A Memorial of Redemption
March 7th, 1965 @ 7:30 PM
A MEMORIAL OF REDEMPTION
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
3-07-65 7:30 p.m.
Turn in your Bible to the ninth chapter of the Book of Numbers. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers; Numbers chapter 9, and we shall read together the first fourteen verses. And you who listen on the radio, open your Bible and read it out loud with us. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled A Memorial of Redemption. We have on our table before us the elements of the Lord’s Supper tonight, and the sermon is in keeping with this holy and sacred hour of the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup; the body and the blood of our Lord [Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26].
The ninth chapter of the Book of Numbers and reading the first fourteen verses; sharing our Bible, all of us reading out loud together:
And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,
Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season.
In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.
And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the Passover.
And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.
Now there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day:
And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel?
And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto the Lord.
The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.
But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.
And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto the Lord; according to the ordinance of the Passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.
It was the purpose of God to impress upon His people that they were a blood-bought and a redeemed people.
There are three distinct positions in the Pentateuch, three distinct positions in which you will find the people of the Lord observing that holy and memorial meal. The first is in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Exodus where the memorial of the Passover was instituted when God’s people were taken out of the land of Egypt. It was on the night that they slew the lamb, sprinkled the blood on the lintels and on the doorposts, ate the carcass roasted, with feet shod, and with staff in hand, ready for the great exodus out of slavery and bondage into God’s Promised Land [Exodus 12:1-11]. The second time that the Passover was signally observed is in the passage that we read tonight, in the wilderness journey as they made their way to inherit God’s gift for them [Numbers 9:1-14]. And the third time that the Passover is signally observed is in the fifth chapter of the Book of Joshua as they entered the land, and as they stood before the frowning walls of Jericho, and as they were challenged by the giants of Anak and Ai. There the Lord commanded the people once more, and particularly to observe the memorial of the Passover [Joshua 5:10].
There is a reason for those three signal events, at which time they observed the breaking of bread, and the sharing of the cup, and offering the lamb of sacrifice unto the Lord. They were taught that all of the grace of God mediated to them was in the mercy and in the blood-bought redemption which finally they came to see referred to the death, the sacrifice, the cross of our Lord. God’s people have been a redeemed people, a blood-bought people all through their history. Out of bondage they were redeemed by the blood of the lamb [Exodus 12:1-11]. In the pilgrimage through the wilderness, they were redeemed by the blood of the lamb, and as they entered the land of promise, they were redeemed by the blood of the lamb [Exodus 12:24]. It was burned into their memory. It was impressed on their hearts. From the slavery and bondage of Egypt, to the honeyed plains and the vine-clad hills of Canaan, they were a blood-bought and a redeemed people. And we are to remember that.
In Revelation 12:11, when Satan is cast down and is in this earth, and is a voracious, and vile, and villainous enemy of mankind [Revelation 12:10], how did God’s people meet so all-powerful an adversary? The Book says, Revelation 12:11, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony."
Could my tears forever flow?
Could my zeal no languor know?
These for sin could not atone;
Thou must save and Thou alone.
In my hands no price I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
[from "Rock of Ages," Augustus Toplady]
If we have any hope for victory against the wiles of the devil, our hope lies in the blood of the Lamb. We are a redeemed and a blood-bought people [1 Peter 1:18-19].
Now a situation arose. There were people, there were men, certain men, who couldn’t keep the Passover. The Lord had pronounced it for an ordinance for Israel forever: on the fourteenth day of the first month at evening the Passover was to be slain, and that night by families they were to eat it [Numbers 9:1-5]. But there were certain men who were defiled by a dead body. Death had entered their house, their home, and they couldn’t keep the Passover. And they came to Moses and said, "Are we shut out from this holy ordinance, and this blood memorial, and the offering of ourselves to God, because death has entered our home? What shall we do and what shall we say? [Numbers 9:6-7]. And Moses replied, "I know what to answer, but I will take it to God, and God will tell us what to do" [Numbers 9:8]. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, "You tell the people of Israel that if there is a man of you, or a man of your posterity, and he is unclean by reason of death in the home, or any other reason, or circumstance, or exigency, or he is in a long journey and he is afar off; you tell that man, he is not cut off because of circumstances over which he had no control, or because of the frailty of his life, or because of a dereliction. Tell him that there is a special dispensation from God for him, and he can keep the Passover in the appointed time at an appointed place" [Numbers 9:9-12]. What a marvelous and merciful provision God has made for our dereliction and our human frailties!
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice
That is more than liberty.
For the love of God is greater
Than the measure of man’s mind
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
["There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy," Frederick William Faber]
The Lord knows our frailty. He remembers that we are dust [Psalm 103:14]. And because we have fallen into sin, or into error, or into mistake, or into dereliction, or into tragedy, or into agony, or into tears, or into suffering, or into all of the things that human flesh is heir to, we are not thereby excluded from the love, and mercy, and grace, and provision of God; for the Lord remembers us.
In this church, and a son of one of our finest families, there grew up a lad. And he went away to college. And like so many boys reared in an affluent home and with so much, he wasted his opportunity, and he flunked out of school, and they dismissed him from the university. Not long after that, in the days that followed, the young fellow, like the prodigal in the story of the Lord Jesus [Luke 15:11-32], the young fellow came to himself, and came down this aisle here at the church, and gave himself to God, and started his life all over again. Then he came to see me in my study here at the church. And he said, "Dear pastor, I have sinned grievously, and I have wasted my golden opportunity, and I flunked out of the university, and I made the most grievous mistake of my life. But dear pastor," he said to me, "won’t you intercede with the officials of the university, and tell them that I have given my life to the Lord, and I want to go back to school, and I want another chance, and another opportunity? Please, won’t you do it?" I said, "Son, it will be the delight of my life to do that."
And I went to the dean of the university, and I said, "Sir, this young man who has grown up in our church, and a member of one of our finest families, has been prodigal in his life, and has wasted his opportunity, and has flunked out of the university, and he has been dismissed. But sir, he’s come to himself, and he has publicly before men and angels given his life anew to God, and he wants another chance. And if you’ll let him back into the university, he’ll prove that consecration to the Lord." And I said to the dean, "Sir, for Jesus’ sake, and for the sake of the boy, won’t you let him back into the school?" And the dean said something to me that I won’t ever forget. He said, "Pastor, you tell that boy to come to my office and to see me. You tell him to sit down in that chair across the desk from me and look me straight in the eye. And you tell that boy, looking me straight in the eye, that ‘I have made a mistake, but I have found myself, and if you’ll give me another chance, I’ll prove this dedication.’ You tell that boy to tell me that ‘I know I’ve made a mistake, and I’ve done wrong. And I’ve flunked out, but I’ll do better, and I want the opportunity to try.’ You tell him to tell me that, and I’ll take him back, and we’ll give him that opportunity."
And the boy did it. He went to the dean’s office. He sat in that chair. He looked the dean straight in the face, and he told the dean the dereliction in his life, and how God had forgiven him, and how he had re-consecrated his life to Jesus. And the dean took him back into the university. And he made a fine record and was graduated with honor. And did you know that, for years now, that young fellow with his dear wife has been one of our finest missionaries on the foreign field?
Why, that’s the land of beginning again, over which Jesus presides as Lord and King. Because of the mistakes you’ve made, and because of the derelictions in your life, and because of all of the frailties in which inevitably we find ourselves enmeshed, and because of anything, remember God who made us can remake us. And the Lord, who in grace, and in pity, and in love, looks upon us, remember God is for us, not against us. When you come before the Lord, and bare your heart before Him, and tell Him all of these things, the Lord remembers, and He makes provisions in His grace and mercy even for us. "You tell those men," said the Lord to Moses, "there is a special provision for them, that they also may be included in this holy ordinance, to be observed before God and forever" [Numbers 9:9-12]. But, the Lord said, we are not thereby, we are not thereby turning aside from this holy commandment. No, we are still faithfully to keep it, faithfully to keep it. That man who is on that journey, or that man who is fallen into uncleanness, that man who in frailty of human life finds himself unable to share at the appointed time and the appointed hour, there is a special provision for him to be included. But the ordinance is to be remembered and is to be kept. The man that is clean, that is not in a journey, he is to keep the Passover [Numbers 9:13]. And if a stranger among you finds himself moved God-ward; according to the ordinance, and according to the manner, so shall he do. For there is one ordinance, there is one salvation, and there is one cross, and there is one redemption for the stranger and for him that is born into the land. And the Lord impresses upon His people the holiness of the keeping of that precious memorial [Numbers 9:14].
So the Israelite was commanded to observe the holy Passover [Numbers 9:1-14], remembering his redemption in the blood [Leviticus 17:11]. And the Christian, the follower of Jesus, is faithfully to remember that holy and sacred ordinance. "For this is My body broken for you [1 Corinthians 11:24]. And this is My blood, shed for the remission of sins [1 Corinthians 11:25; Matthew 26:28]. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He come, till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. We can pray about the death of the Lord Jesus, and we can sing about the death of the Lord Jesus, and we can preach about the death of the Lord Jesus. But only in one place do we portray it, do we symbolize it, do we show it forth, and that is in the memorial of the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup. And it is to be a memorial our Lord said until He come [1 Corinthians 11:224-26]. As Israel has the Passover, as long as there is an Israel, the Passover is to be faithfully observed [Numbers 9:1-14]. So to a Christian, as long as there is a church and as long as God’s people shall assemble in the name of their Savior, this holy memorial is to be sacredly kept [1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. And what a beautiful remembrance; it is like a ring from His finger. It is like a bracelet from His arm; or better still, it’s like a picture of the Lord from His own bosom – – this memorial of the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup; the death of our Lord, the cross that saves us from our sins. "This is My body [1 Corinthians 11:24]. This is My blood" [1 Corinthians 11:25]. And I understand what He means.
I stood one day with a fine businessman in his, in the den in the library in his beautiful home, and there on the wall was a picture of an old fashioned girl. She looked to be oh, nineteen, eighteen, twenty years old; dressed in one of those high collars, and her hair thus, and all of it speaking of an old fashioned girl, long time ago. And as I stood there and looked at that framed picture on the wall, he said, "That is my mother. This is my mother." And he added, "I have never seen her angel face. She died when I was born." And he said, "Preacher, the glory someday of heaven will be to see my angel mother." And as he stood there, and looked at the picture, and repeated those words, "This is my mother," and with tears spoke of the hope of seeing her in glory. I could have said to him, "Why man, that’s not your mother. Why, I could tear the cardboard in two. That’s a piece of ink, and a piece of cardboard, and a piece of paper, and a piece of printing, behind glass and a frame. That’s not your mother!" Why, I never said that. You would have been surprised had I said it for I knew what he meant. You know what he meant. "That picture brings to my heart the likeness of my mother. And when I see the picture, I see her. When I look upon that face, the memory of all she meant to me, giving me life and breath, comes back to my soul. This is my mother."
"This is My body [1 Corinthians 11:24]. This is My blood [1 Corinthians 11:25]. And as oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show forth the memory of your Lord till He come, till He come, till He come" – achri hou elthe – "till He come, till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. O Lord, as an ancient Israelite made his journey through the wilderness to God’s Promised Land, and ate of the memorial of the Passover [Numbers 9:1-14], in remembrance that his life was blood-bought [Leviticus 17:11], so Lord, Thy children today, gathered in Thy name and in Thy house, break bread and drink of the fruit of the vine [1 Corinthians 11:23-26], remembering that our salvation is blood-bought [1 Peter 1:18-19], came through a cross, endowed by the tears, and the sobs, and the agony, and the death of God’s Son [Matthew 27:32-50]. O Lord, that I may remember, and worship, and adore, and thank Thee forever what God hath done for me.
And as we sing this hymn of appeal and invitation tonight, you, somebody you, to give your heart to Jesus, looking in faith to the blood and the cross of the Crucified One, somebody you, trusting Jesus as Savior, a couple, a family, putting your life in the fellowship of God’s church; as the Spirit of Jesus shall bear the appeal to your heart, make the decision tonight, do it now. Even as you are seated, "Lord, when we stand to sing, I’m coming down that aisle. I’m going down one of these stairways. Lord, I’m giving my life to Thee tonight, and here I come." Make it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
A MEMORIAL OF REDEMPTION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1. God’s people redeemed, blood bought, God delivered people
2. Redemption at the foundation
II. Three distinct redemptions
1. Egypt – in bondage redeemed by the blood of the lamb
III. Its merciful provisions
IV. Its importance