Summary: Prepare, Don’t Wait, Keep Watch. These three elements of the Passover are commemorated in each of us as we continue to leave Egypt behind.
Paul Harvey tells the story of an old man and the gulls:
“It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.
Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean... For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark...ten feet long.
But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred. In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”
Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it.”
Paul Harvey concludes:
“And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it. And now you also know...that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness.
An unknown author once wrote:
Sometimes we as Christians need to stop along life’s road and look back. Although it might have been winding and steep, we can see how God directed us by His faithfulness. Here’s how F.E. Marsh described what the Christian can see when he looks back:
The deliverances the Lord has wrought (Deut. 5:15).
The way He has led (Deut. 8:2)
The blessings He has bestowed (Deut. 32:7-12).
The victories He has won (Deut. ll:2-7).
The encouragements He has given (Josh. 23:14).
When we face difficulties, we sometimes forget God’s past faithfulness. We see only the detours and the dangerous path. But look back and you will also see the joy of victory, the challenge of the climb, and the presence of your traveling Companion who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you.
Tonight we read of the greatest event in the history of the jewish faith. For 430 years the Israelites have lived as forgieners in Egypt. They have become enslaved by Pharoah, the king of Egypt. They have been mistreated and oppressed by forced and obsessive labor.
Their leader, Moses, has come to Pharoah time and time again to ask for their freedom and time and time again, the king has refused to set them free. Each time, something terrible has happened. Nine different times God has inflicted consequences upon the Egyptians for their failure to release the Israelites and the continued explotation of them. These consequences have come in the form of plagues in which every home of the Egyptians has been affected. Now, the tenth and final time has come. Moses will again ask the king to set the Israelites free, and again, the king will say no.
This time the plague will be the worst plague of all. This time the firstborn child of every Egyptian home would be killed from the firstborn of the prisoners in the dungeon to the first born the royal household. The Bible tells us that there was not one home in all of Egypt without someone dead.