The Twelve Mysteries of God
April 25th, 1973
THE TWELVE MYSTERIES OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-25-73 7:30 p.m.
Well, Mel, we have already had our prayer, and so let us just begin. Now you are going to be interested in the lesson for tonight because we are going to look at The Twelve Mysteries of God; The Twelve Mysteries of God.
First, a definition of mustērion, translated in our King James Version “mystery”; in classical Greek, ta mustēria, the plural of it, ton mustērion the singular of it, in classical Greek ta mustēria “the mysteries” were hidden religious rites and knowledge revealed only to the initiated. That is what the word referred to. For example, one of the great, famous, ancient Greek mystery religions was Eleusis. They were known as the Eleusinian mysteries. And in that mystery Demeter, who is the goddess of fertility and agriculture, had a daughter by the name of Persephone, and Persephone was a beautiful, beautiful girl. Pluto fell in love with her, and took her away to be his queen of the underworld. But Demeter, the mother, who had the daughter Persephone by Zeus, the head of the gods, Demeter the mother was so heartbroken that Pluto had taken Persephone down into the underworld, that she pled with Zeus to make Pluto return her daughter to her mother. Well, Zeus compromised it, so he said to Pluto, “Six months out of the year Persephone is to be returned to her mother Demeter. And then six months out of the year you can have her in the underworld.” And that was the Greek mythological explanation of the seasons of summer and winter. When Persephone is down in the underworld, Demeter is unhappy and sad, and that is wintertime. But when Pluto lets her come back to Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, Ceres her name is in Latin, why, she is happy, and that is springtime and summer and fruit time.
Now, that was the story that lies back of the Eleusinian mysteries. But what that mystery was that was given to the initiated, nobody ever revealed. One of the strangest of all of the historical facts of ancient life, culture, religion and literature is this: that no one ever revealed any of the ancient Greek mysteries. How that could be nobody understands.
Let me tell you the name of another mystery religion—and it’s hard for us to believe this—in the first few centuries after Jesus, it looked as though the entire civilized world would be converted to the worship of Mithra. The convert to Mithra experienced his initiation by a taurobolium—a bull blood bath. The man got under a platform, they killed a bull above him, which was later sacrificed, and the blood of the bull was poured out on the initiated. But what the initiated’s rites were is a mustērion; it’s a mystery known only to the initiated. And do you know why Mithra did not become the religion of the civilized world? It was because no woman was allowed in it. It was only for men. It was propagated by the Roman soldiers, and because of their refusal to accept women into the group, why, the religion of Mithra finally failed, and the empire became Christian.
An example of a mystery initiation is the Masonic Lodge. That’s a Greek mustērion. The initiation into the Masonic Lodge is supposed to be known only to Masons; and they swear, and they swear, and they swear, and swear, and swear, and swear in a long series of swearings that they will never reveal that initiation mystery rite. How many of you have been initiated into the Blue Lodge, the first three degrees? Hold up your hands. Well, there’s a bunch of you, so you know what I’m talking about. You swear, and swear, and swear, and you swear and swear that you will not reveal those initiation rites. Now that is a mustērion; and that is the way the word is used, until finally in the Greek language, I mean in the English language, we debauched it and made it refer to something enigmatic and sometimes riddle like.
All right, now we must remember that the word is used in the Greek thousand, two hundred to eight hundred years before it became a significant word of a riddle in the English language. So when we talk about the mysteries of God, now we must remember what it was that the Bible refers to when it uses the word. A mystery in the Bible is a secret kept in the heart of God until He revealed it to man. It is something that human reason could not discover; it must come from God Himself. That is a mustērion. Now I repeat that again: a mystery is something in the heart of God that human reason could never discover, no matter how you tried, how you thought, how you spoke, you could never know it; it had to be revealed by God. Now there are twelve of those mysteries in the Bible. One is revealed by Christ, nine of them are revealed by Paul, and two of them are revealed by the apostle John. So we’re going to take the twelve mysteries of God, and I want you to underline them in the Bible.
The first mystery is the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 13:11. Turn to Matthew 13:11 and underscore it; Matthew 13:11, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” That’s why Jesus says that He is going to talk to them in parables [Matthew 13:13]: because to them God was going to reveal the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. Now underscore that word “mystery” there. “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 13:11].
All right, what is the mustērion of the kingdom of heaven? What is the secret in God’s heart that human reason could never have found or discovered, but it came only because God revealed it? All right, the mystery of the kingdom of heaven is this: that there was to be an interval [Luke 21:24] between Christ’s first coming and His second coming [Hebrews 9:28]; and at His first coming the kingdom took on its mystery form [Mark 4:11; Luke 17:20-21]. Its character was revealed in the parables because the King and His kingdom were rejected [Matthew 13:13-15]. The kingdom of God was no mystery; the millennial kingdom was no mystery—the prophets talked about that kingdom world without end. But the mystery was that in this dispensation, the one in which we now live, the King was to be absent [Luke 19:11-27], and the kingdom of heaven took on its mystery form [Mark 4:11; Luke 17:20-21]. The prophets never saw that. The Old Covenant, the Old Scriptures never revealed that; that is a mustērion that was in the heart of God until He revealed it to His apostles [Ephesians 3:1-11]. So the mystery—and this is the first great mystery—the mystery of the kingdom of heaven is this: that between the first coming and the second coming of Christ, the kingdom was to be here in this earth, the King rejected, and it took on the mystery form which is revealed to us in the parables [Matthew 13:13; Luke 19:11-27]. And last week we studied the parables that revealed the nature of the kingdom of heaven. Now this mystery of the kingdom is referred to in several instances by Paul. In Romans 16:25, in 1 Corinthians 2:6-8, 1 Corinthians 4:1, in 1 Corinthians 13:2, in Ephesians 6:19, in Colossians 4:3, Paul refers to the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.
Now, have I expatiated on that clearly? The mystery is, the mystery of the kingdom of heaven is that between the first coming and the second coming of Christ is this dispensation in which we live, that the prophets never saw; and the kingdom did not come [Ephesians 3:3-11]. It was announced by John the Baptist [Matthew 3:1-2], it was announced by Jesus [Matthew 4:17], “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”; it did not come because the King was rejected, and He went away [John 1:11; Matthew 21:43]. So the kingdom took on a mystery form; the form that you now see it, illustrated to us by the parable [Luke 19:11-27]. But the kingdom will come in manifestation, in reality, in outward, visible appearance at the millennial return of our Lord [Revelation 19:11-16]. But now the kingdom is in a mystery form; and the mystery is revealed to us by the parables in Matthew [Matthew 13:1-52].
All right, we can’t . . . we’re going to be here forever. The second mystery, turn to Romans 11:25; the second mystery is the mystery of Israel’s partial blindness. Turn to Romans 11:25 and underscore. Romans 11:25, “I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mustērion, namely that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in”—and then—“All Israel shall be saved: as it is written” [Romans 11:25-26], so and so. During this age blindness in part is happened to Israel, but the mustērion: but the nation will survive; it will not cease to exist, and someday it will be born into the kingdom of Christ [Romans 11:25-26], “a nation born in a day” [Isaiah 66:8]. When Christ reveals Himself to them, they will be saved; they will accept their Lord, they’ll turn from their sins and accept the Lord Jesus. And that’s the second mustērion: the mustērion of Israel’s partial blindness and her ultimate salvation [Romans 11:25-26].
All right, mystery number three: 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; this is the mustērion of the rapture and the resurrection, the musterion of the rapture and the resurrection. You’ll also find it meticulously described in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. This is a mystery, the mustērion, of the rapture and the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I show you a mustērion.” Now what did we say a mustērion was? It is a secret in the heart of God that human reason could never have known, but it is revealed to us by God from heaven.
Behold, I show you a mustērion; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.
[1 Corinthians 15:51-52]
The translation of the living saints and the resurrection of the dead saints was something reason never dreamed of. According to reason we die with the common allotted experience of all mankind. But to be taken off the earth and translated to heaven without dying is a mustērion that philosophy, science, human reason could never have discovered! In a million, billion years of thinking, human reason could never have discovered that! That’s a mustērion that was kept in the heart of God until He revealed it to His holy apostles [Ephesians 3:3-11]. And this is the mustērion of the rapture and of the resurrection [1 Peter 1:9-12]. Isn’t that a glorious thing God does for us? He reveals these things to us, and the only way we know them is by the revelation of God. So the third great mustērion of God is the mustērion of the rapture of the living saints and the resurrection of the dead saints up to glory; something human reason never imagined [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 1 Peter 1:9-12].
All right, mustērion number four is the mystery of the divine will, Ephesians 1:9-10. Ephesians 1:9-10, “Having made known unto us”—this is something Christ has done for us—
Having made known unto us the mustērion of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:
That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.
Now this is the mustērion of the divine will: namely, the restoration of all things in Christ. God’s purpose is to undo all that sin has done, restore all things in Christ as they were before the rebellion of Satan [Ezekiel 28:15; Revelation 12:4], and the fall of man [Genesis 3:1-6]. It is to be a complete restoration! [Ephesians 1:9-10].
Now, I’m not going to take time to read the passage—I did it a few Wednesday nights ago—but the passage is Romans 8:19-23. And there Paul says that the entire creation, all of it, the entire creation was blasted, it was cursed, all of it. The stars were cursed, and the planet was cursed, and there are searing deserts, and tornadic winds, and floods, and violence, and the whole universe fell in the fall of Satan [Romans 8:22]. And that has been the course of human life and human observation ever since. Disease, senility, age, death, storm, blast, desert, stars that explode and burn out, the whole world has been cursed. The animal world has been cursed. They also suffer. They suffer in childbirth, they suffer in age, they suffer in agony and distress, they eat one another—that was never the intention of God. They destroy one another. Little fleas have other fleas to bite them, and those fleas have other fleas ad infinitum. Big fish eat the little fish, and those little fish eat other little fish. And the lion is ravenous and carnivorous. The whole world suffers and travails. Now all of this is in that passage there in the eighth chapter of Romans [Romans 8:19-23]. All of it is in travail, all of it, the whole creation; but it is God’s purpose to restore this creation in Christ, and that’s the mustērion of the will of God [Ephesians 1:9-10]. Someday the lion will eat straw like an ox [Isaiah 11:7]. Isn’t that what the Bible says? Eat straw like an ox; someday the wolf and the lamb will dwell side by side [Isaiah 11:6]. And they will not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain; and the whole universe will be full of the knowledge of the glory of God and the wonder of heaven, as the waters cover the sea [Isaiah 11:9]. And that’s the mustērion of the will of God [Ephesians 1:9-10].
All right, your fifth mustērion is the mustērion of the church. And this, to me, is one of the greatest revelations to be found in all the Word of the Lord. This is in Ephesians chapter 3:3: “How that by revelation He made known unto me the mustērion” [Ephesians 3:3]. Now the mustērion is in Ephesians 3:1-11. The mustērion is that there is to be a church, a church. The prophets never saw the church [Ephesians 3:5]. The time period until the consummation of the age you will read in the ninth chapter of Daniel, the seventy weeks, seventy weeks, four hundred ninety years, seventy weeks, four hundred and ninety years [Daniel 9:24-27]. Why, my, my! When Daniel was taken captive it was in 605 BC [Daniel 1:1, 3-6], and yet in the ninth chapter of Daniel it is seventy weeks, four hundred and ninety years until the consummation of the age [Daniel 9:24-27]. I’m using that as an illustration of the fact that the prophets never saw this mustērion [Ephesians 3:5].
Now what’d we say a mustērion was? A mustērion is a secret in the heart of God that reason could never discover, and it was not known until God revealed it. Now the church is a mustērion in the heart of God that nobody ever dreamed of or that ever saw until God revealed it [Ephesians 3:1-11]. Now you look at this just for a second. Was there bitter enmity between the Jew and the Gentile? The Gentile was looked upon by the Jew as being an uncircumcised, blaspheming heathen. And the Jew called the Gentile “dog,” a Gentile dog. Now what the Gentile thought about the Jewish fanatics, wouldn’t do to print. It’s just unspeakable. The bitter enmity between the Gentile dogs and the Jewish fanatics was forever. But, but, here in the [second] chapter and following of the Book of Ephesians, why, we are told that the wall of partition between the Jew and the Gentile has been taken down and thrown away, and God is going to build one body composed of a union of Jews and Gentiles [Ephesians 2:14-15]. And that is revealed here and discussed in the third chapter of the Book of Ephesians [Ephesians 3:5-10]. That’s the fifth mustērion of God: the mustērion of the church; that there is to be one body, and in that one body Jew and Gentile are to share alike [Ephesians 3:1-11].
All right, the sixth mustērion is in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. Ephesians 5:32, “This is a great mustērion: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” This is the mustērion of the church as the bride of Christ. So your passage would begin at verse 22 and go through verse 32 in the fifth chapter of Ephesians [Ephesians 5:22-32]. The first Adam had a bride [Genesis 2:21-25]. The second Adam has a bride; and in this dispensation, a people is being called out to be His bride. What’d I say a mustērion was? It’s something human reason can never know; it’s something that we could never discover. It had to be revealed from God. It was a secret in His heart. And the sixth mustērion is the mustērion of the church as the bride of Christ [Ephesians 5:32].
Now he uses—and I don’t have time to go into these things. I’ve preached on them several times; it takes whole sermons even to take part of it—but he says here, “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mustērion: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” [Ephesians 5:30-32].
All right, let me take just a minute to define it.
And the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam. And while Adam slept, God took from his side, and made a woman, and He brought her to Adam. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called isha because she taken out of ish. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife: and they two shall be one flesh.
So Paul says that is a great mustērion [Ephesians 5:32], that as Eve was taken out of the side of Adam [Genesis 2:21-24], so the church is taken out of the riven side of our Lord [Ephesians 5:30-32]. We were born in the blood, sobs, tears, suffering, agony of Jesus Christ [Isaiah 53:5]. And that is the mustērion of the bride of Christ [Ephesians 5:32]. As Eve was taken out of the side of Adam, so the church, the bride of Christ, is born out of His blood, out of His sobs, out of His tears, out of His suffering, out of His cross [Matthew 27:32-50]. We are the Lord’s bride, born in His redeeming love [Ephesians 5:25]. Isn’t that a beautiful mustērion? [Ephesians 5:32]. Reason would never in the earth have found that. It’s something God revealed. Now we must hasten.
The seventh mustērion, the seventh mustērion is the mystery of the indwelling, inliving Christ. Now let’s turn to Colossians; Colossians chapter 1, verses 26 and 27. “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God”—you know some people don’t like that word “dispensation,” but you sure have it in the Bible—“according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God” [Colossians 1:25]. Now 26, Colossians 1:26, “Even the mustērion which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mustērion among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; Christ in you, the hope of glory” [Colossians 1:26-27]. This is the mystery of the indwelling, inliving Christ; it’s the mustērion of the new birth, which Nicodemus could not understand [John 3:1-9]; it’s the union of the divine nature and ours, Jesus becomes one with us by taking our nature and we become one with Him by our taking His nature; we are a part of Christ as the members of the body [Ephesians 5:30]. And you have that body described in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, especially verses 12 and 13 [1 Corinthians 12:12-13]. So the seventh mystery is the mystery of the indwelling Christ; the mystery of the new birth, the mystery of the divine nature that we have, where we are united with Christ: He took our nature and became carnate [Philippians 2:7]; and when we’re born again, we take His nature, and we become one in Him [2 Peter 1:3-4]. So in Colossians 1:26-27 we have the mustērion of the indwelling Christ, of the new birth.
All right, mystery number eight, it’s in Colossians 2:2, “For I would that ye know what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh” [Colossians 2:1]—that shows you that he’d never been to Colosse, he’d never seen the people there, so he writes them this letter—“That”—now here’s the mustērion—“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mustērion of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” [Colossians 2:2-3] This is the mustērion of the deity of Christ; the incarnate fullness of the Godhead [Colossians 2:9]. In Him all divine wisdom for man subsists, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” [Colossians 2:3]. You find that again in 1 Corinthians 1:25-31, and in 1 Corinthians 2:1-8.
How in the earth—now to show you what a mustērion that is—how in the earth do you think that Socrates would have responded to that? Or let’s bring it down today: how in the earth do you think these modern infidels respond to that? That in Jesus, that in Jesus all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are to be found. Why, the old ancient Greek would have, “Ha, ha, ha.” Isn’t that what they did when Paul came and preached Jesus to them? [Acts 17:30-32]. The Stoics smiled, and being a little more gentle, bowed and said, “We will hear thee again of this matter. We will hear thee again of this matter” [Acts 17:32]. They never intended to hear him again of that matter. To them it was unadulterated idiocy! And the Epicurean philosophers, when they heard about it, they laughed outright. What do you think about the modern philosophers and infidel pseudoscientists? They are the same way: “Do you mean to tell me that all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom are hid in Christ?” Why, to them it is idiocy and silliness. But to us to whom Christ is revealed in all of His fullness, there is nothing truer in the world.
Now I haven’t got time, I haven’t time to go through all this, but Courtland Myers, that brilliant and eloquent preacher, one time went down, oh, he must have had forty of them, forty of them: “To the geologists, He’s the Rock of Ages; to the botanist, He’s the Lily of the Valley; to the astronomer, He’s the Bright and Morning Star; to the zoologist, He’s the Living One; to the architect, He’s the great Creator and Builder of the universe; to the pedagogue, He’s the Master Teacher; to the pulpitier, He’s the Prince of preachers; to the physician, He’s the Divine Healer”—and oh, Courtland Myers went on and on and on and on. Now the mustērion is that to us all knowledge is ultimately found, all wisdom finds its ultimate meaning in Jesus Christ; and apart from Him it has no meaning, it has no purpose, and it has no ultimate blessing. The mustērion is that in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid [Colossians 2:3]; and no man knows that until it is revealed to him by the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 2:9-10]. You got to be born again to know that [John 3:3].
Sweet Miss Frasier, I just love you. You just nod and smile. Oh dear!
All right, mystery number nine: this is the mustērion by which godliness is restored to man, namely the mustērion of the incarnation. First Timothy 3:16, 1 Timothy 3:16, 1 Timothy 3:16, “Without controversy great is the mustērion of godliness.” What is it? “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up to glory”: the mustērion of godliness, the mystery of the incarnation of Christ [1 Timothy 3:16]. John 1:1-14 describes that: “And the Word became flesh, and we beheld His glory.” John 14:9, “He that has seen Me hath seen the Father”: the mustērion of the incarnation, by which godliness is restored to man [2 Corinthians 5:17].
All right, number ten: the mustērion of iniquity. Second Thessalonians 2:7, 2 Thessalonians 2:7. And the entire passage is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Verse 7, “For the mustērion of iniquity doth already work: only He who now preventeth will prevent, until He be taken out of the way” [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. The mustērion of godliness was God was manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16]. The mustērion of iniquity is Satan is going to be manifest in the flesh [2 Thessalonians 2:8]. Already at work in Paul’s day, according to Matthew 13:33, but going to reach an ultimate and final consummation when the Antichrist is revealed, that’s going to be Satan’s final masterpiece; the mustērion of iniquity [2 Thessalonians 2:7].
All right, number eleven, number eleven: the mustērion of the seven stars and the seven lampstands; that’s Revelation 1:20. Revelation 1:20, “The mustērion of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the messengers of the seven churches: and the seven lampstands which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Now the mustērion is this: that those seven churches represent all the churches; and part of that all refers to the history of the church to the end of the age. Starting at the beginning, clear to the end, you have the revelation of the story of the churches of Christ in this earth; the mustērion of the seven stars and the mustērion of the seven lampstands [Revelation 1:20].
All right, the twelfth and the last mystery: Revelation 17:5-7. Revelation 17:5-7. This is the mystery of Babylon. Look at verse 5: “And upon her forehead was a name written, MUSTĒRION, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” [Revelation 17:5]. As the bride of Christ is represented by a city in Revelation 21:9-10, the bride of Antichrist is the system symbolized by a city and by apostate religion—the mustērion of Babylon, which of course will ultimately and finally be destroyed [Revelation 17:5-7].
Now these are the twelve mysteries of God that are revealed to us in the Holy Word. Somebody said to me at the officers and teachers meeting, “Pastor, you just go so fast.” Well, I’d give anything in the earth if we could spend several hours on each one of them, but, you know, we’re going to do that in heaven.
Now let’s turn to our underscoring. We have just a very few minutes left, and I’d love to go through Exodus at least. We got the whole Bible to go through yet, and we’ve just now got down to Exodus. All right, for our underscoring, Exodus chapter 3, Exodus chapter 3, verse 2, underscore. Underscore Exodus chapter 3:2,
And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
And Moses said, I will turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
Now I’d call that, in my speech, a mustērion. What would be the mustērion in that? Nobody ever dreamed of such a thing, but we know it now that it’s been revealed to us in the New Testament [Romans 11:26]. The mustērion of that would be that the Israelitish nation will never cease to be. Now all these other nations come and go, Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Nineveh, on and on; but always there will be a Jewish people and a Jewish nation. The bush burns unconsumed; it is a parable, it is a type, it is a mustērion [Exodus 3:2].
All right, let’s turn to [Exodus] 3:13-14. Now we’re picking out famous passages in the Bible that all of us ought to be able to put our hands on immediately. Exodus 3, Exodus 3:13-14. What’d I say? Oh dear! What’s the matter? I’m trying to push this along way too fast. Exodus 3:13-14:
Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they say unto me, What is His name? what shall I say unto them?
And God said unto Moses, Yahweh, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
The great I Am; you ought to underscore that.
All right, Exodus 11:7, Exodus 11, verse 7. This is just a little passage that I preached on one time. “But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast”—now the underscoring—“that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel” [Exodus 11:7]. And the Lord still is doing that. As long as the Egyptians are a nation, the Bible says they will be a base nation [Ezekiel 29:14-16]: “That ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”
All right, Exodus 12:3. We’ll not take time to read all these passages. This is the Passover, and that’s your lamb. Exodus 12:3 is the lamb. Now Exodus 12:13 is the blood to be sprinkled upon the houses: “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” That’s verse 13 [Exodus 12:13]. Now verse 23 tells how to do it: “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel and on the two side posts”—in the form of a cross; the lintel at the top, and the side posts on either side—“the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come into your house to smite you” [Exodus 12:23]. You ought to underscore that.
All right, let us turn to chapter 13, chapter 13, verses 21 and 22:
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
And He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
They were led through the wilderness by the shekinah glory of God, Exodus 13:21-22.
All right, the fourteenth chapter of Exodus, the fifteenth verse. Here is a passage I have preached on, used to. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto Me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward” [Exodus 14:15]. Now I wish we had time just to preach some of it. Who was in the back of them? The Egyptians. Who was on the side of them this way? The desert. Who was on the side of them that way? An illimitable desert. And what was in front of them? The Red Sea. And yet God said, “Go forward” [Exodus 14:15]. How in the earth are you going to do that? Well, that shows whether you’ve got faith in God or not. “Move,” said God.
Now, when you have in the [Exodus] the song of Moses and the Lamb, chapter 15 is the song of Moses. You ought to underscore verse 1, “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea” [Exodus 15:1]. That’s a beautiful passage; that whole fifteenth is the song of Moses [Exodus 15:1-19]. And that’s what we’re going to sing when we get to heaven, the song of Moses and the Lamb [Revelation 15:3-4].
All right, Exodus chapter 17, Exodus chapter 17, verse 12, verse 12. Now I have preached on this many times. “But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” [Exodus 17:12]. And, of course, the application of that is just beautiful: holding up the hands of the pastor. Didn’t you ever hear that expression? Holding up the hands of the pastor. The story, of course, is against the Amalekites, Joshua was down there fighting them, and as long as Moses held up his hands the Israelites won; but when Moses lowered his hands the Amalekites won. But Moses couldn’t hold up his hands because his hands got tired, so Aaron stood on one side and Hur stood on the other side, and they held up Moses’ hands till the victory was won [Exodus 17:9-13]. So you hold up the hands of your pastor, praying for him, and loving him, and overlooking all of his foibles, and sometimes his downright mistakes, and once in a while his sheer unadulterated meannesses, and on and on and on and on. You wouldn’t expect your pastor to be perfect, would you? You’d have Jesus as your pastor, and you don’t ever think of my being the Lord Jesus, do you? So we just have some of these things in order to show that he’s human. He’s got feet out of clay, and when you see his clay feet or when you see his slip showing, or something like that, just overlook it. Just love him just the same. Oh! to be a friend to your pastor.
Let me tell you something that I have observed. Dr. Wade Freeman here, being my compatriot in the ministry could say the same thing. You may have a sorry pastor, but you’ll hurt your church irrevocably and irretrievably if you try to kick him out. Just pray, just hold up his hands, and let God say the ultimate. If you don’t, you’re going to have a weak church—I don’t care what you do. If you’re going to have a wonderful church, love your pastor, pray for him, hold up his hands. And if he’s not a very good preacher, if you pray for him he might change; he might get to be a good preacher. Or, if you pray for him, and God does something with him, some other church will call him and take him off your hands. The point is, you can’t lose holding up the hands of the pastor. Well, that’s a beautiful sentiment, I tell you. It just is.
Well, our next verse will be in the eighteenth chapter of Exodus, the eighteenth verse, and the eighteen following. This is the advice of Moses’ father-in-law. Let’s just not underscore it all, but just designate it. From Exodus 18:17 through 22, that is organization. When Jethro, or Hobab as he’s called some places, saw what Moses was doing—Moses was doing everything, he had the whole thing—so his father-in-law came to him and said, “This is impossible. Now you choose you out men and place them over hundreds and over thousands, and let them judge the people, and then for you just matters that they cannot handle, let you be a final witness and judge” [Exodus 18:17-22]. And that’s a smart thing to do, as anybody would know. Just, I ought to do that in the church. If I try to do everything in the church, oh, you’d have pandemonium because I could not begin to solve or to help or, oh dear. But by having people to help me, think of what a glorious ministry we have. And that’s here in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Exodus.
Now in the nineteenth chapter, verse 6, verse 6. Now in order for you to know what verse 6 is [Exodus 19:6], first you’ve got to underscore chapter 20 [Exodus 20], and then we’ll go back to verse 6. Chapter 20, chapter 20 is the Ten Commandments; and let’s remember that in the Bible. Where are the Ten Commandments? They’re in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. So take your red pencil, or whatever pencil you have, and underscore chapter 20; that is the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17]. All right, now my little sermon on Exodus 19:6: “And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Now what are priests for? Priests represent man to God and God to man. God chose Israel to be the great spiritual teachers of mankind. That’s why they were chosen. “And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” [Exodus 19:6]. And after God said that to them, then God gave them the oracles of heaven, the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17]. And He gave them to Israel in order for Israel to be the teachers, and the preachers, and the spiritual leaders of all mankind. What did Israel do? Instead of being the spiritual teachers and leaders and the priests representing God to man and man to God, the Jewish nation turned to the Gentile world and hated them!
Jonah said, “I go to Nineveh and preach to those Ninevites? I’d rather die! Let them be damned and go to hell, I don’t want to see them saved”; and he took off to Tarshish [Jonah 1:1-3]. And when he went back, the word that he preached pleased him: “Forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed [Jonah 3:4], hallelujah! God curse every one of you. Forty days, and Nineveh will be destroyed! Praise God! Forty days and every last one of you are going to slide into hell. Forty days.” That’s the way Jonah preached. And when the king heard it, and the people heard it, they all repented and got right with God [Jonah 3:5-9]. And the Lord said, “Look, they have repented. I repent too” [Jonah 3:10]; that is, “They changed, I change also.” And when God saved the Ninevites, Jonah sat under a gourd and pouted, and said, “I knew You would do that. That is the kind of God You are. I knew You were not going to destroy those Ninevites when I was down there preaching to them, because I knew You were a compassionate, all-loving God” [Jonah 4:1-2]. Now can you imagine the Jewish people being that way? When God said, “I have chosen you to be a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation; to preach the gospel to the whole world!” [Exodus 19:6] and instead of doing that, they looked on them as Gentile dogs. And the Lord said, “I am just going to put you aside; and I am going to call Me out a people that will do My will” [Matthew 21:43]. So He put them aside, and the Jews are off the track now. They’ll get back on it someday [Romans 11:25-26], but they’re not in God’s sovereign will now. They’re out there somewhere. And God has chosen us to do this work, to represent God to the world [1 Peter 2:9-12].
And what does God say He will do to us if we don’t do it? “I will remove your lampstand out of your midst except you do those first works” [Revelation 2:5]. And as long as the First Baptist Church in Dallas is doing God’s work, saving souls, preaching the gospel, giving appeal for the lost, teaching the Word of God, representing the Lord to the people, you’re always going to have a wonderful First Baptist Church. But if the church ever ceases doing that, God will remove our lampstand; just as He did here. So whenever you look at the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus [Exodus 20:1-17], you always put with that the sixth verse of the nineteenth chapter, because that is the reason God gave them the oracles of the Almighty [Exodus 19:6].