Widows, Orphans, and Immigrants (Exodus 22:21-24 and Selected Verses)

It is universally true, thankfully, that decent folks don’t like it when people take advantage of other people. Wherever we go in the world—from the most primitive cultures to the most civilized societies—people do not appreciate the intentional oppression of other people, especially disadvantaged people. More importantly, God doesn’t like it when people take advantage of other people. They are, after all, made in his image.

Unlike other law codes from the ancient Near East, God’s laws show a remarkable concern for widows, orphans, and immigrants. Indeed, the penalty for mistreating such vulnerable people is high. This message looks at various aspects of these laws, all of which tell us something about the nature and ways of the God who gave them. Clearly, God is the champion of the poor, the outsider, the unfortunate, the defenseless, the powerless, and the desperate. As such, he wants his people to protect them, be kind to them, and provide for their needs. 

The God who gave these laws has a big heart, and it especially goes out to those whom Jesus called “the least of these.” God is angered by such things as racism, prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, neglect, and harsh or condescending treatment of those of another race. Making life more difficult for those for whom it is already hard is infuriating to him. Therefore, God wants his people to try to put themselves in other people’s shoes, and to treat them as they would want to be treated if they were in a similar situation.

When Jesus was on earth, he embodied these laws perfectly. He cared for the widows, treasured the orphans, and welcomed the immigrants. To be Christlike, then, means to share God’s concern for widows, orphans, and immigrants. For God’s people, this concern must translate into action. The sermon concludes with a word of hope for those who may have broken these laws, and encouragement for how they might go about being better aligned with God’s heart moving forward.

Sermon Resources:

Contact This New Life directly for the sermon audio file.

Shadows of the Cross, Part 6: The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:1-14)

In preparing his people for their exodus from Egypt, God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and then apply some of its blood to the tops and sides of their doorframes. God told them, “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Exod 12:12-13). 

Those who applied the blood to their homes were spared divine judgment and free to leave for the Promised Land the next day. God’s dramatic rescue of his people from Egypt was the preeminent act of salvation in the Old Testament, and he had several intentions in the original Passover event: to be faithful to his covenant; to expose the false gods of Egypt; to judge the wickedness and injustice of Pharaoh; to protect his people and deliver them from slavery; and to memorialize his saving power, providing hope for future generations who would keep his covenant.

The entire Passover ceremony centered on a lamb—a very specific lamb that had to meet specific requirements. For example, it had to be: a lamb that is male; a lamb in its prime; a lamb thoroughly examined; a lamb without blemish; a lamb without broken bones; a lamb slain and roasted; a lamb sacrificed by all; a lamb offered at twilight; and lamb that served as a substitute—dying so that others might live. Moreover, all of it had to be eaten family-by-family, such that every time a household walked out of Egypt the next day, a complete lamb “inside them” came out, too. Upon their great deliverance, their calendar started all over again. In essence they got a new beginning in life: “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year” (Exod 12:2).

It was John the Baptist who saw Jesus by the banks of the Jordan River and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The Apostle Paul wrote, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7b). The Apostle Peter wrote, “You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Jesus is the new and greater Lamb for the new and greater Exodus—the exodus from slavery to sin. Indeed, Christ meets all the requirements of the Passover Lamb. He is:

  • The Lamb who is male
  • The Lamb in his prime
  • The Lamb thoroughly examined
  • The Lamb without blemish
  • The Lamb without broken bones
  • The Lamb slain and roasted
  • The Lamb sacrificed by all
  • The Lamb offered at twilight

Applying his blood by faith to the doorposts of our lives now gives a new calendar, beginning, a new life. And every time a church family walks out of a Eucharistic service, there’s one complete Lamb “inside them” that comes out with them. On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:14-20). He then gave his followers the broken bread of his body, and the poured out wine of his blood. He knew at that moment what believers would eventually come to learn, that God’s judgment passes over believers because it fell on his Son. Jesus was totally consumed by his love for his Father and his love for his people. 

The Exodus 12 passage contains an interesting progression. It refers to “…a lamb…” (vv. 3-4a), “…thelamb…” (v. 4b); and “…your lamb…” (v. 5). Perhaps you’ve recognized that Jesus is a Lamb. Great. Maybe you’ve even recognized that Jesus is the Lamb. Even better. But have you ever made him your Lamb by faith? That’s why he came—to be your exodus from bondage to sin. Receive him today by faith, and you will get a brand new start to a whole new life (John 3:3).

Sermon Resources:

Contact This New Life directly for the sermon audio file.

ICL Old Testament Survey, Class Session 5

Class Resources:

Class video available (for 30 days) upon request.

ICL Old Testament Survey, Class Session 4

Class Resources:

Class video available (for 30 days) upon request.