Friday, June 08, 2007

After the Fact

One day Moses was watching his father-in-law's sheep when something caught his eye. It was a bush that was burning, but it was not being consumed. Moses decided to investigate this strange sight. When He approached the bush spoke, or rather a voice called from the bush. It is at this moment God called Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt.
Moses asked, "But who am I to appear before Pharaoh? How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"

God answered, "I will be with you. And this will serve as proof that I have sent you: When you have brought the Israelites out of Egypt, you will return here to worship God at this very mountain." (Exodus 3:11, 12; NLT).

I find it odd that the evidence God offers to Moses is after the fact. It is after the Israelites are free from the Egyptians that Moses will know it is God who sent him.

Now did Moses lack proof that his calling was from God? No, God provided proof. There was the burning bush, the voice of God, and God gave Moses two signs: the staff into a snake and the leprosy of his hand. Moses saw the ten plagues, the Red Sea divide, the pillar of cloud/fire which led Israel, plus other miracles. All through Moses' experience God showed him that He was with Moses.

Why was worshiping at Mt. Sinai the proof that God sent Moses? While all the miracles pointed to God and showed Moses and the people God was with them, it wouldn't have met anything if God did not make a covenant with the people. It was at Mt. Sinai when God established a covenant with Israel, which set them apart as God's people and prepared the way for Jesus to come. If God delivered Israel from Egypt and then never established a covenant with them, Israel might as well have been back in slavery. It was the covenant, the promise of God at Sinai which made all the difference.

Flash forward a few hundred years. Jesus has turned water into wine. He has cleared the Temple and has begun to teach with authority. The religious leaders demand,
"What right do you have to do these things? If you have this authority from God, show us a miraculous sign to prove it." Jesus replied, "All right. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:18, 19; NLT)

We know Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection. Jesus continued to teach, heal people, feed thousands, walk on water, and calm storms. Jesus gave signs and evidence that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. But the sign which He pointed to, the final proof into who He is, is the resurrection. All the miracles Jesus performed, all the teachings He taught, everything about Jesus, even His death, means nothing without the resurrection. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead we are still in our sins, and we are wasting our time.

That is not just me speaking but that is what the apostle Paul says as well in 1 Corinthians. 15:12-19...

{12} But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
{13} If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
{14} And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
{15} More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.
{16} For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
{17} And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
{18} Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
{19} If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
(NIV)
Here is the point. The central truth of Christianity is not the cross, but the resurrection. Just as the covenant established at Sinai gave meaning and significance to everything which happened before it, the resurrection gives meaning to everything Jesus did before His death. All the teachings and miracles find there meaning after Jesus' death. The Resurrection of Jesus is what gives meaning and hope to Christianity.

What does that mean for us? It means that while we need to remember the death of Jesus, because it was His sinless life that made Him the only sacrifice for our sins, our real focus must be on the Resurrection. It is the Resurrection which sets Christianity apart from other religions and philosophies of the world. The Resurrection is the final evidence that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.

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