On Easter, we remember God’s mercy displayed on the cross and His glorious power manifested in Christ’s resurrection. We usually open our Bibles to the Gospels to read the account of our Savior’s painful crucifixion and His victory over death. The grace-filled story of our redemption never ceases to overwhelm me.
This Easter season, though, I have been reading through the narrative of Exodus. As I have reflected on the story of Israel’s redemption, I have realized that Jesus’ death and resurrection cannot be understood in isolation. Jesus’ defeat of sin and death is the culmination of God’s sovereign plan for His people. The entirety of the Bible is a story of God’s love and rescue. When we take a step away from our hyper-focused reading of the Easter story, the aerial-view of the overall biblical narrative reveals that God’s faithful redemptive purpose was satisfied in Christ’s death and resurrection.
As I have read Exodus, God has been leading me to recognize His glory and holiness. Written over 1,400 years before Christ, God’s power is evident in His pursuit of Israel. The glory and power of God’s presence revealed in Exodus has given me a new perspective on the Easter story.
In Exodus 25, God meets with Moses on Mount Sinai. The Lord’s spirit descends in a cloud over Mount Sinai and Moses enters the cloud to meet with the all-powerful God. There, in God’s presence, God gives Moses a command to build a tabernacle, so that He may live among His people. God says to Moses in Exodus 25:8, “They are to make a sanctuary for me so that I may dwell among them.” Our perfect, holy God desired to live among His broken people. But His holiness and our sinfulness could not be wholly reconciled. Exodus 26:33 says, “Hang the curtain under the clasps and bring the ark of the testimony there behind the curtain, so the curtain will make a separation for you between the holy and the most holy place.” God’s presence, resting there in the mercy seat of the most holy place of the tabernacle, required the physical separation of a curtain. This curtain symbolized the separation between God’s holiness and our sinfulness.
Jesus became flesh to restore us to the presence of the Lord; He dwelt (or tabernacled) in our messy, fallen world (John 1:14). When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain was torn once and for all. Matthew 27:50-51 shows the power in Jesus’ crucifixion:
But Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.
We can rejoice in the power of Jesus’ victory over death. By taking the punishment for our sin, Jesus reconciled our brokenness to God’s wholeness.
We are unworthy to even glance at the face of God. We are unfit to even touch His presence. Even the face of Moses, who had been in the presence of God, was too radiant for our fallen bodies. God’s holiness deserves our fear. Our sinful nature is utterly incomparable to God’s perfectness. The Israelites sacrifices in the tabernacle were only a temporary purification, but Christ was the ultimate atonement for our sin.
Hebrews 9:12 proclaims the beautiful message of the Gospel:
In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with human hands (that is not of this creation),he [Christ] entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having attained eternal redemption.
Exodus may seem obscure to discuss at Easter, but it is necessary that we understand the scope of the Bible to fully grasp the weight of our sin and the beauty of Christ’s grace. The God who was once too powerful to see or touch has given us the gift of His spirit inside of us. Today, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, let us rejoice that we have been reconciled to God’s holiness through the sacrifice of Jesus.