The final plague is coming. Because it was so severe, the Lord gives very detailed instructions about how his people are to prepare. While Pharaoh pridefully ignores warning after fearful warning; judgement after painful judgement, God’s people have a beautiful opportunity to watch as God hides them under his grace. They are afforded the opportunity to obey their way right through the hell that was still to come.
God’s righteous wrath and judgement were coming soon with full-on force and finality for his enemies. All the firstborn children were about to be put to death by the mighty hand of God. But God makes careful, tedious, tender-hearted provision for his own. If they will only listen to his prophets, Moses and Aaron, Israel will be saved. Their babies spared from certain, imminent death.
I can hear the voice of a righteously indignant, ready to pour out his just wrath on the willful rebellion of those he has been so gracious to warn and warn and warn and warn turn from wrath right into whisper. Daddy is here, kids. Do not worry. I am about to bring painful, difficult, just judgement to your enemies. I am here for you, though. I have not forsaken you. Now listen very carefully. I am going to spare you and all your children when the angel of death comes. Here is what you must do…(See Exodus 12:1-20)
God gives Moses and his speaker, Aaron, extremely detailed instructions for what Jews – to this day – celebrate as Passover. On the 10th day of a whole new year that God was now establishing, they were to take a male, year old lamb without blemish and keep it until the 14th day. Matthew Henry notes, “It is good to begin the day, and begin the year, and especially to begin our lives, with God.” They were to kill the lamb at twilight, put the blood over their door post, roast and eat the meat with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, and leave none leftover. Even the way they had to eat it was strictly specified. They must have their belt fastened, their sandals on, their staff in hand, and eat in haste.
All of these requirements of obedience pointed to the coming Messiah. God wasn’t just giving his beloved busy work or exercising some kind of regulatory system wherein they were slaves to unimportant details. No. Every single detail was severely important. God was instructing and commanding them in order to make their very lives and their children’s lives an extraordinary testimony to his great faithfulness. He was proving the blessed assurance of reward in obedience and honoring him. With these specifications and instructions, God Our Father was telling our ancestors this: If you do these things exactly as I command, I will save you and yours. I will pass over you with my righteous judgement. No plague will touch you when my wrath is poured out on sin and rebellion. You are not sinless. You deserve judgement just as much as the Egyptians. But you are mine and I love you so do not worry. Just obey. Obey very carefully. I will save you. Let me.
Consider the context of these people. They had been enslaved for several hundred years. They were still getting up every day enslaved. They were going to bed every night enslaved. But they have been watching God show up. They have been hearing God’s prophets and seeing judgement fall all around them on their enemies time after time. God is sparing them in all the fury he has rightly brought thus far. Now, he is giving them all these detailed instructions. He is speaking in detail about their future. God is speaking in terms of forever – as in every generation to follow them from now until…forever. He is talking about future feasts and remembering this passing over of great mercy and it has not even happened yet. They were not even free yet! God’s people were still in bondage. They were not out of Egypt. God is talking to them about what their obedience to his strict details means for them in terms of how every single instruction points to their freedom, their family, and their coming Messiah. Even the future feast he tells them they and all their future generations will keep conveys unmistakable hope. No more leaven in the bread. All yeast will be removed from your households. All the corruption will finally be put to death and removed from among you.
What grace! What absolute incredible mercy! When the Lord begins to school us in great detail, there is an overwhelming sense of real hope.
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…8 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. ~Exodus 12:20-24,28
After God has greatly instructed us, there is but one thing left to do. For our good and for his glory, we must humble ourselves and carefully obey all that he has commanded in the ways in which he has instructed.
Finally, their enemies fall as they rise up and move to a place they have never known. That place is true freedom. Buckle your seat belts kids, this is going to be amazing!
Amazing it was. We will wait on those details a few more days. For right now, let’s consider what we must do to walk in obedience to God. Let’s consider the very specific, exact ways in which God has instructed us to carry out his commands as we are graciously spared his just judgement. God has specific methods we must follow if we are going to win this battle we call life. We cannot just do whatever we want however we want to – even if we truly believe we are doing right things. We cannot forget that we do have a dad. We are not fatherless. Fathers expect to be respected and obeyed. When we do that, we will be both graciously spared of punishment and wrath as well as set completely free forever of the bondage of our greatest, most powerful enemies. Amen.
“If the blood of Christ be sprinkled upon our consciences, it will be our protection from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the damnation of hell.” ~Matthew Henry