Saturday, April 2

Saturday, April 2

Reader:  “Your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’”

Response: “And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord.”

Scripture: Exodus 12:21-27

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them, “Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down.

“Remember, these instructions are a permanent law that you and your descendants must observe forever. When you enter the land the Lord has promised to give you, you will continue to observe this ceremony. Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.’” When Moses had finished speaking, all the people bowed down to the ground and worshiped.

Some thoughts:

What strikes me in the above passage is how very earthy, tactile, and visual theology is. The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is spelled out in a way a child can understand. Here is a First Testament picture of the cross of Christ. The central point is not so much about setting the Israelites free from slavery, which it does, but on a grander scale, freedom from eternal death. Moses, the Exodus redeemer, is the Christ figure of the true Redeemer, the Christus Victor over sin and death. With the shedding of blood there is redemption.

Let’s back up a bit. God told Moses to dedicate every firstborn child and animal to him, for they belong to God, they are his. (Ex.13:1-2) The firstborn can be bought back, redeemed, by presenting a blood sacrifice in its place. All first born sons (humans) must be bought back, always. If a firstborn animal was not bought back, it was to be killed. (Ex.13:13) You’ll recall Mary and Joseph went to Simeon at the Temple with the forty day old baby Jesus and “bought back” their firstborn with the blood sacrifice of two doves. 

We move back to our passage. The blood over the sides and top of the door posts “covered” Israel’s firstborn sons and animals so when the angel of death saw the blood, he passed over those Jewish homes. The firstborn Israelite humans and animals were both bought back, redeemed. With no blood covering them, such was not the case with the Egyptians as both firstborn animals and humans died when the angel passed over them. 

A short word about the hyssop branches used to apply the blood. Hyssop is a small, very bushy plant. It has many leaves with very short stems making it very easy for it to absorb liquid. It also has somewhat of a peppermint aroma. It is a common plant in the Middle East. In this case, a bunch of hyssop was to be used to spread the blood on the doorposts. Hyssop is also mentioned a couple of times in the New Testament. Do you recall where? Yes, when Jesus hung on the cross in the last hours of his crucifixion, some sour wine was put on a bundle of hyssop and raised on a stick to give him some relief. (John 19:29) The blood of the Passover sacrificial lamb of the Exodus was superseded by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away (not “passes over”) the sins of the world once for all. God himself has redeemed his own firstborn sons and daughters. They are his eternally. He has done everything needed to obtain his own. 

In conclusion, Moses writes, for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” (Lev.17:11) The writer of Hebrews states, “ In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” (Heb.9:22) The shed blood of Jesus has forever ended sacrifice. He is the ultimate Passover Lamb defeating death forever.

Music: “Behold the Lamb of God”   Gramophone Chorus   (Ghana)    So sensitive.

Prayer:Blessed Lord Jesus, before thy cross I kneel and see the heinousness of my sin, my iniquity that caused thee to be ‘made a curse’, the evil that excites the severity of divine wrath. Show me the enormity of my guilt by the crown of thorns, the pierced hands and feet, the bruised body, the dying cries. Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God, its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought. Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price. Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper; born in my birth, alive in my life, strong in my character, dominating my faculties, following me as a shadow, intermingling with my every thought, my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul. Yet thy compassions yearn over me, thy heart hastens to my rescue, thy love endured my curse, thy mercy bore my deserved stripes. Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation, bathed in thy blood, tender of conscience, triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation. This I pray through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.         ―The Valley of Vision,  p. 41