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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Monday, April 14, 2014

THE PASSOVER

"On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn - both men and animals - and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt . I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt."
Exodus 12: 12 - 13

My first understanding of  the story of  the Lord's Passover was not from a Sunday school class, listening to a pastor, or reading the Bible; it was from a movie called the Ten Commandments. This movie, made in 1956, is shown often on television, especially around Easter, and is amazingly true to the Scripture. At least as true as Hollywood could be expected to make it.

Jews all over the world celebrate Passover as the feast of freedom for their people; free from the bondage in Egypt over 3,000 years ago. This holiday coincides with the Christian celebration of Easter and lasts for eight days, seven in Israel. It's a happy time for Jewish families, full of tradition and praise to God. Everyone in the family can participate from grandpa to a young child. Special services are held at the synagogue, and the Seder dinner is the highlight of the celebration.

So, what exactly is the story of Passover? Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, compelled the Israelites (Hebrews) who'd followed Joseph to their land, into slavery. They were forced to do hard physical labor, had very little food and no freedom. Despite their difficult life, the Hebrews flourished and became so numerous, Pharaoh saw them as a threat to his people and country. The Egyptians worshipped idols. The Hebrews wanted to escape to a land of their own so they could freely worship God. 

You'll find the story of Passover in the book of Exodus. It seems the Egyptian king was terrified of the Jews becoming ". . .more numerous, and if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country." - Ex. 1:10. Because of this the king ordered all male babies to be killed. The Jewish mid-wives refused and allowed them to live. The king then ordered that all Jewish baby boys be thrown into the Nile River.

About this time, the baby Moses was born to a Levite couple in Egypt. Rather than have their son killed, the mother made a basket of papyrus and coated it with tar and pitch. She put Moses in the basket among the reeds along the shore. As usual, God had a plan. The Pharaoh's daughter just happened to go down to bathe in the Nile that day and saw the baby Moses floating in the basket.

Moses was raised by this princess surrounded by the luxuries of the Pharaoh's court. He became the second most powerful man in Egypt. It was Moses who God chose to lead His people out of Egypt. This is called the Exodus. Moses wasn't willing at first. In fact, he asked God to send someone else. Most of us can understand; we often pull away from God's sovereign will and do what we want to do in our own way. Alas, we learn, just as Moses did, that we have a will, but it isn't free from God's divine plan.

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. . .that we might be for the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:11

This verse points out that if God allowed us to be the one with the plan and in control, we would be worthy of praise and glory. God is God, and we are not. Someone once told me that "God so loved the world that He didn't send a committee". Amen! He stands alone as the Almighty. A reminder; we can never look at one Bible verse and wrap our theology or conviction around it. The sovereignty of God is the most pervasive doctrine in the Bible - Genesis to Revelation. Your life will be blessed when you learn this truth.

Back to Moses, the one God chose to lead His people out of slavery. God wasn't going to let an idol-worshipping king be the good guy. From the beginning, it was not God's plan that Pharaoh would let the Israelites go. Therefore, He hardened Pharaoh's heart, Exodus 4:21. When Moses asked Pharaoh for mercy for his people, he was rejected, and each time Pharaoh rejected the Lord, God sent a new plague to display His power to the Egyptians.

"The Lord had said to Moses, "Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you - so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt ".  Exodus 11:9

After the ninth plague, the Lord gave instructions to Moses and his brother Aaron for a special meal, the centerpiece being a roasted lamb. Read Exodus 12 and see how very specific God's instructions were as to what should be eaten and how it should be prepared. They were to slay a lamb and put the blood on the sides and tops of the door frames so He would see the blood, and they would be saved from death. God told them to eat in haste, "it is the Lord's Passover." That very night God passed through Egypt and struck down every firstborn, both men and animals, and brought judgment on all the gods of Egypt. The Israelites were protected by the blood of the lamb; symbolic for Christ shedding blood on the cross.

The Passover Lamb was a prophesy of Jesus Christ who would come and shed blood for those who believe in Him so they could be released from the slavery of sin and spend eternity in the presence of the Lord. In this way, all condemnation is removed from the life of a believer. . ."There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1. What a blessing to know that because Jesus died for all of our sins, past, present and future, we will never experience condemnation from God. He sees His son, Jesus Christ in us. Jesus is the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29). Again, we witness the unfolding of God's perfect plan.  

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."  Romans 6:11

We Christians have our heritage in Judaism. God will not forget His people.

Lord, we thank you for the Passover so we can understand when you shed your blood, we no longer are slaves to sin. We praise you, Lamb of God, sent to suffer, so your children can escape eternal suffering.