Summary: The Passover
For any of you have ever been in a moment of sheer panic and chaos, you understand how valuable it is to have someone there who knows what to do and has a plan. When everyone else is confused and scared, they serve as that beacon of hope. You think of the paramedics who rush onto the scene and speak calmly to the person who has just been in a severe car accident. Or maybe it’s the parent who offers sage motherly or fatherly advice and care to their child who’s just had their dreams crushed.
For 440 years, the people of Israel had lived in a strange and foreign land. For a good chunk of that time, they were slaves. For them, I imagine it wouldn’t have just been moments of fear and chaos, but perhaps lifetimes of it. Although God was with them through every portion of this, we heard last week how his presence became visible and tangible for the people through the plagues. You may ask, though, if God’s presence was so valuable, why did he have to send 9 plagues up to this point and still not have his people out of Egypt? Well, those 9 plagues were beneficial. It gave the Egyptians time to repent, it allowed the Israelites to see more examples of their Father’s power, and it allowed the message of who God was to spread throughout that entire area of the world. God knew, though, that there would be one, final plague. With patience, all those who were there would see God save his people and witness that God’s plans never fail. Because this plague would accomplish what he had promised. He would bring them up out of Egypt.
In his description of how he would carry this out, you can’t help but sit back in amazement at God’s overall grasp of the situation. I said just a bit ago that so often in those moments of adrenaline and terror, we’re not exactly sure what to do. But here, God shows that he doesn’t just have a semblance of an idea of what to do. He had every last detail planned out to perfection. I suppose God could’ve just come in and killed off anyone who would’ve stood in his way. But, he instead allowed everyone a chance to get involved in his deliverance, taking part in the plan themselves. And most importantly, he used this opportunity not just to show them how they would be delivered from Pharaoh, but how his Son, the Lamb, would save them from a much worse enemy in time.
God knows his enemies well. He knows their tactics, he knows their personalities, he knows their plans, and he knows the limits of their power. Pharaoh was no different. God knew that Pharaoh liked to change his mind because he had a short memory. God knew that Pharaoh thought a lot of himself too. So God knew that Pharaoh would not react differently to this plague than to how he had with all the others. Pharaoh would once again see the power of God in the plague, submit for a time, but then come back with a vengeance. And in fact, as we’ll see next week, this was exactly what Pharaoh did!
Because of this, God made sure that his people had time to think and soak it all in, that they would be informed of what would be necessary, and that they would be ready in a moment’s notice to react when God wanted them to. You see this in multiple details from the plan. One, God had the people take a sheep or a goat into their homes. But not just any one of their flocks. It had to be without defect and a year old. It could also be from the sheep or the goats. They needed precise directions like that because in moments of great power, our minds often are confused and feeble. Then, for four days, they would be able to prepare themselves mentally for what was to come. Everything about their subsequent preparations was precise too so that they would be able to act quickly. After they killed the sheep, they were to roast it, the quickest way to prepare it. Their sandals were to be on their feet, their staffs in their hand, and their loins girded. I mean if you’ve ever had to run in a dress, thankfully I’m not speaking from personal experience here, you need to hike it up to allow your legs room to move. This would’ve been similar to the clothes they wore.
God was also very gracious in his plans. He wanted the people to be able to celebrate this celebration in peace. We can see that he didn’t want consciences bound here. He allowed them to choose an animal from either the sheep or the goats. Maybe not everyone had sheep, maybe they just had goats, or vice versa. He also thought about the small families who wouldn’t have been able to eat the whole animal by themselves, so he allowed them to eat with their neighbors. And he even went so far as to tell the people that if something was left over, he allowed them the opportunity to burn it up.