Pride and Pestilence
We are all quarantined
We are all quarantined
Well, happy Palm Sunday. I know it’s a weird way to be meeting, but due to the marvels of modern technology we can meet. So glad you’re all there and so good to see all your smiling faces. It’s important I guess we talk about the elephant in the room and that is this virus that seems to be plaguing our nation. I hope you are all taking the precautions advocated by our President seriously, but let me assure you that for the most part, the experts are finding that so far this has been about as bad as the common flu from the standpoint of mortality rate. In other words, it is no more dangerous in and of itself than the common flu. That said, the flu is a rather dangerous bug for certain people and this coronavirus is a degree of magnitude more virulent than anything we’ve seen meaning it is transmitted with almost no effort at all. It is a nasty bug!
But not nearly as nasty as the bug that hit Egypt once upon a time. See, that first Palm Sunday came right before Passover and as we know Passover is when the Children of Israel were finally delivered from Pharoah, but the way in which they were delivered was quite stressful, and might I say even terrifying, and like us, they were also forced to shelter in place for their own protection. Let’s go to that and see what the scripture says about it.
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’ ” Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ ” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
The Dark Night
The Dark Night
Imagine what was going on in the minds of the people. With us and the coronavirus, we are being told to stay home because we know that it’s out there and we know that some people might get sick and we know that some might become severely sick, and some may even die. But the children of Israel had a different understanding. They were told to stay home because the angel of death WAS out there and IT WOULD get certain people and that THEY WOULD die. There was no two ways about it. Each and every first born would be put to death. The only thing that was protecting them was the providence and divine protection of God. Obedience to His word was therefore essential to remaining alive for so many in Egypt that dark night.
The Need for Obedience
The Need for Obedience
There was a very specific set of instructions that the Children of Israel were commanded to follow on that first Passover to assure the survival of their firstborn. Let’s take a look at that once again.
‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’ ” Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.
Seven day fast - NO UNLEAVENED BREAD- Leaven is a symbol of sin.
Remove all leaven from the homes- no temptation, no chance of accidentally getting leaven in the bread.
Select and sacrifice a passover lamb, then make a special brush out of herbs. Paint your doorposts with the blood
Shelter in place until morning.
Moses was told that absolute obedience was necessary. And now it was time. They had to live through a dark and stressful night. They had seen God bring other judgments, so they knew they would see God move, but this was one scary plague. Would God deliver them? Would their children be safe? This wasn’t just kids either! We’re talking every first born very likely the community leaders amongst them. How many people would survive? How many would die? The human cost was great, but it wasn’t the only cost. The firstborn of livestock were to be taken as well - this was the currency of the day! So not only were there lives threatened, but their livelihoods as well! Does that sound familiar?
We all know how the story ends. The firstborn of all of the people of Egypt are taken by the Angel of Death and the people of God are delivered from the hand of the enemy by God. Can you imagine the amazing faith it took to understand what was going on? God had provided them that faith. You see, for each of the plagues brought by God against Egypt, the children of Israel were spared. And yet here they were the day after with a tremendous victory under their belt and an insane amount of faith would be needed once again. Now the nation of Israel would have to preform a grand Exodus out of Egypt.
How does this relate to us? Glad you asked!
Our current trials are temporary
Our current trials are temporary
Our current predicament is not nearly as bleak as what the children of Israel faced, but it has some amazing parallels. We are sheltering in place to avoid the plague and yet while we do so, our livelihood- our entire economy is threatened. Let me bring you some hope from the Word though.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”
So we have assurances from God for this current situation in which we find ourselves, and it comes with a very hopeful message of deliverance on the other side. But like the instructions given to the Children of Israel during the passover, we are given a set of instructions for obtaining this favor from God.
Dwell in the Secret place of the Most High. What is this? How do we hide ourselves in God’s secret place? Well, keep reading.
Abide under the shadow of the Almighty. You have to be pretty close to someone to abide in their shadow. How do we stay near to God? Prayer, worship and the Word.
Say of the Lord “He is my refuge and my fortress...” Acknowledge that God is the only way you get through this.
“My God, in Him I will trust” And the final point is trust! Believe that God will do what He promised!
God’s Promise in times of trial.
God’s Promise in times of trial.
And what did He promise?
That He would deliver us from the snare of the fowler and the perilous pestilence.
That He would cover us with His feathers. What does that mean? Think of an adult eagle caring for its young. It shelters its babies with his wings and nothing can get through. That sounds pretty good to me.
You won’t get sick (v. 10)
And even the angels will given orders to care for you.
And the best part (v. 14-16) we will be counted amongst God’s favorites!
The Day After
The Day After
So let’s go back to our original story. Look at what happened next.
Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.” And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
With this in mind, how do you think this thing ends?