Saturday, November 9, 2013

Remember and Celebrate

Scriptural Reading: Exodus 12:1-14
Devotional Reading: John 1:29-37

Recently two inmates institutionalized in the Florida prison system escaped based on forged documents. They registered as felons with authorities once they were released. Such was a legal requirement and gave the impression their release was legitimate. However, it was illegal, and God was not a part of the event, unlike His deliverance of the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage. God sees the oppression of His children, hears their cries for freedom, and He delivers them according to His plan of justice.

This quarter of study is entitled “First Things”. We are in Unit III – “First Freedom” of the three units of the quarter. This is the second lesson of a four-lesson study. We shall study how God prepared and actually delivered Israel from bondage.

The LORD prepared Moses as the emancipator of His people. It is recorded in Exo 4 that Moses did not have confidence. The LORD knew differently and He provided Moses with evidence of miraculous signs to show the Israelites that they might believe the message of deliverance from the LORD. He further provided Moses with a personal spokesman, his brother Aaron. But the LORD warned Moses early, as recorded at Exo 4:21b-23, ‘he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.’” (NKJV) When Moses received this message from the LORD, I am sure he knew the LORD was definitely serious. And this would prove to be the trial of his character. He and Aaron gathered the elders of the tribes, he performed the miraculous signs, Aaron spoke the Words the LORD gave Moses, the people believed their prayers had been answered, and began to worship God (Exo 4:29-31).

In Moses’ first encounter with Pharaoh the king refused to release the Egyptians and issued an order to make their work harder (ch 5). The LORD encourages Moses by reminding him that He has the upper hand (ch 6). He instructs Moses to go to the Israelites and tell them “I am the LORD…” who appeared before Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and made a covenant. Also, Moses was to go once again to command their release. Pharaoh continued to refuse the release of the Israelites. Moses would go before him with a demand from the LORD and the Pharaoh would refuse because his heart had hardened. Then the LORD would send a plague that only affected the Egyptians. There were nine (9) plagues before the Passover meal. The plagues were 1. Waters become blood (ch 7:14-25); 2. Frogs (ch 8:1-15); 3. Lice (ch 8:16-19); 4. Flies (ch 8:20-32); 5. Livestock diseased (ch 9:1-7); 6. Boils (ch 9:8-12); 7. Hail (ch 9:13-35); 8. Locusts (ch 10:1-20); 9. Darkness (ch 10:21-29). Then Moses announced the tenth plague, death of the firstborn Egyptians as recorded at ch 11:4-7, “Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” (NKJV) It is very interesting that Moses, the emancipator, was saved by God during the era in which a prior Pharaoh had pronounced death over all Hebrew boys at birth. Now God shall use him to lead His people out of bondage as He afflicts the oppressors with the force of death.

There is plenty of history that we remember in our communities, but we do not choose to reenact it. The calendar year would begin with a reminder of their deliverance from Egypt (Exo 12:1-2, 14) with the Passover observance. After four centuries of slavery, God has called his children to become a community around a common meal and a common table, and a common deliverance. There is neither temple nor priest, but the patriarchal system of the nation will administer the priestly rites for this sacred ritual on this most important night of deliverance. The Passover ritual best divides itself into two parts: the sprinkling the sacrificial blood on the doorposts and lintels, and the feast on the sacrifice. The former was meant to preserve the firstborn of the Israelites. The latter was meant to memorialize their deliverance. Each is a prophecy of Christ, the Lamb of God, and the Lord’s Supper, instituted to remember Him for the deliverance of all who believe in Him and reconcile the believers to God.

The LORD instructs Moses at Exo 12:3-7, “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.” (NKJV) God had appointed the night the children of Israel would be delivered as the same night the lamb or goat would be killed and the meal eaten. Each male of the congregation was to gather a one year old male lamb without blemish on the tenth day of their first month of the calendar year and hold it until the fourteenth day. This is the lamb that would be sacrificed and eaten whole by that household in one night. If it was too much lamb for the size of the household, the patriarch of the household was responsible for locating neighbors; i.e. Hebrew orphans, widows, foreigners, strangers who would share the common meal, common table, and common deliverance. The whole congregation would kill the lambs in the evening of the fourteenth day. They would then take some of the blood from the sacrificed animals and spread it on the doorposts and the lintels, but not the thresholds. Thus sprinkled, it was precious blood to the Israelites.

The LORD continued His specific instructions on how to prepare and eat the Passover meal at Exo 12:8-10, “Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire-its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.” (NKJV) The lamb was not to be boiled but roasted in the fire whole with its head, legs, and inner parts still attached. It was to be accompanied with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Each is affected by their hasty departure. The unleavened bread is normally heavy. It has not had time to ferment. Leaven is a species of corruption produced by fermentation. It tends to rot (1 Cor 5:6-8). The bitter herbs represent their bitter and severe bondage in Egypt. The entire meal would be eaten that night. It was not a regular family get-together. They have to be ready to leave when the LORD says it is time to move. If there is any food remaining, it must be burned with fire. They must depend on the LORD for their provision. Carrying leftovers would be extra unnecessary baggage when they would be traveling under the guidance and protection of Jehovah-Jireh.

The LORD further provided specific instructions on how to eat the Passover meal and memorialize the occasion. He was not delivering one individual, but He was delivering a community. It was well worth remembering “How they got over!” It is recorded at Exo 12:11-14, “And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast, and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now 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 the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.” (NKJV) In the eastern countries, during that time period, people wore long flowing outer robes with a belt on their waist when they travelled. Similarly, they took off their sandals in their homes but put them on when they journey. They also travelled with a staff in their hand. The LORD had prepared them to be ready to leave upon a moment’s notice. He advised them of the impending death angel who presented danger to the firstborn to the land of Egypt, both man and beast. He would prove He had authority over life and death by using a demonstration of death and making a further mockery of the Egyptian gods. The blood of the sacrificial lamb on the doorposts and lintels will be salvation unto the Israelites. The death angel shall pass over their households. For this reason this day must be memorialized and the Passover kept as a feast unto the LORD for all generations.

Christ Jesus became our substitution on the cross to restore those who believe in Him to God’s favor. Christ is our Passover, without a blemish, and pure. He left for Jerusalem four days before the very day He was to be set apart and crucified. He did not have a bone broken upon death. His blood is precious and has saving power when accepted as your Savior and it is placed on the doorposts and lintels of your heart. His blood saves and protects us. We must feed upon the Word of Christ daily. In remembrance of the old man when we were broken and in sin, we thank Him for the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (Col 3:10 NKJV)). We remember and celebrate all that Christ has done and continues to do for us each time we partake of the LORD’s Supper.

Written by Deborah C Davis

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