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The First Passover
We all know the story. Moses’ parentsare Hebrews; but through a strangeturn of events, he’s adopted by Pha-raoh’s daughter and grows up in theroyal court. When he’s approximately40 years old, Prince Moses kills anEgyptian official while defending aHebrew slave. Once he realizes that hewon’t be able to conceal his crime, heflees across the rugged Sinai wilder-ness to Midian, where he goes into hid-ing for 40 years. Then God speaks tohim from a burning bush and tells himto return to Egypt and lead His peopleto freedom.Moses is quaking in his sandalsbuthe obeys. He returns to Egypt andconfronts Pharaoh with a messagefrom
, the God of Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob: “Let My people go”(Ex. 5:1). Pharaoh knows that with-out all of the Israelites’ free labor, theEgyptian economy could collapsesohe refuses.The LORD decides to incentivize thestubborn king. He sends a series of 10 devastating plagues on the landof Egypt. The last one is the death of the firstborn of every householdin-cluding Pharaoh’s palace. Because theIsraelites followed God’s instructionsand brushed the blood of lambs on thedoorframes of their dwellings, the De-stroyer “passed over” them (hence, theterm “Passover”). Finally, cradling thelimp, lifeless body of his own son in hisarms, Pharaoh relents.The children of Israel depart in hastefrom Egypt (something they had beenwarned to anticipate)but their or-deal isn’t over. Pharaoh changes hismind and pursues them. With theEgyptian army quickly descending onthem, the defenseless Israelites arriveon the banks of the Red Sea. There isnowhere else to go but straight ahead;although the water blocks their way.Moses prays and then uses his staff to part the sea miraculously. As thepeople watch with wide-eyed, open-mouthed astonishment, a path opensup before them. They flee to safetywith walls of water suspended on ei-ther side of them. When the Egyptianstry to follow, the water comes crashingdown and they drown.
The Four Ds of thePassover Narrative
It’s an exciting and compelling story,to be sure. However, it’s much morethan just a story. It’s also a teachingtool. Through the Passover narrative,God teaches us a great deal aboutHimselfand about ourselves.
1. The Danger of Complacency
The children of Abraham, Isaac, andJacob actually did pretty well inEgyptat least, for a time.
So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, inthe country of Goshen; and they had pos-sessions there and grew and multipliedexceedingly (Gen. 47:27).
That, in fact, was the problem. Origi-nally, the people of Israel had gone toEgypt to escape a famine. It shouldhave been only a temporary move.After all, Canaan was the PromisedLandnot Egypt.But they prospered in Egypt. Becauseof their relationship to Joseph, the Is-raelites were a privileged group. It wasa comfortable life. They even came tofancy the cuisine (Num. 11:5).So they just never seemed to get aroundto going back to Canaan. Wheneverthe subject came up, I suppose theyjust said, “Maybe next year.”It took a change of administration (anda new Pharaoh who didn’t like them)to shake the Israelites out of theircomplacency.Aren’t we the same way? We get com-fortable with our jobs, a house in thesuburbs, and the ability to pay all ourbillsand before too long, we startthinking we don’t need God anymore.Then a “famine” hitslike the WallStreet disaster that struck the UnitedStates in 2008and we don’t knowwhat to do. We lose our jobs (and insur-ance benefits) and the banks forecloseon our homes. Hard-earned invest-ments disappear into thin air. Unpaidbills start to pile up.In desperation, like the ancient Israel-ites, we cry out to God for help. That’swhen He knows He has our attention.