Thursday, March 8, 2012

Signs of Judgement Replaced By Signs of Hope

In the Exodus story, God uses several 'signs' to incur his judgement upon the Egyptians. We might know these as the 'plagues'. Later, in the New Testament, God's redemption is captured by many signs. In particular, the Gospel according to John contains striking parallels to the plagues. Whereas God bestowed signs upon Egypt in judgement, as a result of his wrath, Jesus performs signs among people in blessing, as a result of his grace. Signs of judgement are replaced by signs of hope. A short disclaimer, this does not mean God was different in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament, or that the OT is about judgement and the NT is about grace. Rather, the NT is the fulfillment of God's over-arching plan for salvation. The OT points to Jesus.

For example, the first sign God performed against Egypt was turning water into blood. This is a picture of devastation brought upon the Egyptians by their own disobedience. On the contrary, God's first sign in his incarnation was turning water into wine. Wine was (and still is) an essential element to a party. God turning water into wine is giving life to a party, it is blessing people. The other example thats been brought to my attention is the last sign among the Egyptians and Jesus' last sign. The last plague God brings upon the Egyptians is the death of the first born sons. In the book of John, we read that Jesus raised Lazarus from death to life (11:1-45). This is the ultimate portrayal of what God came to do. Where we have accrued God's judgement because of our disobedience, God restores us to life through the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Just like the last plague against Egypt, unless we are covered by the blood of the Lamb, we too must die. Yet, God's glorious plan from the beginning was to make a way for his people to be saved. He did it in the Exodus story with the people of Israel, and now the beauty is that he has made a final, superior, once and for all way for all people everywhere to know him and to be brought for life. The way is Jesus. 

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