Easter Messages (1)
Our Lord’s Exodus at Jerusalem (1988)
Let us worship God.
“The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.”
“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
Alleluia, let us pray.
All glory be to thee, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. When thy grace, mercy, power, and majesty hast ordained all things unto perfection, has set us aside for thy purpose, and in all our trials and tribulations are at work in that which will perfect us for thine eternal kingdom. Give us joyful hearts in all thy ways, make us strong in thy service. Make us ever mindful that we are the people of the resurrection, and that there is no power greater than thy power. No power that can overthrow thy purpose and thy kingdom. In Christ’s name we pray, amen.
Our scripture is from Luke 9:28-31, our Lord’s exodus at Jerusalem.
“And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.”
On this, the day of resurrection, it is appropriate to turn again to these verses in Luke’s gospel which were the verses we began our study of Exodus with. We began our study of Exodus with Luke 9:28-31, and we saw at that time that the word translated in verse thirty-one as ‘decease’ is in the Greek text, “exodon,” our word ‘exodus.’ In the Greek, the root is ‘hodos,’ or ‘way,’ and ‘ex-’ is a preposition, a prefix to ‘hodos,’ so that very literally the word exodus means ‘the way out.’ Thus, the exodus of Israel is out of Egypt into the Promised Land. Our Lord’s exodus is premised on this earlier ‘way out,’ in that it signifies a very mighty and total deliverance, the way out, for Christ’s new humanity, from a world of sin and death, into a world of life and justice.
According to St. Paul, Jesus Christ is the last Adam, the head of a new humanity, and this new humanity is recreated by him out of the old. We are made anew in His image. We become God’s new human race. We are told that God the Son became man, was totally obedient to God’s law, paid the penalty of death for which we are all liable, dying in our stead on the cross, and rose again from the dead to become the victorious God-man, king over all creation. His victory on the cross was over the power of sin and death, both of which mark all men born of Adam. The fact of sin is a very important theological and sociological one, but it is very much neglected in modern thought.
The problem now commonly discussed is crime, but sin and crime are two very different things. Crimes are violations of statist law. In some cases, crime and sin can be identical. But their meanings still can be very different. Thus, murder and theft, at present, are crimes because state law prohibits them. As violations of God’s law, they are also sins, but they are prosecuted as crimes, and crime commonly includes the failure to meet a variety of statist, bureaucratic regulations which have no relationship to morality in any biblical sense. We will not solve the problem of crime until we deal with the problem of sin.
According to Wilhelm Pauck: “sin is an act or attitude by which the reality of God is denied of violated.” This at least points us in the right direction, because sin does deny or violate the reality of God. It assumes that God is not real, and it establishes a man-centered or state-centered moral code and law, and it has no regard for God’s law. Today, if a murder is committed, it’s not a crime against God or you, if you are the victim. It was, at one time, considered punishable because it was an offense, not only against God’s law, but an individual. Now, it’s the state that prosecutes in the name of the state as an offense against the state, and it may settle the case without any regard for the victim and the family of the victim, often in contempt of them. Not too long ago, when the case was settled, the family was indignant at the decision and that they were not notified when the case was placed on the calendar for the last hearing, and the judge told them they had nothing to do with it!
Well, such a humanistic perspective leads to tyranny, because it makes man or the state the source of all definition and the determiner of what constitutes good and evil. As against this we are told by I John 3:4-5,:
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he (Jesus Christ) was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” This means first, that: “…sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God.” God defines good and evil, and God determines law, not man, because all the sons of Adam are sinners who seek to determine good and evil for themselves; they are all under sentence of death. Second; John tells us Jesus Christ, the sinless one, paid the death penalty for us and took away our sins so that we are now justified, or made legally innocent before God by Christ’s atonement.
This means that the atonement is a radical revolution in history. It means far more than: “Now, you’re going to heaven,” which you are, if you are Christ’s own. It means that there’s a radical revolution in history, in time, wrought by eternity, to reverse the whole direction of events. Then, Christ’s victory on the cross was not only sin, but also over death by His resurrection. Death entered the world as a consequence of sin. Paul tells us in Romans 5:12: “wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.” God is life, the source of all life, and to depart from Him is to move from life into death. As a result, sin brings in death. Sin is therefore an ‘exodus’ into death. So, the word ‘exodon’ in the Greek can mean ‘decease’ as it is translated in Luke 9:31, and it can also mean ‘the way out.’ And as it is used in the text here, our Lord is using it in the double sense. He says: “I am going to Jerusalem to be crucified, to die, but to rise again. It will mark both my sin, my death for your sin, but the way out for all those who are my people.” Men want a way out.
Recently, in an academic journal, a homosexual wrote on his hope that science would soon provide a vaccine for AIDS. He hoped it would enable men to continue their march into a full liberation from the old world of moral consequences. His idea of an ‘exodus’ was from morality into a safe amoralism, into a freedom for perpetual sinning. As A. Eustace Haydon wrote:
“Man has always been a protestant against death. Even high cultures have refused to recognize its universal rule and have projected the hope of an immortal life free from all future assaults of death.”
Well, the subject as Haydon wrote, has been a constant concern of men. He was approaching it as an anthropologist.
James Hastings’ classic Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, first published in 1911, gave one hundred and one pages to a survey by a number of scholars just on the subject of death. In a thirty-three page introduction to the subject, one anthropologist, E. Sydney Hartland, began thus:
“The horror of death is universal among mankind. It depends not so much on the pain that often accompanies this dissolution as upon the mystery of it, and the results to the subject and to the survivors, the cessation of the old familiar relations between them, and the decomposition of the body. This horror has given rise to an obstinate disbelief in the necessity of death, and to attempts continually repeated in spite of invariably disastrous experiences of failure to escape death. Even the most natural and inevitable decease is persistently ascribed to causes not beyond human control, and on the other hand, legends of the origin of death are familiar and widespread. The picture thus presented of the desperate refusal of mankind to accept a cardinal condition of existence is one of the most pathetic in the history of the race.”
Well, in recent years, the scientific attempts to destroy death have been pronounced, and some people have had their bodies frozen at death to await a hoped for scientific resurrection in the future. Humanistic thinking separates death from sin. It makes it a naturalistic and evolutionary fact, whereas for Scripture, death is abnormal. The Bible is emphatic on this, death is not a normal fact. It is an abnormal aspect of a fallen world order, and even as the natural order has been made unnatural by sin, warped and defective, so too life has been deformed and abbreviated by sin. When sin and death are separated as they are in humanistic thinking, the result is very, very serious, because God makes clear that death is a consequence and the penalty for mankind’s sin.
Humanistic thinking cannot then confront the fact of sin as having consequences. It departs from that concept of a moral wrong in the person to an environmental problem that statists, controls, regulations, and remaking of the environment will eliminate, and death then is simply a scientific problem to be solved in due time.
We have seen the pride reach the point where, ostensibly, mankind will not only conquer death according to one astrophysicist, but will when the sun perishes, create a new sun out of subatomic materials so that man can continue forever.
Death is the consequence of, and the penalty for sin according to the Bible. And in terms of this, the law of God requires immediate death for some sins, as well as death for habitual offenders. And it says that an infection has entered into humanity, which in time will destroy all of us. The penalty of death for sin is set forth both for personal sins and national sins, unless there be repentance and reformation. But, as we have seen, humanism separates sin and death, and therefore, as it looks at Easter, it sees it as a time comparable to spring, of a periodic renewal, a reawakening, a spring festival. It opposes the death penalty itself as a crime. Sin is not the cause of crime, but rather environmental factors are blamed for criminality.
As a result, without Christ’s atonement and resurrection, a people have no solution for the problems of sin and death. Humanistic policies end up as subsidies to sin, and death for justice and moral order ensues. As a society ceases to understand and honor the meaning of our Lord’s death and resurrection, that society begins an ‘exodus’ from life into death.
The exodus of modern men and nations in this century has been a grim and ugly march into death. For us as Christians, however, life is an exodus into a new creation because of Christ’s death and resurrection, and as a conclusion to that exodus we are told:
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
All men are on an exodus, but the directions differ. Apart from Jesus Christ, apart from His death and resurrection, the exodus of a fallen humanity is from sin into death. In Christ, the exodus is into justice and life. He is the model for all creation, and we are told that in due time, the kingdoms of this earth shall be made the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and in eternity, the power of sin and death will be totally broken.
In 1901, a Greek scholar, Arthur S Way, rendered Hebrews 2:5-10, in these words, which help, I think, bring out the meaning of the exodus. He translated:
“For it is not to angels that God has subjected the New Humanity of the future, which is the theme of my argument. Witness was borne to this in that prophetic passage, ‘WHAT IS MAN THAT THOU DOST REMEMBER HIM? ‘WHAT IS THE SON OF MAN, THAT THOU DOST STOOP TO HIM? THOU DIDST MAKE HIM BUT LITTLE INFERIOR TO ANGELS, WITH GLORY AND HONOUR DIDST THOU CROWN HIM, AND DIDST APPOINT HIM RULER OVER THE WORKS OF THINE HANDS: ALL THINGS DIDST THOU SET BENEATH HIS FEET.’—(Ps. 8:4,6). Now the expression, ‘Set all things beneath him’ must mean that God exempted nothing from this destiny of subjection to him (to Jesus). But, as a matter of fact, we do not as yet see all things subjected to man. But we do see the archetype of the New Humanity, Jesus—Him who has been lowered to the level of humanity, and so made a little inferior to angels already, because of His suffering of the death-penalty of our sin, crowned with glory and honour. This has been done, that his tasting of death might, by God’s grace to us, prove to have been for the sake of all humanity. For it was an act worthy of God, for whose ends all tilings exist, and by whose power are all upheld, to draw onward to the glory of His presence these myriads, all His sons, and so to make the Captain who leads their march salvation-ward perfect through those very sufferings that He endured for them.
The scriptures tell us all the way through that all life is an ‘exodus.’ Our exodus in Christ is a victorious and a glorious one. Let us pray.
Oh Lord, our God we thank thee that in Jesus Christ, we have been made members of his new humanity. That we have been brought into the great exodus from life to death, from sin to justice and righteousness. How great and marvelous are thy ways, oh Lord, and thy gifts unto us. Make us ever joyful that we have been called to life and victory. Make us ever mindful that this is the day of resurrection, the day commemorating our glorious exodus in Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, amen.
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books. Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder