Summary: As the Israelites were being led out of slavery in Egypt they discovered sanctuary in the blood of the lamb. Today we can discover sanctuary in the blood of the Lamb as well as we find forgiveness for sin and new life in Jesus!
September 30, 2012
There are times when we are faced with that which seems absolutely impossible from a human perspective; when what we encounter seems so much bigger than we are. In those times, in those moments, we may become overwhelmed by the seeming hopelessness of it all.
When I think of hopelessness I often think of Joseph – Joseph who was so despised by his own brothers that they sold him into slavery and told their father that he was dead. Joseph who is later falsely accused of a crime he did not commit and thrown into prison. Those must have been incredibly dark days for Joseph. How do you maintain hope when life goes from bad to worse, and from worse, to impossible?
Yet if we stop reading there we miss out on the most important parts of Joseph’s story. You see, God went on to use Joseph in amazing ways that none of us could have ever imagined. You probably know the story yourself – through a miraculous turn of events, Joseph eventually becomes Pharaoh’s right hand man, and during his lifetime the Israelites lived a relatively comfortable life in Egypt. What man had meant for evil, God had meant for a greater good.
But after the death of Joseph and his generation the people of Israel fell upon hard times. There rose to power in Egypt a Pharaoh who had no memory of Joseph and of his work on behalf of the Egyptian nation. Instead he looked upon the Israelites, saw they were increasing in numbers, and in his paranoia saw a threat. And so he enslaved the people of Israel and life became very hard for the generations that followed Joseph’s. And God had foretold of these things to Abraham, long before Joseph ever came on the scene, saying, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.” [Genesis 15:13-14] What had God done? He had promised hope to His people so that in their darkest moment they would not lose heart but would instead call out to Him.
It’s very likely that at different times in your life that you may have experienced that sense of overwhelming hopelessness or helplessness that leads you to despair. A tragedy, an illness, a sorrow, a seemingly impossible situation – whatever the case – that burden of hopelessness is very real – you cry out for an escape, for some glimmer of something better, you long to find sanctuary from your troubles.
A few years you would have seen that hopelessness written on the face of a young teenager we met while we were on holidays. Sarah, never knew her dad. Her mom had her own set of problems and was in and out of relationships with men on a regular basis. I suspect that no-one, Sarah included, really knew who, Sarah, was. Many people knew of her. The police certainly knew of her. She had been in juvenile detention centers frequently and on more than one occasion spent time in jail. And it probably won’t come as a great shock to you to learn that before she was seventeen years old she gave birth to a son – yet another child who would never know his father. And if life seemed hopeless for Sarah before, what hope could the future hold for her now that she had a child? Although separated by thousands of years in time, Sarah shared that one thing with the Israelites – a sense of hopelessness in which they could see no way out.
The irony of it all is that at those times when we are at our worst, when the hour seems the darkest, it’s often when we see God at His best. It’s then that hearts that have been cold, and dark and dead cry out to Him for mercy and discover the wonder of God’s grace!
So it was for the Israelites. In their oppression they cried out to God and He heard their cries and He sent them Moses. Man’s ways have come up empty and left the people bitter and full of despair. But God has a plan and after God is done, what He’s about to do, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind, neither Egyptian nor Israelite, that God is indeed God.
The command God gives through Moses for the Israelites is fairly simple. Each household is to take a sheep, a lamb without blemish or defect, and slaughter it that night. They are not to break any of it’s bones but they are to take the blood of that lamb and paint the door posts of their houses with it and then they are to remain inside their dwellings until morning comes for the Lord himself is about to go through the land of Egypt bringing judgment with Him.