It had been 430 years to the day since Jacob led his small family to Egypt to be reunited with his son Joseph. Jacob was reluctant to go down to Egypt. But God promised Jacob, "I will go down with you and I will surely bring you up again." (Gen.46:4). That was 430 years earlier, and all of Israel, in each generation, had eagerly awaited, prayed for, hoped for the time when God would return them to land He had promised to give them through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I. The Exodus of Israel.
And now “the time had fully come.” As word circulated through the various villages and settlements of the Israelites, there was a palpable excitement and tension in the air. THE TIME FOR DEPARTURE HAD COME. It was time for exodus. “Exodus” is a Greek word which" literally means, "the way out." Ex = out. Odos = road or way.
The preparations for this departure were unlike any preparations for any trip you and I have ever taken. It all centered on a young, male, lamb without blemish or defect. The lamb was to serve two purposes.
First, the blood of the lamb was to be sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses. The Lord would pass through Egypt and strike down every first-born male in every home except those marked with the blood of the lamb. The blood was to be a witness to life.
Second, the body of the lamb was to be eaten for sustenance for the journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land.
The lamb would spare Israel's death by its blood and sustain Israel's life by its body.
B. The Sea.
When Pharoah awoke the next morning and found his own first born son and all of the first-born sons of Egypt dead, he ordered Israel to leave the country. And they left with no resistance. In fact, they were greatly encouraged by the Egyptians whom God had made “favorably disposed to the Israelites.” "Go, go. Here take this gold and silver, just go."
As they traveled, they were accompanied by the awesome presence of almighty God in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Truly God was with them. But little did they know that God was leading them right to the edge of a great body of water called the Red Sea. And Pharaoh's army was charging hard after them because he had changed his mind about their departure.
As fear filled their heart and their lips complained against Moses, a strong wind began to blow. It was so strong that it separated the water. It parted the sea with a wall of water on the right and on the left and exposed the sea bed and then dried it off. And Israel crossed through water, to the other side safely.
And the enemy followed right behind. But as they did, the wind suddenly stopped, and the water wall of water on the right and on the left came crashing back to its place and every one of Egypt’s soldiers was drown.
Twice in rapid succession, Israel had been saved from death by the mighty hand of God. What an incredible EXODUS it was.
II. The Transfiguration of Jesus.
A. Talk of departure.
Many more years would pass before another departure that could compare with this one would take place. To be sure, another exodus would be necessary. Because even though Israel had been freed from the bondage of slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt, they were still under the bondage of slavery to sin.
There would need to be another exodus, another departure, TO WHICH THIS FIRST EXODUS MERELY POINTED. This exodus would lead God’s people out of the bondage of slavery to sin and into perfect freedom from sin and fear and death.
This DEPARTURE would bring all of God’s people out of a world ruled by the powers of this age and into the Promised Land that flows with the milk and honey of God’s love and grace and protection and safety.
In our Old Testament reading we hear that Moses climbed Mt. Nebo and God showed Moses the promised land of the OLD COVENANT. “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.”
Whether it was Mt. Nebo we cannot say for sure, but Jesus led three of His disciples up a mountain to pray. “And while He was praying, the appearance of his face was altered and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with Him, Moses and Elijah.”
St. Luke tells us what they talked about. As Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus they did not reminisce about old times.
Moses didn't retell the old story of how the wheels on Pharaoh's chariots got stuck in the mud on the lake bottom, or the look on their enemy's eyes as the water closed in around them.
Elijah didn't talk about the time when he humiliated the prophets of Baal by calling down fire from heaven upon the dripping wet wood on the sacrificial altar.
No, they did not speak of the past. They spoke of the future. The near future. In fact, the VERY near future. Luke writes, "they spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to accomplish at Jerusalem."
The word for DEPARTURE here is, "exodus." Moses and Elijah, the great representatives of the law and the prophets speak of the NEW EXODUS OF THE NEW ISRAEL who is Jesus Christ.
He would lead NEW ISRAEL, that is, all who believe in Him, out of their bondage to sin and into the glorious liberty of the sons of God and to the promised land where sin and death and the devil are no more and everyone sees the GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST just like Peter, James and John did on the mountain.
B. The Exodus of Jesus.
The first exodus was just a sign pointing to this one. This would be the exodus that THE PEOPLE OF GOD had been eagerly waiting for, not for 430 years, but FROM THE BEGINNING when Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world. This was the exodus that “the whole creation has been groaning for as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time…” (Romans 8:23).
This morning, you and I are invited to join with Peter, James and John, and Moses and Elijah, and Adam and Eve and all creation and the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven – to gaze upon the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Look close and drink it in. We will want to remember what you see here so that when the fears and the doubts and the denials come, and they will come, we may still know that we saw the glory of God in Him.
C. Stay in glory.
The time had fully come and this exodus was to be delayed no longer. Though His soul was troubled by this EXODUS that He must make, Jesus knew there was no delaying it. "Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’" (Jn.12:27-28).
As for Moses: he had DEPARTED THIS WORLD peacefully, quietly, buried by God, who knows where on the top of Mt. Nebo.
As for Elijah: he had DEPARTED THIS WORLD in a cloud of glory on a heavenly chariot, never buried anywhere.
But as Jesus approached His departure, He knew that He must DEPART with arms stretched out on a cross, not between Moses and Elijah, but between two thieves, heckled and ridiculed by the very people He had come to set free.
The "glory of the Godhead in bodily form," who for this brief moment showed us his glory, would soon be emptied of all glory and take upon Himself the inglorious totality of human sin with all it’s terrible consequences.
Like the first exodus, this one would also center around the blood and body of a lamb. The GREAT EXODUS would take place at the cross where the Lamb of God would so mark it with His blood that all who stand under it in faith will be saved from death.
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, would give his body that whoever would eat of it in true faith, would be sustained for the hard journey through this life and into the next.
Jesus would not remain on the mountain, secure in the glory that was rightfully his. He must come down. For the time for departure and exodus had come.
Today, we offer our praise and thanks to Jesus, that He did not remain on the mountain in glory – but descended into the valley of the shadow of death to lead us into the Promised Land.
For just as He promised Jacob, so He has promised you, “I will surely go down with you and I will surely bring you up again.” (Genesis 46:4).