By Faith the People...
By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. Hebrews 11:28-29
Open your Bible to Exodus 11:4-7 and Exodus 12.
We have the privilege of thousands of years’ history and prophecy fulfilled since this moment. But stop and consider what this must have been like for the Israelites. They are slaves in Egypt. The God of their fathers has come to deliver them to himself, and he’s doing so through wonders never before seen, and at this point, never once entering their portion of land. As each plague fell on Egypt, the Israelites remained unscathed. The last one was different. They hear the threat of this terrible plague and that the Destroyer is coming close to them, but God provides a way to escape.
For a brief night, God allowed judgement day to intrude into time and space. A devastation our minds have little category for entered the black of night and demanded the wages of sin. The only refuge found was under the blood of the lamb. The Israelites would keep this time every year as a memorial and a feast to the Lord throughout their generations, forever.
Once a year, they’d relive the night of judgement where they found undeserved mercy. They’d re-experience the angst and bitterness of slavery and the relief and power of deliverance. They’d tell their children of redemption, searing God’s ways into their minds and hearts and souls and bodies, worshipping and framing the pattern for ultimate redemption. God passed over the firstborn sons of Israel, but in time he would not passover his own Son.
The series of events that transpire here are pretty quick. In Exodus 13 and 14, Passover is cemented as a tradition, Pharaoh “lets” the Israelites go, and they cross the Red Sea. The foretold promises to Abraham, the four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, the rejection and restoration of a leader, the ten plagues, and so much more all culminate in the exodus. Jacob’s family of about seventy people entered Egypt, and they’d leave a nation—an estimated one million people. The books’s namesake wot only carry the Israelites out of bondage, but the exodus would also carry great significance in the scope of the coming salvation and the shape of their identity—what it meant to belong to God.
Take a moment to consider that. What does it mean to belong to God?
The Israelites have been through quite the emotional, mental, and spiritual gauntlet over a very short period of time when they arrive at the Red Sea. I can only imagine the fear that was taking root as it looked like their freedom was coming to a close. The people were up against the impossible and literally thought they were going to die. The only way forward was by faith.
Spiritually, even now, we are called to face the impossible again and again. We are asked to face death to ourselves and our fears and our sin and learn to live by faith. Faith moves our focus from self and situation to Jesus.
Yet, it is not only death to self that must take place to embark on the road of faith. God must accomplish death over our enemies. In Exodus, the Egyptians suffered this fate; in our deliverance, God endures death himself to “destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14b-15). Death would have no hold on him because he owed nothing to it; therefore, his holy life was vindicated when he stepped out of the grave.
As we know, the Israelites had a long way to go. In the margins of my Bible for Exodus 13, dated “2010 FITS” is written: “God brought the Israelites out of Egypt in one night, but it would take a lifetime to get Egypt out of their hearts.” It must have been a quote from the speaker at Fun in the Son that year, because I was not that insightful 12 years ago.
Take some time to reflect on that (very thin) metaphor. If you belong to God, what might it mean for you to “leave Egypt?” Or what did it take to leave Egypt? Have you gotten Egypt out of your heart?