The Birthday of the People of God
August 1st, 1990 @ 7:30 PM
THE BIRTHDAY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-01-90 7:30 p.m.
This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas delivering a message, an exposition, of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth chapters of the Book of Exodus entitled: The Birthday of the People of God. The final words of Pharaoh in chapter 10, verse 28: "And Pharaoh said unto Moses, Get thee from me! Take heed to thyself, see my face no more! For in that day that thou seest my face thou shalt die!" Pharaoh was like a plastic balloon. He would yield, then he would forget his promise to be kind to the people of God; and Moses’ reply in the next verse, the last verse of chapter 10: "And Moses said, ‘Thou hast spoken well. I will see thy face again no more."
Those are ominous words. Pharaoh is a type of a man who says "no" to God one time too many. My father believed in the unpardonable sin; and if you believe the Bible, you’re persuaded of it also [Matthew 12:30-32; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 12:10]. A man can go just so far in his negation with God, and thereafter the Lord gives him up [Romans 1:18-31; Hebrews 3:7-19]. He lets him go his own way. He becomes – the man becomes an ultimate and final negation, and he dies in perdition and damnation and separation from the Lord.
That’s one of the most awesome things in this earth: to see a man or a woman say "no" and "no" and "no" to the invitation of God until the day comes when they have no feeling, no response, no interest. They have gone beyond the pale of God’s grace. They have sinned away their day of opportunity. My father so solemnly believed that; and in my own life and experience, I’ve seen it again and again and again. The man dies without God. That’s the way with Pharaoh; he said "no" to God one last time, and the judgment fell. And I repeat, those are ominous words of Moses: "Thou hast spoken well. You will see my face no more" [Exodus 10:29].
Now this next chapter, chapter 11, is a little brief chapter of just 10 verses, and it’s a pause. It’s an interlude before the awesome judgment of God. Remember last Sunday, I spoke of Revelation chapter 8, verse 1: ". . . there was silence in heaven." At the close of the opening of the seventh seal [Revelation 8:1] and at the beginning of the blowing of the first trumpet [Revelation 8:2], the trumpets of judgment, there was silence in heaven. And thus it is in the book of Exodus before this last terrible plague. Nine of them have already been visited upon those rejecting, unbelieving, unrepenting Egyptians without producing the precious fruit of a love and acceptance of God [Exodus 7:14-10:29]. Nine of them have already passed, and the tenth and the last one is about to be visited from the omnipotent hand of Almighty God [Exodus 11:1-10].
So the twelfth chapter begins, and I’ve called it The Birthday of The People of God. Chapter 12: "And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you" [Exodus 12:1, 2]. There is a change in the calendar and this day, the tenth day, is to be the beginning of the month of the new year. Heretofore, it was called Abib [Exodus 13:4, 23:15, 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1]. Now it is called Nisan [Esther 3:7], and it is the beginning of the life of the people of God. All of the previous days and all of the previous months are blanks now. No longer the brick kilns and the flesh pots of Egypt – that is blotted out forever. The old life is gone, and this is the first day of the redemptive life under the hand of Almighty God.
How opposite that is to how most people think about the Christian faith and the Christian life. They think that the real life and the good times and the happy evenings are out there in the unbelieving world, and if they put an end to that kind of a life and accept the overtures of the grace of God that they are entering a life of drabness and joylessness and unhappiness. Just the opposite is true. God says that those out there in the world, living in the world, are dead, decadent. In trespasses and in sins, they are living sepulchers [Matthew 23:26-28; Ephesians 2:1-5]. And the real life, the life of joy and gladness, is in the Lord [Isaiah 61:1-3].
As our Lord said in John 10:10: "I’m come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." If you want to have a good time, give your heart and life to the Lord Jesus. You follow Him. He’ll bless you in your personal life. He’ll bless you in your home life. He’ll bless you in your children’s life. He will bless you in every area and circumference and parameter of your being and existence. It’s God’s people who have a good time in the Lord.
All right, a second avowal. Do you notice that this redemption is a shared experience? Look at verses 3 and 4:
Speak ye unto the congregation of Israel, saying: In the tenth day of this month, starting a new calendar, they shall take to them every man every one a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house.
If the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
Never was this celebration of the Passover to be solitary. Never. Now I want to make an expatiation on that and an avowal from the Word of God. God does not like aloneness. He just doesn’t. There’s a societal facet in the nature of God that is apparent from the beginning. His name is named until the end of time, and the city of heaven comes down from His gracious hands [Revelation 21:1-2].
Now I want you to look at it. When God made the universe, just think of it. I think He made it perfect, all of creation [Genesis 1:31], and it fell because of sin [Romans 8:19-23]. It fell because Satan brought into it transgression and iniquity [Genesis 3:1-24]. And the first chapter of Genesis, to me, is a recreation of God’s beautiful work.
Well, anyway, when God made the first creation, and He looked at the work of His hands – those stars in their splendor, and the firmament in its glory, and the spheres in their orbits – the whole beautiful creation of God – and I think this happened. Now remember, you’re just listening to what the pastor thinks. I’m not saying it’s an infallible revelation. I think this is what happened.
God looked at the glorious work of His hands, and He said, "I’m lonesome. I’m lonesome. Where is a star that can think thoughts after Me? Where is a planet that can love Me? Where is a creation in all of the universe that can respond to Me? I’m lonesome," God says. And the Lord says, "I’m going to create Me a man in My image who can think My thoughts, who can respond to My grace, who can speak My language, and who could respond to My love." And God created the man because God was lonesome. He was alone in the great universe He created.
All right, I want you to look at it again. "And the Lord God created the man in His own image; in the image of God created He him" [Genesis 1:27]. And God saw the man, and God said, "I understand him; he’s just like Me. He was created in My image. That man is just like Me, and he’s lonesome. He’s by himself." And the Lord God said, "I’ll make a companion for him – one like him." And He created the woman, beautiful and perfect, and brought her to the man; and God blessed them, and those two became one flesh [Genesis 2:18, 20-25].
Now what do you think about your pastor saying all those things? I think they’re the truth of God, and it’s based upon this most evident of all of the assignments of our living Lord. You’re not to celebrate this day of redemption alone, but you’re to share it with these you love; and if you don’t have any family, you’re to share it with the one next door.
All right, I have a final word about that. What does the Bible call the church? The Bible calls the church a koinōnia, a koinōnia. It’s a community. It’s a fellowship, translated that in the Bible, a koinōnia [Acts 2:42]. It’s a shared experience; and if you love God, you’ll love God’s people [1 John 2:9-11, 3:10, 15, 17; 4:20-21]. And if you love God, you’ll want to be with God’s people; and when Sunday comes and you’re not in church, you are miserable if you love the Lord. You just want to be with the Lord’s people. It’s just the way you’re made, and it’s the way God is. The church is a fellowship. It’s a koinōnia.
And last, when you get to heaven, you’re going to be up there by yourself. Does God’s holy Word say that? In the truth, heaven is a beautiful city. "I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" [Revelation 21:2]. A fellowship – a close intimate fellowship – and that’s the way we’re going to be in glory.
I’ll see you there. You won’t be by yourself because I’m going to be with you; and if you don’t like me, you’re going to have a hard time because God says we’re going to be together forever and ever and ever. So you better start liking me now. I think all that is just beautiful. I think it’s just wonderful, and that’s what it is here in the Bible.
All right, I have one other thing to avow. I want to go to verse 7: "You are to take the blood of the slain lamb and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper doorpost of the houses wherein they shall eat it" [Exodus 12:7]. And the thirteenth verse: "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt" [Exodus 12:13].
Now, that means that the home, the house, the gathering of the fellowship, the koinōnia is to be openly and visibly set apart. That’s unusual that that sign that these are the people of God is the sign of the cross. They were to take the blood, and they were to put it on the lintel – that’s that beam above the door – to put it on the lintel there and then on the door posts on either side.
It was to be an open and public display, and that is what God asks of each one of us. We are openly and publicly, unashamedly, to avow our faith in the Lord Jesus and our commitment unto Him. Isn’t that what God says in Romans 10, verse 9:
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto a God-kind of righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.
[Romans 10:9-10, 13]
There is no such thing in God’s Word as a disciple who refuses to avow his faith in Jesus and his love for the Savior. It is to be openly avowed, publicly displayed, like the blood of the Passover lamb – the acceptance of the cross. This house and these people belong to God, and there’s the sign of the cross.
That’s why, in preaching, your pastor always gives an invitation. Publicly, openly, we are to give our hearts and our lives to the Lord Jesus. That’s the way we’re saved. That’s what God asks of us, and thus to respond to the love and grace of God in our lives, in our souls, and in our hearts is one of the sweetest privileges in all of this world. "Here I am, Pastor. I’m standing here with you and the people of God, openly, publicly, giving my life to the Lord Jesus." Well, it’s a great gospel and a marvelous faith.
Now, Fred, before we have our ordination of these godly young men, I want us to sing a song of invitation. The pastor will be right here, and if there’s somebody you tonight to give your heart and faith to the Lord, or somebody you to come into the fellowship of the church – a couple, a family, or just you – on the first note of the first stanza, welcome. God bless you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.
BIRTHDAY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD
Exodus 11, 12
I. Birthday of God’s people
1. Change of calendar
2. Previous life a blank
3. Salvation deliverance is opposite of what man thinks it is
II. Grouped according to families
1. Passover eaten in family groups not to be eaten alone
2. God built the nation on family groups
3. Parents to teach children
III. Open act of faith – shared redemption