Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 1 2013 - Luke 9:28-50 – A new exodus

Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up a mountain where he spent time in prayer. As he prayed, his appearance changed and his clothing shone as brightly as a flash of lightning. The disciples saw two men talking with Jesus whom, somehow, they realised were Moses and Elijah. Luke records that they were speaking with Jesus about his "exodus" that he was "about to bring to fulfilment in Jerusalem" (Luke 9:31).

My use of the term "exodus" here is simply a transliteration of the Greek work used by Luke – a word often translated as "departure". But I can't help thinking that Luke chooses this word as a deliberate echo of the central theme of the second book in the Hebrew Scriptures. Moses had been used of God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He had been the leader of their exodus. The prophets had spoken of the way in which Israel's unfaithfulness would lead to a new captivity and would require another exodus. Now Moses and Elijah are speaking with Jesus about the greater exodus that he is about to accomplish in Jerusalem. His death and resurrection will be the means by which he will lead his people out of captivity and into the freedom of his kingdom; a kingdom in which they will be freed to serve God.

I am writing this at Easter time and the events of those momentous days around Jesus death and resurrection are very much on our minds. On the night that Jesus was betrayed he celebrated a Passover meal with his disciples. Through that meal they remembered how God had rescued the children of Israel from Egypt.

On that first Passover night the Israelites had taken a lamb and killed it. The blood was painted around the doorway into their houses and they remained in the house that night eating lamb and flat bread. During that night, God had come down in judgment and the firstborn son in every house in Egypt had been struck dead. The blood had protected the Israelites; when God saw the blood on the doorway he passed over their homes and they were safe. The Israelites had been saved by the blood of the lamb. There was a death in every house in Egypt that night; in the Egyptian houses the death of the firstborn; in the Israelite houses the death of a lamb.

And so the Israelites were expelled from Egypt. They were set free. They achieved their exodus.

At that Last Supper, Jesus took the elements of the Passover meal, the bread and the wine, and he applied them to himself and to his death which was only hours away. Christ our Passover was about to be sacrificed and because of his death and resurrection God’s judgment has passed over us and we are saved. We have been set free and he is leading us out of all that held us captive to the place he has prepared for us. He has accomplished our exodus.

And he calls us to remember continually what he has done for us. He took bread and wine from the Passover meal to act as reminders of his death because they formed the staple diet of the first century disciples. They were to remember daily what Jesus had done for them. They were to celebrate together their freedom in Christ and proclaim his dying love and risen power to all.

Lord Jesus, thank you that your death and resurrection brings freedom. Help me to follow you as you lead me by your Spirit through the wilderness of this present world. Keep me from the desire to turn back to the secure captivity from which you have set me free. Help me daily to remember what you have done for me and to declare your praises, for you have called me out of the kingdom of darkness into your wonderful light.

Apr 1 2019 - Joshua 5:13-6:25 – The fall of Jericho

Joshua has been called to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. It's a large task and he is conscious that the Israelites will face violent opposition from the inhabitants of the land. He was near Jericho, contemplating the difficult task when he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. He asked the obvious question; "Whose side are you on? Are you on our side or that of our enemies?"

The answer is surprising; "Neither. I have come as the commander of the Lord's armies." Joshua had to learn that he cannot claim that God is on his side. God does not take sides. God has his own plan and his own agenda. The key question for Joshua is not whose side this warrior is on, but whose side he is on. He will only succeed in the task given him if he submits to God's plan and is subject to the commander of the Lord's army.

This is a hard lesson to learn. Nations constantly claim that God is on their side. Sometimes opposing armies in battle will both claim God as their patron and will seek to ensure his blessing through the words and prayers of bishops or other religious dignitaries. God does not ally himself to human conflicts. He is intent on establishing his own kingdom and calls us to be allied to his agenda and his purposes. Civil religion is the construction of a false god; it is idolatry.

But such errors are not confined to nations as they seek to baptise their own empire-building; the same errors abound among Christians. Churches develop their own programmes and schemes and claim, or hope, God will lend them his support. But God calls us to submit to him not dictate to him.

As individuals we can fall into the same error. We feed our own ambitions and carefully construct our plans and schemes and pray that God will come and bless them. Again, we need to learn to discern the Lord's calling and to follow him rather than demanding his blessing on our schemes.

The Israelites can invade and possess this land of fierce people and fortified cities only by aligning themselves with God's plan. At God's command, the army of Israel marched around the city of Jericho with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant – the symbol of God's enthroned presence with his people. On six successive days they marched once around the city with the inhabitants watching from the walls. On the seventh day they marched around seven times and then, with a blast of trumpets and a triumphant roar from the army, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

The conquest of Canaan points forward to the day of Christ's return, the Day of Judgment. On that day the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of God and of his Christ and he will reign for ever. On that day, all evil and evildoers will be banished as God creates a new society where he will live with his people in a kingdom of righteousness and peace.

Father God, help me to read your word carefully and prayerfully that I may not use it to justify my own schemes but to learn more of your saving purposes. Jesus, I call you Lord. Help me always to acknowledge that you are my Lord and I am your disciple. Teach me what this means to submit to you in all the practical details of my life. Help me to fall in behind you and follow you closely rather than seeking to take the lead and hoping you will follow. Make my heart more like your heart – you do not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Increase my longing for that day when you will make all things new, when this world will be the world you truly want it to be.

Peter Misselbrook