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Monday, November 23, 2009

The Passover

The Passover

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. “For Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed”- 1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:8 goes on to tell us, “Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” To understand what these verses are trying to tell us we need to turn back to the book of Exodus chapters 11 and 12 where we read the story of the Passover. The Passover was the event that caused Pharaoh to finally allow the Israelites to leave slavery behind and start their travels onward to the Promised Land. For several hundred years before the Passover, the Israelites had been living in Egypt as slaves and enduring hard labor and much bitterness. We have only to consider the huge heavy stones that make up the pyramids in Egypt to wonder if the Israelite slaves were the ones who were forced to struggle under the great burden of those weights.

This was a very dark time for the Jewish people. Their affliction was likened to being in a furnace according to Deuteronomy 4:20. It is believed that the pharaoh who severely oppressed Israel was Thutmose 111 who reigned between 1482-1423 B.C. Scripture tells us that this pharaoh worried that his Jewish slaves were becoming too numerous and he ordered all of the baby boys to be thrown into the Nile River and drowned. God heard the cries of His people and as always, He planned their deliverance!
God called Moses and asked him to speak to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go. God promised to be with Moses and to perform miracles and wonders to authenticate His request of Pharaoh.

And so Moses obeyed God and visited Pharaoh. “Let my people go” became his continuing plea to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh wouldn’t listen. Again and again Moses begged and again and again Pharaoh became more determined to keep his Jewish slaves. Finally Moses met Pharaoh down at the Nile River and asked him again to let his people go and this time when Pharaoh refused, Moses struck the waters of the Nile River and they immediately turned to blood. This was the first plague that God used to show Pharaoh that He wanted the cruel slavery of His people to end. The mighty Nile River was turned to blood, the fish died and the whole land stunk. But Pharaoh hardened his heart against God’s call to let the Israelites go. Over the next months there were nine more times that Moses pled with Pharaoh to release the Jewish slaves and nine more plagues that God sent on to the Egyptians to change the heart of Pharaoh and to free His people. The second plague was a plague of frogs all over the land. The third plague was gnats and lice. The fourth, flies and the fifth, diseases on the livestock. Boils and hail followed and then locusts and darkness. But with each plague Pharaohs’ heart only grew harder. It became obvious that Pharaoh wasn’t going to change his mind and give the Israelites their freedom.

And then the tenth plague was announced. This plague would finally bring the blessed freedom for Gods’ people that the other nine plagues had not accomplished. Moses told each Israelite family to take an unblemished year old male lamb from their flocks and to kill it and put its’ blood on the top and sides of their door posts. Moses warned all of Israel that at about midnight the following night the death angel would pass through the land of Egypt and the first born male in every household would be taken. The death angel would pass over every house that had the blood of the lamb over the door posts and no one inside would die. But the angel would not pass over any house that didn’t have the lamb’s blood on the door post. Every Israelite family followed Moses’ instructions. No one went outside on that terrible night. Around midnight a death occurred in every Egyptian household from the pharaoh family right down to the families of Egyptian prisoners. Before morning the cries and wails of anguished parents and family members could be heard all over Egypt! Pharaoh found Moses and told him to leave. He asked Moses to take the Israelites and go. Perhaps 2,000,000 Israelites took off on their long journey to the Promised Lane the day after the Passover. And so it came about that the Israelite’s finally won their freedom. The Lord commanded Moses to instruct the Israelites to celebrate the Passover each year with a feast. And the Israelites were instructed to eat unleavened bread for seven days during the feast.

Scripture teaches us that the Passover story has an application for us today. – an application for the Church. Christ is our unblemished Sacrifice, saving us from death.- Hebrews 9:14. Does this mean that if we accept Christ and have faith that His blood covers us, that when the midnight of our life comes, (when we die) we will be passed over by spiritual death and given eternal life? Does it mean that because of His blood we will be spared? Is the sacrificial lamb in the Passover story a picture or type of Christ? First Corinthians 5:7-8 tells us that Christ is our Passover Lamb and we should therefore keep the Feast. –the feast of unleavened bread. Leaven was a symbol in the Old Testament for sin. Out of gratitude for being passed over by death and in the power of His Spirit we should stay away from the leaven (yeast) of malice and wickedness and feast on the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Does this mean that our lives and our actions should change when we have been spared – when death has passed over us? What do you think? .

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