#5 Passover: A Time Of Deliverance And Freedom
Passover is the most remarkable historical demonstration of God’s deliverance and freedom for His people, as told in the book of Exodus.
Passover signifies a plan of salvation and redemption by faith. Passover affirms that God is present in human life. He hears the cries of His people. He intervenes in human history to deliver His people from their affliction and redeems them from oppression. He replaces darkness with light, oppression with redemption, and death with resurrection.
As we celebrate Passover, we should reflect upon the story of the Israelites brought from slavery into freedom in Exodus. God cared so deeply about His people that He intervened in history to deliver them out of bondage.
The story of Passover is still being played out today in our own lives, where we need to cry out to God to deliver us from the oppression and tyranny of our day. For God did not redeem our ancestors alone, but all people today. “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:7 NKJV.
Israelites’ Bondage In Slavery
Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrews in Egypt for over four hundred years. Hebrews cried out to God to deliver them from bondage and suffering. God answered their plea. God chose Moses to deliver His people.
The King of Egypt, Pharaoh ordered his people to kill all the Hebrews’ firstborn males because he began to fear them. “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, ‘Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.” Exodus 1:8-14 NKJV.
Midwives Obeyed God
Then Pharaoh commanded the midwives: “‘When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women and see them on the birth stools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.” Exodus 1:16-17 NJKV. Midwives refused to carry out Pharoah’s commands because they feared God, saving many male babies. Exodus 1:21. “So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.’” Exodus 1:22-23 NJKV.
Birth of Moses
Now Moses was born. His mother hid him for the first three months and then released him on the Nile River to save him. Exodus 2:1-4. The daughter of Pharaoh found the baby in the basket and decided to raise him as her son, knowing he was one of the Hebrews’ children. Exodus 2:5-6. She then hired Moses’ mother to nurse and care for him. Exodus 2:8-9. The child was named Moses because he was drawn out of the water. Exodus 2:10.
Moses’ story alone is impressive, where God divinely protected him and guided his life. God’s intervention and plan to save Moses not only from death but also placed him in Pharoah’s household to raise him as his own. Moses’ mother ended up caring for him while getting paid her wages. What was meant for evil, God turned into good for all. Moses grew up in the most powerful and wealthiest house as Pharaoh’s adopted son to deliver the Israelites from bondage.
God Hears Israel Cries
Moses saw the suffering of the Israelites. Exodus 2:11. One day he killed the Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. Exodus 2:12.
After Moses fled Egypt to Midian, he married Zipporah and had a son. Exodus 2:21-22. “Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.” Exodus 2:23-25 NJKV. Then Moses saw a burning bush in the desert that was not burning up as it should have. He heard God call him from there.
God then spoke to Moses, “and the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now, therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:7-10 NKJV.
God’s Plan To Free His People
God told Moses to return to Egypt and ask Pharaoh to free his people. All the people that wanted to kill Moses were now dead. Exodus 4:19. If Pharoh refused, then God would send plagues upon the Egyptian people. “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.” Exodus 3:19-20 NIV. Moses obeyed God and went back to Pharaoh. “So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.” Exodus 4:20 NIV. Each time Moses asked Pharoah to let his people go, Pharoah refused. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let the people go. Exodus 4: 21. God did so to show His “power and that [His] name be proclaimed in all of the earth.” Exodus 9:16 KJV. God sent ten plagues to punish Pharaoh and his people.
The Ten Plagues
1. Turning water into blood, Exodus 7:14-24.
2. Swarm of Frogs, Exodus 7:25; 8:1-15.
3. Dust into Gnats, Exodus 8:16-19.
4. Swarm of Flies, Exodus 8:20-30.
5. Pestlience of Livestock, but not of Israelites. Exodus 9:1-7.
6. Festering Boils, the fine dust upon Egyptians and their animals, Exodus 9:8-12.
7. Hailstorm, worst storm in Egypt ever since it was a nation, Exodus 9:13-35. Egyptians who feared God protected their slaves and livestock from the storm. Those who didn’t obey died in the storm.
8. Swarm of Locusts, Exodus 10:1-20.
9. Darkness in Egypt, yet Israelites had light in the places they lived. Exodus 10:21-29.
10. Death of all firstborn son, Exodus 11:1-10.
Thus, the story of Passover begins with the tenth plague to kill all the firstborn sons in Egypt to punish Pharoah and his people.
Pharaoh first decreed to kill all the Hebrews’ firstborn sons, where now, God returned the last plague upon Egypt. God said, “Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so he may worship me.’ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” Exodus 4:22-23 NIV. This curse was also upon the Israelite slaves, God’s people. But, as God always does, He provided a way out for anyone who would follow His specific instructions. A way of escape by faith. Those who followed God’s instructions were spared their houses when God himself passed over. “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Exodus 12:12-13 NIV.
God instructed Moses to tell his people to sacrifice a perfect male lamb. Exodus 12:5-6. They were to take the lamb’s blood (symbolizing Jesus as the lamb and his blood sacrifice at the cross) and paint their doorposts as a sign of obedience and faith. Exodus 12:7. When God was to go through the land, He would pass over the houses with the blood on the posts. This was the Passover. The Israelites’ families then prepared a lamb meal, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs and ate it in haste with their sandals on and cloak tucked. Exodus 12:8-11.
They ate their dinner in faith that they would be protected from God’s wrath. God also commanded them to keep and celebrate the Festivals of Unleaved bread for all generations, a lasting ordinance, because it was the day God brought them out of Egypt. Exodus 12:14-20. “It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.” Exodus 12:27 NIV.
At midnight, God struck down all the firstborns in Egypt, including livestock firstborns. God took the life of Pharaoh’s son. Exodus 12:29. It was a night of great cries of all family members as they discovered their dead. “There was not a house without someone dead.” Exodus 12:30 NIV. God’s people listened, waited, and prayed. As morning neared, God’s promise proved true; only those with the bloodstained doorpost were spared. God indeed passed over those who believed in Him for their salvation and deliverance. “It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.” Exodus 12:42 KJV. The Israelites then had to keep certain Passover restrictions to observe the day for generations to come. Exodus 12:43-51; Exodus 13:1-16.
God’s Provision In The Wilderness
God not only delivered the Israelites from Egypt but also took care of them in the desert for forty years. “There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’” Exodus 15:25-26 NIV. God provided food, water, and clothes that didn’t wear out, yet the community grumbled for more. God then provided them with Manna and Quail to eat every day, except on the day of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was the only day they could store food. Otherwise, any food stored for the next day would rot. They were to depend on God for each day wholly. Exodus 16. We, who live in comfort and abundance, forget who has allowed us our provisions and forget God. God also delivered them from their enemies, the Amalekites. Exodus 17:8-15. “Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” Exodus 17:16 KJV.
Why did God save the Israelites?
They were to be set apart for God to be Holy. “‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’” Exodus 19:4-6 NIV. This is still true today for all believers in Christ. We are to be Holy and separate people.
God also set apart his mountain at Mount Sinai as Holy, and there He gave Moses the Ten Commandments to give to his people. Exodus 19-20.
The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20: 2-17 NKJV:
1. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it, you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
6. “You shall not murder.”
7. “You shall not commit adultery.”
8. “You shall not steal.”
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
We have all sinned and fallen short of keeping the ten commandments. God also gave the Israelites the first set of common laws that we still use today in our judicial system. Laws concerning servents, violence, animal control, property rights, ceremonial and moral, and sabbath. Exodus 21-23.
Covenant with Israel
The Lord then confirms His convent with Israel. Exodus 24. God builds His sanctuary so that He can dwell with them. He told them to bring offerings as their heart prompted them to give. Exodus 25. Offerings of “gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.” Exodus 25:3-7 NIV.
God built His Tabernacle with outstanding craftsmanship and details from the offerings people had brought before the Lord. Exodus 25-40. God gave the Israelites skills to make dye, carpentry, metalworks, gemologist, gem cutters, engravers, farmers, goldsmiths, potters, knitters, tailors, priests, hunters, builders, embroiderers, yarn and fabric makers, oil makers, herders, bakers, cooks, butchers, judges, tent makers, perfumery, spice makers, and many more crafts. They went from making bricks for four hundred years to being skilled workers for the Lord.
The sin of Israel to Worship False Idols
Despite what God did for them in real-time and dwelling among them, the Israelites still sinned and wanted to make their own gods. They offered their jewelry to make a golden calf and worshipped it. “Then they said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.’ So the next day, the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward, they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” Exodus 32:4-6 NIV. Moses pleaded with God not to destroy all his people, and they were spared, but judgment came to those who disobeyed. Exodus 32-33. God was still compassionate and merciful. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19 NIV.
The lesson learned in Exodus is that we are at the mercy of God for all our provisions, skills, and protection in the Lord. Despite having the Lord live with His people to guide and care for them, they still sinned against Him.
Good Friday and the True Passover Lamb
The story of Passover tells us that God protected His people who obeyed and followed His commandments. It also foreshadows what’s to come where Jesus was the true Passover Lamb, sacrificed at the cross. Jesus’ bloodshed at the cross, by us and for us, is symbolic of our salvation through faith in Him as our redeemer. “Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” Romans 3:25 NKJV.
Sacrificing of animals, i.e., the lamb, was never meant to be an atonement of our sins. Only God can take away our sins. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Hebrews 10:4 KJV. How could God pass over human sins with animal sacrifices that still demanded a resolution? God devised a way to be just and merciful at the same time, salvation through substitution. The Hebrew Passover was a symbolic picture of Jesus being the substituted lamb. In the words of John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 KJV.
When Jesus went to Jerusalem before His death, it wasn’t to celebrate Passover with the Jews but to become our Passover. He is our Passover and our Redeemer. He delivered us from our sins and eternal death. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV. We are now remembering Him each year during this time.
On Good Friday, Jesus was crucified on the cross and died to be resurrected three days later. His resurrection is our hope and why we continue to remember Passover, Good Friday, and His resurrection.
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