In a little more than a week Christians around the world will reflect, remember, and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we prepare for the celebration lets go back in time 3½ millennia to the time of the Exodus. Imagine being an ancient Hebrew/Jew in bondage and captivity under the Pharaoh of Egypt. God’s chosen people are slaves with no way out. They are forced to perform hard labor under some of the most horrible circumstances. They call out to God. They wanted to be delivered/redeemed/saved from this horrible life. God promised their patriarchs that they would have a land flowing with milk and honey. This sure wasn’t the place. As most of you know God prepares and sends a deliverer (a savior) in the person of Moses. If there was more time we could go into the events of Moses life and the parallels and symbolism of other sections of scripture. Moses definitely had some challenges along the way. Didn’t always get it right, would be one way to say it. After being prepared, Moses goes to Pharaoh and delivers God’s message (at least part of the time). Pharaoh doesn’t listen and continues to harden his heart. God then sends the ten plagues, but this is where I want to stop. Specifically at the institution of the Passover.
In Exodus 12:1-14 it says
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
Let us look at the text a little further.
1. We see the establishment of the Jewish calendar
2. A lamb will be sacrificed (God is very detailed in how this is to be done)
3. Blood must be applied to the doorway (Blood is life. Sin and death need to be dealt with.)
4. They have a meal (doesn’t sound very tasty).
5. They were to be clothed at night, WHY?
6. No blood, the destroyer would come (Who’s the destroyer?)
7. From this day forward it will be a memorial (of what?)
God is always specific about His expectations of us. It isn’t like He leaves us uninformed or withholds anything. I do appreciate that myself. God is very black and white when it comes down to it. When we don’t do it God’s way the path always leads to destruction. Have you ever pondered how many animals were sacrificed under the sacrificial system? (Easily in the millions) Have ever considered why the meal was prepared the way it was? They didn’t gut it or clean it. It was thrown on the fire whole. They ate it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. I believe it was for a couple reasons. First, time was of the essence. They didn’t have time to gut and clean it. They didn’t have time for the yeast to rise. Why not? (Because they were going somewhere and very soon) They were going to be delivered from their bondage. God had sent the savior and they were going to be leaving in a hurry. The second thing is God wanted them to remember. They ate bitter herbs to remember how bitter it was in captivity and bondage and to also remember how God had delivered them from it.
Moses and a Lamb pull quoteWhy were they supposed to be clothed, sandals on, and ready with their staff? Once again, because they were going somewhere and in a hurry. God was there to deliver them and they were going to be forced to leave in haste (Ex. 12:33). There is always a reason God tells us to do something. Even if we don’t know why, there is a reason. So who is the destroyer? There are a couple of options. Is it God, an Angel, a demon, or Satan? I would make the argument for Satan. We know from Job 1 that Satan, angels, and demons all presented themselves before God. Also in Hebrews 2:14 it says. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” Scripture does teach that Satan had the power of death. I believe the death angel/destroyer was in fact Satan, you may disagree with me.
The memorial was of God delivering them from bondage, slavery, and captivity. How different are we than the ancient Hebrews? Are we not slaves to sin and death and held in captivity? Don’t we need a redeemer/Savior? The only difference was that as believers the savior and sacrifice are one in the same. Moses and a lamb were the savior and sacrifice to the ancient Hebrews. Jesus is ours.
As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, may we not forget that there are billions of people enslaved and in bondage to sin and death. Jesus holds the keys (Rev. 1:18). He is the propitiation of our sins (1 John 2:2) and has imputed us with His righteousness.