by Steve DuPlessie*
The story of how God delivered the Hebrews slaves, after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, is old, its powerful, and its very personal. Do you remember the story?
God told Moses to instruct every family to take a healthy, perfect, unblemished lamb, to kill it and paint some of that blood on the door posts of the family home. Let me read it to you, I’m in Exodus chapter 12, verse 12: God said, “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. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over (that’s where we get the name for the annual Jewish feast, Passover) When I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”
What a strange command; what an eerie night. The Hebrews who lived in the neighborhood of Egypt called Goshen where the roads were muddy and the houses were small, the Hebrews slaughtered the lambs, and the leader of each house, took the bowl full of blood and a brush and dipped that brush into the blood and streaked that blood in a slash of bright red on the sides and the top of front doorway.
And then at midnight, at the dark of midnight—about 80 years after the Egyptians had slaughtered all the firstborn Hebrew boys—that night, the firstborn sons all over Egypt — where there was no splash of blood painted around the door — that’s when the Egyptian firstborns took their final breath as the angel of God’s judgment flew over the land. Fathers heard their firstborn sons gasp. Wives heard their husbands, if they were a firstborn, gasp their last breath. What an eerie, bone chilling night of tragic and deep sorrow in every home. Only the blood-covered homes were spared.
Why exactly were the Hebrews spared?
So why were the Hebrew people spared? Why? The ones the angel of death passed over? Why were they spared? Was it because they were Hebrews? Was it because they knew Moses? No. It had nothing to do with who they were. It had nothing to do with who they knew. It had everything to do with where they were. They were … underneath the blood of the lamb. They had taken shelter, refuge, positioned themselves under the blood of the lamb.
A question: if you were there, if you were one of those Hebrew families, would you have obeyed that command? Would you have sacrificed an innocent lamb, taken the blood and painted it around your front door. Would you have done it? Or would you have said, “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!” See, no one had ever done anything like that before. As far as I can see, it’s the first time, and the last time, that command was ever given in Scripture. Would you have done it?
It’s more than a rhetorical question. See, you and I have the same problem that those Hebrews had in Egypt. We’re slaves; we’re slaves. Not to Pharaoh, but to sin. We do the very things we keep saying we don’t want to do (Romans 7:18-25). And the things we know we should do, we can’t do. We try to run our world ourselves. We keep climbing up on the throne, telling God to get lost. Maybe not with our words, but certainly with our independent actions and our rebellious thoughts. We’re slaves to sin, in our habits, our hang-ups, our heart.
We don’t just need somebody to help us. We need someone to deliver us. Somebody to lead us out of slavery. We need somebody to redeem us, buy our freedom. So, as far back as even the story of Moses we see God’s grand plan for redeeming us. It involves the shedding of blood, and the arrival of a lamb.
Do you remember what John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus Christ. He said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Do you remember how the apostle Paul described the role of Jesus Christ? He called Jesus Christ “our Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18, 19).
See, you and I need exactly what the Hebrew slaves needed. We need someone to rescue us, deliver us. And so God gives us a perfect lamb, Jesus Christ. And we take shelter, we position ourselves, not under a blood covered doorway of a house in Egypt but under the blood covered cross of Jesus in Jerusalem. And we stand there. And we trust in the ability of the Yeh-weh, I AM, God, to save us, to rescue us, to deliver us out of slavery.
A long Red Thread…
Isn’t it amazing how the story of the good news of the gospel is appearing all the way back in the days of Abraham with Isaac on Mt Moriah, and Joseph graciously forgiving and providing for his brothers, and now Moses and the Passover Lamb, and that long red thread of redemption that begins in the Garden of Eden — when God provided Eve and Adam with the skins of animals (Gen 3:21) to cover their shame — is running all the way through the bible from Genesis to Revelation. Every story works together to tell us that we need somebody to deliver us. We don’t need a Moses, but we need a Jesus.
So the question is more than rhetorical so I’ll ask you again.
If you were invited to position yourself under the blood of the lamb chosen by God, would you do it? Have you already done it? The vast majority of the people in this world think that’s the most ridiculous thing they ever heard. They say “I don’t need somebody to die for my sin because I’m not really all that bad. I’m a pretty good person. I’ve got a degree. I don’t rob banks. I’m not as bad as some…” But when Jesus Christ came onto the planet as the only perfect person who ever lived, we all realize that compared to him, we all fall short.
Have I ever told you how my mother used to tell me to clean up my room. And I’d always point to my sister’s room and say “But look at Nomie’s room!” And she’d say, “It’s not her room. Come and look at my room.” She’d point to her room – everything was picked up, a place for everything and everything in its place. Not a single wrinkle on the bedspread. She said, “This is what I call neat!”
When the King of kings sent his Son to live the perfect life on earth, gone forever is the excuse that says “Compared to him, compared to her, I think I’m pretty good!” God points at Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb, and says “Now this is what I call perfection!” And wise is the person who says “Then I need help. I need deliverance.”
You know, as far as we know, every Hebrew family accepted God’s offer for deliverance. As far as we know. And they allowed God to lead them out, lead them through the Red Sea out of Egypt to freedom.
So the question for you as you read this post today is, will you let God redeem you? Let him forgive you? Will you stand under the blood stained cross of Jesus who died for you and accept his free offer of forgiveness for all your sin?
Max Lucado tells the story of the night he was out to dinner with his wife, Denalyn, at a nice restaurant. They were almost done with their meal and the waiter brought their check and put it on the table. A few minutes later a man came over to say hello, a member of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas where Max is the lead pastor. They chatted for a few moments, and as he turned back to his table, the man picked up the check and he stuck it in his pocket. He said, “I’ll take that.”
So you know what Lucado did when the man took his dinner check? He ordered more dessert! He didn’t argue. He let the man take the check. He let him take it. So when the waiter came by a few minutes later to take the check with the credit card, Lucado said, “He took it,” pointing across the dining room to the man who waved his hand.
You know the bible says that one day we’re all going to stand before the judgment throne of Jesus and we’re going to give an account for the way we used our lives. Every thought, every deed, every word. We’re going to have to answer for all of it. And there is eternity at stake on that judgment day, eternity in one of two places, a very real heaven or a very real hell.
Now if it weren’t for Jesus Christ, that thought would terrify me. If you knew my thoughts, my words, my deeds, you’d never let me preach, you wouldn’t, because my heart is desperately wicked. You wouldn’t and I wouldn’t blame you. But, because of Jesus Christ, I have absolutely, absolutely no fear of that moment standing before Jesus.
In fact, I can’t wait for that moment. Because when they read the list of all my sins, you know what I’m going to say? I’m going to point at Jesus and say “He took it!” Because he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Have you let him take your sin? Have you asked Jesus to take your sins and give you all his goodness and righteousness in exchange? That’s the good news of the gospel. Forgiveness, redemption is possible! “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Now here’s the thing about the gospel. While the gospel is free it is never forced. While it’s free, it’s never forced. What the gospel requires from you is the same thing required of the Hebrew people. They could have said No to God…
“No, I’m not going to position myself under the blood of the lamb.” They could have. But they didn’t. They didn’t. So they were delivered. May you make the same decision they did. While it’s free, deliverance is never forced. May you put yourself under the blood of the Lamb today and be delivered from the slavery and the sentence of sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).