Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reflections on Exodus 12

    Exodus 12 (Contemporary English Version)

  1. Some time later the LORD said to Moses and Aaron:
  2. This month is to be the first month of the year for you.
  3. Tell the people of Israel that on the tenth day of this month the head of each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for his family to eat.
  4. If any family is too small to eat the whole animal, they must share it with their next-door neighbors. Choose either a sheep or a goat, but it must be a one-year-old male that has nothing wrong with it. And it must be large enough for everyone to have some of the meat.
  5. (SEE 12:4)
  6. Each family must take care of its animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, when the animals are to be killed.
  7. Some of the blood must be put on the two doorposts and above the door of each house where the animals are to be eaten.
  8. That night the animals are to be roasted and eaten, together with bitter herbs and thin bread made without yeast.
  9. Don't eat the meat raw or boiled. The entire animal, including its head, legs, and insides, must be roasted.
  10. Eat what you want that night, and the next morning burn whatever is left.
  11. When you eat the meal, be dressed and ready to travel. Have your sandals on, carry your walking stick in your hand, and eat quickly. This is the Passover Festival in honor of me, your LORD.
  12. That same night I will pass through Egypt and kill the first-born son in every family and the first-born male of all animals. I am the LORD, and I will punish the gods of Egypt.
  13. The blood on the houses will show me where you live, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. Then you won't be bothered by the terrible disasters I will bring on Egypt.
  14. Remember this day and celebrate it each year as a festival in my honor.
  15. For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. And on the first of these seven days, you must remove all yeast from your homes. If you eat anything made with yeast during this festival, you will no longer be part of Israel.
  16. Meet together for worship on the first and seventh days of the festival. The only work you are allowed to do on either of these two days is that of preparing the bread.
  17. Celebrate this Festival of Thin Bread as a way of remembering the day that I brought your families and tribes out of Egypt. And do this each year.
  18. Begin on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month by eating bread made without yeast. Then continue this celebration until the evening of the twenty-first day.
  19. During these seven days no yeast is allowed in anyone's home, whether they are native Israelites or not. If you are caught eating anything made with yeast, you will no longer be part of Israel.
  20. Stay away from yeast, no matter where you live. No one is allowed to eat anything made with yeast!
  21. Moses called the leaders of Israel together and said: Each family is to pick out a sheep and kill it for Passover.
  22. Make a brush from a few small branches of a hyssop plant and dip the brush in the bowl that has the blood of the animal in it. Then brush some of the blood above the door and on the posts at each side of the door of your house. After this, everyone is to stay inside.
  23. During that night the LORD will go through the country of Egypt and kill the first-born son in every Egyptian family. He will see where you have put the blood, and he will not come into your house. His angel that brings death will pass over and not kill your first-born sons.
  24. After you have entered the country promised to you by the LORD, you and your children must continue to celebrate Passover each year.
  25. (SEE 12:24)
  26. Your children will ask you, "What are we celebrating?"
  27. And you will answer, "The Passover animal is killed to honor the LORD. We do these things because on that night long ago the LORD passed over the homes of our people in Egypt. He killed the first-born sons of the Egyptians, but he saved our children from death." After Moses finished speaking, the people of Israel knelt down and worshiped the LORD.
  28. Then they left and did what Moses and Aaron had told them to do.
  29. At midnight the LORD killed the first-born son of every Egyptian family, from the son of the king to the son of every prisoner in jail. He also killed the first-born male of every animal that belonged to the Egyptians.
  30. That night the king, his officials, and everyone else in Egypt got up and started crying bitterly. In every Egyptian home, someone was dead.
  31. During the night the king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them, "Get your people out of my country and leave us alone! Go and worship the LORD, as you have asked.
  32. Take your sheep, goats, and cattle, and get out. But ask your God to be kind to me."
  33. The Egyptians did everything they could to get the Israelites to leave their country fast. They said, "Please hurry and leave. If you don't, we will all be dead."
  34. So the Israelites quickly made some bread dough and put it in pans. But they did not mix any yeast in the dough to make it rise. They wrapped cloth around the pans and carried them on their shoulders.
  35. The Israelites had already done what Moses had told them to do. They had gone to their Egyptian neighbors and asked for gold and silver and for clothes.
  36. The LORD had made the Egyptians friendly toward the people of Israel, and they gave them whatever they asked for. In this way they carried away the wealth of the Egyptians when they left Egypt.
  37. The Israelites walked from the city of Rameses to the city of Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand of them, not counting women and children.
  38. Many other people went with them as well, and there were also a lot of sheep, goats, and cattle.
  39. They left Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time to prepare any food except the bread dough made without yeast. So they baked it and made thin bread.
  40. The LORD's people left Egypt exactly four hundred thirty years after they had arrived.
  41. (SEE 12:40)
  42. On that night the LORD kept watch for them, and on this same night each year Israel will always keep watch in honor of the LORD.
  43. The LORD gave Moses and Aaron the following instructions for celebrating Passover: No one except Israelites may eat the Passover meal.
  44. Your slaves may eat the meal if they have been circumcised,
  45. but no foreigners who work for you are allowed to have any.
  46. The entire meal must be eaten inside, and no one may leave the house during the celebration. No bones of the Passover lamb may be broken.
  47. And all Israelites must take part in the meal.
  48. If anyone who isn't an Israelite wants to celebrate Passover with you, every man and boy in that family must first be circumcised. Then they may join in the meal, just like native Israelites. No uncircumcised man or boy may eat the Passover meal!
  49. This law applies both to native Israelites and to those foreigners who live among you.
  50. The Israelites obeyed everything the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron to tell them.
  51. And on that same day the LORD brought Israel's families and tribes out of Egypt.

    Many dynamics were involved in the tenth and final plague. It was much more than an escape from bondage. Suddenly, in this chapter, the focus has turned away from what they were leaving to what they were going to. It was the beginning of a new life as God's people and God didn't wait until they had left Egypt or had arrived at a certain destination to begin shaping this new life for them. As bad as a situation may be, if one does not have in mind a better situation to which to go, they may not improve their situation. So, even before the last plague struck, God began giving the people instructions through Moses for events they were to celebrate from that time forward. They were events important to their escape from Egypt but also important to their new life with God.

    We are given here a picture of what must occur for every individual who turns to God. If we are to escape the judgment of the death angel we must look to the blood of Christ as the Israelites looked to the blood of the slain lamb that they put on their door frames. When the death angel saw this blood on the door frames he passed over that home, sparing it from the judgment of death. Instructions were given the people for the observance of this "Passover" feast that would save them. Once they had escaped the death angel they faced a new life and they were given instructions for the festival of unleavened bread which pictured this new life as God's people. Yeast represented sin, and the unleavened bread represented a life free from sin. Christ is the lamb slain for our sins. When we look to His blood as our salvation we are "passed over" as the Israelites were passed over by the judgement of the death angel. Then we are to lead a life separated from sin and joined with God.

    Had the Israelites not experienced God's work through the plagues it is doubtful they would have readily accepted these observances and accompanying regulations and made preparation to follow God into the wilderness and to a new life. This, too, pictures our own experiences. It is often through crises and even suffering in life that God gets our attention and we consider leaving a life of sin to build a new and better life with God. Choosing to do so isn't possible by turning over a new leaf and trying hard to change. It is only possible by looking to the blood of Christ and accepting that as our salvation from the judgment of death. With the judgment of sin removed, our lives can become as unleavened bread, living for God free from the power of sin.

    When the final plague came to Egypt, every firstborn male in every family, regardless of social standing, was killed. With this loss, Egypt's most powerful god was defeated, as was Egypt. Pharaoh was ready for Israel to go, even requesting that they go. The Egyptian people begged them to go so they would not all die. They had become predisposed to give their valuable jewelry to the Israelites who asked for it. It was Israel's way of plundering Egypt for the years of bondage. A payment for their labors.

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