Have you ever stared at the road in front of you and been scared of where it led, but still felt pulled to follow it no matter what? You knew that your dreams and everything you hoped for lay just over that horizon. I imagine that’s just how the Israelite nation felt when Moses arrived and said they were leaving. After 400 years of slavery, oppression, sweat, and tears… after decades of begging God to see them and save them… He was answering! Can you imagine how elated they must have felt! But then, instead of the Egyptian pharaoh agreeing to the plan, he refused and made things even harder. In fact, the biblical account says the Israelites told Moses to leave because everything was getting worse. The pharaoh continued to refuse to release his slaves because he didn’t know who thir God was. God was about to show him in a cosmic way just who He was. I often wonder how the Israelites must have felt during the time that God demonstrated His power over the Egyptian deities. Theirs was not a safe God; He wasn’t content to stay on the shelf like the gods of other lands. Like them, we’re not comfortable with a God who literally moves heaven and earth to make Himself known, who wreaks chaos on our comfortably little lives to show us a bigger story. We can’t control Him and the Israelites and Egyptians had a front row seat… and still the pharaoh refused to know Him.
Finally the confrontation resulted in God showing who really held the power of life and death. But there was a way of escape offered for those who covered the beams of their homes with the blood of a lamb. How strange that must have sounded to the Israelites and Egyptians! How strange that the promise of salvation is initiated in the throes of judgement! But that night in the midst of judgement and calamity, the blood proved true and an entire nation walked free; accompanied by scores of Egyptian families who chose to make the God of the slaves their own.
These past few days I’ve thought a lot about why the road to redemption started here for the Israelites. I’ve thought about why it starts here for us. The day of Christ’s crucifixion, the nation of Israel was remembering their day of deliverance in celebrating the Passover. In the darkness of mid-day, the Lamb of God spread His own blood over rough wooden beams that covered the world as judgement passed by. I expect that every Passover since from that first night in Egypt played over and over in the Son of God’s mind as He fulfilled every shadow of that night’s promise. Every hope that the Israelites had for freedom and a new life rested in the word of their God. They could do nothing on their own. When the cross collides with our lives, the same is true – there’s nothing we can do but trust that God’s word is true and He will cover us. And if we hover under Him, we find He always does. The Israelites left what they had known to answer the call of the God who pursued them, to follow Him and to be His people, and it took them on the journey of a lifetime. The call extends to us from a God who stops at nothing to be with us and guides us down the journey of redemption and right into His arms.
Blessings to you,