June 15, 2015

An amazing God!

2 Chronicles 35:1–36:23, 1 John 2:28–3:4, Psalm 105:23–45

The last two chapters of 2 Chronicles covers the incredible Passover led by godly King Josiah, then his death. After that, the remaining ungodly kings are described. Finally, the rebellion against God results in exile to Babylon.

The description of the Passover put an overwhelming image into my mind. I can almost hear the noise, smell the smells, and breathe the dust. Most of all, I see the contrast.
The Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. At the same time, the king offered sacrifices, as did his officials and the people. The size of these herds is amazing . . .  

Josiah contributed . . . flocks of lambs and young goats, all for the Passover offerings, numbering 30,000 plus 3,000 bulls; these were from the king’s possessions. His officers also contributed a freewill offering to the people, the priests and the Levites. Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, the officials of the house of God, gave to the priests for the Passover offerings 2,600 from the flocks and 300 bulls. Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethanel, his brothers, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, the officers of the Levites, contributed to the Levites for the Passover offerings 5,000 from the flocks and 500 bulls. So the service was prepared, and the priests stood at their stations and the Levites by their divisions according to the king’s command. They slaughtered the Passover animals, and while the priests sprinkled the blood received from their hand, the Levites skinned them. (2 Chronicles 35:7–11 NASB)

More than 40,000 animals were sacrificed during this Passover. The most important was the Lamb slain to atone for the sins of the people.

I cannot help but compare the way we celebrate the death of Christ for our sin during communion or the Lord’s Supper. The room is quiet. Hearts are reflective. We remember the Lamb that was slain. We are solemn. Few are smiling. No one speaks.

But in this OT Passover, the animals mill in fear. Those herding them shout. Dust and noise and odor fill the air. The people are crying over their sin, loudly rejoicing over God’s grace. If I were to paint this scene, how could I depict the chaos? How could anyone capture the images of so many animals and so much blood?

Oddly, artists usually depict Jesus on the cross in a serene sense, as if there is not much going on. His extreme agony is not part of the picture. The noise and the smells are not suggested. On Calvary, there is only One Lamb. Artists rarely include a multitude of sinners who mocked Him or the few who cried in sorrow.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1–3)

The Cross is often my vision of Jesus as my Passover Lamb, not the chaos of the OT sacrifice. However, both bring to mind the great love of God and the enormity of sin’s horror. These images represent both hope and the reason that I need hope. Chaos or calm, I am glad that God provided a Lamb.

The psalmist takes another direction to describe the care and provision of God. Not only does He save me from myself and my sin, He blesses the work of my hands and protects me from my enemies. No one can touch me unless God has a purpose for it and turns their hearts against me. Not only that, as He delivered His people in the Exodus, He brings me out of bondage into riches (not always money) and can cause my enemies to fear me . . .

“And the Lord made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes. He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants . . . Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold, and there was none among his tribes who stumbled. Egypt was glad when they departed, for dread of them had fallen upon it.” (Psalm 105:24-25, 37–38)

This is an amazing God. He loves us and makes provision for our sin by becoming the Passover Lamb. Then as Shepherd, He takes care of us because we are His sheep and also His children.

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