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Ezra 6:19-21: Never Forget To Remember
Pastor Caleb Delzell - March 20, 2018

At this point in the story of Ezra we see that God has moved the heart of King Darius on behalf of the people, and they have received his reply to the accusations of those who would see Israel fail in its endeavor to restore the temple. The king instructs the enemies of Israel to leave them be, on pain of execution, and these enemies quickly comply. Immediately following this exchange, we see the people, encouraged by the Word of the Lord through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, redouble their efforts. Verse 15 of chapter 6 tells us that the “temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.”

It was finally done, it was finally completed! All the labor, all the hardships, all the persecutions and afflictions, it all came together and the result was a completed temple. Through the divine intervention of the Lord and the encouragement of His Word this ragtag nation of returning exiles succeeded in completing the work they’d been given! The only response in such a situation as this is to humbly and sincerely worship the God who made it all possible, and that’s exactly what the people did, celebrating with joy and offering their sacrifices. It’s a joyful and happy time, to be sure!

But while the joy and celebration was good and right and proper, in the next section we see something that has a real and true bearing on our lives today. Let’s read verses 19-21 of Ezra 6…

19The exiles observed the Passover on the fourteenth of the first month. 20For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure. Then they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, both for their brothers the priests and for themselves. 21The sons of Israel who returned from exile and all those who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to seek the LORD God of Israel, ate the Passover.

They observe the Passover. Now, while we can’t get into the depths and significance of Passover for the sake of time, we can secure a basic understanding of it’s origin and purpose.

The children of Israel had been enslaved under the rule of Egypt’s Pharaoh, and God’s promised deliverance had arrived in the form of Moses and Aaron. The Lord sent various plagues upon the land, which reached their culmination in the final plague, the death of the firstborns. God Himself would send the destroyer to move across the land, and kill the firstborn of every household, finally securing Israel’s release.

But along with this deliverance came a test. A test for Israel. God instructed them to take the blood of a year old male lamb and spread it over the frame of the door, signifying their trust in God. If they were willing to do this, they would be spared, and if not, they would face the same fate as the rest of the land of Egypt. This was a tradition that the people were then commanded to continue doing once a year, for as long as they lived, teaching it to the their children, and their children’s children.

The question is, why all this effort? Why did they have to go through the process of selecting a lamb, sacrificing it, preparing, cooking, and eating it, taking its blood and smearing across the entryways to their homes? Wouldn’t God have known His own people from the Egyptians? He is omniscient, He is all-knowing right? Was there some mystical or divine power inherent in lamb’s blood? Why did God require such a physical and observable display when He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart?

The answer is simply this: God wanted this physical display, the precise process because He wanted His people to remember. This is exactly what He says in Exodus 12:23-27…

23“For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. 24“And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25“When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26“And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 27you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.

God instructs them to never forget to do this, to persevere in their remembrance and observation of this, both them and their children. Even as they leave Egypt and enter into the promise land, even in the midst of their victory, He instructs them to remember. God always wanted His people to remember how He moved on their behalf. He prescribed this intricate display with the intention of calling their attention and remembrance to His divine intervention on their behalf. And when the children would ask why they had to go through this process year after year, they were to tell them, remind their children (and themselves) of what God had done.

Well this is where we find the people of Israel in Ezra. They had just completed a major project, they’d just finished their work on the temple, and it would’ve been a very easy opportunity to fall back into their old manner of thinking and just pat themselves on the shoulders and congratulate themselves on their own work ethic and their own ability. But that’s what led them to need the discipline of Babylon in the first place. So with that discipline fresh on their minds, they do the right thing. They worship God, as they commit to remembering what He had done.

Well, these Biblical principles apply to us even today. It’s very easy after a victory or the completion of a project, to grow complacent or arrogant and prideful. We begin to trust in ourselves, we tend to forget that apart from Christ and His perfect sacrifice, we would be under the full wrath of God, just like the rest of the world. But saved as we are, through faith in Him, we are covered by His blood, and the wrath of God passes over us.

Friends, we can never forget that. To forget what God accomplished in the sufferings of Christ on our behalf is to forget the immense significance of our salvation. And if we forget that, then we are prone to pride, spiritual elitism, jealousies and divisions. We mustn’t forget! And just as God had certain physical reminders in place those thousands of years ago, so too He has left us with reminders until we are reunited with Him.

As Jesus and His disciples were celebrating that very same Passover we just talked about, Christ shows the true fullness of it is to be realized in Himself. We see this in Luke 22:14-20…

14When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

“Do this in remembrance of Me”. Passover in the Old Testament and the sacrament of The Lord’s Supper (communion) in the New Testament were both for the same purpose: To remember. Remembering what God had done in accomplishing deliverance from captivity.

Have you forgotten from where God saved you? Have you failed to remember the depths His mercy and grace went to in order to secure your salvation? We mustn’t forget! We cannot afford to, nor should we want to! To remember who we were, who God is, and what He did to save us is to remember our place in His kingdom, and that will in turn inspire us to serve Him faithfully until we meet Him again one day soon. So never forget to remember!

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THE DWELLING PLACE - April 26, 2018