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Posted in: Big Faith, Celebration, Know God

04.12.23 ( Jeff Vines )

Easter 2023

(Excerpt from the sermon)

Easter isn’t just about bunnies and Easter eggs and Easter egg hunts. If anything, it's very little about those things. What Easter is truly about is giving humanity an objective hope in the world that is and the world that is to come. So that we can be certain that there is something next, and that something is good. The way that harmonizes with the life and teachings of Jesus, which is what church is about in Easter, is that unless God chooses to reveal to us what is next, there's no way you and I could know. It’s just a guess. It’s just a hope beyond hope. But if God decides, and God would not be limited by time and space, if God decides he wants to reveal something to us that would give us hope now and hope in the future, which we desperately need, then God is capable of doing that.

That is the meaning of Easter, because that's exactly what He does in sending His one and only Son to this earth to die for our sins on a cross, but then to resurrect on the third day. Proving that if Jesus Christ can defeat sin and death, all who become followers of Christ (which is what a Christian is) shall also defeat sin and death. We have been in a series in our church called Origins, and in this series we've said that the good news of the gospel, this revelation of God to us, doesn't just begin with the cross of Jesus Christ, the burial, the resurrection. That it actually began in the Old Testament. That we have what we call archetypes or origins. That the gospel originated all the way in Genesis 3, in the first book of the Bible. We've looked at and mentioned characters like Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Samson, but the primary character associated with Christ as an archetype is Moses.

I want you to think about what Moses reveals to us, how he's an archetype. Then how Jesus is our hope and how that's what Easter is truly about. So let's take the major event of Moses' life. He goes up on the mountain to receive the ten Commandments from God. What are the ten Commandments? The ten Commandments are really the vows God wants to exchange between God and His people. The number one metaphor used in scripture to describe our relationship to God is one of a bride and groom. It is a love intimate relationship. It's not far off. God is not watching us from a distance. God wants to come into our lives. He wants intimacy, love, care, concern. If you think about how serious the vows are that we make to each other when we get married, we sometimes word them flippantly, they're pretty serious commitments, aren't they?

I'm going to love you. I'm going to honor you in sickness and in health. You never know when one spouse might end up taking care of, or being the care provider for, the other. For richer, for poor. You have no idea how things are going to go in your life or that you might struggle with poverty. Are you still going to love each other and stay together in the midst of financial crisis? To be faithful to each other? As long as you both shall live. It's a lifetime commitment. These are vows that we make. When we make those vows, we are promising to one another that we are going to do the best we can to attempt to live this way, and we're committed to that. Then the marriage takes place. That whole idea of marriage and relationship and covenant and commitment originates with God. God brings Moses to the mountain and He's going to give him His vows.

These are the vows that I want to agree upon with My people as we enter into this covenant marriage relationship. I want to be their God. I want them to be My people. I want us to love one another. I want My people to pursue Me as you would pursue a bride. I want you to pursue Me in relationship. As a result, I want you to make a commitment that you're not going to kill each other and you're not going to steal from each other. That you're not going to commit adultery, that you're not going to take something that doesn't belong to you, that you're not going to covet to the point of wanting something that you don't have – so much so that you'll do whatever it takes to get it. That you're going to be faithful to each other. In fact, I want you to make a vow that you're going to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you're not going to have any other gods before Me.

That's the commitment I want you to make. The commitment I'm making to you is to be your God. To take care of you and to escort you into a relationship with Me that will one day culminate in eternity. God is writing His vows on tablets for Moses to deliver to the people. While He's writing these vows, what are the people doing? They're down worshiping a golden calf. Now think about it, it's your wedding day, you're going to get married. It's the night before the wedding and you've decided to spend that time (because your spouse has asked you) to write your own personal vows. As you're writing your vows to deliver the next morning at the wedding, your wife, or husband, is cheating on you. That actually happens sometimes. How wounded would you be?

How frustrated, how angry would you be? God sees what Moses does not, He sees that the people are cheating on Him already, before the vows are even read. Before they've entered into a commitment with each other, this covenant, that there's going to be a relationship of intimacy and love. So God is angered. We're not sure if God is angered for the sake of God or for the sake of Moses, because immediately Moses says, please God, don't separate from Your people. Don't go back on Your word or Your covenant that You gave to Abraham. At that point, Moses stands, Psalm 106 says, in the breach between God and humanity. He advocates for humanity, the people that he loves. The Bible says that out of all the leaders of the children of Israel, Moses was its greatest leader. Not because of Moses' power, but because of Moses' intense love for his people.

He even goes so far as to say to God: God, blot my name out, cut me off from the land of the living, obliterate my name before you obliterate your people. May I stand as a sacrifice. Now, right then and there, you can see how Moses is an archetype of Jesus. Jesus said to the Father, don't abandon Your people. Abandon me. Cut Me off from the land of the living. Curse Me rather than curse them. The Bible says, cursed is he who hangs on a tree. Jesus will go and hang on that tree. He will be the go-between for us and the Father. He will do for us something that we could never do for ourselves. It's clear that Moses is an archetype of what Jesus ultimately fulfills on the cross through the death, burial, and resurrection.

God relents, in anthropomorphic language. Moses heads down the mountain, but as he's headed down the mountain with the vows that God has written, he hears a noise. I believe he's first encountered by Joshua who says there's a noise of celebration in the camp. Moses says, that's no celebration. That is the noise of idolatry. Moses, when he catches a glimpse of the children of Israel dancing around the golden calf in idol worship, he takes the ten commandments and hurls them down the mountain and shatters them. Now the question is why? Why does he shatter the ten Commandments? You'll notice that nowhere in scripture does God reprimand Moses for doing so. In fact, Moses is going to go back to the mountain and get another copy. The Bible tells us that Moses actually kept the shattered copies.

We're not told where, but he kept them. Why does Moses shatter them? There's been plenty of opinions given. You may say he was angry. True, but if you understand the depth of his love for his people, you'll understand that one of the reasons Moses shattered these commandments was because he doesn't want the people of God to see vows that they have no intention of keeping. If they don't see, receive, and make the vows, then God will not hold them responsible. The wedding ceremony is not there yet. Scholars believe that Moses shatters these commandments so that they will not see them. So that they will not be held responsible for a vow that they're not ready to make. Moses does it out of love for his people. He doesn't want God to punish the people, to cut them off from the land of the living, to abandon them, to curse them, to judge them.

Moses, in that way, does for the people of God, what Jesus does for you and I, because we have gone away from the Father. We have pursued other idols. We have gone our own way and lived our own lives. As a result, Jesus stands in the gap in the breach for us. He is cut off from the land of the living. He stands as our advocate before the Father, pleading our case. He gives His life so that you and I can come into intimacy with God, where our sins are forgiven and the power, the transformational power of the Spirit, comes on the inside of us to live. God can come on the inside to live because we are made pure by the blood of Jesus Christ. There is a relationship. 

How can you and I be sure that this Easter hope can be appropriated to our lives, both here in the present and in the world to come? Here's how, you have to turn your heart toward home. At some point in your life, you have to realize this is not working and this is not right, and you have to run home to the Father. That's not all. You’re received by grace, through faith, I get that. But when you come back to the heart of the Father, when you come back to the house of the Father, you are agreeing to live with the Father in the community of the Father doing the business of the Father, because you're back home.

You can't keep living in a distant land and think that when Jesus returns He will take you to the home of the Father. Why would you want to spend eternity with Jesus when you didn't want to spend the temporary time with Jesus? I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of the things we pastors know and understand is the difference between a nominal Christ follower, someone who's Christian in the name only, and those who are genuine, authentic Christ followers.

When you go to the funeral of a nominal Christian you will hear people say, they're in a better place. It's generic. They're going to see people that they've loved and lost. When you go to a Christian's funeral, someone who has an intimate relationship with Jesus, all you hear them talk about (sure, they want to see people they've lost. Sure, they're hoping for a better place. They know there's a better place) is this, I want to go see Jesus. They want to go see Jesus because they've fallen in love with Jesus. Because they've fallen in love with Jesus, that's where they want to be. Jesus will return and He will gather together His own, those who have returned to the house of the Father and have engaged in an unending commitment to Christ. They are imitating the work and the attitudes of the Father.

They're not perfect, but that's what they strive for. That's why you see them in church regularly. That's why you see them worshiping regularly. That's why you see them in their life groups or community groups. They're doing life with people who are part of the village of God. They want to be there because they're investing in something bigger and beyond themselves. If you're a person who knows Jesus and you're hoping one day He returns and you're hoping there's something on the other side, but you live your entire life in a distant land, hear my warning: that doesn't work. There must be a marriage. There must be intimacy. There must be relationship. 

Then, only then, can you be certain, absolutely certain, that the Christ who died for your sins and defeated sin and death will give you the power to cross over from death to life.

That means everybody has a decision to make. If you look at our world right now, I think most of us would agree it is a mess. Do you understand why it's a mess? It's a mess because the devil is throwing a temper tantrum. He knows his time is near. Anybody who studied the book of Revelation or the end times knows that things are happening that we were told about, prophesied about hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. The devil's going down and he knows it. His time is near. He wants to take as many people with him as possible. He's heavily involved in a culture that tells you evil is good and good is evil. He's telling a whole generation of young people that there's no meaning or purpose or significance to their lives.

He's lying. Because of the lying and deception, there's depression and anxiety and frustration, and our world is in chaos. But Jesus has overcome the world. The only hope for our world is not government, politics, or legislation. The only hope for our world is if more and more people come back home to the heart of the Father and live for His purposes and enter into community with Him and make a vow, a commitment that can never be shattered. Moses shattered the vows. Now there are vows that will never be shattered because God gave them. When you and I enter that relationship, He will take us to the place that we all want to be. We will see loved ones gone by and we will go to a much better place. But, most importantly, you're going to see Jesus, the love of your life.

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About the Author
Pastor Jeff Vines is the Lead Pastor of ONE&ALL Church. He spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, have been married over 30 years and enjoy life with their kids Delaney & Sian, their daughter-in-law Jessica and sweet grandchildren Ada, Owen, & Layla.

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