Monday, March 14, 2011

The Way of the Cross (5)

We continue our journey towards the cross (leaving out Sundays, as there'll normally be a sermon published on those days), and we're still in the land of Egypt. Joseph has been forgotten, though, and the Israelites are slaves in the land. Despite God sending Moses (aged 80) to Pharaoh, Pharaoh's heart has hardened, so that he will not let my people go.

Nine plagues have already fallen on Egypt, specifically on the Egyptians while the Israelites missed them, but now comes the final plague - judgement on the whole land.

3Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
7"Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

21Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26And when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' 27you shall say, 'It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.'" And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
(Exodus 12:3-13, 21-27)

Death came to every house in Egypt, from the greatest to the least. For the Egyptians, it came in the form of the death of the first born son. Every house mourned. God had struck the Egyptians.

For the children of Israel, it came in the form of the death of the Passover Lamb. The Lamb died in the place of the first born son, and was secure when the blood was applied to the upright and crossbeam of the door of the house. Those who sheltered under the blood of the substitute were safe, while those without the Passover blood died for their sins.

Remember those words of John the Baptist, who, on seeing Jesus declared 'Behold the Lamb of God.' Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7), so let us celebrate the feast!

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