Read His Words Before Ours!
“Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar!”
This was the concluding chorus of King David’s praise song, preceding his final stanza, “You are my God, and I will give thanks to You; You are my God; I will exalt You.” (Psalm 118:28)
Then, arms flung wide, inviting all to join him in praise at the Passover festival, the King shouted victoriously the timeless familiar refrain of God’s chosen people, “Oh! Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:29)
Israel’s King David, known for his whole-hearted passion for God, his musical ability, his songs of celebration and laments, his sin and his forgiveness, was leading his nation in another Passover feast.
The binding of the Passover lamb.
One sacrifice, given on behalf of all, to atone for their sinfulness and free them from the slavery of sin and the cords of death.
Each Jew in attendance imagined the mighty Red Sea rolling back on itself at the command of Yahweh, so Israel could pass on dry land.
Freedom was coming, even as Pharaoh’s militia followed them, effectively sequestering them between two death traps, the sea or the army.
I can imagine Israel’s intensifying fear coiling within them. Mamas, hushing babies as their own tears flowed and panic pounded in their ears. Fathers, knowing they were helpless, pushed their families behind them, certain there would be no mercy from Egypt’s finest soldiers.
Israel knew these faces.
They’d seen them every day.
These Egyptians didn’t just ride chariots and fight Pharaoh’s battles; their hands held whips and their voices laughed as Jewish blood spilled under their abuse. These were the taskmasters. These were the men who spit on the Israelites and cruelly dictated every aspect of their lives.
Freedom from this nightmare seemed utterly impossible, until one afternoon Moses announced Yahweh had heard His people’s cries.
Mercy was coming.
But now, with desert sands quaking beneath them from the thunder of oncoming horses’ hooves, mercy seemed like a cruel joke. Where was Yahweh now? Where was His great freedom? Death from the sea on one side. Death from the ruthless Egyptian army on the other.
Then, in one unthinkable act, the Lord breathed a pathway through the Sea while His cloud moved to block the army, lavishing an entire nation of runaway slaves with incredible mercy.
In the place where Death had reigned, mercy ruled.
“Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is blessed.” (Psalm 118:25-26)
Hundreds of years after the Red Sea victory, David’s voice carried across the nation sprawling before him on Passover, his words a prescient echo of centuries beyond, when another crowd gathered before another King.
Palm branches waved, excitement electrified the atmosphere, and the same prophetic words reverberated through the air, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” (Mark 11:9)
Victory seemingly swelled, but the cheering participants were oblivious to the pervasive Death around them. Two Death Traps.
Death was the rightful consequence, earned like a paycheck, for even one sidestep from God’s standard of righteousness. And sins were aplenty. Lies, gossip, lusting hearts, and manipulative tongues named only a few.
An impassable chasm stood on one side, separating every person, of every color, every language, every gender, every sin from the glory of freedom and delight found only in the presence of the God of everlasting, enduring love.
On the other? Eternal Death. Unending darkness, unceasing punishment, and the fullness of God’s wrath poured out without pause for grace or mercy.
Mankind was hopelessly caught between Death on either side; yet freedom was coming.
In one unthinkable act, God Himself left His rightful glory and humbled Himself to stand between the ones He loved and the relentless onslaught of Death’s fury.
“Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar!” (Psalm 118:27)
Impossibly, the sacrifice of God Himself was bound to a Roman tool of unthinkable torture.
His blood spilled to pay for our sin. Mercy had come.
Mercy to take the eternal blow of death.
Freedom unleashed as Christ’s once-dead body flooded with the warmth of life.
Death lost and Life won as Christ rose to victoriously conquer the grave, forever.
Mercy ruled where Death once snarled.
“There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the righteous:
‘The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!
The Lord’s right hand is raised.
The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!’”
The Lord God had done, again, what mankind could never accomplish. Just as He forged the path of mercy through the Red Sea, so He paid the consequence of Death in His own body, allowing Himself to be bound as the Sacrificial Lamb. In His offering, He became the gate of Life, declaring “righteous” all who enter through Him, trusting Him as their sacrifice on their behalf.
By the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb of God, we are emancipated from the slavery of Sin’s whip, shame, mockery, and reign to run forever free in the rich flood of Christ’s unabashed mercy and love. And so my lips will ever shout King David’s refrain,
“I will not die, but I will live
and proclaim what the Lord has done!”
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!