Bible Focus: Exodus 5-15
“I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both people and animals. I am the LORD; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day is to be a memorial for you, and you must celebrate it as a festival to the LORD. You are to celebrate it throughout your generations as a permanent statute.Exodus 12:12-14 CSB
About a week ago, we had strong evening thunderstorms moving through the Louisville area. Weather forecasters warned that these storms seemed likely to develop tornadoes. Later that night, our city’s tornado sirens began to sound. I turned on the news, and watched as the weather forecasters urged people to take the warning seriously. “Get to your safe place, now,” I heard one of them say. So our family hunkered down in our basement until the storm passed, and fortunately no tornadoes developed near us.
We humans are usually willing to take action when we can clearly see danger. But when someone warns us of a danger we can’t see, our response will show whether we trust them. If we trust them, then we will listen and probably take action to avoid the danger. If we don’t trust them, then we will dismiss their concern and probably continue on our current path.
As I mentioned in my last post, God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush to tell him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God told Moses to bring a command to Pharaoh, the Egyptian king. God’s command to Pharaoh was to release the Israelites so they could worship God in the wilderness. If Pharaoh did not comply, then God would punish the Egyptians and tear the Israelites away from Egypt by force.
Pharaoh did not comply. So God sent nine disasters against Egypt, one after another. Pharaoh held his resolve at first. As the disasters increased in severity, Pharaoh acted repentant before Moses in order to gain relief, and he also tried to bargain with Moses. But God did not yield, and neither did Pharaoh. After each disaster had passed, Pharaoh renewed his resolve to not let the Israelites go.
God planned one final disaster for the Egyptians, but this one was different than the rest. For this final disaster, God required the Israelites to observe a special meal that would become the annual observance known as Passover. Each household was to sacrifice a perfect lamb–a lamb without blemish–on a particular day at twilight. They were to take some of the lamb’s blood and mark the doorframe of their house with the blood, and then roast the lamb for their final meal in Egypt. They were to stay in their homes until morning. The mark of the lamb’s blood on the door would spare them from the final disaster: the death of all firstborn males in Egypt.
The Israelites followed these instructions, and when the disaster came, they were safe. But all the firstborn males of the Egyptians died, and Pharaoh finally relented and let the Israelites go.
After the Israelites left, Pharaoh made one final attempt to get them back. He sent his army with chariots and horsemen against the Israelites as they were camped by the Red Sea. But God miraculously parted the Red Sea in two, and the Israelites escaped through it to the other side. When the Egyptian army tried to follow, God brought the waters of the sea crashing back on them, and they drowned.
So God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt by his mighty power, as Moses and the Israelites demonstrated their faith in God. The writer of Hebrews summarizes this:
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin. For he considered reproach for the sake of Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking ahead to the reward. By faith he left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king’s anger, for Moses persevered as one who sees him who is invisible. By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites. By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned.Hebrews 11:24-29 CSB
The Israelites’ exodus from Egypt reminds us that trusting God with all our heart is the safest place we can be, and ignoring God with all our heart is the most dangerous place we can be. If we don’t trust God, then we’ll downplay his warnings about our sinful condition and we’ll neglect the salvation that he’s provided for us in Jesus. But if we trust God, then we’ll believe his warnings about our sin and we’ll gratefully accept the salvation that he’s provided for us in Jesus. The Passover itself was always meant to point to Jesus. He is the ultimate perfect Lamb, and by his sacrifice, all those who have faith in him are forever kept safe.
Featured image by Dylan Sauerwein on Unsplash.