Easter Messages (2)
Our Lord’s Exodus at Jerusalem (1989)
Let us worship God.
“The Lord is risen indeed. Hallelujah!”
“I am He that liveth and was death, sayeth the Lord and behold I am alive forevermore.”
Let us pray. All glory be to thee, oh God the Father Almighty. Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, oh Holy Spirit, who hast made us thy people, and hast overcome death and sin for our salvation. Make us ever joyful, our Father, in the knowledge that all things are under Christ’s feet, and He shall reign forever and ever. Make us ever joyful, our Father, for the calling which is ours, for the certainly of our victory in Christ, and for the blessed assurance that though the heathen rage and take counsel together against the Lord and His anointed, yet they shall be broken, as with a rod or iron. For thy will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. How great and marvelous thou art and we praise thee. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Our scripture is from the gospel of Luke 9:28-31. Our subject; Our Lord’s Exodus at Jerusalem, Luke 9:28-31.
“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.”
We began our study of Exodus with these verses and we shall examine them further today, because they are essential to Christ’s death and resurrection. This Easter is very much like the first Easter, when the powers of the world conspired to destroy Jesus Christ. Death by crucifixion was the most fearful means of death that Rome could devise. They had turned it into a science, to see how they could kill a man with the maximum amount of suffering. Very often, locally, there were refinements added to it. One popular means of increasing the agony, very popular in Judea, was to throw rocks at the man on the cross whom they particularly detested. And before long, after an hour or so, the man’s face and body would be hanging with strips of flesh. This was done to our Lord because it was not necessary for the Roman soldiers to break his legs to speed his death at the end, he was already dead.
The world today is joined in the same kind of attempt to destroy Christ. Across the country today, a syndicated article is appearing on the front pages of newspapers by a Los Angeles Times writer, but emanating from Washington, DC, accompanied very commonly by a six inch picture of Martin Luther King, and a statement that: “It is he who resurrected society.”
Two year ago at this time, the Salisbury Review in England carried an article about the death wish of modern man, documenting it with what was taking place in Britain. And they referred to the response to AIDS and the refusal to face up to it, to the refusal to face up to what the Soviet Union is, to the refusal to face up to what is happening in education, to the refusal to face up to the implications of the peace movement, and one thing after another, and concluded by saying: “It is obvious, the whole world has a death wish.” And of course, they were right. Thus, as the world seeks to destroy Christ, it is in actuality, involved in its own death-wish, and is destroying itself, because to seek to destroy the Lord of Life is to choose death.
Now, in any attempt to understand the Christian life and faith, and the death and resurrection of our Lord, Luke 9:28-31 is a very key text. It is also essentially related to the book of Exodus because the word ‘decease.’ “Elijah and Moses appeared in glory and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem,” translates a word which is ‘exodus.’ The word in the Greek is ‘exodon.’ It is to be Christ’s accomplishment, his perfection of his calling at Jerusalem. Now, the historical exodus of Israel was from slavery to freedom, from Egypt toward the Promised Land. The historical exodus of Jesus Christ for his new humanity, the new human race he remakes or regenerates is from sin and death into justice, dominion, and everlasting life.
There is a very, very remarkable fact and irony in this incident that Luke describes. There is a transfiguration, a brief one, limited to this mountain experience, but fading thereafter. Christ radiated, for a time, with a light and glory which were not of this world. The transfiguration brought together three key persons; Moses, Elijah, the New Testament uses the Greek form; ‘Elias,’ and Jesus Christ. Moses gave the law. Elijah enforced it, and Christ came to empower us, to keep it.
Now, by creating a new humanity through his atonement, Jesus Christ created a people who could obey God’s law and bring about the reign, the rule of justice. Moses and Elijah talked, we are told, with Jesus. The Greek word refers to a simple talk, or a conversation. The three disciples were witnesses to this remarkable conversation, and the meaning of Christ’s exodus was obviously clearly stated to them, and for them. Their failure to comprehend its meaning until much, much later was a moral failure, not a lack of clarity in what they saw and heard on the mountaintop. Schilder called attention some years ago to the remarkable fact that, in this meeting, Jesus, while God the Son, was in His incarnation in a lesser glory than Moses and Elijah. They appeared in glory, in a permanent state, whereas he, whom Scripture calls ‘the Lord of Glory,’ was able to manifest that glory only in a brief transfiguration at this time.
JC Ryle, a century ago, commented on subject of the conversation between Moses and Elijah, and Jesus: “his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem,” and said:
“This expression is remarkable. It means, literally, his ‘exodus’ or departure. It is used for death by St. Peter speaking of his own death. It is also remarkable, in Acts 3:24, we have a Greek word used for our Lord’s coming to take his office of a savior which might be translated literally, ‘his entrance.’ Both expressions are similarly, singularly applicable to him who came into the world and was made flesh. And after doing the work he came to do, left the world and went to the Father. The beginning of his ministry was an Eishodos, or entrance. His death, an ‘exodus,’ or departure.”
Thus the Bible speaks, to sum up Ryle’s statement, of our Lord’s coming as an, ‘eisodon’ His going, as an exodus; ‘eísodos’ and ‘exodus.’
Our Lord had already spoken of his coming death and resurrection to his disciples, and they were stunned and non-comprehending when he spoke of it. Their minds were concentrated on what they expected Christ to be, they could not accept nor understand his very plain statements of his coming and his atoning death. Now, this revelation and transfiguration was a witness to the unity of God’s revelation from the beginning of the Bible to the end. It was a witness to three selected disciples as it is to us, to the church over the centuries, of the meaning of his coming, and of his going.
Moses and Elijah did not come to console nor to strengthen Jesus, nor was it their sole purpose to witness to Peter, John, and James. All that Moses and Elijah had done was essentially and totally tied to the work of Jesus Christ, and the work of our Lord was essentially and totally tied to the work of Moses and Elijah, to the law and the prophets. Christ did not come in fulfillment of Buddhism, or Shintoism, or Hinduism, or Zoroastrianism, or any other religion, but in terms of the Law and the Prophets, in terms of God’s covenant. And any attempt to separate the Old and the New Testaments is death to the faith. The Llaw and the Prophets are meaningless without the atonement, and the atonement is stripped of its meaning when separated from the Law and the Prophets. God’s covenant with man is a covenant of grace and law, and we do not understand the Scriptures unless we appreciate that fact. God the Father, the creator of all things, entered into covenant with man, and that was an act of grace, pure and total grace. At the same time, every covenant is a treaty of law. And God, in the covenant with man declares that the way of peace with him is to walk in terms of his law-Word, the way of righteousness, or justice.
Now, in John 14:6, our Lord declares that: “he is the way, the truth, and the life.” This points us to another very significant fact which we lose in translation. The word ‘way’ in Greek in scriptures is ‘hodos.’ It is a part of the word ‘exodus,’ which is very literally ‘ex-hodos.’ An entrance, or entering is ‘eisodos.’ In Jeremiah 5:4 and elsewhere, we have a reference to the law as the ‘way of the Lord,’ which in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, reads, ‘odón kyríou.’ To walk in the way of the Lord means, in the Old Testament, to act according to the will of God revealed in commandments, statutes, and ordinances. This is what I Kings 2:3 and I Kings 8:58 tell us. God’s law is called ‘the way of the Lord,’ for which the prophets have to struggle to see that it is observed. In Psalm 119, again in the Greek version, the Septuagint, the way and the law are repeatedly equated.
Now, the strange fact is that there are some that want us to believe that after the Bible tells us most of the way through that the way of the Lord is the way of the covenant law and grace. Suddenly, with the New Testament, this meaning is dropped, and a different and a lawless meaning comes in. This is an interpretation which goes against all common sense, as well as any intelligent interpretation. We have to conclude that Jesus, in declaring himself to be “the way,” means plainly that he is the incarnation of God’s grace and justice, he is the way. The law is the expression of his being, as God the Son, and of his obedience as very man of very man. He is the covenant law incarnate, as well as the incarnation of covenant grace. He is God in the flesh.
The presence of Moses and Elijah makes clear that God’s covenant is brought to its perfection in Jesus Christ, and both the law and the prophets are validated. At the same time, the covenant grace and mercy are realized in Him and His atoning death. By his resurrection, he overthrows the power of sin and death. His Ex-hodos in Jerusalem, thus means that God’s justice as judgment against sin is executed. His resurrection as part of his Ex-hodos means that the powers of sin and death are broken, a new creation begins of which he is the first fruit, and man is free to walk in the way of the Lord. This way of the Lord means the freedom to exercise godly dominion, and by means of God’s law to bring about the rule of God’s justice. This was the Ex-hodos, the ‘decease,’ the way which our Lord opened up for us at Jerusalem.
But the world has chosen death. All around us we see, as the authors of the article in the Salisbury Review so ably presented, a massive will to death. A world bent on suicide and blasphemously so. It is a grim fact, but even as our Lord rose from the dead, so today as they seek to bury him on the front pages of the papers from coast to coast, and to speak of another so-called resurrection, it is Christ who lives, and it is Christ who reigns, and it is Christ who is victorious over sin and death. It is Christ whose justice is at work in the world and is bringing judgment and death upon those who array themselves against him. “The ungodly nations take counsel,” Psalm 2 tells us, “and they conspire together against the Lord and His anointed. And they say: “Let us break his bands,” his law, his rules asunder, and declare our freedom.’ But: “he that sitteth in the circle of the heavens shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision.” And his word unto them is: “kiss the son!” fall down before him in adoration and in repentance! “Lest ye perish in your way, lest he smite you with a rod of iron.” Blessed are all they that trust in him. Thus, on this day of all days, we must rejoice in the fact that we, by the grace of God, are the blessed of God, and blessedness can be translated also as ‘happiness,’ as joy. Ours is a joy that is not of this world, and a peace that is not of this world. And while the world perishes, we are destined for freedom and dominion. Therefore rejoice! Christ is risen! He has risen indeed! Let us pray.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we give thanks that even as the world tries afresh to crucify and bury the Lord of glory, He is risen, and he reigns, and his judgment is going forth from pole to pole, against all workers of iniquity. But there is no way, truth, or life, no resurrection apart from Jesus Christ, and no justice apart from his Word. Make us strong in Him, and joyful in Him, for he has risen indeed, with life and healing for His people. Our God, we thank thee. In Jesus’ name, 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