One of the most significant events in biblical history is the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage.
--Remember, last week, the family of Jacob moved to Egypt to live with Joseph.
--After the seven years of famine, they just stay on in Egypt.
--The descendants of Jacob lived in Egypt for over 400 years. There is a 400-year gap between the end of the book of Genesis and the beginning of the book of Exodus 1:8.
--400 years is a long time. Think 400 years ago would be 1618... Santa Fe is a new capital. Pilgrims are thinking about Plymouth Rock.
Here is the situation...
Exodus 1:8-12 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." Therefore, they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.
--The promise to Abraham is coming true... great nation. Abraham has lots of offspring.
--They have maintained their identity. They are not assimilated into Egypt. They are sill the family of Abraham... known as Hebrews or the children of Israel or just, Israelites.
--They are being persecuted by the Egyptians out of fear of how many there are of them.
If you have read your chapter, here are the highpoints of what you already know...
--Pharaoh commanded all the boy babies to be thrown in the Nile.
--Amram and Jochebed put their baby boy into a basket in the Nile river.
--Moses is saved by an Egyptian Princess and raised in Pharaoh’s household.
--Moses kills an Egyptian taskmaster and runs from Egypt to Midian.
--God calls Moses to return.
Then we have one of the classic scenes in all the Bible... sandal-less Moses before The burning bush...
Exodus 3:6-8 And God said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Exodus 3:13-14 Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
God reveals his personal name to Moses. God’s name is YHWH.
This is variously translated... I AM; or LORD. In most English Bibles in is the capital LORD. It is also called the tetragrammaton. Eventually, the vowels from Adonai (“Lord”) or Elohim (“God”) found their way in between the consonants of YHWH, thus forming YaHWeH or Jehovah. I enjoy saying an English version of it – YHWH. God is the I AM!
YHYH sends Moses back to Egypt to confront Pharaoh about releasing the Hebrews to leave the country. This does not go well for either the Hebrews or the Egyptians. There is a series of 10 plagues; blood and frogs and gnats and darkness and such. Each with a sequence of “yes you can go” then a change of mind; “no you can’t go”. Finally, after the 10th plague, the Israelites are released. Then, Pharaoh changes his mind again and loses his army in the Red Sea following the Hebrews across.
That is the main point of chapter 4 of The Story... YWHW delivers Abraham’s family from Egypt to be his special people. But, this morning, the part of The Story I want to focus is the Passover of the 10th plague.
Here is the description of the 10th plague.
Exodus 12:29-32 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, "Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone...!"
Wow, this is terrible... Raise your hand if you are a firstborn. If you were Egyptian, you would have died at midnight. But if you were an Israelite you would not have... Let’s see why.
Exodus 12:1-14 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. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 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... 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.
The Passover feast was established for the Jews. It has been observed by devout Jews throughout the centuries... to this day; for 3,500 years. You can say... Wow.
Here is the observation I want to make... I believe it is significant. Jesus chose the Passover to die.
John 19:14-16 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." So, he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So, they took Jesus...
I have to ask why. Why did Jesus orchestrate his death to occur on the Passover? This is a fascinating question. I believe God used the Jewish holidays to teach theological concepts.
--I suspect Jesus was born during the Feast of Booths... the time of remembrance when the Jews would go camping to remind them of time in the wilderness. Jesus is born to bring us out of the wilderness to the Promised Land. Jesus is the new Moses!
--I know the church began on the day of Pentecost. A day of celebration and new things and beginnings!
--Jesus died on the day of Preparations for the Passover.
Jesus died at the same time as the lambs were all being sacrificed for the Passover feast. As Jesus spoke, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The lambs, by the thousands, were also being forsaken. This has to be significant.
--Note, Jesus was not sacrificed on Yom Kippur; what is called the Day of Atonement.
Exodus 30:10 Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD.
Jesus could have chosen any holiday to die or no holiday. Jesus chose Passover, not the Day of Atonement. It seems the Day of Atonement, as we believe it to be, would make a more powerful theological statement. Why the Passover? Why the 10th plague? Why Exodus? What does this mean? What is the theological concept YHWH is teaching us?
Perhaps, we have missed the main point of the death of Jesus. We typically say...
--Jesus died to pay for my sins.
--Jesus death atoned for me.
--Jesus died to satisfy the wrath of God.
--He paid a debt he did not owe...
But that is not the point of the Passover.
The blood of the lamb that was spread on the door posts and across the top of the door, protected the Israelites from the firstborn deaths. There is no thought of debt being paid. There is no symbolism of offering a sacrifice for their sins. There is no idea of satisfying God. Those are not the point of the Passover. Wow, we may have missed the major point of the death of Jesus.
The concept in the Passover is... What is happening with the 10th plague? The Passover is about...
1) Protection. Protection from death. Wait, wait. The blood of Jesus is about life. The blood of Jesus is eternal life. The blood of Jesus saves lives.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The most quoted verse in the Bible is about life. It is about being passed over. It is about not dying. The blood of the lamb is protection from death. It is eternal life!
2) Deliverance. The book of Exodus is about... exodus. The blood of the lamb was about deliverance from slavery. By the power of God’s hand, Israel is delivered from slavery. That is the celebration of the Passover Feast... Freedom!
Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
The blood of Jesus provides freedom from sin. It is the power to step out of sin. To live a life in the freedom of deliverance.
3) Identity. God was forming a chosen people. The Hebrews were no longer part of Egypt. They severed all ties with Egypt. The became a holy nation.
Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
Peter echoes this verse to teach us who we are as Christians!
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
The blood of Jesus creates a people. We call it the church. It is a community of people who help each other to be priests!
Wow. Jesus chose the Passover feast to become the lamb of God.
--The blood of the lamb that is spread over us... shields us from death to give us life. God passes over us.
--The blood of the lamb that is spread over us... offers us deliverance, freedom, a holy life!
--The blood of the lamb that is spread over gives us... makes us who we are. The blood is identity. Who are you? I am a chosen person. I am a priest of God. I am a holy one. I am his possession. So, that I can proclaim his excellency!
There are a variety of ways to understand what Jesus did in his death. There are several different metaphors for understanding what happened on the cross. Let me challenge you, as we continue through The Story this year, to look carefully at how we connect The Story together with Jesus. Let’s make sure we are biblical. Let’s make sure we understand the big picture. Wow, this is going to be fun!
Let’s close with one more Exodus passage...
Exodus 12:24-27 You shall observe this rite (the Passover Feast) as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?' you shall say, 'It is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Let’s bow our heads in worship...
February 4, 2017
Los Alamos Church of Christ