Exodus, 5

Passover_jpg

Exodus 12-13:10

Moses and Aaron had left Pharaoh with some very bad news of what was to come:

Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt–worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. (Exodus 11:5-7 NIV84)

Chapter 12 has been called “the high point” in the book of Exodus and for good reason. In this chapter we learn about the institution of Passover, a special dinner that would become a memorial to the deliverance of Israel  from Egypt. Actually, Passover is much more than just a memorial meal of a great historic event. It is the bedrock of Israel’s birth as a nation and of its new relationship with Yahweh.

It all happened during Israel’s last night in Egypt. Every firstborn son and animal of Egyptian households were mysteriously slain while those of Israel were “passed over,” or spared. This terrible event was God’s final judgment against all the gods of Egypt.

The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians, who were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them; for the Lord had brought judgment on their gods. (Numbers 33:3-4 NIV84)

The Passover Event, Exodus 12:21-30

Instructions, vs. 21-23

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.” (Exodus 12:21-23 NIV84)

God had spoken to Moses and now Moses had to speak to the people; he was to pass along to them what he had been told by God. What a good lesson for anybody called to preach or teach God’s Word: know what God wants you to say! And say only that.

The blood from the slain Passover lamb was to be “painted” all around the door. The head of the family was to use hyssop, a fluffy little plant that grows in abundance around rocks. Hyssop represents faith – it is by faith that the blood of Christ is applied to your heart and life. You trust what Christ has done when He shed His blood for you.

If the people were obedient, the so-called Death Angel of the Lord would “pass over” all the Israelite homes. Their safety was guaranteed by the blood.

For 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 NIV84)

D.A. Carson, well known Bible scholar and teacher, once remarked,

We overcome the accuser of our brother and sisters, we overcome our consciences, we overcome our bad tempers, we overcome our defeats, we overcome our lusts, we overcome our fears, we overcome our pettiness on the basis of the blood of the Lamb.

We can all say “Amen!” to that.

A permanent ordinance, vs. 24

This special dinner, with all its instructions followed to the letter, was not to be a one-time event. God intended it to be an everlasting memorial or object lesson. The people of God were to never, ever forget what He did for them this night.

Michael Youssef tells us why this memorial is so important:

God wants to see prayers that are filled with genuine praise and thanksgiving for what He has done in the past. He wants our hearts to be filled with awe and gratitude for His blessings. He wants us to set up memorials in our hearts testifying to the provisions He has given us.

Indeed. That’s why it’s so important to know God’s Word.  It’s a chronicle of what He’s done for His people. And that’s why it’s so important to testify about answered prayer! Tell people what He’s done for you so others can incorporate that in their prayers and praise.

In a stunning departure from the norm, the people of Israel did exactly as they had been told:

The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. (Exodus 12:28 NIV84)

They obeyed like their very lives depended on it. And they did!

Horror comes at midnight, vs. 29-30

At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. (Exodus 12:29-30 NIV84)

Pharaoh should have known this plague would happen. He had been warned, but as is the case with many sinners, his heart had been hardened to the point where it blinded him to the things about which there should have been no doubt. Up to this point, the judgments of God had not claimed a human life, but now, with this final, awful judgment, the ante had been upped.

There are those who would say God was a little extreme in his dealings with the Egyptians. However, Pharaoh had been forewarned. It was within his power to stop this from happening. But then, there’s this:

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;may the name of the Lord be praised. (Job 1:21b NIV84)

He who creates life has authority over it, even to the point of taking it away. Man would do well to remember this factoid.

The Exodus, Exodus 12:31-42

During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. ” (Exodus 12:31 NIV84)

Pharaoh had to give up. Up till now, none of the plagues, as awful as they were, touched him directly. But this one took the life of his son. He had to get these people out of his country and he ordered Moses and his people to leave. It was the act of desperate man, not a contrite man.

Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me. (Exodus 12:32 NIV84)

Don’t read anything into that. Pharaoh wanted these people out of his country and the “bless me” request was just his way of averting more calamity.

As they were leaving, a remarkable thing happened:

The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:36 NIV84)

Whatever they wanted, the Hebrews took and the Egyptians let them. Seem unfair? Remember: they were owed a considerable amount in wages for unpaid and involuntary labor.

A journey begins, vs. 37-39

The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. (Exodus 12:37-38 NIV84)

What a sight that must have been! By some estimates there were upwards of 3 million people all following one man: Moses. Included in this estimate was what the KJV refers to as the “mixed multitude,” an indeterminate number of non-Hebrews who followed the Hebrews out of Egypt. Most, if not all of them, were Egyptians who, perhaps, had married Hebrews, or perhaps were other slaves or captives who saw this Exodus as a way to freedom. They were the “hangers on,” and would ultimately be the cause of a lot of problems for Moses and the children of Israel.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!” (Numbers 11:4 NIV84)

Yes, as a Christian, you need to be careful with whom you associate. They could get you into lot of trouble.

430 years, vs. 40-42

Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. (Exodus 12:40-41 NIV84)

What a night it was! This would be a day long remembered; the day freedom came to the people of Israel. Given the 430-year duration, we may speculate as to the dates of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt: 1876 BC to 1446 BC. That’s a “best guess,” but regardless of the exact dates, and regardless of whether it was 400, 430, or 431 years, four centuries is a long, long time to in a place you don’t belong.

Passover remembered, Exodus 13:1-10

Firstborn consecrated, vs. 1, 2

“Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal.”  (Exodus 13:2 (NIV84)

The Exodus was a great blessing given to the people of Israel from their God. But God’s blessings upon a anybody carry weighty responsibilities. The Lord spared the firstborn while in Egypt and now these same firstborn were claimed by God; they were to be consecrated to Him.

If you are a Christian, then you belong to Him and He wants “the first” from you as surely as He claimed “the first” from the Hebrews. Unfortunately, many Christians refuse to give God first place in their lives. God claims our best – our very best – but a lot of us give Him what’s left over. He demands to be first in our lives but often He gets relegated to the rear. This is why we believers get into trouble so often. If we have the time, we’ll do something for God. If we feel like it, we’ll show up at church. If we have any money left over, we’ll give some to the work of The Lord.

The children of Israel needed to learn the seriousness of following God, and so He exerted His claim on their firstborn.

Feast of unleavened bread, vs. 3-7

Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.” (Exodus 13:3 NIV84)

The importance of remembering this day needed to be passed on to the children. The weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread started here and it followed Passover. The people were to eat nothing with yeast in it, so as to remember the unleavened bread they took with them from Egypt.

The story of the Exodus is fact. It did happen. It is a historical story full of symbols and symbolism that point to other historical facts: the life and death of Jesus Christ. The blood of the perfect Lamb of God saves all men from sin just as surely as the blood on the doorposts of the Israelites’ homes saved them from the plague of death. And yet, it was necessary for them to eat the lamb. We, like them, must appropriate with Jesus did; we must let it work in our lives.

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