Last week, I said,
“So we know that sin (transgression, offense, trespass) is disobedience to God, and that disobedience makes us unfit to be in His presence. If we remain in that corrupted, defiled state, all that remains for us is the eternal spiritual death called Hell.”
Then I said God had a plan.
God had a plan from the beginning. He knew Adam and Eve would sin, and He knew that He would make a way to reconcile mankind back to Himself.
I don’t know why He even bothered, but I’m glad He did!
Remember what He said when He cursed the serpent?
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. (Gen 3:15)
Did you notice that God’s reference to Eve’s offspring is singular? He and his, not they and their. Did He have a particular offspring in mind?
God’s plan was to send His Son, but He needed to wait for the right time, the right place, and the right family.
Abram was a descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s three sons who survived the flood by entering the ark.
Beginning in the 11th chapter of Genesis, and running through the end of the book, we learn of how God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promised to make him a great nation (when he was childless) and gave him a child in his old age. God told Abraham that “all nations” would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3). The story continues with Abraham’s son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Jacob had twelve sons, one of which was sold to slave traders by his brothers. That son was Joseph, and he would rise to be the right hand of Pharaoh, and save his family’s life during a great famine. Israel and his entire family moved to Egypt.
Before he died, Israel blessed his sons. The blessing on Judah is particularly interesting.
Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. you are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk. (Genesis 49:8-12, bold emphasis mine)
Genesis closes with the death of Joseph.
So what does all this have to do with God’s plan? Well, we know God told the serpent Eve’s offspring would crush his head. We also know that he told childless Abram that “all nations” would be blessed through him. We also know that Israel said that Judah would have the “ruler’s staff” and he would keep it until the one to whom it belonged came for it.
Who was the rightful owner of the staff?
Wait. There’s more.
Exodus continues the story of Israel’s descendants, only now they are in trouble. They have become numerous in Egypt and the current Pharaoh doesn’t remember Joseph. He only knows that there are too many Hebrews and they might try to overtake his kingdom. So, he made them slaves and went so far as to make them kill their newborn sons. That was about the time Moses was born. Moses’ family were descendants of Israel’s son Levi. God had a plan for Moses. He would use Moses to get His people out of Egypt and back to the land He had promised Abraham. Because Pharaoh was so hardhearted and stubborn, God sent ten plagues on Egypt.
The final plague in Egypt was the death of the first born.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household…The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast…This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. (Ex 12: 1-3,5-8,11-14)
This is the first of seven annual feasts God established for the children of Israel. He would use them to set a pattern for future events. Their observance always required several sacrifices.
One feast came in the fall of the year. It was called the Day of Atonement. You may also recognize it for it’s Hebrew name Yom Kippur.
Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat. (Lev 16:6-10)
The high priest was required to make a sacrifice first for himself, then one for the whole nation. The whole process is outlined in Leviticus 16.
Just in case you were wondering about the necessity of blood sacrifice:
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (Lev 17:11)
Hold that thought. It’s important.
We’ll get back to the feasts later. They figure into God’s plan
We’ve talked about Moses and the Law before. We’ve also talked about how Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land and how Joshua would take his place. Before he goes, Moses tells the Israelites about someone else.
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. (Deut 18:15)
Eventually, this prophet would be identified as “Messiah” or “anointed one”.
Like God promised, the children of Israel, led by Joshua entered and took control of the promised land of Canaan. Then Joshua died, and everything went down hill from there.
What about God’s plan?
We’ll we’ve already gone on long today, so come back next week and we’ll learn more about God’s amazing plan.
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