this isn’t the end. This is but one part of a long journey. Wait and see.   

And do you want to know something, brothers and sisters? This will be the answer to most, if not all, of our “why?” questions. Why this suffering, Lord? Why this trial? Why this tragedy? We must always remember that this isn’t the end of the story, but that God is presently working “all things… together for good” “for those who love God…”, “for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV). Or to quote Paul in another place, we must remember that these “light momentary affliction[s] [are] preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18, ESV).

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The LORD Reassured Moses Of His Future Faithfulness (6:6-8)

So then, we see that God responded to Moses’ doubt by, one, reiterating his present commitment, and two, reminding Moses of his past covenant promises. Now three, the LORD also reassured Moses that he would be faithful in the future. 

This is found in verse verses 6: “Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment…”

Here we find three “I will” statements” pertaining to the deliverance of the Hebrews. As I read them again, be thinking about the deliverance that Christ has accomplished for us. “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment…” I will, I will, I will… liberate you, rescue you, deliver you, from this slavery and harsh oppression.

In verse 7 we find two more “I will” statements, and these have to do with adoption. “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7, ESV). So then, God would rescue the Hebrews in order to have them as his special people, and to be unto them their God. This too should remind us of our salvation in Christ. We have been rescued from bondage to Satan, sin, and the fear of death to have God as our Father, and to be his beloved children by way of adoption. 

In verse 8 we find two more “I will” statements, bringing the total to seven, which is the number of perfection: “I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’” Here God reiterates his commitment to bring Israel into the promised land. This also mirrors our salvation in Christ. We have been delivered from the domain of darkness to have God as Father, and to be his beloved children. And we have this sure inheritance: the new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells. This is the true and everlasting Promised Land.  

These seven “I will” statements all had to do with the future. The LORD was insistent that he would be faithful to rescue Israel, to be their God, and to bring them safely into the land. 

Do you see how patient and kind God was with Moses? In fact, I almost went in this direction with this sermon. Instead of placing the emphasis upon God’s covenant faithfulness as I have done, I was tempted to put the emphasis on his tenderness, his mercy, and his patience with Moses. I think I put the emphasis on the right thing, for this passage is truly all about covenant faithfulness, but the LORD’s mercy is certainly on display. Moses was floundering. But God was patient and kind to remind him of past promises and to reassure him that he would certainly do all that he had said. 

Psalm 103 picks up on this theme when it says, “The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:6–8, ESV).

This mercy, grace, patience, and steadfast love will be extended to Israel as the narrative unfolds, but here it is shown first to Moses. The LORD was kind to minister to him in his weakness by reassuring him that he would be faithful to keep his promises. 

*****

Moses Ceased From Wavering, Trusting That He Who Promised Is Faithful (6:9-13)

This set Moses back on the right track. Though not perfectly so, Moses did at this moment cease from wavering, and began to trust again that he who promised was faithful. This is seen in verse 9 where we read, “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel…” He got back to his work as a prophet, in other words. “[B]ut they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9, ESV).

With the exception of Aaron, Moses stood all alone, and he felt very inadequate. Verse 10: “So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.’ But Moses said to the LORD, ‘Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?’” (Exodus 6:10–12, ESV). 

Notice that Moses has ceased questioning God’s plan. No longer is he asking, why have you done this? But he is still questioning his own abilities. Moses would need to learn to trust the LORD in all things, yes, even to overcome his own personal weakness and limitations.

And that does seem to be the point: Moses was weak. He highlights that fact again and again in the story he tells. He was knocked back on his heels by Pharaoh’s initial response. He floundered in the faith. He wavered. And he was continuously plagued by a sense of inadequacy. 

The phrase, “I am of uncircumcised lips”, is an interesting one. It will appear again in verse 30 of this chapter where we read, “But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?” (Exodus 6:30, ESV). By this Moses means that he is not skilled with his works. He doesn’t talk well. He’s not persuasive. This same insecurity came up when God first called him. In 4:10 “Moses said to the LORD, ‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue’” (Exodus 4:10, ESV). That is what is meant by the saying, “I am of uncircumcised lips”. But the word is “uncircumcised”. And I cannot help but think again of that story regarding the uncircumcision of Gershom, Moses’ son. There seems to be a theme. And the theme is that Moses was inadequate and unworthy. But God had determined to accomplish his purposes through him nonetheless.

Verse 13: “But the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge about the people of Israel and about Pharaoh king of Egypt: to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 6:13, ESV).

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Suggestions For Application And Conclusion

I’ve hinted at suggestions for application throughout this sermon today. Please allow me to conclude with three specific suggestions for application. 

One, I would exhort you, brothers and sisters, to grow in your understanding of the covenants that God has made with man. These covenants, which are “ [declarations] of God’s sovereign pleasure concerning the benefits he will bestow on [man], the communion they will have with him, and the way and means by which this will be enjoyed by them” (Coxe, A Discourse of the Covenant, 6. Spelling updated.), function as the backbone, if you will, of the story of redemption that is found in Holy Scripture. In other words, you will not understand the message of the Bible very well apart from an understanding of the covenants that God transacted with man. You should know about the covenants that God made with Adam, Abraham, and Christ. This will help you to understand what was going on in the days of Moses. And it will especially help you to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and what is required of you to partake of the blessing of the New Covenant which was ratified through his shed blood. We just completed a 21 lesson study on the Covenants in Sunday school. That study is archived on our website. It’s called “Covenant Theology: The Mystery Of Christ, His Covenant, And Kingdom”. I’d highly recommend it. Understanding the covenants will help you to understand why reference is being made again and again back to the covenant promises instructed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In brief, whatever God was doing with Israel in the days of Moses, it was rooted in the Abrhamic Covenant. When God rescued Israel from Egypt and sent them towards the land of promise, he was fulfilling promises previously made. And the same must be said of Christ. His person and work were in fulfilment to covenant  promises previously made.  So the first point of application is to encourage you to study. Study the covenants so that you might gain a better understanding of the story of redemption that is told in scripture. 

Two, when you are overwhelmed with life do not forget to reflect on God’s past promises, and his faithfulness to keep those promises in previous generations. YHWH has demonstrated his faithfulness. He promised to redeem Israel and to bring them into Canaan, and he did it. More than this, he promised to bring the Messiah into the world through Israel — one who would suffer, die, and rise again — and he did it. YHWH is faithful. He has demonstrated it. Not only has he demonstrated his faithfulness in these great promises fulfilled in great acts of redemption, he has also demonstrated his faithfulness in your personal past as well. God is ever faithful and true. Therefore, he is worthy of our trust.  

Three, do not neglect to reflect up the precious and very great promises that are ours in Christ through the New Covenant ratified in his blood. The children of Abraham were promised redemption from Egypt, that they would be God’s special people in a land flowing with milk and honey. But the New Covenant promises are much greater.  Under the New Covenant, we are promised deliverance from Satan’s domain, the forgiveness of our sins, the adoption of sons, and life eternal in the new heavens and earth. And this is the hope that the writer to the Hebrews refers to when he says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Brothers and sisters, let us be sure to do that very thing, to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…” In order to do so, we must know for certain that “he who promised is faithful.” 

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Afternoon Sermon: What Is The Duty Of Those Baptized?, Baptist Catechism 101, Romans 16:1–15

Baptist Catechism 101

Q. 101. What is the duty of such who are rightly baptized?

A. It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Acts 2:46,47; Acts 9:26; 1 Peter 2:5; Heb. 10:25; Rom. 16:5)

Scripture Reading: Romans 16:1–15

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.” (Romans 16:1–15, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

So why have I tortured myself with the task of reading all of these unfamiliar and hard to pronounce names that are found at the end of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome? The reason I’ve done this is to remind you that those who have faith in Christ are to be baptized and join themselves to churches. These names are names of real people who believed in Christ, were baptized upon their profession of faith, and were members of the church in Rome. Isn’t that awesome to think about. These hard-to-pronounce names represent people — real people, who lived real lives, a long, long time ago. They lived in a very different time and place from the time and place we live in today, but we share this in common — our faith in Christ, or baptism, and our membership in Christ’s church. They were members of the church in Rome. They heard the word read and preached there, and they celebrated the Lord’s Supper there, much in the same way that you and I do in this place today. 

The question that we are considering from our catechism today reminds us of the same thing. Those who have faith in Christ are to be baptized, and those who are baptized are to join themselves to a local church where they will be taught to obey all that Christ has commanded us. 

Let’s consider question 101 of the baptism catechism piece by piece. First the question: “What is the duty of such who are rightly baptized?” In other words, what are those who are baptized than to do?

That is a really important question. Baptism is to be applied near the beginning of the Christian life. It marks one’s entrance into the kingdom of God and shows that we are partakers of the Covenant of Grace. It should be applied not long after someone makes a credible profession of faith. So baptism is applied at the beginning of the Christian life… but what then?

Our catechism is right to say that “[i]t is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly church of Jesus Christ…

What does “particular” mean in this context? Here “particular” refers to the visible and local church. 

Is there such a thing as the universal, or catholic, church? Yes, of course, there is. When we speak of the universal church we are speaking of all who have true faith in Christ throughout the world. The universal church is sometimes called the invisible church because we cannot see it with our eyes. God sees it, but we cannot. The universal church cannot assemble on earth. It assembles in heaven now, spiritually speaking. And it will assemble for all eternity in the new heavens and earth after Christ returns. But it cannot assemble on earth today, for the universal church is too large, and it is separated by geographical distance, not to mention language and even culture. When a person places their faith in Christ they are automatically joined to this universal and invisible church by virtue of their Spirit-wrought union with Christ. All who have faith in Christ are joined together in him. 

But that is not the church that our catechism is talking about. No, our catechism is teaching that the one who has faith in Christ out to join themselves to a particular church, a local church, a visible church, consisting of officers and members,  where the word and sacraments are administered as the church assembles each Lord’s Day. That is what the word “particular” means in this context. 

You know, as you read the New Testament, you’ll find that references to particular, local churches are everywhere. You just need to look for them. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were to be circulated amongst the churches and they contain instructions for life in the church. The book of Acts is all about the local church. We hear of churches being planted, of elders and deacons, and of members. Most of Paul’s letters were written either to local churches — Rome, Ephesus, Colossi, etc. — or to men who were serving as ministers within the church. Even the book of Revelation was addressed to seven particular churches. 

The topic of the local church is so pervasive in the NT that it is really hard to imagine the Christain faith being practiced apart from it… and yet so many try in our day and age. Many claim to love Jesus, but they want nothing to do with the church. These seem to have forgotten that Jesus did not merely die for them individually — no, he laid down his life for the church. It is the church, and not you and me as individuals, that he calls his bride (see Eph 5:25ff.).

So, we must acknowledge that this is what the scriptures call us to do. After believing upon Christ, we are to be baptized. And having been baptized, we are to join ourselves to a particular church (preferably the one we were baptized in, but people do move, don’t they?).

Notice also the word “orderly”. “It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly church of Jesus Christ…” An orderly church is ordered according to the scriptures. No church is perfect. But a church that is well ordered will have officers and members. The scriptures will be faithfully administered there, and so too will the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And lastly, an orderly church will be disciplined. And by this I mean that the church — its elders and members together — will be faithful to do what is commanded in Matthew 18 and described is 1 Corinthians 5, for example. Those who are struggling with sin will be lovingly and patiently called to repentance, and those who persist in sin will, in an orderly manner, be removed from the church.  

“Orderly” means properly ordered. And properly ordered implies that there is a standard to which we are to conform.  I’m afraid that many churches have forgotten this. So many take it upon themselves to decide how they should “do church”, but that is not our place. Some decisions are naturally left to us, but our main concern should be to conform ourselves to the order prescribed by Christ which is found in the scriptures. If I can offer a word of wisdom to my brothers and sisters in Christ who are outside of this local congregation who may happen to be listening in: stop looking for a hip church, and start looking for a faithful church — one that is well ordered according to the scriptures.

The words “give up themselves” are also important. “Church” is not a service to attend, but a body to join. Are you following me? When someone joins a church they make a commitment to that congregation, and the congregation makes a commitment to them. And what is that commitment? Well, in brief, we commit to be the church together, to assemble for worship, to receive the word together, to partake of the ordinances, and to do, and even be subject to, discipline. When someone joins a church they make a commitment to love the members of that congregation, and they receive a commitment to be loved. The scriptures teach that new members are to be received (Romans 14:1), and that does imply some formality. Please remember this: Christians are not merely to attend church, as if attending a conference, or worse yet, a concert or comedy club. Christians are to give themselves up to a local church. They are to entrust themselves to the elders, deacons, and members of that church, and they themselves are to endeavor to use whatever gifts God has given to them for the building up of the body of Christ in that place, for we are all members one of another (Romans 12:5).

Lastly, our catechism says, “that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

The Christian life is a walk. It is a journey. Where we end up matters more than where we begin. And Christians are to walk with others. They are to walk the walk of faith in the church. 

And in this walk, we are to be concerned with keeping the commandments of God. Remember what Jesus said when he commissioned his disciples?  “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV). One of the primary responsibilities of the church, with elders at the lead, is to teach Christians to observe all that Christ has commanded them. This is a process. Sometimes it is a grueling process. We must be patient and kind towards one another. 

God’s commands are to be obeyed, and Christ’s ordinances are to be kept. Here we are to think primarily of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 

You know, the Reformers had to wrestle with the question, what constitutes a true church after breaking from Rome. For those in Rome, that question was easy to answer. Rome is the true church. Anything outside of its structure with the Pope at the head is to be rejected. The Reformers were right to reject this organizational approach and to put the stress elsewhere. True churches are those churches that preach and teach the Word of God accurately, administer the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and baptism faithfully, and some would also add, are disciplined. True churches may be strong or weak, pure or impure, relatively speaking. But these three marks characterize true churches. And I think they were right.  

Remember, this catechism that we are working our way through was compiled by Particular (Reformed) Baptists. Isn’t interesting that they did not say, it is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly [Particular Baptist Church], that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. My point is this: our Particular Baptist forefathers felt and thought strongly about their particular church tradition, just as we do. But they were also charitable. They knew that there were many churches outside of their tradition that were true churches of Jesus Christ, and we should rejoice whenever a person turns from their sins, is rightly baptized, and gives themselves up to one of these to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 

*****

Conclusion

Q. 101. What is the duty of such who are rightly baptized?

A. It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Acts 2:46,47; Acts 9:26; 1 Peter 2:5; Heb. 10:25; Rom. 16:5)

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Morning Sermon: Exodus 5:1-6:1; Why, O Lord?

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New Testament Reading: John 16:25–33

“‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.’ His disciples said, ‘Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’” (John 16:25–33, ESV).

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Old Testament Reading: Exodus 5:1-6:1

“Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’ But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.’ Then they said, ‘The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.’ But the king of Egypt said to them, ‘Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.’ And Pharaoh said, ‘Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!’ The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, ‘You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.’ So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, ‘Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’’ So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were urgent, saying, ‘Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.’ And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, ‘Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?’ Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, ‘Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.’ But he said, ‘You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.’ The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, ‘You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.’ They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, ‘The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.’ Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.’ But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land” (Exodus 5:1-6:1, ESV).

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

You know, it really is this passage that makes us realize how important the previous one was. 

Why did God react as he did to the uncircumcision of Moses’ firstborn son? Do you remember that little story? I barely touched on it last Sunday because my focus was set elsewhere. But it is an important part of the text. Moses had failed to circumcise his firstborn son who was born to him in Midian. Remember that circumcision was the sign attached to the Abrahamic covenant. It signified the covenant that God had made with Abraham. The promises of the covenant, and also the threats, were symbolized by circumcision. In brief, circumcision signified that the descendants of Abraham had been set apart by God as holy from the other people of the earth, and it also functioned as a reminder that the Hebrews were obliged to keep the terms of the covenant that God transacted with them lest they be cut off. And so it was a big deal (in a bad way) that Moses had failed to circumcise his son. Moses was a descendent of Abraham. He was a part of the covenant that God transacted with him, therefore. His son — Gershom was his name — should have been circumcised. The fact that he was not may indicate a lapse in faith in Moses while in Median. And so in 4:24, we find this perplexing little story:  “At a lodging place on the way [towards Egypt] the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” (Exodus 4:24–25, ESV).

I’ve said that this story is perplexing, and I think it is perplexing for two reasons. 

One, it is perplexing if we read too narrowly and forget what was said way back in Genesis 17 regarding circumcision and its connection with the covenant that God transacted with Abraham. I’ve already reminded you of that, so I don’t need to say much more. Here I am simply saying, it is no wonder this little story seems so strange to those who read it being unaware of the significance of circumcision. Circumcision was for the Hebrews a physical reminder of all that God has promised to Abraham. It was a reminder that Abraham’s descendants had been set apart as holy from the nations. If we forget all of that, then we will think it strange that God would react so strongly to Gershom’s uncircumcision. We will think, what’s the big deal, God? Well, for us circumcision is a matter of indifference — it’s a matter of preference. But not for the Hebrews living under the Old Covenant. To fail to circumcise the male children of Israel who descended from Abraham was to disregard and to break the covenant that God had made. 

Two, this little passage is perplexing, in part, because of our English translations. Now, I will admit that my Hebrew is very weak. I’m not claiming to be an expert by any means. But some of the commentaries I read do point out that our modern English translations take some interpretational liberties here. Translation work is hard work, brothers and sisters. One word can often mean many things, and communicating the meaning of one language in another can be challenging.  And so I don’t mean to sound critical either.  Here is what I think the text means: “At a lodging place on the way [towards Egypt] the LORD met him and sought to put him to death.” The “him” here is not Moses, but Gershom, his son. “Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it…” In fact, Moses’ name does not appear in the Hebrew. The word is “his”. Again, I believe that “his” refers to Gershom. And then Zipporah said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” The word translated as “bridegroom” can also mean relative by blood. 

Do you know what I think is going on here in this “strange” little passage? Strong emphasis is being placed on the covenant that God made with Abraham. Circumcision was a sign of that. God had promised to bless Abraham’s descendants, to redeem them from slavery, to give them their own land, to make them a kingdom, and to bless all of the nations of the earth through them. Circumcision was a physical reminder of all of that. It was a big deal. And Moses had failed to keep the covenant. His wife, on the other hand, though she was a Midianite by birth, understood, believed, and was faithful. By circumcising her son, and by saying, “Surely you are a relative of blood to me!”, she was saying, I believe in these promises and I’m in. We’re all in. Though it seems strange to us at first, it’s actually a marvelous little story. 

This happened on the way to Egypt. So here is a fresh reminder of God’s covenant with Abraham. Here is a fresh reminder of all the promises that God had made. And here is a fresh reminder of all that God would require of these Hebrews. They would be obligated to keep the covenant that God had made with them. They would be called to trust and obey. And this would be deadly serious.

The other thing from the previous passage that I wish to remind you of is the little remark that God made regarding Pharaoh’s reaction to the miracles that Moses was to perform and to the request to let the people of Israel go. The Lord told Moses, “But I will harden [Pharoah’s] heart, so that he will not let the people go” (Exodus 4:21, ESV). 

Two things may be gleaned from this little statement. 

One, the LORD is sovereign over all things, yes, even the hearts of men, and yes, even the hearts of great and powerful men — men like Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. 

Two, we learn that though God is ultimately in control of all things, it will not also seem like it to us. 

To say it a little differently, if we view the Exodus event — the entire process of it — from God’s perspective we can see that he was in control, ultimately. We can understand what he was doing as he hardened Pharaoh, and allowed Pharoah to harden himself, leading him to stubbornly refuse to let the people go. God was bringing glory to himself as he put his marvelous mercy on display, as well as his just judgments. This we know as we consider the story from God’s perspective (as it is revealed to us in Holy Scripture) and with eyes of faith. But viewed from the perspective of Moses, Aaron, and the Hebrews, on the ground and in real-time,  it must have seemed to them like Pharaoh was winning. 

So then, when God said to Moses, “I will harden [Pharoah’s] heart, so that he will not let the people go” (Exodus 4:21, ESV), two things were revealed. One, that God is sovereign over all things, yes, even the hearts of men, and yes, even the hearts of great men like Pharaoh. He is the King of kings, and LORD of lords. No one can thwart God’s purposes. And two, it will not always appear that way to us. No, what Moses, Aaron, and the Hebrews would see with their natural eyes was hardness of heart, stubbornness, and obstinance. Indeed, they would endure even more suffering and oppression.

Perhaps you are beginning to see why all of this should matter greatly to us. Our situation is very similar to that of Moses, Aaron, and the Hebrews in this passage. We know that God is sovereign over all — we know this by faith. And we know that God has accomplished our redemption through Christ. He has defeated Satan, sin, and death — he has set us free from their bondage.  But as we sojourn in this world towards the Promised Land, things often do not appear this way. When we observe the world and wickedness in it, and when we endure trials and tribulations of various kinds ourselves, we sometimes wonder, is God really in control? Has he really won the victory? And are we really his beloved New Covenant children? These are the kinds of questions that God’s people are bound to struggle with as they sojourn in this fallen world and towards the world to come. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that any will escape wrestling with questions like these: if God is truly sovereign, and if he loves us, then why this suffering? Where is he now? Friends, this is a big part of what it means to walk by faith and not by sight. My physical eyes tell me one thing, but my eyes of faith tell me another. The sojourner must choose to walk by faith (what we know to be true from God’s word) and not by sight (what appears to be true from our observation of this fallen world).

In chapter 5 of Exodus, we encounter the first of many tests for Moses, Aaron, and the Hebrews. Would they believe what they saw with their physical eyes, or would they believe what they heard from God? That is the question. Would they believe that the LORD is “I AM”, that he is in control, and working for their good and his glory? Or would they believe and act according to their natural perception of things? Stated once more, would Moses, Aaron, and the Hebrews trust in God and in his precious and very great promises, or would they cower in fear when the heat was turned up, and when everything around them seemed to indicate that God was either not for them, not faithful, or not strong enough to do what he said he would do.  

The heat is certainly turned up in Exodus 5. To feel the heat we must do our best to put ourselves in the place of Moses, Aaron, and the Hebrews. This is just a story to us, but for them, it was real life. The pressures were real. The fear was real. The sufferings were real. The testing of their faith was real. 

Exodus 5:1-6:1 may be divided into five scenes. In 5:1-3 we see Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh. In verse 2, and in verses 4-19 we see Pharaoh’s response to Moses, Aaron, and The Hebrews. In verses 20-21 the Hebrews respond to Moses and Aaron. In verses 22-23, Moses responds to God. And in verse 1 of chapter 6 God begins to respond to Moses. 

I’ve already read the story to you. It’s rather straightforward. Please allow me to make a few remarks about each of these scenes. 

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Moses And Aaron Before Pharaoh (5:1-3)

First of all, in verses 1-3 Moses and Aaron stand before Pharaoh, and they say what God had instructed them to say: Verse 1: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness’” (Exodus 5:1, ESV). Verse 3: “Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God…”

I have not yet addressed this question in our study of Exodus, though I’ve had the opportunity to do so: Why did God instruct Moses to request that Pharaoh allow the Israelites to go a three days journey into the wilderness when in fact God’s intention was to deliver the people once for all, never to return. Some have thought this to be dishonest. 

Commentators seem to agree that the phrase, “three days journey” was used in those days and in that culture to refer to a substantial journey of indefinite length. This was a polite way of saying, let us go for good! This was a polite way of addressing the king to begin negotiations. The rest of the narrative makes it clear that everyone involved  — God, Moses, the Hebrews, Pharaoh, and the Egyptians — knew exactly what this was. It was a request to leave and to never come back.  

Notice also this: the purpose for the “three day journey” was to sacrifice to the Lord, that is, to worship. Obviously, Israel would do a lot more than make sacrifices to the LORD, but this sums it up nicely, doesn’t it. The purpose for the redemption of the Israelites was worship. They were to be freed from Egyptian bondage so that they might worship and serve the LORD.   

Moses and Arron then added this little remark, let us go to worship, “lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” What is this about? Well, as I see it, this statement harkens back to the episode regarding Gershom’s uncircumcision and the threat of death that came upon him from the LORD. Moses, Aaron, and everyone involved learned something important about the worship of God on that day. God’s people whom he has called out of the world to walk before him in holiness had better not take the worship of God nor the ordinances of God lightly. If God has commanded that the males of his people be circumcised on the eighth day, then he must be obeyed. And if God has commanded that he be worshipped in a particular way, then he must be obeyed. Both Aaron and Moses learned something about the worship and service of YHWH in that event regarding the uncircumcision of Gershom. And these words, “lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword”, anticipate future events regarding the people’s failure to worship God according to his commands — Israel would be judged for it. Brothers and sisters, we must be careful too, for we have not only been called to worship the LORD, but to worship and serve him as he has prescribed in his most holy word. 

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Pharoah Responds To Moses, Aaron, And The Hebrews (5:2, 4-19)

Secondly, in verses 2 and 4-19, Pharoah responds to Moses, Aaron, and the Hebrews. 

In verse 2 he says, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2, ESV). Here the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart is put on display for the first time. 

The words,  “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?” reveal Pharaoh’s pride. He thought of himself as greater than YHWH. The words, “I do not know the LORD” can mean either that he has never heard of YHWH before, or that he has heard of him, but has no regard for him. Either way, Pharoah’s initial response was simply, no, “I will not let Israel go.”

But that is not all he said. Not only did he refuse to let Israel go, he punished the Hebrews by increasing their burden. In verse 4 we read, “But the king of Egypt said to them, ‘Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” And in verses 5 through 5-19 we learn that Pharoah heaped even more work on top of the already overly burdened Hebrews. The Hebrews made bricks. And it used to be that another group would provide the straw from brick making. But when Moses and Aaron requested Israel’s release, Pharaoh demanded that the Hebrews gather their own straw for making the bricks, but their quota for bricks was not decreased. Life was already miserable for the Hebrews. This must have been truly overwhelming for them. Hebrews were beaten. Many probably died as the suffering went from bad to worse. 

Brothers and sisters, Pharaoh was a cruel master. The Hebrews (and others) were brutally oppressed by him. And when they sought relief, he piled more on. And this should remind us that Satan, of whom Pharaoh was a type, is a cruel master as well. Life in his kingdom is characterized by bondage. From the beginning, he has presented himself as light and life, but in reality, his ways lead only to darkness and death. Those who follow after him (that is to say, all who do not follow after God through faith in Christ) will find in due time that he is a cruel taskmaster. He takes but he does not give. His ways lead only to sorrow. With time his burdens grow heavier and heavier, as he requires more and more of his subjects. His burdens are heavy, but Christ’s are light. This is why Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30, ESV). Every man has a master. It is either Satan or Jesus. But Jesus is a kind master, whereas Satan is most cruel. If you wish to have life, hope, and peace you must have Jesus as Lord. 

The heavy hand of Pharaoh is certainly a picture of life in Satan’s cruel and oppressive kingdom. His burdens are exceedingly heavy, and with the passing of time, he requires more and more of his subjects. He takes but never does he give.

Pharaoh’s response was effective, humanly speaking. The Hebrew people languished and groaned under the heavy labor. The Hebrew foremen appealed to Pharaoh on behalf of the people, but they too were rebuked sharply and sent away. Verse 17: Pharaoh said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.’ The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, ‘You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day’” (Exodus 5:17–19, ESV).

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The Hebrews Respond To Moses And Aaron (5:20-21)

This leads us now to the Hebrews’ response to Moses and Aaron. It is found in verses 20-21 and it comes through the foremen. “They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, ‘The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us’” (Exodus 5:20–21, ESV).

I feel for Moses and Aaron, don’t you? The Hebrew people bore a heavy physical burden — they suffered greatly under these harsh edicts. But the burden that Moses and Aaron carried as leaders was spiritual and emotional. It must have felt like they were carrying the weight of the world as Pharaoh used his political skill to turned everything back on them. The words of the foremen, who were themselves in a very difficult position, must have cut very deep.    

And the foremen did accurately represent the spirit of the people to Moses and Arron. They were truly broken. In 6:9 we will read, “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9, ESV). So Moses and Aaron will find themselves all alone. They would have to stand before hardhearted Pharaoh with brokenhearted Israel behind them. But this was their calling, and God would make them stand, as we will see. 

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Moses Responds To God (5:22-23)

In the fourth scene, Moses responds to God. This is found in verses 22-23 where we read, “Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all’” (Exodus 5:22–23, ESV).

This is a very honest statement from a very broken and overwhelmed man who is struggling with deep questions regarding God’s purposes in the midst of great suffering.

Notice the question is, why?

First, Moses asks, “Why have you done evil to this people?” I feel a little uncomfortable even reading these words, for we know that God does not do evil. As James says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13, ESV). God is holy, and Moses knew that. And he also knew that it was Pharaoh, and not God, who did the evil. He even says so in verse 23: “For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:23, ESV). So it is clear what Moses means when he says to God, “Why have you done evil to this people?” He is recognizing that God’s plan resulted in suffering, and he is asking why it had to be this way. It’s an honest question. 

Next, Moses asks, “Why did you ever send me?” In other words, he is recognizing that the people were better of before he showed up. Now that he has arrived, their sorrows have been multiplied. 

Clearly, Moses was struggling to keep the faith. He was wavering. And the reason he wavered was that he grew shortsighted. In this moment of great trial, he forgot about God’s promises, his faithfulness in the past, and he lost sight of the prize (I think it is significant that when Moses turned to the LORD he did not refer to him as YHWH but as Adonai…) 

The trials and tribulations of life have a way of doing that to us, don’t they? The trials can sometimes be so severe that they are all we see. Moses was overwhelmed by the sight of the increased suffering of his kinsmen, and it was all he could think about. He forgot about the past — the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his faithfulness to preserve them through the trials of life. And he lost sight of the prize — deliverance from Egyptian bondage, fellowship with God, and the promised land. So nearsighted was Moses that he could only ask why? Why have you done this? Why have you sent me? We’ve all been there to one degree or another. We’ve been swallowed up by the trials and tribulations of life and the clouds of despair which so often accompany them. We need perspective. 

Here is the one thing that Moses has going for him, and it’s a big deal. Moses did turn to the LORD. He brought his burdens, his despair, and confusion to the LORD. This is what those who have true faith will do. When they suffer, and when they doubt, they run to LORD, and not from him. 

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Gods Respond To Moses (6:1)

The last scene that I wish to mention this morning is actually found in 6:1-8. Here the LORD responds to Moses. It’s a marvelous response, and so we will leave the bulk of it for next Sunday. But it is the LORD’s response which brings this entire passage to a proper conclusion, and so I must mention it, even if it is only in passing. Let us read verse 1 only: “But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land’” (Exodus 6:1, ESV). 

In brief, in this passage, the LORD helps Moses by reiterating his promises to him, by reminding him of who he is, and by fixing his eyes on the prize once more. Here we see the mercy of God on display. He was patient with Moses, tender, and kind. Moses turned to him in his grief and despair, and the LORD was faithful to lift him up.   

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Suggestions For Application And Conclusion

As we move now to a conclusion please allow me to make just a few suggestions for application.  

One, I want you to see that Christ has done for us what the LORD did for Moses and the Hebrews — he has warned us concerning the difficulty we will face in this world, saying, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:25–33, ESV). So God warned Moses that Pharaoh’s heart would be hard, and Christ has warned us that life will be filled with hardship. Yes, even his people would experience tribulation, but they are to take heart knowing that Christ has overcome the world.

This is very helpful, I think, for it enables us to develop proper expectations. If our expectations are amiss —  if we assume that life in Christ will be easy sailing, blissful and serene, then it will be very difficult for us to process the difficult realities of life in this fallen world when they come our way.    

Two, being forewarned regarding the trials and tribulations of life does not remove the struggle. It’s one thing to say in your mind and with your mouth, I know that the Christian life will involve trials and tribulations. It’s another thing altogether to walk through them by faith when they come. To do this we must turn to the LORD in our suffering, we must bring our questions and our heartaches to him, and we must receive his word anew and afresh so that we might maintain perspective. In his word, we are reminded of his promises, his past faithfulness, and future reward which is surely ours in Christ Jesus. 

Three, I wish to draw a little application out of that story regarding the uncircumcision of Gershom if I may. Moses started his journey towards Egypt to serve as the redeemer of God’s people, but he had neglected the sign of the Old Covenant. He had failed to apply it to his own son. God was determined to send him to the Hebrews with a proper appreciation for the sign of the covenant he served, for the sign reassured them that they were God’s people. It was a physical reminder of God’s promises. It was also a physical reminder of their obligations before God. It functioned as a visible word.   

Circumcision is nothing to us, for we are not under the Old Covenant but the New. And the signs that God has given to us under this new and better covenant are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They are not for our children by virtue of their birth. No, they are for those who believe in Christ. “For the promise is for [us] and for [our] children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39, ESV). 

And these signs must not be neglected, for they reminded us of God’s promises, of who we are in Christ, of what he has done for us, that he is with us now, and of our future hope. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper preach to us through their symbolism, and they nourish us in the soul as we partake of them by faith. 

What do Christian sojourners need, especially those who are heavily burdened by the trials and tribulations of life?  They need the gospel. They need to be reminded that through faith in the Messiah their sins have been washed away, they are united to Christ — he is theirs, and they are his — and he has not left us as orphans, but has sent the helper, the promised Holy Spirit. Through faith in Christ, we have been reconciled to the Father, and we have this sure hope and expectation: eternal life in the new heavens and earth, where sin, suffering, and death are no more, and all is filled with glory and splendor of God. This gospel is proclaimed in word, but it is also signified in sacrament. Let us not neglect the sacrament, brothers and sisters, but let us come to the table each Lord’s Day being reminded of the work that Christ has done for us, our privileged place in him, his presence with us now to sustain us and to sanctify us, and of our future hope. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 5:1-6:1, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 5:1-6:1; Why, O Lord?

Afternoon Sermon: How Is Baptism Rightly Administered?, Baptist Catechism 100, Acts 8:26-40

Baptist Catechism 100

Q. 100. How is baptism rightly administered?

A. Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the party in water, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, according to Christ’s institution, and the practice of the apostles, and not by sprinkling or pouring of water, or dipping some part of the body, after the tradition of man. (Matt. 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38,39)

Scripture Reading: Acts 8:26-40

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: ‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.’ And the eunuch said to Philip, ‘About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.” (Acts 8:26–40, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

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The question before us today is, “How is baptism rightly administered?“ In other words, how is a baptism properly done?

You know, in some traditions baptisms are administered by the pouring or sprinkling of water. And the question is, is this right or proper?

Our catechism is quite direct, isn’t it?  At the end, it says, “not by sprinkling or pouring of water, or dipping some part of the body, after the tradition of man.” In our opinion, this practice of sprinkling, pouring, or dipping some part of the body into the baptismal water is not from Christ, but is the tradition of man. 

Where did this tradition come from?  Well, I have not studied that question in detail, but I wonder if it did not develop along with the tradition of applying the sign of baptism to infants and to those on their deathbeds. Sprinkling, pouring, or dipping only a part of the body in situations like these would certainly be more convenient. 

However the tradition developed, we are saying that it does not emerge from scripture. It is the tradition of man, and it is to be rejected. 

Notice again that the question is “How is baptism rightly administered?“ In other words, what is the correct way to do it? 

As is usually the case, it is helpful to compare our catechism with our confession to gain a fuller understanding of the doctrine being presented. As I understand it, our confession teaches that those who have faith in Christ are the only proper subjects of baptism — never should those who do not profess faith be baptized, and this includes infants. Infant baptisms are invalid baptisms, therefore. Water is always to be used. And those baptized are always to be baptized in the name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism’s laking these things should be considered invalid. But our confession says in 29.4 that “Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.” In other words, the right way to do it is by immersion. But what about those who have been baptized as believers, with water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but by sprinkling, pouring, or dipping only a part of the body into the water. What should we think of the baptism? Was it valid?

This is a question that comes up from time to time even today, but it was a very common question for the Particular Baptists living in the 17th century. They had to wrestle with the question, should we receive the baptisms of those who were baptized as believers in the presbyterial and reformed traditions, but by sprinkling. Many thought yes. Though their baptisms were improperly done, they were to be considered valid.  And that is why 29.4 of our confession says that “Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.” 

Would we consider an infant baptism valid? No, never. For that one was not baptized upon profession of faith. The one who was baptized as an infant was not really baptized. They should be baptized properly as a believer now, and thus say to God and to the world, Jesus is Lord. 

Would we consider Roman Catholic, Mormon, or a Jehovah’s Witness baptism to be valid? No, never. For those are different religions with different conceptions of sin and salvation. In the case of Mormon and JW doctrine, their view of God and Christ is fundamentally different too. Those who were baptized in these religions were not baptized into Christ, but into something else. 

Would we consider the baptism of one who was sprinkled with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit upon profession of faith in a Reformed or Presbyterian church to be valid? Yes, I think we would. Our view would be that it was improperly done, but is valid. 

So why do we say that “[b]aptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the party in water, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” Why is this the right way to do it?

The answer is rather simple. One, this is what Christ taught. Two, this is what the apostles did. In other words, it’s what we find in scripture. 

Read the New Testament and see. Baptisms were performed in bodies of water —  rivers, ponds, and such. People “went down into the water” to be baptized. 

The passage that I read from Acts 8 regarding Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is a good example. Philip preached the gospel to him from Isaiah the prophet. The Ethiopian believed. And after believing he said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.”  

If ever there was a time for baptism by sprinkling or pouring, it was here, for they were in a desert region. But baptism was made possible by the body of water. It was large enough for them to go down into it and to come up out of it again. Read the New Testament and see that this is always the case. It is always baptism by immersion that is described. 

Add to this the symbolism of baptism. Baptism signifies cleansing. It signifies our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. Through immersion, the who body is washed. Through immersion, our death in Christ, and our resurrection in Christ are signified as we go under the water and come up again. Baptism by pouring or sprinkling doesn’t quite capture this, does it?

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Conclusion

And this is why we say, “Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the party in water, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, according to Christ’s institution, and the practice of the apostles, and not by sprinkling or pouring of water, or dipping some part of the body, after the tradition of man. (Matt. 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38,39)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: How Is Baptism Rightly Administered?, Baptist Catechism 100, Acts 8:26-40


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warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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