Throughout Scripture, we find all kinds of meals and feasts, such as the Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles or Ingathering). After the exile, the Jews added memorial days for the fall of Jerusalem (eventually fixed as the Ninth of Ab), Purim, and the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah). In addition, the Israelites observed the Sabbath every week and the Feast of the New Moon every lunar month. It seems as if all the Lord’s promises and covenants are sealed with a cup at the table. In the New Testament we find the Last Supper and it’s also here that the disciples are gathered in an upper room, seated at a table, while Jesus breaks bread, then takes a cup.
Likewise He also took the cup after supper saying, “this cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:20) Within the church and in the world, people struggle in four major areas: freedom from sin, deliverance from bondage, finding their purpose, and living a life of fulfillment.
In amazing God-like fashion, the same four areas that man struggles with the most, God not only provides solutions, but also a way to overcome. The four cups are within the new covenant. The people of God were given four promises even though they were in captivity when they received them.
God promised them in Exodus 6:6-7 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6 Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
The four promises located here:
1.) I will free you from your oppression
2.) I will rescue from slavery in Egypt
3.) I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgement
4.) I will proclaim you as My own people, and I will be your God.
There was a celebration of Passover each year and to this day, the people place four cups of wine at the celebration to commemorate the four promises of God.
They are celebrating the fact that God brought them out of slavery into freedom, redemption, and fulfillment. These same four cups hold the same significant promise for us as they did the people of Israel in the first passover. By placing our faith in Jesus Christ, we become recipients of the promises of God in our lives.
2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV) For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
Jesus came to fulfill the promises that God made to His people. He fulfilled the promises of God to free people from oppression, to free people from slavery, and to stretch out His hand and do mighty works, but also extended these promises to as many generations as come after us (Acts 2:39)
This promise is extended through what we know as the Great Commission. Let’s compare the Exodus 6 story with Matthew 28:
Exodus 6:6 “I will bring you out from under the yoke of bondage” and in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore.”
The first cup is the cup of sanctification. Christ’s first directive is to go and rescue people who are still lost in their sin. This, therefore, is the church’s first directive: Go! Evangelism is not them coming to us, but us going to them, sharing the message of Christ’s death, His resurrection, and how He paid the price for our sins. We are called to share how we are restored to a proper relationship with God. Sanctification is being set apart as special or holy to God. Perfectly paired with evangelism, we are to welcome others into the family of God, showing them how God set them apart for His purpose as well. Even though we aren’t slaves in Egypt, we have all been in bondage and sin of some sort, in desperate need of freedom through Jesus Christ. He rescued us from that heavy yoke of bondage, the weight of sin, and removed the issues that caused separation.
The good news of the first cup remains: Christ performed the ultimate rescue, approaching us while we were steeped in sin, unlovable, and weak. He came to us when we couldn’t get to Him.
The church needs to adopt the same mentality Jesus possessed. We don’t sit in our spot, twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the broken, the hurt, the addicted, and the failing to come to us. We must get up and go. Maybe they cannot make it here, but we can make it to them.
The words of Jesus as He established the church were ”And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Jesus tells Peter that the church is to be on the move. It is built and from that point on, it takes on the forces of hell.
Gates are designed to keep some things out and others in. If the owners of the gates are really concerned about safety, then the gates are locked and secured, and have watchmen upon them. The gates of hell were designed to keep the church out because behind those gates are what the enemy wants to keep in: people. The gates of hell are designed to keep the church out, from taking the cup of sanctification into his camp. We storm the gates of hell with the cup, proclaiming to the world locked up behind the gates, that they weren’t born to be addicted, depressed, abused, or to live a life sub par. We are set apart for the Lord, formed in our mother’s wombs.
The devil is not clueless and he has a plan to keep people under his control, under wraps, and under his authority, all the while whispering “There is no way out.” Whether this is news to you or not, you’ve been in bondage. The idea the enemy wants you to believe is that God is very far away. In reality, and if you take the time to feel it, God is very near to you. In fact, He made a promise that He is always pursuing you. He is after you. When you feel a nudge, it’s God calling you out, to drink from the cup of sanctification. The only way to find your true purpose, the purpose you’ve been set apart to fulfill, is to turn to Jesus. He is the only one with the book on your life.
Let’s charge the gates of hell, fighting, warring, battling, and declaring and decreeing the Scriptures, engaging the enemy, setting the captives free, all through the cups of the new covenant.