Good afternoon. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church. Merry Christmas to you!
Ever since I was young, I’ve loved history.
Maybe because while other families vacationed at the beach, my family dragged me to historical sites.
My vacations were full of stops at Gettysburg or the Jefferson Memorial or, “Hey, let’s pull over and see this house where Jesse James got shot”
As a kid you’re like, “Why can’t we just pull over at say, 6 flags?” instead of yet another historical marker?!”
But I eventually came to love history.
In college, I was a history minor…and I would just sit in class just in awe as my professors told great stories of our past.
And I still love it today.
Just this week, I listened to a short audiobook on Christopher Columbus…for fun.
Super nerdy I know…but I can’t help it.
I did learn though that Christopher Columbus once tricked the natives into giving him more food by telling them he was going to take the moon away (right before he knew a lunar eclipse was coming)…and it worked J
One of the things that has always fascinated me about history is how history often repeats itself.
Not exactly of course…but you can see the similarities play out repeatedly
And I think a major reason for that is our human nature.
We make the same, sometimes evil, mistakes over and over again.
And yet, sometimes in history, you can see God showing the same grace over and over again.
Or sending a hero, a deliverer, once again.
And this theme of “history repeating itself” is seen in the Bible as well.
PHARAOH & THE NILE
In fact, as a church this December, we’ve been doing a message series called “Echoes” where we’ve been studying how a major story in the Old Testament (everything in the Bible up to Jesus) echoes again in the NT (everything from Jesus onward)
And I want to take a look at that storyline again today…on Christmas Eve.
Because there’s a story that echoes right into the Christmas story.
And don’t worry…I know so many of you are here for the very first time (which is great!). I’ll fill you right in!
But before we go any further let’s get in our history time machine.
Let’s go back about 3,500 years. About 1,500 years before the very first Christmas.
And for Jesus’ ancestors, it’s been a rough go.
If you read in the very beginning of the Christmas story, in Matthew chapter 1, it lists all of Jesus ancestors…and we see that they are indeed the Israelites
And 1,500 years before Jesus, the Israelites are in the midst of one of their darkest times of history
Their ancestor, Joseph (and his Technicolor dream coat) were once famous for saving all of Egypt from a deadly seven-year famine…
But 400 years have passed, and Joseph has been long forgotten.
And worse yet, they’ve been enslaved by the Egyptians.
As if that’s not enough…it gets worse.
Apparently God’s promise to help the Israelites “be fruitful and multiply” is becoming a problem in Egypt.
The Israelites are like the Duggars of Egypt, and they’re popping out kids like Minnesota pops out snowstorms
And apparently, there are so many Israelite slaves, that it’s becoming too burdensome on the Egyptian economy.
Too many slaves to house and feed.
So the very evil Pharaoh, most likely Pharaoh Ahmose – the Founder of the 18th dynasty, comes up with a plan
Now, you must know that the Pharaohs were often brutal. Enslaving the masses for their huge projects, wiping out other people groups, and doing whatever it takes to stay in power.
Let’s take a look at Pharaoh Ahmose’s evil plan to deal with his slave population.
That Bible is our Christmas gift to you…
(Exodus 1:15-22) – NIV
15 The king of Egypt (explain) said to the Hebrew (explain) midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” 19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” 20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. 22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
So it appears that the Israelites are going to be wiped out.
But God has a plan.
And it starts with a little baby boy. A future deliverer. A baby named Moses. And this is the story of his birth:
(Exodus 2:1-8) – NIV
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman,2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. (explain) 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. 5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. 7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” 8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother.
And Moses is spared…he grows up in the Egyptian court…and God eventually uses him to lead his people, the Israelites, out of slavery in Egypt.
It’s through Moses that they are finally delivered
HEROD & JESUS
Well 1,500 years later…history is going to repeat itself. It’s going to echo.
There’s another evil ruler on the scene.
A man named “Herod the Great.”
He was the ruler of Judea (or what is modern day Israel)…the same promised land the Israelites left Egypt for 1,500 years earlier.
But Herod was a brutal man.
History tells us that out of paranoid suspicion and a lust for power, he murdered 3 of his sons, his mother-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, and even his own wife.
1 of his sons who survived his tirades was Herod Antipas, who would continue the family tradition of murder…and helped to murder Jesus.
But, 33 years before that…in Bethlehem, on the very first Christmas, Jesus was born.
Let’s see what the Bible says about Jesus’ birth
(Matthew 2:1-3) – NIV
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
But why is this crazy, insane Herod disturbed?
Why in the world would he care about a little baby boy born in Bethlehem?!?
I mean…nobody else cared. They couldn’t even find room in the inn. He had to be born in a manger.
Well, when the wise men said “We’re on our way to see the ‘King of the Jews,” Herod has a major problem with that.
Because 30 years before Jesus is born, when Herod first starts reigning over the land…he gives himself a self-appointed title.
Know what it is?
“Herod the Great – the King of the Jews”
So, needless to say, this evil and very paranoid man is not happy that people are saying “the king of the Jews” was born.
So Herod’s thinking: “I’M the king of the Jews!! What are those wise men talking about?! More like ‘NOT-WISE men”
Herod then calls all the priests together and says, “Hey…you guys who know the prophecies…where does it say the Messiah is supposed to born?”
And they say, “In Bethlehem”
Then Herod does this:
(Matthew 2:7-8) – NIV
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
But God warns the Magi in a dream not to go back to Herod.
So Herod has no way of knowing exactly where this baby, born the King of the Jews, is at.
So he, in a murderous rage does this:
(Matthew 2:16) – NIV
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
History repeats itself. It echoes.
And all the baby boys are killed yet again.
But just as Pharaoh killed all the male Israelite babies, but Moses escaped to be a deliver…even when Herod kills all the male Jewish babies in Bethlehem, Jesus escapes to be a deliverer.
Like our video said…Jesus is a “TRUE and BETTER” Moses.
He is the echo of what had been done in the OT.
God warned Joseph about Herod in a dream, and he tells him to take Mary & Jesus and escape to Egypt.
And they escape the wrath of Herod. They’re gone by the time the murderers come around.
And Jesus escapes to be our TRUE and BETTER Moses…our new deliver.
HOW WAS JESUS A DELIVERER
But deliverer from what? I mean, especially nowadays. It’s not like we’re in slavery here.
Or, here’s maybe even a better question: Jesus came at Christmas…but why?
Did you ever think about that? WHY did Jesus come to earth?
So we’d one day get Santa Claus and Rudolph?
Rudolph...who’s friends only liked him when he did something worthwhile. J
But why did Jesus come?
Was it just to be a good teacher? To teach us the Golden Rule?
I mean He did give the undisputed greatest moral teaching of all time. Perhaps he just came to teach?
That doesn’t really make sense though. God could have inspired any of his prophets or leaders to say the same things.
He didn’t need to make such a long trip to a dirty manger just for that.
Maybe….he came just to show us real love.
What it meant to really care for each other.
Maybe…but then I’d have to ask you another question.
A question that I believe is the most fundamental question in Christianity: Then why did he have to die?
Why did he have to die on a cross?
If he just came to teach or to love… then why did Jesus have to die?!?
Why would God let his own son….this baby boy he sent on Christmas…why would he let Him be killed?!”
It’s because we need a deliver. We need to be saved.
HE WAS LIFTED UP
Let me explain this in an interesting way.
Do you know what the most famous Bible verse of all time is?
Over and over again, it’s been proven to be John 3:16
(John 3:16) – NIV
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
It says we can be delivered…from perishing…if we believe in Jesus.
And it says “God GAVE his one and only son”
In other words…God planned for him to die.
But why did this sweet baby boy from Christmas have to grow up and be killed on a cross?
Well, one of the things we teach often in this church is that you always have to look at context in the Bible.
To look at the verses around the verse you’re studying.
So let’s do that…and I think the context is going to surprise you.
See, we already know that Jesus is the echo of Moses…he, like Moses, is the deliverer, saved from mass murder…that will in turn save his people.
But the connection to Moses goes even deeper.
Look at the two verses before the famous John 3:16
(John 3:14-15) – NIV
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man (explain) must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Why is he talking about Moses and what was Moses doing with a snake?!?
A few years ago, when I lived in an apartment in Coon Rapids…I woke up one Sunday to get ready for church…I walked around the bed, and there on the floor, on the other side of the bed…was a snake.
In my apartment. Sleeping on the floor by our bed. At least it was in the right room for sleeping.
I don’t care what you think…snakes are disgusting.
The sad thing was, this was the third time it happened to us in two weeks.
I decided I was going to be the man this time (I let Lindsey take care of it the other time…don’t’ tell anyone), and I took a broom and brushed it into a garbage can…
I then went running towards our sliding glass door.
I yelled to Lindsey, “Is the door open?!”
She said yes, “But she meant unlocked”
And I ran right into the glass door.
Thankfully, I didn’t fall over, and I threw the snake in the woods.
Snakes are disgusting. People hate snakes.
Well, so did the Israelites in Moses day. And God knew that.
But while they’re in the wilderness…after they’ve escaped from Egypt…the Israelites start grumbling against God, and sinning against Him.
So venomous snakes were sent among them. Can you imagine?!
Venomous snakes just crawling around everywhere. Is there a worse way to die?
Maybe being starved to death while you are forced to watch reruns of Hannah Montana…but snakes would be a close second.
But as the people start confessing their sin, God tells Moses to make a bronze snake and lift it up on a pole.
If the people would come and look up at it, God would heal them
The snakes are really just a set-up for an echo of what we, today, truly face.
This is a sinful world…and we’re a part of it.
And someday…our justice will come upon us.
The snakes are an illustration of the justice we deserve.
God is just. He has to be. He couldn’t be God if he wasn’t just. To not be so, would to be a cheat.
Otherwise, what’s God supposed to do? Just let Hitler in? How about Osama? C’mon in!
Is God just supposed to shrug his shoulders from heaven and say, “Meh…you all do what you want… …Hitler…do what you want. Osama…do want you want. You’re all forgiven…then we’ll all come to heaven and sing kumbaya and do yoga poses for all of eternity?”
But we say…”No, no, there’s justice for those people!”
“But not for me! I didn’t hurt anybody”
That’s the line we love to draw.
But what’s hurting someone? Is it just physical? Is it emotional? Is it relational?
The reality is we can’t escape sin. We can’t escape it.
I know this firsthand.
See, I’m a big sinner.
Probably bigger than you are. I’ve fallen short of God’s holy standard.
The Bile says we all have.
(Romans 3:23) – NIV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Turns out that none of us are good enough. We all fall short of God’s glorious standard of perfection.
No one’s going to waltz into heaven and stay there for all of eternity because they served the homeless enough or walked enough old ladies across the street.
Here’s the reality: The poison of sin…our rebellion against God and his ways…is in all of us.
We’ve all got this poisonous bite…and we’re going to die…a spiritual death. And be a part from God for eternity.
WE NEED A DELIVER. WE NEED A SAVIOR.
WE CAN NOT DO IT ON OUR OWN.
WE NEED A SAVIOR.
So on Christmas…God sends His son…Jesus…to earth….as a Savior.
And the world…and evil….tried to stop it.
They tried to kill him as a baby. But it didn’t work.
They even succeeded in killing him on a cross when he was 33.
But it was all part of God’s plan.
Because look at what John says again:
(John 3:14-16) – NIV
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
See…the echo is the same. It’s just like Moses. But, like our a video, it’s a “True and Better” way”
The people in the wilderness had been bitten…they were going to die.
The only way they could live…was to look up at the snake and believe in God’s deliverance
Today…it’s the same. We’ve been bitten. We’re going to die a spiritual death. A part from God in hell.
But on Christmas…God sent you a savior. A Savior.
And you need only to look up to him lifted up on the cross…and believe he died for you.
That he took your punishment…he took your place.
Because this God, sure, is just.
But He is so loving. It says, “For God so LOVED the world…
He’s so in love with you that He sent his own son, to a dirty world in a dirty manger…to come and die in YOUR PLACE.
He looked at you…he can’t stop thinking about you….and knowing all you would ever do…out of love for you…….
He said, “I will send my own son to take their place, so that justice would be done and so that they would see my love!”
That’s what Christmas is all about.
So, let me ask you a question: Do you believe this?
You’ve been bitten by sin, but have you looked up upon Jesus to be forgiven and delivered?
Have you ever said, “Jesus…I believe that you died for ME. That you took my place. I believe in you and will follow you”
Because that’s what forgiveness is all about. That’s how a real relationship with God really starts.
We simply can not be forgiven by being good enough. Because we never will be.
And it’s not as simple as just believing God exists somewhere.
We are saved, we are forgiven, when we…through faith…look up to Jesus…and say, “I believe you died for me, and that God raised you from the dead…I’ll follow you”
And if you’ve never made that commitment to believe in what Jesus did for you…if you’ve never started a relationship with Him by committing your life to Him…then let’s do that today.
The Bible says we’re forgiven this way:
(Romans 10:9) – NIV
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
So if want to do that today…then let’s do that!
That is what so many people in this room have done.
We’ve maybe believe God existed, but we had a time (for me it was when I was 18)…when we said…I believe you died for me…for ME…I’ll follow”
In fact, let’s do this: Let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes…as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If you want to start this incredible relationship with Jesus….who loves you so much….and believe in what He did for you and commit your life to him (to make Him your leader & forgiver) to be completely forgiven! If that’s you…and you’ve never done this before…in just a few moments, I’m going to ask to raise your hand. It’s a symbol… a way to look up upon Jesus.
Maybe you’ve even been around churches for some time. But I would ask you: “Have you, in faith, said, “I believe this. I really do. I want to be forgiven. I will truly become a Christian now. Which just meets FOLLOWER of Christ. One who really believes and follows”
Everyone is going to have their eyes closed (no one’s looking), so this is just between you & God
So wherever you are, all across this room right now. If you’d like to become a follower of Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to just, real quietly, raise your hand up wherever you are.
If God is nudging your heart in this…raise it up. If you feel it in your pulse…in your heart…that’s God. Accept His forgiveness. Start a new life with Him. It’s amazing!
If you’re hand is raised, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at…again, the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
EVERYONE repeat after me with these new believers.
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life. Amen
AMEN!! Let’s just clap and praise God.
Let me thank Him and PRAY.
If you gave your life to Christ today, I need you to do just 1 thing for me
Right after the service today, I want you to go to the back of the room …for just a moment.
In the back there is a sign that says “FOLLOW-UP”
There will be some incredibly nice people there (they have lanyards on) who want to give you some extremely helpful tools to help you get started in your faith
Won’t take you very long. But absolutely go back there.
Let me just pray & thank God!
And then let’s continue to worship and thank Him for coming on Christmas!
We are so grateful that you came for us 2,000 years ago.
That you escaped death as a baby…so you could die for us…and deliver us years later.
We thank you today that you are our greatest gift.
We thank you for the gift of salvation and new life.
May you shine brightly in our lives this Christmas.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.