Passover Post...

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Passover Post...

Post by jmg »

I know Passover has come and gone this year. I meant to share this earlier, but I forgot. My wife regularly makes some really great post about historical context as it pertains to the Bible. Some of you may enjoy this.

Passover and the mark of the Lamb
Since today is Passover, I thought I would share one of my favorite cultural context lessons to teach in the Exodus story and the Passover tradition.
In the setting that most of us are very familiar with, Israel is enslaved to the mighty powers of Egypt. The Lord has heard their cries and has sent Moses to confront Pharaoh. However, Moses’ first request to Pharaoh often goes over looked or under appreciated because we know the end of the story, but it is a CRUCIAL piece to how the story plays out.
Exodus 5:1-3:
Moses’s first request to Pharaoh is to go on “3 day journey to hold a festival and sacrifices.” He does not ask Pharaoh to let Israel go free forever.
Pharaoh, says “No way. I don’t know this Yahweh. Why do I care about the god of some Hebrew slaves? This God is obviously not very powerful if His people are enslaved to me.” (My translation) 🤣
Fast forward a few plagues, and Pharaoh sees that this God of the Hebrew slaves actually is VERY powerful, and he thinks somebody probably should try to make some sacrifices to appease Him so He’ll calm down a bit. Pharaoh suggests that instead of going such a long distance away, the Hebrew people should just sacrifice in Egypt. Moses answers in Exodus 8:25-27-
“The sacrifices we offer are DETESTABLE to the Egyptians. Will they not STONE us?”
Fast forward again a few more plagues and this time the very powerful God of the Hebrews is ready for the grand finale.
God tells Moses His plans for the death of the firstborn and the instructions of the Passover in Exodus 12:1-13. Notice verse 12 “I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt.”
This is not just a physical battle. This not just the defeat of a human king drunk with his own power. This is a spiritual war. The fallen spiritual beings have set themselves up as gods and deceived the nations into worshipping them. Each plague directly attacked an Egyptian god or a way to access that god.
However, the most significant and most feared god of Egypt at the time was an Egyptian god who had yet to be confronted. The Egyptian god, Khnum, was worshipped as the author and creator of life who formed humans out of the clay of the Nile and placed them into their mother’s wombs. (The worship of Ra as the highest god of Egypt did not come until later in the timeline of Egyptian civilization around the 2500s BC).
Notice in the picture below that Khnum was depicted as a ram. The Israelites have been dirty and detestable to the Egyptians for centuries, going back to the time of Joseph, because they were tent dwelling sheep farmers.
Sheep and lambs were revered by Egyptians because of the worship of Khnum. Egypt believed that the continuation of life depended Khnum, so the killing of lambs would be a threat to their very existence as a people and a nation because it would bring about the wrath of the god.
But Yahweh is in a battle with the lying, deceiving spiritual beings that hold Egypt captive and is revealing the truth that HE is the true author and creator of life. He is about to display that the power of life and death belong to Yahweh and Yahweh alone.
However, Yahweh, is also a God of love, compassion, and mercy. He offers a way out, He offers a mark that covers or protects those who will take a giant leap of faith and follow his instructions because those instructions would certainly be dangerous and possibly deadly.
Remember Moses’s words in Exodus 8:25-27 that Israel’s sacrifices “will be detestable to the Egyptians and they will stone us?”
The sacrifice of lambs was detestable because it was an attack on Egypt’s core belief system, their religion, their worldview, their god. In our day it would be like if people turned all our churches into abortion clinics or used the pages of the Bible as toilet paper.
God asks Israel to find a perfect, spotless lamb. Kill and ROAST it- not eat it raw or boil it- because eating it raw or boiling it would hide the smell of what they were doing. Roasting the lamb would announce to all of Egypt exactly what was happening (do you ever read instructions like that in the Bible and think it was a weird or random thing to include? There’s nothing random in the Bible! God has a purpose for every word!)
And just in case the smell wasn't enough of an announcement, God asked Israel to paint blood on the door of everyone who had killed and eaten the lambs. Marking the door made them an easy target for the enraged Egyptians who would be out to defend their faith and their god.
Israel had a very difficult choice to make. Following Yahweh’s instructions, and marking their doors with the blood of the lamb would certainly mark them all for death at the hands of the Egyptians. If Yahweh did’t rescue them immediately, slavery would be the least of their problems. They would be facing an angry mob of zealous Egyptians coming for them and knowing exactly who to target by the blood on the door.
They had to chose to trust God, his faithfulness to His promise, and His power to save. They weren’t just doing something weird or religious with that lamb’s blood, they were doing something dangerous that would cost them their lives. They had to trust that Yahweh’s mark would be life even though it looked like death in the culture where they lived.
But God made them promises built into His instructions- "Eat it ready to leave, shoes on, loins girded, staff in hand. Don’t use yeast, because there will be no time for your bread to rise. I will rescue you so fast, you won’t have worry and fret and watch over your shoulder for angry Egyptians. I will rescue you from death and deliver you safely into the Promised Land.” (Again my translation)😄
If we're honest, we know that Jesus asks the same of us today. He fulfilled Israel’s story, and embodied every law and ritual given to them in the Old Testament, but He identified His death on the cross most closely with the Passover story of Israel.
Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day all the Passover lambs were brought into the city. He was examined and challenged in the Temple Courts everyday and was found perfect and blameless. He was crucified at the time Passover lambs were being slaughtered.
And He asks those of us who want to be rescued to not just paint the blood on our doors, but to take His blood into our bodies to be marked from the inside out. He asks for our lives to be so connected to His that it will be just as obvious to people around us as it was to the Egyptians who belongs to Yahweh and who doesn’t.
And there may come a day or time where being obviously marked by the lamb of God does put is in danger of our lives, (as it certainly is for many Christians around the world) but we know that even here and now being marked by the lamb can and does cost us.
It can cost us jobs when we don’t want to participate in something unethical for money. It can cost us friends or our reputation when we refuse to participate in activities that can damage the image of God that we carry as His Temple.
It can cost us relationships when we speak the truth in love to those who are deceived by world around us to live for their own pleasure and base desires of the flesh.
It can even cost us our own plans and dreams when we realize that He has different plans and dreams for us and we have to die to ourselves each and every hour of the day.
Becoming a Christian means that we trust that being marked or identified with Christ is a mark that leads to life even though it looks like death, a daily dying to self.
But just like the Israelites, this mark comes with a promise of hope and deliverance. This mark comes with the confidence that He is leading us to a better place, an eternal Promised Land that is free of sin and sickness and most of all death.
So, are we willing to be marked, truly and in a way that is obvious to the outside world with the mark of the lamb, even though it will cost us, even though it may possibly be physically dangerous one day, trusting in the promise of His power to rescue us and deliver us into eternal life?

"When you're dumb, you've got to be tough." -My dad

"No reserves. No retreats. No regrets." -William Borden
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Passover Post...

Post by Del »

The Eucharist is the fulfillment of the promises of the Passover.

Christ Himself is the unblemished Lamb of the eternal Passover. Christ is "the Lamb of God," prefigured by Abraham and announced by John the Baptist.

Apostolic Christians celebrate this once-for-all sacrifice, every day. This is how the ancient Christians worship.
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