Exodus11-12 God's Passover

January 18, 2009 Series: Exodus

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Exodus 12:7–12:8

 

Exodus 11-12 God's Meal

January 18, 2009

Sam Ford

One Story

My firstborn son, my eldest, the one who tells me he will get my birthright when I die, is an artist.  He spends every free minute of his life drawing.  From morning to evening he draws continually and has what amounts to reams of pictures, books he has created, and other sketches.  His favorite thing to draw is Star Wars-especially things with heads being cut off.  His teacher at school even notices that he obsesses over Star Wars. So Caylin and I asked him not to draw Star Wars anymore.  To his credit, he gave a gallant effort.  He came home one day excited to share that he had not drawn Star Wars.  In fact, he has drawn pictures about what he played at Recess. Awesome.  "What did you play at Recess?"  Star Wars. 

 

Just this past week, I convinced him to start writing stories and drawing Bible stories.  So he started with the Exodus with turning the Nile to blood.  Nice.  On Friday, Fischer was paging through an animated New Testament.  He is going through the gospels and happened upon the story of John the Baptist, what he preached, why he was arrested, and later executed-beheaded.  As we were getting in the car to go to school he made an interesting statement.  He said, "If I was going to draw pictures, I'd draw them from the gospels."  Why?  "Because, the gospels are about Jesus."  That's right, the gospels do tell the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection on earth-the same story from four different points of view.  But I told him, that the Bible, all 66 books are about ONE story-how God, through Jesus Christ, saved mankind from sin and death.   It is the story of God bringing us and reuniting us to himself.

 

The fact is, in the beginning of the story we were with God.  In Genesis 1 and 2 all was good. Good Creation-no brokenness.  Good food-no gluttony.  Good Wine-No Alcoholism. Good Sex-Lust.  In other words, there was a time when we were right with God-and we all know it, many things are not right in the world.  Genesis 3 is the chapter which confirms what we know. It is the chapter where our first parents rebel, brining perversion, shame, and brokenness into the world.  AND it is the chapter where God promises to make it all right again in Jesus. 

 

The rest of the Old Testament is not a collection of disconnected people, places, and events that just give us knowledge about God.  They are all part of ONE story with ONE Climax with ONE Hero that sets things right, that makes a way for us to come back to him.  Studying these stories, Jewish traditions, bring the Scriptures alive to us and reveal layer upon layer rich with meaning.

 

READ EXODUS 11.1-10

To set the stage, Moses was summoned before Pharaoh after the "darkness that could be felt" fell upon Egypt.  Pharaoh's final attempt at a compromise had him letting the Israelites go as long as they left all their herds in Egypt.  Moses responded by saying "not a hoof" shall be left behind in Egypt-it's ALL God's..  Enraged, Pharaoh says, "the next time you see my face, you shall die."

 

Preview for the Final Plague 1-8

Chapter 11 ends with Moses leaving angry himself.  BUT before he leaves, God whispers to him "one more plague...and he will let you go."  He is instructed to give Pharaoh a final preview of coming destruction as a result of the final plague.  It will be the worst of them and no one, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, employed, unemployed, blue collar, white collar, spiritual, unspiritual, famous, unknown, child, adult, tall, short, human, or animal.  It will strike every firstborn.  BUT, God's people will be protected-not even a dog will growl against one Israelite.  AND afterwards, everyone in Egypt will humble themselves, bow down to Moses, and (not let us) force Israel to leave.  Moses then marches out in "hot anger" disgusted.

 

Summary Statement of Plague/Pharaoh 9-10

The final verses of chapter 11 are summary statement of the entire 10 plague experience, echoing what God already said in Exodus 7.3  "I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you.  Why?  Exodus 7.5 Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.   God is about his glory for if God is about anything else, He himself would commit idolatry.  With and IN this final plague then, he will communicate WHO HE IS.

 

INTERLUDE

Then, there is an interlude between the declaration of the plague and the actual plague.  Israel will be protected but that protection requires some preparation.  Chapter 12 contains the preparations that Moses receives, who then delivers to the elders of Israel, who then perform them.

 

READ EXODUS 12.1-20; (Abbreviated in 21-27)

What is described here is the Passover feast.  The Passover is one of the most celebrated days/festival in Judaism.  Called The Feast of Unleavened Bread, of which the first day is Passover, it is a feast that not only commemorates their freedom of slavery, but recognizes the moment that Israel obtained a new identity as a nation dedicated to worshipping the one God.   Today's ceremonies are detailed elaborations of the story of Exodus, but the ceremony and its requirements are here instituted by God as something to be observed throughout all generations.  It was more than a Thanksgiving feast, or a Birthday dinner, it was a annual memorial that Jews might not forget WHO they are. 

 

Called to a New Identity (1-2)

Exodus 12.1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 "This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.  Up until this point, the lives of the Israelites had been dictated by the agricultural seasons of Egypt.  Their agricultural calendar dictated when they worked, what they did, and what gods were to be worshipped for success. 

 

As God redeems his people, he makes them new in every respect.  God declares that history, specifically the Exodus rescue, will determine their calendar.  From this day forward, the people would have a calendar designed to remind them how they first BECAME a people-how they were delivered by God's power out of the bondage of the oppressor. This identity was central to their lives.  Their holidays did not commemorate the achievements of men, but their own HELPLESSENESS and God's greatness. today, the Jewish religious calendar begins with the month of Abib, now called Nisan.  In the first month of their year, they celebrate Passover halfway through the month for seven days-this year it will start on Thursday, the 9th of April and will continue for 7 days until Wednesday, the 15th of April.

 

Called to a Shared Identity (3)

Exodus 12.3  3 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.  This is the first place where Israel is called as a congregation. They are called to gather together, as ONE community, as ONE body, even though they are in fact gathering in many households.  God is not redeeming simply persons, he is redeeming A PEOPLE.  It is a people with a shared beginning, a shared identity, a shared purpose to worship together.   What brought them together was their identity as God's people, a people who were ALL once enslaved, a people of whom NONE could save themselves, a people who ALL experienced suffering, a people who ALL did not believe God would save them, a people who were saved ONLY because God made it so.  It is in those experiences, especially the most difficult ones that people are brought together (Survivor, This Church Plant).

 

Called to Sacrifice the Lamb12.7-9; 22-24; A Perfect Sacrifice to Propitiate God's Wrath/Blood

Exodus 12.5  5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats,  As they come together, God instructs that each household or combination of smaller households, is to take a perfect yearling.  A year old goat kid or lamb is nearly a full grown animal.  The Passover lamb must be male.  It had to be PERFECT quality, meaning it could not be lame, spotted, or off-color.  Halfway through the month, you slaughtered the lamb at sunset.  There is a beauty in the Fathers leading their families here in sacrificing to God. What would they do with the lamb then?  USE ITS BLOOD Exodus 12.21-24 21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.

 

The blood then protects any firstborn in the home from death.  There is nothing sacred about a door or a house; there is nothing even magical about blood itself.  Yes, there are all kinds of meaning related to blood as a source or symbol of life, but the blood of this LAMB appeases God's wrath because he has declared that he will accept the shed blood of this perfect animal in place of the Israelite firstborn.  And its not that God even needed the sign in order to know who was faithful and who was not.  He is omniscient.  The sign, therefore, is a benefit for those doing it.  The act itself takes the family beyond a faith of thoughts or even words into actions. They ACT on their belief in God's right and power to kill and to save.

 

Called to Eat TWO THINGS.....

Called to Eat the Lamb 12.5-6, 21  A Perfect Sacrifice to Eat - justification/food

It's important to note that the blood is smeared BEFORE the meal is eaten.  The FIRST thing must we dealt with first-that being God's wrath.  We can never forget that the Israelites were just as sinful as the Egyptians.  ALL people were shown mercy, but only one people were shown grace.   The Israelites are still imperfect, still sinful, still broken, still dirty, still unacceptable, but God has made a way for his wrath to be dealt with that they might be loved by him, and freed to worship.  Without the shedding AND covervin g blood, they die. But what do they do with the rest of the lamb?

 

Again, we have to remind ourselves that this sacrificial lamb was perfect.  A perfect sacrifice was the only sacrifice that God would accept.  These ones were just as TASTY.  The reason for demanding perfection had a symbolic purpose:  The animal reminds them of the deliverance that a perfect God perfectly provided for his people as part of a process of making them holy like himself.   

 

How did this animal provide perfection?    Is it magical?  How is it that these people who ate the animal became acceptable to God?  It could not provide that perfection "except to the extent that the whole process of eating the animal in obedience to God-ordained regulations was an act of faith and obedience.  It involved faith in God's provision OF THE HOLINESS/PERFECTION that no human himself/herself had IN themselves or could find elsewhere.  It is obedience  to a process that showed confidence in God's promises and requirements.  (Conviction/Action)

 

Called to Eat Unleavened Bread  12.14-20 A Celebration of Journey - unleavened Bread

Exodus 12.15 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.  As a further reminder of their experience in the Exodus, they are instructed to eat unleavened bread, or bread without yeast, for a week.  Matzah, as they call it, is like a unsavory saltine cracker.  In one sense, this reminds the Jews that they left in such a hurry that the dough didn't have time to rise.  It is another symbol of their impending journey. 

 

In the Bible, leaven often symbolizes error, evil.  The substance itself is a result of decaying flour meal and water that is left to decay and ferment.  In the N.T., both Paul and Jesus warn about leaven in speaking about false doctrine and lies.  And it only takes a smidgen of the substance to work just as it only takes a "little sin", if left unchecked, to bring slavery again.  They're eating of this perfect bread also symbolizes a perfection that God gives-7 days worth, every day.  (GOOD DAYS, BAD DAYS)

 

Called to Eat in HASTE

Exodus 12.11 11 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.  God even instructs them on HOW they are to EAT it.  They are supposed to eat the entire PASSOVER meal quickly that they might be ready to FOLLOW God wherever takes them.  How they eat proves they were ready to leave Egypt at any moment.  Doing this would demonstrate that they in fact REALLY believed that God would do what he said.  This couldn't have been easy.  They have lived in this place for over 400 years.  It is all they have known even if it is slavery.  For many, going elsewhere is almost harder than staying put and trying to survive. 

 

Called to Remember

Exodus 12.14,18"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  Finally, and several times throughout the descriptions, they are called to REMEMBER this feast forever.  It was VERY important that each subsequent generation renew for itself an awareness of the original Passover and its meaning-it will be forgotten.  GENERATIONS to come must experience the EXODUS on a personal level. 

 

A Re-newed Passover/The Last Supper

So Jesus, as a Jew with Jewish disciples, celebrated the Jewish Passover every year of their life.  Every Spring, they would celebrate the feast of Unleavened Bread, memorializing the redemption that God accomplished.  It was not just a celebration of routine, rather, a call to remember what their very lives were about-the worship of the God who saved them, the God who took them from the kingdom of darkness, and delivered them by his own grace, love, and power to freedom.  It is the celebration of a God who is good, A God who saves, a God who sees suffering, a God who acts. 

 

For over 1200 years, Jews celebrated this Passover.  And although with the giving of the Law, the sacrifices took place at the temple, they still gathered together to celebrate the Feast of the Unleavened Bread for a week.  But on one special evening, on an evening unlike any other, in a small upper room in Jerusalem, Jesus gathered his disciples for a final Last Supper: Luke 22.7-20  7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." 9 They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?" 10 He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house,  ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there." 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,  "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,  "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 

Jesus is the perfect/sinless lamb

Here, Jesus institutes a NEW SACRIFICE.  The Scriptures say that Jesus was sinless.  Although tempted as we are, in every way, although suffered as do in every way, Jesus did not sin.   This young, male, perfectly sinless man qualified HIM and HIM ALONE to take away our sin. All that was instituted by God at the time of the Exodus, and all that the Israelites celebrated for 1200 years, and even what Jews celebrate today (although don't see it) is the final redemption Jesus celebrates here.   As John the Baptist when he saw Jesus walking, John 1.29,36  , "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"  His blood, shed on the cross is what protects us from God's wrath which ALL MEN deserve as much as Pharaoh.  But there's more...

 

Jesus is the Bread of Life

We are not just protected from an angry wrathful God because we are unrighteous, we are loved because we are made righteous by God.  Jesus institutes a new MEAL.  Jesus said, this is my body, broken for you.  Jesus said,  John 6.51 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."  We are not just protected, but we are given new life.  Through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we are not only freed from our slavery, we are made perfect by virtue of his perfections.  We are given life in the future, but we are also given life and sinless perfection now.   God cannot tolerate the smallest of sins but God has made a way for us to be reconciled back, restored back to Genesis 1 and 2. 

 

Jesus calls us to Remember

Just as the Jews were told to celebrate this forever, they in essence were only celebrating something that was in itself temporary!  Jesus commands us to remember the true redemption saying "DO THIS" because our faith is one of action.  People should see that Jesus is who protect us, Jesus is what covers our homes, Jesus is who gives us life, Jesus is what makes us distinct from the world, Jesus is what gives us any sense of purpose, Jesus changes everything:

 

§         We have a changed Identity.  We are new creations, with a new schedule for life.  Our salvation is not living better so God loves us.  It's accepting that he loves you when you didn't do better.  That FACT transforms us and, as a result, our lives are transformed.  We have a new calendar DRIVEN by the event of the cross, that we have been changed from enemies to WORSHIPPERS of God.  Our faith is not ON the calendar our faith IS the calendar.  I'm not talking about religion.  We don't take 20 minutes of worship on Sunday, our lives are worship!

 

§         We have a common identity.  We go from being alone, in the dark, thinking only of ourselves to being a fellow-citizens, members of a common household, with ONE strong, loving, gracious Father and many brothers and sisters.  Together we are saved, together we grow, together we worship, together we go into and love the world.  Our kinship is not in anything in our own successes or failures, but in our ONE SHARED experience of redemption that changes how we see ourselves AND the world:

 

We are ALL covered by the blood of Jesus because we are ALL enslaved to sin, we are ALL unable to save ourselves, ALL dirty and broken and rebellious, ALL worthy of his wrath by nature and by choice.  And YET, he LOVES US-so much he dies to free us.  We are not only FREED we are ALL made clean, not by any good works we might do, but by accepting that what Christ did for us.  We are not just a people, we become his SONS and DAUGHTERS.  Just as he did with Egypt, He crushes the power that sin and death. Even if we fail, we REMEMBER, that He puts to death ALL the sin in our lives now and forever.  It has no control or claim on us because of Jesus. And we are ALL sent on a journey with a mission and message that God has made a way.   

 

  • What is our life about?
  • What save us?
  • What gives us life
  • What gives us purpose?
  • What are we telling the future generation?

 

 

 

More in Exodus

July 19, 2009

Exodus 40: God's Dwelling

July 12, 2009

Exodus 37-39: God's House

July 5, 2009

Exodus 35-36: God's Builders