This past week, you learned about some of the Old Testament prophets. Yesterday, the last day of vacation Bible school, we talked about the greatest of all prophets, Jesus Christ.
Remember this picture of the story of the Transfiguration with Jesus between Moses and Elijah? For the people of Israel, Moses was the greatest prophet of the Old Testament and Elias, the second greatest. Also, you should remember that John the Baptist was the greatest and last of the prophets who looked forward to the coming of Christ. But above all is Jesus Christ.
Christ was anointed by God the Father Almighty to be a prophet, priest and king in the same person. As a prophet. Christ through words and deeds, manifested Himself and still manifests Himself in preaching the gospel as the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world (according to the 2nd Article of the Creed). Christ is not a prophet of the same range as the other prophets mentioned in the Bible, but much more. This is why the whole revelation of God to man comes through Christ, which is why Christ is called "the Word", because through Him, God has given us to know His Word and His holy will. In this sense Christ is the one and only prophet and there is no true revelation of God but by Him
In our text for today, Paul makes a comparison between Moses and Christ, also between the liberation of the people Israel from slavery in Egypt and the redemption of believers in Christ.
"Our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea ..." That means, following God in the form of the column of cloud, the Israelites crossed through the sea from slavery to freedom. Many of you may remember from a past Bible school when we studied the story of the 10 plagues and the Jewish Passover. After many demonstrations of God's power, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, at lat heeded the divine command and let the people of Israel begin their journey to the Promised Land.
However, when the Israelites came to the shore of the Red Sea, Pharaoh changed his mind for the last time and followed them with his army. Look at this map. Here is the Red Sea. On one side is the land of Egypt, on the other the wilderness. The geography is the same today. On one hand, slavery. On the other hand, freedom. Through a miracle of God, the Israelites crossed the parted waters and escaped Pharaoh's army.
In The same way, we cross in baptism by water and the Word of God from the bondage of sin, death and the devil to the freedom of eternal life in Christ. The miracle of the Red Sea foreshadowed the spiritual regeneration in baptism. In baptism, our spiritual state changes completely. Like Pharaoh's army, the sinful nature is drowned, the power of darkness is defeated and has no more power over us.
But the miracle of the Red Sea was not the entire Exodus story for the people Israel. They still had to cross the wilderness to reach the Promised Land. God did not abandon them, but provided food and water in the desert through miracles. St. Paul says, "They all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." That means, in the same way God provided the manna or bread of heaven, and water from the rock for the Israelites, we have the sacrament of Holy Communion, the true body and true blood of Christ, with and under the bread and wine, to support us in our journey to the kingdom of God in heaven.
Moses, the greatest prophet of the Old Testament, who received the revelation of God's Law, was a preview of Christ, the last prophet who revealed the Gospel in His own person. As God showed his love and mercy in the Red Sea crossing, and the food and drink in the desert, God has shown the same love and mercy to all nations in the cross of Christ, baptism and Holy Communion.
But look, there is the promise of eternal life in our text, but also a warning. All the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, all received food and drink in the desert, but only two of the generation that left Egypt (Joshua and Caleb) reached the Promised Land.
By saying that the children of Israel were baptized into Moses, the apostle means they entered into a close relationship or communion with Moses as mediator of divine manifestations, and took upon themselves the obligation to follow him closely as the leader God had given them. Likewise, for a baptized believer, Christ becomes the great leader of his life.
However, the majority of Israelites were lost in the wilderness, because they did not pay attention to the Word of God taught them by Moses, did not live as grateful children of a merciful God, but fell into idolatry, fornication, and much more. They did not escape the judgment of God in their day. And they are examples to us. No matter if we receive the blessing of baptism, if we do not live as sons and daughters of God, if we fall into sin and not repent, we will not escape the judgment of God in the Last Day. And if we receive the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily, that is, without repentance, we receive the sacrament to our condemnation.
So let's stay in the true faith of our baptism, listening to the preaching of the word God with the humility of children, honestly confessing our sins, receiving the sacrament worthily and living as grateful children of God. Amen.
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