Saturday, 25 January 2014

(26) January 26: Exodus 11-12 & Matthew 18:21-35

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider why each detail of the Passover was necessary.

To ponder:

The most important event in the Old Testament; so a longer post! Again, all is done to God’s instruction and as predicted. Once more he hardens Pharoah so that he can “multiply” his wonders (11v9). The result is terrible: “worse” than ever was or will be (11v6). This is the seriousness of God’s judgement – here, on Egypt for enslaving Israel and killing Israel’s sons (Gen 15v14), and on Egypt’s gods, including Pharoah (12v12).
           In sending “the destroyer” (angel, Ps 78v49) it was “the LORD” going through the land, and “not permitting” him to enter the marked houses (12v23). The idea of judgement passing over shows that Israel warranted destruction too, but were saved through faith (Heb 11v28).
            Dating Israel’s year from the event (12v2) showed it to be a new start and the birth of the nation. It reminds us salvation comes through judgement. Heaven would not be heaven if those who reject Christ were brought into it.
            Taking the lamb four days before the Passover might be to remind Israel of the three days of darkness that preceded it (12v 3, 6, 10v21ff), or just to build anticipation. The amount of lamb was to fit the amount of people, perhaps signalling the specific nature of the deliverance to each individual (12v4). Lambs were to be without defect, with their bones not broken (12v46) – stressing God’s holiness; and slaughtered at the end of the day - perhaps stressing the day of hope just coming. The blood on the doorposts marked Israel out, and showed the lamb died in the place of the Israelites’. In being eaten and burned, the people’s absolute reliance on it may have been highlighted, or the absolute nature of the death it saved them from. The bitter herbs came to remind Israel of their bitter slavery.
            A week long “festival of unleavened bread” was to commemorate the event, with the Passover meal on the first day. Instructions are included. To ensure Israel (and especially children, 12v27) remember the event and so the LORD, those failing to celebrate were to be “cut off.” Eating bread without yeast recalled the fact that God’s deliverance was so swift that the Israelites didn’t have time to prepare their dough (12v39). The whole nation were to celebrate Passover, and foreigners only if their household were circumcised. So it was a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness, and the call to faith.
            A wonder is that Pharoah ends up requesting blessing (12v32), and the LORD moved the Egyptians to favour and so give Israel “whatever they asked for” (12v36). Moreover, many Egyptians accompanied them (12v38), no doubt having come to revere the LORD. And consider this now great nation: 600,000 men, so probably 2 million people plus livestock  (12v37).

            Within Genesis more broadly, the Passover speaks of God’s ability to save people from death – the result of the fall. Gloriously, we see he shaped it to pattern his ultimate work in Christ. Jesus is the “lamb of God,” our “Passover lamb” without defect, whose “bones are not broken,” and who dies at Passover so God’s judgement passes over those who look to Jesus’ blood in faith (Jn 12v28, 19v31-36, 1 Cor 5v7-8, 1 Pet 1v19-20, Rev 5v12). In the Lord’s Supper we commemorate this by consuming bread and wine as tokens of his sacrifice. As with Israel, our only fitting response is to bow down and worship (12v27). We cry “worthy is the lamb who was slain,” because Christ has “purchased” and so redeemed us for God, and made us a kingdom. We gladly therefore devote all that we are and have to him (Rev 5v9-12).

Praying it home:
Thank God for his redemption worked through Christ. Pray that you would live mindful of this each day, laying your all before Christ in worship.

Thinking further:

Some think Thutmose IV was the next Pharoah. In one of his inscriptions he states he was Pharoah only because his elder brother had died early. The 430 years in Egypt echoes the more general 400 God revealed to Abraham (Gen 15v13). It is significant later: Apparently 430 years is the period from the Judges until the ark reaches Jerusalem, and the length of David’s line until exile. Adding them gives 1,290 - the number of days God told Daniel there would be before the new temple is built. We’ll have to wait until we reach Daniel to consider the significance of that!

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