Communion Oberservance of Redemption
Observance of redemption
Doxology Hymn no 53: “All people that on earth do dwell”
Call to worship
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:2)
Hymn No 321: “Bring to the Lord a glad new song”
Invocation and the Lord’s Prayer
Invocation and prayer
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
Hymn No 361: “Gathered, Lord, around your table”
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Declaration of pardoning
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1)
Hymn No 424
Offering and Dedication (while offering is taken up, all (remaining seated) sing:
Hymn No 364: “Almighty Lord of all created things” (verses 1, 2, 5, 6)
Prayer for others
Scripture Reading Exodus 12:31-51
Sermon: Communion – observance of redemption
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
We know the story of the drought and consequent famine in Israel in the time of Jacob. Even before this time, God provided that Joseph would go to Egypt to prepare the sojourn of his covenant people who carried his promises.
Jacob eventually settled in Egypt and initially they enjoyed the goodwill of the pharaoh. But 400 years passed, and the fortune of children of Israel changed. They became oppressed as slaves. God saw the suffering of his people and He knew their sorrows. According to his covenant He then called Moses to be their deliverer.
We know the account of the plagues and the hardened heart of the Pharaoh. He exalted himself against the Lord of hosts to defend his own position of god to his people. One plague after the other hit Egypt and ruined its people.
But deliverance belongs to our God. Nothing can ever frustrate his plans and promises to his people.
Then on the crucial night, the Lord God of Israel showed Himself mighty over all gods on the face of the earth. God said:
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. (Exodus 12:12)
The sign of deliverance
He revealed to Moses how He would strike down the firstborn of the Egyptians and how He would rescue his elect. Israel would be saved by following the instructions of God given to his servant Moses. With twilight on the day God appointed, they had to gather as families in their homes and kill a lamb without blemish. The blood they had to paint across the doorposts of the houses they were gathered in. The Lord said:
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. (Exodus 12:13)
After God had revealed his plan of redemption to Moses, Moses called the elders of Israel together and gave them the instructions. They had to be careful to do as God commanded. He repeated:
When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. (Exodus 12:23)
Preparation for deliverance
All this happened very quickly. The Israelites had been preparing the dough for their bread and had not even been in the position to add the yeast to it when the news through the elders was announced. It was probably with much apprehension and uneasiness that they did what Moses had told them. Families got together and the lamb was slaughtered. Hyssop was used to dip into the blood of the lamb to spread on the door posts.
The source of deliverance
The sun disappeared on the horizon. Twilight set in and what followed then is described in verse 42 of chapter 12:
Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honour the LORD for the generations to come. (Exodus 12:42)
This verse is translated in more than one way. The New Kings James Version translates:
It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:42)
The English Standard version translates:
It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:42)
Indeed, both these translations are possible. The first says the Israel observed this night solemnly because God brought them out of the land of slavery. The latter puts the keeping watch primarily as an act of deliverance on the part of God, the result was that the Israelites remembered this as the night of the Lord in which He delivered his people.
It seems from the context that we have to favour the last reading. It was God in the first and the last instance that brought deliverance and freedom to his people.
That night, as the sun set on the horizon, seen by most heathen and godless people as the onset of the period of the forces of darkness, God kept watch for his people. He kept watch over his people. Something terrible was about to happen: all firstborn, both of people and livestock, would be struck by God with death. Indeed, protection without God was not protection at all. The Pharaoh who posed as a god to his people, would now lose his own firstborn, who was the sign of the so-called immortal deity of the pharaoh, would now be shown as nothing more or more elevated that the captive in his dungeon or the firstborn of the livestock.
That night God kept guard over his people for their protection; his promises to made Abraham more than 400 before this day, and the salvation of his people would occur during the time of this act.
The reality of deliverance
And then, on midnight on the very day of their 430th year of sojourn in Egypt, God struck his enemy with death. And as they lost their firstborn in order for Israel to be free, God made true his promises made to Abraham. He passed over the houses of the Israelites where the blood on the doorposts was the sign of them belonging to God. They were the people of the promise; they were God’s covenant people.
That was the end for the pharaoh. He could not wait for the morning to come:
Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said.
Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.” (Exodus 12:31-32)
This is what the Israelites celebrated in the years to follow: verse 42:
“ …this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come. (Exodus 12:42)
Celebration of deliverance
The people of God were rescued that night and the Passover became known as the Night of the Lord. As every year the Israelites observed this solemn occasion. Their observance was to remember the grace and the promises of the Lord and how it came true in their deliverance from slavery.
Limitation on celebration
But the following paragraph spells out more about their keeping guard over the promises of God over his people. God included his people in keeping pure and holy what belongs to Him.
The elders had a task of oversight to see that the Passover would be celebrated for what the Lord instituted it and the way the Lord instituted it.
The first requirement:
No foreigner shall eat it. This meant that only they who worshipped the living God of the covenant, they who received the sign of the circumcision as a sign of God’s everlasting covenant of grace made to Abraham, the Father of all believers, could sit to enjoy the sacrament. Of course, the very act of God’s favour on his people to rescue them out of slavery was an act of sanctifying them, setting them apart. No other nation could claim this; therefore no person worshipping any other god could partake in this celebration. To be included into the celebration meant renouncing that faith, it meant conversion away from false gods, in meant accepting God’s own standards of his covenant and to live by it. It meant to identify with God’s people and become like one of them.
The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.” (Exodus 12:49)
The second requirement
Further, no bone of the lamb could be broken. That was an ordinance of God – He did not give any specific reason why they were not allowed to do it, but later in history, when all the promises of the covenant of God were fulfilled in his own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, we understand that the lamb of the Passover, whose blood signified the salvation of God’s people, pointed to the Son, who died on the Cross to shed his blood for the salvation of many. His bones were not broken. His bones were not subject to decay either, because on the third day He rose again victoriously over death and hell and satan to secure the salvation of God’s elect.
God’s promises of grace as expressed in signs, the sacraments. In the Old Testament they were circumcision and Passover. All of this pointed forward to the One who is the Redeemer, the Messiah, the Saviour. With the redemption in Christ God gave us new signs as sacraments of the same covenant: Baptism and Holy Communion. And these two sacraments go hand in hand. They are both signs of God’s covenant made new. Today Passover and Holy Communion come together. And once again, we are reminded of baptism as sign of God’s covenant. As Passover was the night of the Lord, so Communion is the day of the Lord. As circumcision was the sign of becoming part of God’s family, so baptism is that sign in the New Testament.
Celebration of God’s redeemed people
All of this was fulfilled in Christ. Christ kept vigil, kept guard over the people of God and secured salvation: it is by his blood that we have eternal life; in Him we have forgiveness of sin; in Him we are passed over; in Him we have an eternal Canaan.
But more than that: we now celebrate that night. And we keep watch that no-one who is not worthy of the Lord enjoy this celebration. He who eats and drinks without examining himself, eats and drinks condemnation upon himself. Yes, only those who are baptised into God’s covenant of grace as a member of God’s family, those who have received God’s promises in the first place, he who accepted it and live by it, who understands the standard of a holy life in Jesus Christ; he who understands the message of redemption in Jesus Christ, is welcome to sit and enjoy the signs of the benefit.
Here we sit this morning to remember God’s favour and mercy. We have received his sign of an everlasting covenant in the first place, and now time and time again we sit down to eat with the Lord, and once again we are called to repentance and a holy life. We today receive the signs of redemption again. God has made true his promises. Amen.
Hymn No 362: “Here now O Lord” (verse 1-4)
1. Approach: 1Corinthians 11:23-34
2. Confession of Faith (Apostles’ Creed)
3. Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
6. Response: Prayer
7. Hymn: No 362: 5-6 “Too soon we rise”