As I sat in church on the vigil of this Easter Sunday, it dawned on me as to how tightly related the readings were to Easter. Our Easter service has seven readings before the Gospel. The readings for the Saturday evening vigil are actually different than the readings for Sunday, so keep in mind I am keying off Saturdays readings.
The seven readings are as follows:
1. Genesis 1:1 to 2:2. The creation account, in seven days.
2. Genesis 22:1-18. Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son.
3. Exodus 14. The parting of the waters and the destruction of the Egyptian charioteers.
4. Isaiah 54. God affirms his covenant with the Israelites.
5. Isaiah 55. “The Word shall go forth from my mouth…”
6. Baruch 3:9-15.
7. Ezekiel 36:16-28. Restoration of Israel. “I will give you a new heart…”
We know that Abraham’s decision to obey God and sacrifice his son parallel’s Jesus’ willingness to lay down his own life for the salvation of human kind. I was thunderstruck by the Exodus reading, which tells the story of the Israelites leaving Goshen and Moses parting the waters of the Sea of Reeds. My jaw hit the floor when I heard the following passage – Exodus 14:30-31:
Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day
from the power of the Egyptians.
When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore
and beheld the great power that the LORD
had shown against the Egyptians,
they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.
Because it parallels, and explains, this passage from Revelation 12:13-17:
When the dragon saw that it had been thrown down to the earth,
it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle,
so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent,
she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year.
The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth
after the woman to sweep her away with the current.
But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth
and swallowed the flood that the dragon spewed out of its mouth.
Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off
to wage war against the rest of her offspring,
those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.
It took its position on the sand of the sea.