Before the children of Israel left Egypt, God gave instructions for what later became known as the Passover Supper. There was to be no unleavened bread for seven days and they were told to tell the children, “This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.” They were also told, “It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.) (Exodus 13:8-9) Notice that this was spoken before they left Egypt and before the plague of death on the Egyptian firstborn even though it’s in the past tense.
So what do we have for us today from this passage?
- Since leaven represents sin, in order to live a repentant lifestyle, we need to set aside a period of time, probably a week, to focus on repentance, getting the leaven or sin out of our lives. Liturgical churches teach that this should be done 40 days before Easter and call it Lent. Even though they draw similarities to all the 40s in scripture, here, God simply required seven days.
- We are to remember and teach our children how God brought us out of bondage and into life. It’s amazing how many parents never tell their children and grandchildren their testimony. But we’re not only supposed to do that, God holds the children accountable to pay attention to our testimony and learn from it. Remember, when Belshazzar needed him to interpret the handwriting on the wall, Daniel first told the story of his father, Nebuchadnezzar. After giving him this testimony, Daniel then reprimanded Belshazzar by saying, “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this, and you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. . . (Daniel 5:22-23) And you know the rest of the story.
- What God has done for us is to be so in our mind and on our heart, it is to make a difference what we do (hand), what we watch (eyes) and how we talk (mouth). Does it?
- Even when we’re still in the midst of a hard time, we’re to live and act as if our deliverance has already been completed.
Exodus13:17, 18 – “God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. Isn’t this an interesting verse? The people weren’t soft. After all, they’d had to work hard as slaves in Egypt. Neither are you soft; you have had hardships and trials and sadness in your life. But, like the children of Israel, it’s time you learned a new skill set. God wants to bring you into something else, something better. But it’s going to be so different that your natural nature is going to want to go back to what you know, what you’ve experienced even thought it was hard. There’s a different kind of war ahead so God, in His graciousness, is giving us a period of transition. I say a different kind of war because the children of Israel certainly had to war to stay alive during slavery. But what was ahead of them was not only learning to survive in the wilderness and then settle in a new land, but actual hand-to-hand combat. During transition, we learn to trust in greater measure and change some of our ways. God often – or usually – causes things to happen so that we either want to – and can – go forward or we can’t go forward.
Exodus 12:3-13 – On the 10th of the month they were to choose a lamb without blemish and watch it for three and a half days, then kill it on the 14th day of the month at twilight and put the blood on the doorposts and lintel of the house where they and their family were to eat the lamb.
- Jesus was watched for three and a half years.
- Jesus died at twilight on the 14th day.
- Since they were to eat the lamb by household, this is a strong indication that God desires to save by households, by family.
Back to Exodus 12, verses 8-11.
- They were to eat the flesh of the lamb. John 6:53 – Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”
- Do not eat any of it raw. This represents people who just imitate Jesus.
- Nor boiled with water. This represents those who stress works and self-righteousness.
- But roasted in fire – its head with its legs and its entrails. The sacrifice must come in direct contact with the fire. This is what Jesus did for us. He went to the cross with His head, completely knowledgeable about what He was going to do. So He used His feet to go to Jerusalem; He didn’t leave part of Himself behind, especially His heart (entrails).
- You shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. God never allows Christ’s sacrifice to become stale or undesirable. He is jealous of His Son and what we do with Him.
All of this was done in the seventh month of the civil calendar year. The children of Israel crossed over the Red Sea from bondage into freedom on the 17th day. Noah’s ark rested on Mt. Ararat after God’s judgment on the 17th day of the seventh month. (Genesis 8:4) Likewise, Jesus rose from the dead on the 17th day.
Further directions about the lamb were. . .
- 12:46 – nor shall you break any one of its bones. Jesus’ bones were not broken.
- 12:48 – No uncircumcised person shall eat it. People who have not had their hearts circumcised should partake of the Lord’s Supper.
- 12:11 – And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. At the first Passover, eating this way was a prophetic picture of how they would leave Egypt. Every Passover until Jesus, it was symbolic of how they left but also prophetic of how quickly the Messiah would bring them into freedom if they ate His Flesh and drank His Blood. Since Jesus, it is a memorial, a calling back of what He’s done for us.
- 12:14 – So this day shall be to you a memorial. . . an everlasting ordinance. This word “memorial” means that they were to do this as a record, a memento. When Jesus did it, He said we were to do it in remembrance. (Luke 22:19 & 1 Corinthians 11:24,25) Remembrance in Greek means to remind, remember, to recollect. It also means to bring to or to call. So when we take the Lord’s Supper, we’re not just to remember the first Passover or what Jesus did for us on Calvary, we can literally bring it back to apply to us now. We are to call His Presence from the past into our now.
In Exodus 12:29-34, we read that the Lord struck the entire Egyptian first born at midnight that caused a great cry in the land. Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in the middle of that night and told them to leave. The people also told them to leave. And they wanted them to leave “in haste.” Hurry up! Get out of here! We don’t want you here any more!” So they did, not even having time to prepare. Verse 34 tells us that they took their dough before it was leavened, wrapped it in their clothes and left. That tells you how quickly they left because it only takes 18 minutes for dough to rise in Egypt so if they weren’t prepared as Moses had prophetically told them to be, they were in bad shape. Likewise, if we don’t pay attention to the prophetic word today, we won’t be prepared for whatever God has for us. It doesn’t matter if that word comes through a recognized prophet or it’s something God speaks to us or lays on our heart. God does nothing without first telling His prophets. (Amos 3:7) A friend of mine was told to buy herself two work suits. She didn’t know why but she obeyed. One of the suits that God led her to was black. A week or so later, she was asked by her pastor to help with the funeral of someone she didn’t know. How glad she was that God had prepared her beforehand for that opportunity to serve! So it doesn’t matter if the word is to be packed and ready to move from the city you’re in or to buy a suit. Listen and obey!
Fortunately, the children of Israel were obviously prepared because they left Egypt just as God had prophetically told them to when He told them to eat the Passover meal standing up ready to move. In addition, God had not only told them to ask but had given them favor to be given articles of gold, silver and clothing from the Egyptians. (12:35) So they had their provision. But provision for what? There were no canned goods or freeze-dried products back then. And what were they going to do with the gold and silver when there were no malls in the desert? It was the provision they needed to worship God as Moses had repeatedly told Pharaoh they would do – to build the tabernacle. Unfortunately, when they got out there in the desert, they were in too big a hurry to wait for God to give them instructions as to how to do that so they used the gold and silver to blaspheme God. But that’s another story. The point is that when we listen and obey, if we’re willing to wait for all of our needed orders, we’ll have what we need; we’ll be where we’re supposed to be so we can do what we’re supposed to do. Remember, God already has mapped out the good works He wants us to do in our lives. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Exodus 12:41 – They’d been in Egypt 430 years and on that very same day, they left. God is precise when it comes to timing and dates. Lord, may we always be in obedience to Your timing too.
Get up and go! Back when Moses was still arguing with Pharaoh, he made a very curious statement. He said, “Even we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.” (Exodus 10:26) This not only speaks to being careful with what we do with the provision God has given us which we’ve already discussed but speaks to where and how. Where were they supposed to go? Out there someplace. The wilderness? Canaan? And what were they supposed to do – exactly – when they got there? Ever feel like you’re in the same questioning mode?
When we heard God tell us to go to Israel in November, 2010, Gary got busy finding the best airfare. Because of some passes we’d been given for part of the way, we needed to change airlines somewhere in Europe. If we took the passes, we needed to choose what city we’d change planes in – London, Paris or Madrid. The passes were supposed to be cheaper but they would require a night in a hotel. Were we to take them or not? If we took them, in what city should we spend a night? We first died to what we wanted to do and got totally neutral as to the decision. Then we prayed and asked God. He gave us a prophetic word that we were to take the passes. So now, what city? We opted for Madrid, Spain because we’d never been there before. Why were we spending more money to do this? We didn’t know but we made the plans. Sitting in the Dallas airport, waiting for our flight on the first leg of the journey to Israel and second guessing our decision, I heard the Lord say very clearly three times, “I want you in Madrid.” So, alerted to the significance of our layover there, we put up our antennae when we got there and stayed alert. Once in Madrid, we went all around the old city and prayed while looking at the sites and learning more of Spain’s history. It wasn’t until days later that we learned that God had been sending many intercessors to Spain to pray since they were leaning towards going back to their Moslem roots. I don’t know what’s happened since but that’s not the point of telling this story. The point is . . . . we didn’t initially know where we were going. When we found out where, we knew we’d turn it into a prayer journey because that’s what we always do. It’s gotten to be habit. But why? We didn’t find that out until we got there and learned some of their history. What a blessing to have been two of those who’ve been used on behalf of the people of Spain.
Is God telling you to go someplace? Is He telling you to do something? Of course He is. He’s either telling you to go or do something, or both. Do you have everything worked out? Do you understand it all? Probably not. And it really doesn’t matter. Do what He tells you to do today. This week. Wait for Him to give you His timing. Then when He says, “Go!” Step out. Get started. Your provision will come when you need it whether that’s finances, contacts, energy or health. Rarely have I gone on a trip when I was in perfect health or we had everything we needed. The children of Israel had some livestock and some dough but it hadn’t even risen so it certainly wasn’t baked. Nothing was already fixed. Neither did they have bottled water, a candy bar for energy or sunscreen for protection from the blazing sun. They had gold and silver but nowhere to spend it. Even though the scripture says they plundered the Egyptians, basically, all they had was the word of the Lord and someone to lead them. No wonder they were quick to question. It was only when the questioning turned into murmuring, complaining and accusation that they got in trouble.
So, whatever you’re doing, DON’T COMPLAIN !!!!! God has no patience with complaining so it won’t get you anywhere with either Him, or others. And it will make you feel worse by thinking and speaking out those words and make your situation worse.
Two memories come to mind here. The first time we went to India, it was with a group from our church. There were eight of us. Part of our purpose was to scout out what kind of a ministry we could or should start in the desert of Rajasthan. It was an intense, hot and dusty journey. On our way home, we tiredly boarded a flight for Mumbai (Bombay). We arrived after dark, tired and weary, only to discover that the airport personnel were on strike. Our luggage was taken off the plane but we had to find it ourselves. There was no one to help us and no place to sit down. But God. . . Unknown to any of us, Joy, the son of our Indian pastor had flown over to Mumbai in time to greet us when we all finished with our assignment. His plan was to go with his parents to visit relatives while the rest of us flew back to the U.S. He was the only one in our group who spoke Hindi. So, with his help, the men left in search of our luggage. We three women had nothing to do but stand in the hot, dirty terminal, breathing the yellow, polluted air of the city and wait. Wanting to encourage the Indian pastor’s wife who was elderly and even more bone-weary than anyone else, I went over to her and asked her how she was doing. I expected to hear a litany of how hard it was to stand there because of a painful physical condition she had, or how tired she was, or how awful it was that the airline had not made some kind of provision for its passengers and that she wished the men would hurry up and find our luggage. Instead, she was full of gratefulness that her son had surprised them and had shown up just when we needed him. Boy, was I ever convicted.
Another memory is how, when they were in the concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom’s sister, Betsy, expressed gratitude when a guard doused her head with an awful solution to kill the lice in her hair. There was no complaining about the lice, the thin, tasteless soup they were given to eat, the hard labor or of even being there in the first place. She was simply grateful for the one thing she was being given to make her life a little easier.
Are we the same way as these two women? I don’t know about you but I have to work on this all the time. I am convinced that a spirit of thankfulness and gratefulness is key to living an overcoming life. We often hear quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and Philippians 4:6, “Give thanks in all things.” But we never hear the command in Ephesians 5:20, “Give thanks FOR all things.” In 1 Corinthians 11:20-34, Paul talks about the last time Jesus took the Passover supper. He lets us know that we’re not only to take the Lord’s Supper (which the early Christians often did every day), but that we’re hurting ourselves and others if we do so undeservingly. Remember when I was going over how the lamb was to be cooked, I told you about the symbolism that shows us that God is jealous of His Son and what we do with Him. Paul lets us know that not taking control of our attitude can cause us to be physically sick and to even die. Remember also how God initially led the children of Israel in a circuitous route because they weren’t ready emotionally for what was ahead? Sometimes we too are hindered from being able to do what we know we’re called to do because of our attitude. So, to wrap up this lesson about getting out of Egypt, let me give you the key points to getting out of bondage:
- Be willing and prepared to change
- Don’t complain