SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON 3 - Ex. 12:1-13 - LIBERATION
INTRODUCTION: Last week, in Ex. 7:1-13, we observed Moses and Aaron as God prepared them for their second confrontation with Pharaoh to demand that he release God's people from slavery.
In that Chapter, we saw Moses reach a milestone: From this point forward, all his reluctance and resistance to God's leading and plans stopped. He had reached the point where he was able to completely subordinate his will to God's will. Confidence in the power of God completely vanquished his fears. Moses sets a model for you and me. Do you have confidence in the power of the Gospel? God empowered Moses with His authority as along as he spoke God's word. In the same way, God empowers you and me to speak the gospel message and uses the Holy Spirit to save those who believe from the bondage of sin. The main truth we learned from this lesson is that God's essential message in Exodus-that He is the LORD, the one true living God-hasn't changed in 3,500 years.
This week, in Exodus 12:1-13, we come into the study at the point when God is about to send the tenth and last plague upon Egypt, the death of every firstborn, both human and animal. But before this happens, God commands Moses to prepare and institute an event known as the First Passover. By doing this, the death angel would effective "pass-over" the first-born of the Israelites when God sent this final plague. The plagues were ten disasters sent upon Egypt by God to convince Pharaoh to free the children of Israel from the oppression and slavery they had endured in Egypt for over 400 years. Each plague symbolized a judgment against the various false gods the Egyptians worshipped. The Israelites had been spared from the first nine plagues by virtue of their identity as the people of God; however, to escape the tenth plague, they would have to follow God's instruction to the letter. Today's lesson will provide us the details of God's instruction to Moses.
Read Ex. 12:1-2 - THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS
1 Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 "This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you.
vv. 1-2: God is about to outline to Moses and Aaron all the preparations that God's people must make to avoid the death of their firstborn during the tenth plague. But first, God instructs them to revise their calendar to honor this Exodus event. Because the Exodus will bring about the transformation of a slave-people into a nation under the LORD, they are to honor this event by observing this month as the beginning of their calendar year. Israel will call this month Nissan, which comes in the springtime, during March and April by our calendar.
Read Ex. 12:3-6 - A LAMB FOR EACH HOUSEHOLD
3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are, each one, to take a lamb for themselves, according to the fathers' households, a lamb for each household. 4 Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; in proportion to what each one should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to slaughter it at twilight.
v. 3a: 'Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying" - This is the first occurrence of the word "congregation" (Heb. 'edah) in Scripture. The word emphasizes that Israel is more than a collection of individuals but a congregation of the people of God. The word for church has a similar meaning.
v. 3b: "each one, to take a lamb for themselves, according to the fathers' households, a lamb for each household" - This inform us that the planned feast is to be both a family and a congregational observance. While each household will eat the lamb as a family, all of the families in the congregation will eat the meal on the same day (the 14th day of Nissan) at the same time.
v. 4: "Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; in proportion to what each one should eat, you are to divide the lamb" - Israelite families were typically large, consisting of many children and three generations of adults; however, if a family was too small to consume an entire lamb, they would be pair with another smaller family so the entire lamb would be eaten.
v. 5: "Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats" - "unblemished" meant an animal free of any deformities, defects, or injuries. The idea was to honor God in the ritual meal with the very best lamb in their flock.
v. 6: "You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to slaughter it at twilight" - The people are directed to choose the lamb on the 10th of Nissan and kill it on the 14th at a certain hour. The purpose was to organize every family-an estimated two million-plus people-to all be prepared to make the exodus at the same time.
Read Ex. 12:7-11 - THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB
7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10 And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall completely burn with fire. 11 Now you shall eat it in this way: with your garment belted around your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in a hurry-it is the LORD's Passover.
v. 7: "Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it" - First, before they sit down to eat, God instructs them to put the sacrificed lamb's blood on the doorposts on either side and on the lintel above the door while it's still fresh. If you drew intersecting vertical and horizontal lines through these markings, it forms a cross. Early on, God had prohibited the consumption of blood (Gen. 9:4) and it would later become part of the Mosaic Law (Lev. 17:11). Thus, God chooses blood-the life of the animal-to preserve the life of the Israelites to emphasize the life-for-life transaction that takes place at the Passover.
v. 8: "They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs" - This meal was a hurried affair because they had to be ready to leave Egypt that very night. Roasting was the fastest way to cook the lamb, leavened bread required no waiting time for it to rise, and bitter herbs reminded them of the bitterness of their enslavement.
9a: "Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire" - Eating raw meat could potentially make them sick and the cutting the animal up and boiling it would take too long. The emphasis here is haste, getting it done and over with in order to be ready to move.
9b: "both its head and its legs along with its entrails" - This is a little nauseating. They were to consume the entire lamb. While it didn't include the inedible parts, like bones and hooves, it did include all the inner organs, which were technically edible.
v. 10: "And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall completely burn with fire" - There would be no leftovers. Even the smallest bits left were to be burned-up.
v. 11: "Now you shall eat it in this way: with your garment belted around your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in a hurry-it is the LORD'S Passover - Again, the emphasis on haste: they are to be dressed and ready to travel. People would normally remove their sandals indoors, but not here, in order to leave at a moment's notice. Shepherds are eating with their staffs in hand. They normally use them to control sheep, but tonight they will be herding thousands of people. As the "LORD'S Passover," the term has multiple meanings: (1) initially, a rescue to deliver Israel from the plague of the firstborn; (2) later, as an institution to remember God's rescue and deliverance of Israel through every generation to come; and (3) ultimately, to foreshadow the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the entire world.
Read ex. 12:12-13 - WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD I WILL PASS OVER YOU
v. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and fatally strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the human firstborn to animals; and against 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 live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will come upon you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
v. 12: "For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and fatally strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the human firstborn to animals; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments-I am the LORD" - God sent the "destroyer" with the tenth plague at midnight, following which all the firstborn of Egypt were struck dead, from the firstborn of Pharaoh himself all the way down to the lowliest firstborn animal. God regarded Israel as His firstborn Son, His favored people. If Egypt refused to release God's firstborn, then God would require the firstborn of Egypt as a penalty and a judgment (Ex. 4:22). The Plague was a specific judgment against the false god Isis, whom the Egyptians worshipped as the protector of children, and it would also be a judgment against all the parents who worshipped this false god who had no power to save their firstborn children. God's declaration, "I am the LORD" (I AM WHO I AM-Yahweh), is basically his signature on this event-the one eternal, unchanging, and uncreated God. And Pharaoh broke: he let God's people go (but as we know, he subsequently reneged).
v. 13: "The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will come upon you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt" - God could easily have protected the Israelites with a "sign," has He wanted to. However, the Blood of the Lamb was essential to what God required. By commanding them to mark their doorposts with the Blood of the Lamb, God expected them to show faith in His plans and purposes, and God would honor their faith by sparing the faithful from the devastation He was about to visit upon the firstborn of the Egyptians.
APPLICATION-One broad principle: God redeems all those who demonstrate faith in the Blood of the Passover Lamb.
OBSERVATION-The Theological Implications of the Passover Lamb:
PRAYER: Thank You Dear Lord for allowing us to gather together this morning to learn from the truth of Your Word. We thank you Father for the example of the Israelites in today's lesson but thank you most of all that You provided Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as a perfect sacrifice to pass over our sin so that we can be spared from Your righteous judgment. Please guide us, too, in the weeks to come as we continue to narrow our search for a new shepherd, someone who will help us turn this church into a beacon of light and hope to the lost and weary people outside our doors. And I ask all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN.