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1 PETER 1:18-21

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
March 28, 1999

I few years ago I came across a response - written by someone filling out a form for their insurance company. I’d like to begin by reading this to you. In an exaggerated kind of way this response does seem like what we go through from time to time.

I am writing in response to your request for additional information. In block #3 of the accident form, I put "trying to do the job alone" as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust that the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the date of the accident I was working alone on the roof of a new six story building. When I completed my work, I found that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the 6th floor.

Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out, and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of brick. You will note in block #11 of the accident report that I weigh 135 pounds. But to by surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull, and broken collar bone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were 2 knuckles deep into the pulley.

Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind, and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of my pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground, and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel then weighed approximately 50 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block #11.

As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs, and lower body area. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks, and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks, in pain - unable to stand - and watching the empty barrel six stories above me - I again lost my presence of mind and let go of the rope. The empty barrel weighed more than the rope, so it came back down on me, and broke both my legs. I hope I have furnished the information you have required.

This morning we want to talk about the circumstances of our lives - where we live life - and our need for God’s presence in our lives.

Years ago the people of Israel were in Egypt. And if you’ve seen “The Ten Commandments” or “The Prince of Egypt” - you’ve seen their circumstances vividly portrayed. The Book of Exodus records all of what they went through. Its a familiar story.

The people of Israel had been in slavery for 400 years - bondage in Egypt - crying out for salvation. And then came God’s deliverance - Moses and the 10 plagues. Do you remember these?

First, all the water in the land of Egypt was turned to blood. For 7 days there was nothing to drink. Imagine what it would be like to go without water for 7 days.

Second, there were frogs everywhere - in everything and on everything and everyone.

Third, lice - covering the ground - on everyone and all the animals.

Fourth, swarms of insects destroying vegetation.

Fifth, disease killing all the livestock.

Sixth, boils and sores on the bodies of the Egyptians.

Then, seventh - thunder and lightning and hail killing everyone outside.

Eighth, locusts covering the ground and eating everything that was left.

And ninth, darkness, so dark, that no one could see anything. Its hard to imagine what that would have been like - after going through the terror of all the other plagues - this complete absence of light. Imagine the kind of nightmares they would have had.

Many times - when we see a movie - or read Exodus - its easy to think that the people of Israel were spared all this. After all these were God’s people and He was delivering them. But, except for the plagues of insects, disease and darkness - the Israelites experienced all the plagues right along with the Egyptians.

The plagues of Exodus - that effected the Egyptians and the Israelis - are so typical of where we live our lives. Maybe we don’t have locusts running all over the place - but we have death - and darkness in our hearts - emptiness - struggles in life - bitterness - those who oppress us.

We live in a world which is opposed to God - just as Pharaoh was - and that opposition spills over and effects our lives - and we struggle in the places where we live and work.

We, also, live opposed to God. Let’s not fool ourselves. Just because we’re Christians or Armenians - we still live in disobedience to God’s will. The Bible calls our disobedience sin. We struggle because we live in a sinful world and because of our own sin.

The Bible says - like the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt - we are in bondage to our sin. Our sin condemns us. We’re worthy of eternal death and separation from God. There’s no way out. We desperately need God’s deliverance from our sin and the plagues of this world.

In Exodus - there are ten plagues. The final plague was the death of the first born. Just like with the other plagues the death of their first born child was as much a threat to the Israelites as it was to the Egyptians.

But God warned the Israelites how to avoid judgment and death. Recorded in Exodus 12, God tells them to take a lamb - without any defects - a one year old male. On the 14th day of the month - all the lambs are to be killed - and the blood is to be placed on the doorposts and the panel above the door. They were to eat the lamb meat - roasted - with unleavened bread and bitter herbs - and with their traveling clothes on - ready to move forward into God’s salvation.

In Exodus 12:13,14 God says: “And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.”

This is the Passover Meal which is commemorated today - the “passing over” because the blood of the lamb was on the doorposts and lintel. God’s final act of judgment against Egypt that delivered Israel from bondage and Israel’s preservation from judgment and death.

On this week - that for us begins with Palm Sunday - almost 2,000 years ago Jesus came into Jerusalem - at the time of the Passover. He would commemorate it with His disciples. Jesus came into Jerusalem to die - as our sacrificial lamb.

The apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 1 - starting in verse 18: It was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you were ransomed - that the penalty for our sins was paid - that you were ransomed from your futile way of life.... But with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect - sinless - For He - Jesus - was foreknown before the foundation of the world - in other words all this was planned out - even when God said to the Israelites to put blood on the doorposts and lintel He was giving us an example - preparing us to understand about Jesus - He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

In the circumstances of our lives - this is the message of Palm Sunday that we need to hear this morning - Jesus has come for us. We can live in the freedom and life that He offers to us.

We need Jesus - who is our sacrificial lamb.