Moses' First Passover
That video does a really good job of giving us a summary of some of the stuff we’re going to talk about tonight. But, before we get into it, I want to ask you a question, and I want you to talk to the people around you, and answer this:
Question: What would it take for you to move to a different country?
For most of us, it would take something big to make us leave our country, leave our home, leave our land. For Abraham's family, there was a big deal. A famine. It drove them to leave the land that had been promised to them, and head to Egypt. They found a safe place, with plenty of food, and everything seemed like it was going well. While they were there, God kept one of his promises to Abraham:
Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
While they were in Egypt, the family began to grow really fast. Like, rabbits fast! They grew so fast, that they started to freak out the King, who was called Pharaoh.
Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.” So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king.
So, here they are. In a foreign land, oppressed and worked as slaves, with no hope for their future. If I were one of the Israelites, I would have been asking “God, where are you?! What happened to the promise you made to us!? Why have you left us here to be worked to death!!!?”
Have you ever been there? Have you ever wondered where is God in the middle of the pain? Where is God when you need him most? Sometimes it feels like he’s not even there. Like he doesn’t even care. That’s where the Israelites were. They felt abandoned. Alone.
Meanwhile, this dude Moses grew up in the Egyptian palace, came to identify with his Hebrew brothers and sisters, kills a slave-driver, and then runs away. You still tracking with me? As he’s hiding out in a place called Midian, God comes to him, calls him, and sends him back to Egypt to rescue his people.
Because even though they felt abandoned. Even though they felt hurt. Even though they felt isolated, oppressed, and worthless. God still cared. God was still moving. God was working behind the scenes to set his people free.
Moses, and his brother, Aaron, gather together all the leaders of Israel, and they have a little pow-wow. Like, “Guys, this is bad! We gotta do something.” They’re response:
Then Moses and Aaron returned to Egypt and called all the elders of Israel together. Aaron told them everything the Lord had told Moses, and Moses performed the miraculous signs as they watched. Then the people of Israel were convinced that the Lord had sent Moses and Aaron. When they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
It had been so long since they felt like God was paying attention. It had been so long since they felt like they had been noticed. Finally, here comes this runaway prince, telling them that they are seen by God. He hears their cries. He knows their suffering. Sometimes, that’s all you want. Just to be seen. Just for someone to know, and acknowledge your pain and suffering.
How did the Israelites get to Egypt?
Why they are in slavery?
Who is Moses?
So, Moses goes to Pharaoh, asks for the Israelites to be set free, and basically gets laughed out of the palace. Even worse, Pharaoh now thinks he needs to punish the Israelites for their “laziness.” He ups their workload, drives them harder, and oppresses them even more. Now, I can be lazy sometimes, but I can’t imagine that kind of punishment going over well for me!
Illustration: Mrs. Allan was the worst science teacher ever! She was totally discouraging to me!
The Israelites aren’t happy about this, and they are sure to let Moses know. So, Moses goes back to God, and says “What the heck are you doing!?!”
Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!” Then the Lord told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!” And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the Lord.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them. “Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’ ”
That’s a pretty sweeping promise to be made by God! He is clearly, and definitively saying that he will rescue his people. He will make good on his promise. It’s a promise he made, and it’s a promise he’s going to keep!
Proposition: God will do whatever it takes to redeem his people.
It’s a promise he made, and it’s a promise he’s going to keep!
Maybe the saddest part of the whole story comes next. Verse 9:
So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.
They had been too discouraged. Too broken down. Too hurt to listen to anything Moses, or God has to say. They got their hopes up once before, and look where it got them. What’s this God think he’s gonna do now?!
But now, God isn’t just going to talk about rescuing his people. He’s going to put his money where his mouth is. He’s gonna walk the walk. He’s going to put his words into action.
So, Moses goes to Pharaoh. Back and forth, back and forth, Moses and Pharaoh go through this song and dance. If I could screenshot the actual conversation they had, I bet it would look something like this...
Illustration: Moses & Pharaoh iMessage
Time and time again, Moses warns Pharaoh that this plague would come, unless he releases the Israelites. Time and time again, Pharaoh refuses. The plague happens, just like God said it would.
Pharaoh: No way.
Illustration: It’s like a teacher telling you to study. If you don’t study for this test, you will fail it. If you don’t do this homework, you won’t pass the class. Then, you’re surprised when you fail.
A couple times, Pharaoh even says he’ll let them go, but changes his mind. The plagues escalate. The tensions between the palace, and the Israelites escalate. Blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness. Moses warns Pharaoh ever time. Pharaoh refuses to listen. He hardens his heart. To the extreme.
All of these plagues have one goal in mind: Rescue the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. God is rescuing his people, and he’s going to do whatever it takes. The plagues are extreme, because Pharaoh’s evil is extreme.
The Egyptians deserved much worse, frankly. So do we. They had sinned against God. They sinned against Israel. 400 years of oppression, violence, murder, etc. Even if Joe Schmoe, Egyptian citizen, didn’t actively participate, they were complicit in the system.
Why were the plagues happening?
Why was Pharaoh’s heart hard? (God vs. him)
What were the plagues?
We finally get to the last plague, and the most intense plague. All the firstborn children will be killed. Again, Moses gives Pharaoh a heads-up, and again, Pharaoh ignores it.
Then, we get the instructions for the Passover meal. There’s a lamb that’s slaughtered, a meal that is prepared, and blood that is painted over the door.
This meal, commemorates this key moment in the story, where God brings his justice on human evil, but also shows mercy by providing this substitute.
Remember how Jesus is now standing at that door.
Why do we care?
All this stuff points to, and prepares us for Jesus
The door no longer needs to be closed. Jesus is the door.
What is our response to this?