For the past few weeks, we have been using Ephesians 3:20 to look at how God’s ability with our willingness or trust in him, allows God to work more than we can imagine or ask. Here is our equation:
God's ability + our willingness = God working more than we could imagine or ask.
Hopefully, by now you are starting to notice a pattern. Since we know that God is sovereign and does not change, then we can presume that our willingness often keeps God from working in our lives far more than we can imagine.
The Israelites were enslaved for almost 400 years when God raised up a leader to bring the children of Israel out of slavery. Moses grew up in the house of Pharaoh as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, who plucked him out of the water.
Many of you know the story of Moses. After killing one of Pharaoh’s task masters and fleeing to the wilderness, Moses was confronted with God in the burning bush. God told Moses that he would lead His people.
When Moses returned to Egypt, Pharaoh did not easily give up his free labor force. So, God sent 9 plagues that caused havoc and pain on the Egyptians. We pick up in Exodus 11:4:
4 Moses said, "Thus says the LORD, 'About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 'Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again.
After this warning God gives Moses and Aaron a command in Exodus 12:4-12
4 'Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 'Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 'You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, and then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 7 'Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 'They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 'Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10 'And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. 11 'Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste -it is the LORD'S Passover. 12 'For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast ; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments -I am the LORD.
There are 3 different commands here that have to be followed:
First, Israelites must pick a spotless male lamb and bring it into their house for 3 days.
Second, Israelites must slaughter the lamb at twilight and roast it. They could not eat it raw or boil the meat, but roast it over a fire. The meat should be eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. All the meat had to be eaten in one night, and if there were any leftovers they were to be burned.
Last, Israelites must take the blood from the spotless lamb and put it on the sides and the top of their doorpost- a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death on the cross. When God passed over the houses and saw the blood, he spared the life of the firstborn. For those who did not have the blood on the doorpost, the first born were killed.
Could you imagine all the excuses that could have been made if God had asked us to complete this task?
- If you grew up in a house like mine, animals were not allowed inside on the clean floors. My sister was allergic to animal hair, so no dogs, cats, or sheep.
- If you grew up in my wife’s house, animals were treated like members of the family. So, killing an animal that had lived in the house for three days would have been traumatic.
- Leftovers are a main staple at our house. We save food until the next night so we save money.
- Blood on our doors seems like a lot. How about a bowl off to the side or in a Ziploc so it doesn’t spill?
Despite many excuses that could have been made, the Israelites followed God’s instructions. They had no idea in this solemn ceremony that they were painting a beautiful picture of what Christ would do to save the lives of all who would call on His name. They didn’t know as they brushed the blood on the doorposts that they were marking the spots where Jesus would be pierced for our transgressions. They put blood on the top of the door where Christ would bleed from a crown of thorns. That blood would have dripped down onto the ground where Jesus would bleed from his ankles being nailed to the cross. They also placed the blood on the sides of the doorposts where Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29), would have his wrists nailed to the cross. Passover is a beautiful foreshadowing of the terrible death of Jesus that brings our salvation and freedom, and I encourage you to study this picture.
Can you imagine what the Israelites would have felt as they heard cries break out the night as the Egyptians began discovering their first born had died? They probably didn’t understand how the blood had saved their children, but I imagine they were so grateful that it did. They had been covered by the blood, and God, in His grace, had spared their lives. He went above and beyond.
With Pharaohs son dead, he demanded that the Israelites leave. After 400 years of slavery the children of Israel were free! The Israelites willingness to trust God saved their first born sons and ended their slavery! As they left, Egyptians gave them whatever they asked for (gold, silver, clothing) because the Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed to the Israelites. Not only did God spare their sons, He provided them with what they would need in the future.
So, the Israelites willingness to follow the Passover instructions + God’s ability to save their sons=
The saving of many lives, the end of slavery, and provision for the wilderness!