Exodus 12:21-28
The Lord's Passover

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

A Righteous Person Does Not Exist, Not Even One.

1. Unconsciously we simply change the structure of "the strong against the weak" or "the oppressor versus the oppressed" to the battle between good and evil. One of the origins for this is that we have become all too familiar with stories where good is rewarded and evil is punished. Usually in those stories we find the evil persons in power. The bad guys hurt the good guys. Then, the friend of justice would come on the scene and save the weak people by putting down the powerful evildoer. More or less, these stories are set up like that. Thus, we always divide the sides into "the good guy" and "the bad guy."

2. We include our own experiences in this. We think this when we are hurt by someone stronger than ourselves, "Hey, I am being hurt even though I didn't do anything wrong." We also think like that when we sympathize with those who are hurting, "These people are being hurt even though they haven't done anything bad."

3. When we read Exodus chapter twelve, we unconsciously just might be making such an oversimplification of the battle between good and evil. On the side of the strong there are the evildoers: the oppressing pharaoh and the Egyptians. The Hebrews are the righteous putting up with the pain. Then, we're so convinced that God lays down his judgment on the Egyptian evildoers and comes to the rescue of the righteous. In this case God played the part of the friend of justice.

4. However, is this the way it really is? Must we really think of "the oppressed and the oppressor" or "the righteous in the sight of God and the evil" as separate situations?

5. Or is it like this where some say, "Wait, this is not an issue of good and evil. It is an issue of faith. The Hebrews were believing in the true God, and the Egyptians were worshipping godless idols." Is that right though? Actually, I don't think so. The only thing we see here is a conflict between faith and unbelief. It's not that simple.

6. For example, please look at Joshua chapter twenty-four. When their descendants had entered into the land of promise for several decades, in recollection of the blessings of God upon them so far, Joshua, who had become leader after succeeding to Moses' trail, had spoken to the Israelites as follows: "Thus, you will fear the Lord and serve Him with all your heart and in truth and take away the gods that your ancestors used to serve on the other side of the river and in Egypt and you will serve the Lord," (Joshua 24:14). That's what the Bible says about their being like their ancestors when they were in Egypt serving the gods of Egypt like the Egyptians did.

7. Furthermore, the prophet Ezekiel is one who has clearly spoken in regard to this. The Lord through Ezekiel spoke as follows: "On the day that I chose Israel, when I swore to the descendants of the house of Jacob and made myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I swore to them and said that I am the Lord your God. On that day, I swore to them, and I said that I would bring them from the land of Egypt, and lead them to a land that I have sought for them, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the most beautiful land in the midst of all nations. I also said to them, 'Cast off that which is abominable in my sight. Do not defile yourself by the Egyptian idols. I am the Lord your God.' But, they went against me, they refused to hear me in obedience. They would not cast off that which is abominable in my sight, they would not give up the idols of Egypt," (Ezekiel 20:5-8). In this way, the Israelites were no better at all than the Egyptians when it came to this matter of righteousness.

8. In this story we should not enter into any selfish moral judgments. God certainly had his eye on the suffering of Israel, had heard their cries, and had understood their distress (Exodus 3:7). But no, he had not had his eye on their suffering because they were such a righteous but suffering people. He had not heard their crying voices because they were all such pious God fearing people. The reason God has his eye on them was not because of their righteousness, but their suffering, God did not bend his ear to the praying voices of the faithful, but bent his ear to the cries of those crying out due to their taskmasters.

Taking Refuge In The Blood Of The Lamb Alone

9. In other words, these Hebrews were not saved because they were worthy of being saved. In spite of being unworthy of deliverance, it is a story in which they were delivered. Even though they were the way they were, God established Moses as their liberator.

10. Moses and his brother Aaron spoke to pharaoh and gave him God's message. "The God of Israel, the Lord has thus said, 'Let my people leave and have a festival for me in the wilderness,'" (Exodus 5:1). Pharaoh answered back, "Who is the Lord? Why should I let Israel leave just because of hearing what you said? I do not know this Lord and I am not letting Israel leave," (Exodus 5:2). Thus begins the battle between the Lord as he presses for liberation and the pharaoh as he obstinately refuses.

11. I can't go into all the details on this today. [But,] please look at Exodus chapter seven. There we have recorded nine plagues that the Lord put upon Egypt. It is given in a terribly dramatic picture. The water in the Nile changed to blood, frogs and gnats and horseflies broke out in great numbers, an infectious disease against cattle spread, tumors developed on humans and cattle, huge hail rained down, locusts ate up the growth on the trees, and for three days darkness covered the entire land of Egypt. Then, the passage we read today, the biggest part is about that tenth plague that continues from the others.

12. When these plagues took place one after another, what did the people of Israel really see in them? They saw in them the judgment of God. They had come to see that the living Lord was handing down his judgment with a tremendous power. They had sought for deliverance from their suffering. The living God was beginning to move for their salvation. But, the God of salvation is at the same time a God of condemnation. They saw that truth shockingly clear.

13. Then, the people of Israel were informed of the coming evening when the judgment of God would come to a peak. That night would be a night when the hand of God's judgment would go around the entire land of Egypt. To the Israelites, that was a long awaited time of salvation. But, it was at the same time also for the Israelites their greatest crisis. Because if God was to righteously judge all the land of Egypt there would be no basis possible in which only the Hebrews were to escape the judgment. And because as I stated earlier, when compared to the Egyptians they who had been seeking for salvation were no more righteous than [their oppressors].

14. So, in order for them to be saved the way they were, they needed God's special mercy and forgiveness. That's what they needed and for any one who seeks salvation God's forgiveness is needed. As long as there is no righteous person who can claim salvation as his or her just and deserving reward, people will need God's forgiveness. Therefore, the Lord himself through Moses showed the way to abide in the mercy and forgiveness of God.

15. Moses called all the elders of Israel together and commanded them, "Listen, let each family take a sheep and slay the Passover sacrifice. Then take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into a bowl of blood, and dab the blood in the bowl onto the lintel and both posts of the entrance way. No one should leave from the entrance of his or her house until the next morning. When the Lord goes around to destroy the Egyptians, he will look at the blood daubed onto the lintel and the two posts, and pass over that entrance way; that way the destroyer will not go into your house and attack you," (verses twenty-one through twenty-three).

16. As the Bible states here, the judgment of the Lord doesn't pass over but looks at "the people of Israel." He will "look at the blood" of the sacrificial lamb and pass over them. The expression of "he will look at the blood" is significant. It shows that the basis of their being forgiven and their escaping the judgment was not in and of themselves. The basis of their salvation was in the lamb slain for them, in the blood of the redemptive lamb.

17. In order to abide in the mercy and forgiveness of God, they had to abide there in the way that God has set up. The Bible says, "After that, the Israelites went home and did according to what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron." No one could obtain God's pardon and deliverance by some selfish method. They had to abide at home, daubing blood on the lintel and posts of their homes as the Lord had said. If someone were to have gone astray from his or her home painted by the blood, then that person would have lost the basis for his or her salvation at soon as he or she [stepped out] and that person would be placing himself or herself under divine condemnation.

18. So, later when John the Baptist would point to Jesus and say, "Look, he is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (John 1:29), it must have been this Passover lamb that was on his mind. And when the Passover Festival was being celebrated in Jerusalem, the Lord had shed his blood on the cross and died. He indeed was the Passover lamb [of all Passover lambs], truly prepared by God and slain on the cross.

19. If you have a basis of some kind within you where you can receive salvation, then you should seek for salvation based on that basis. But, if you cannot make your own righteousness as your own basis, then you must seek a basis for your salvation outside of yourself. Just as the people of Israel once trusted in the blood that was painted on their lintel and posts, we need to trust in the blood of the Lord Jesus, our Passover lamb. And we had better trust him.

20. That night the Israelites, while trusting in the blood daubed on their entrance ways and peacefully enjoying the Passover meal with their families, they waited in hope for the time of the Lord's deliverance. As we trust in the blood of Jesus and celebrate our Passover, we too are peacefully waiting in hope for that time when the Lord's salvation will be perfected and brought to completion.

 
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