He Watches Over Us

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come. Exodus 12:31-42

To the Egyptians, the Israelite were trouble but yet they helped them get out of the country by any means possible. The Israelites rightfully feared for their lives. It makes sense. If they were able to correlate the death of their firstborn children with the Hebrews, they would definitely be in trouble.

A lot of emphasis in this passage is given to the dough the Israelites took with them to make their bread.

Recall Jesus used unleavened bread as illustrations in His teachings. Leaven or yeast was something to be cautious about. It gets in the bread and after it’s mixed in is difficult to separate.

  • Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. -Matthew 16:6
  • Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. -Matthew 16:12
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. -Matthew 23:27
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. -Matthew 23:25
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. -Matthew 23:23

The Hebrews were officially on the move with a minimum amount of stuff. They were finally leaving after 430 years.

I’ve never seen this before, but the Lord kept watch over them as they left. We know of course that they would be led by night with a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud by day, but verse 42 is significant in its simplicity. He watched over them.

Nothing has changed except for the years.

He still watches over His children. As long as He’s watching over us, we have nothing to fear or dread. We can lay all of our burdens and cares at His feet, every night, every day.

That is so comforting!

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Midnight Finally Came

21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.

29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. Exodus 12:21-30

It is the height of irony that the ordinance of Passover was to be taught to the children of Israel through the ages. The irony, of course, is that many children died as a result of Pharaoh’s stubbornness and refusal to let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh himself suffered the same loss as the people he ruled over. It didn’t have to come to this, but it did.

Moses instructed the Israelites to slaughter the lamb and paint the door posts and door frame its blood.

Just as the Lord said would happen, all the firstborn of Egypt were slaughtered at midnight, and the “destroyer” passed over those with blood on the door frames.

I’m glad the Israelites were finally able to leave Egypt and ultimately preserve the Messianic line, but I’m also saddened that it had to come at the expense of many innocent children. I fully understand theologically what had to happen, but I’m also troubled by it. Was there another way it could have happened? Obviously not.

Exploring the depths of God’s wisdom, grace, and mercy is not without its troubling questions. This is certainly one of them.

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The Passover Lamb

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 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.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.

17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.” Exodus 12:1-20

The Lord gave Moses detailed instructions about what would happen when the Spirit passed over the Israelites. The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Breat are two rituals that Jews celebrate to this day.

Obviously this plague was a serious matter because of all the human deaths that would occur. When they got the word, the Hebrews would be leaving Egypt in a hurry, which is the whole point of eating unleavened bread. It was such a serious ordeal that someone could be cut off from the Israelite community just by eating anything with yeast in it during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.

The most significant part, however, was applying the blood from the animals sacrificed on the door posts. First, it was an act of obedience because in other plagues, the Lord passed over the Israelites. Of course it was more than an act of obedience because if the blood was not applied to their door posts, there might have been a death in that family.

All of this was a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah. It was through the sacrificial male lamb without defects, Jesus Christ, and His resurrection that we were declared righteous before God. When we accept what He did for us, we are then able to commune with Him.

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And So It Begins

11 Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. 2 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)

4 So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

9 The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country. Exodus 11:1-10

This plague was the most serious because it was the taking of human life, the lives of Egypt’s firstborns. The Lord was setting up the scenario for Moses and Aaron. After they informed Pharaoh of what would happen, they left in anger. Up to this point, Pharaoh had no idea what this plague of death would be like even though he was told.

I have known people who said they were going to die. When they actually leave this earth, it’s a jolt to the system. I knew they were dying; they knew they were dying (and told me so), but until it actually occurred, it was only words.

Many reading this need to phone or visit one of these people you know who may not have very much time left. Their time on earth is limited, and you need to make the best use of that time but just talking with them, about family, about eternity, about life, about everything.

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To the End of Themselves

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.”

25 But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the Lord our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the Lord our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.”

27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.”

29 “Just as you say,” Moses replied. “I will never appear before you again.” Exodus 10:21-29

For the Egyptians, there was no visible source of light during this plague: no sun, moon, stars, nothing. It was pitch black. With no source of light they could not go anywhere or do anything.

It’s rare that we find ourselves in situations where this is the case. Often after we turn out the lights, we cannot see anything until our eyes adjust to the glimmer of light. But in Egypt it was completely dark. Of course Pharaoh wanted to restore the light by any means possible, but he did it again. He tried to seek a way out on his terms. And it worked, but it was merely a temporary fix.

When darkness is total, you’ll do or say anything to get it back. Most people do not see the darkness they are in. There’s enough light for them to find safe haven in. Their darkness is not so bad.

We’ve seen many instances, however, when the darkness around people is so complete, the best option they have is to look up. They have other options, of course, but those are too dark to comtemplate. Unfortunately, sometimes people have to come to the end of themselves before they realize that they can’t do it on their own. When you see loved ones doing it, it’s painful and unbearable. But often it’s what God uses to draw them to Himself.

You probably know someone in this situation. Pray as if their life depends on it, because it may.

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