Last week in chapter 3 of Exodus, we saw a powerful God who cares deeply for His people, so much so that He set out a plan to free them from slavery and bring them out of captivity. God chose to carry out His plan through a man named Moses and revealed Himself to him through a burning bush.
Moses listened to God’s calling and went to Egypt to restore His people. However, when Moses demanded Pharaoh to let His people go, Pharaoh refused. In response to Pharaohs stubbornness, God sent nine plagues over Egypt, each one progressively worse. After each plague, Pharaoh said the Israelites can leave but when the plagues subside, he quickly forgets this idea and refuses to free the Israelites again.
Through these plagues, God revealed His divine justice and power against those oppressing His people and exposed the gods of the Egyptians to be false, proving Himself to to be one true God to the Israelites and Egyptians.
- Why do you think Pharaoh was so unwilling to release the Israelites?
God sends one final plague throughout Egypt to set his people free and this is where we will pick up the story of Exodus.
Exodus Chapter 12
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.The Bible (NIV)
Here we see a description of a festival known as Passover that will be later celebrated every year by the Israelites, what are the key details?
Are there any key details which you find confusing?
Although we do not know exactly why the yeast was kept out of the Israelite household, there have been a few reasons suggested. Yeast symbolised corruption and so in preparation for Passover, Israel removed yeast to show they were cleansing themselves of corruption. The Passover meal was also supposed to be one of haste, so by removing the use of yeast from the meal, God was trying to reemphasise the element of haste. Another reason may be that bread without yeast was a poor persons meal, so every time the Israelites had bread without yeast it would remind them of where they have come from, that they have been rescued from slavery.
If you were an Israelite how would you feel preparing for this festival?
Exodus Chapter 12 continued…The Bible (NIV)
12 “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. 13 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.
14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.
17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”
- What is God trying to say when he says he will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt?
- Why do you think this festival was to be celebrated regularly?
The following three questions reflect the 3 different time periods spoken about in the passage:
- Before the plague…
- As an Israelite would you think that this would be the plague that would get you your freedom? Or would this be another Plague which at first seemed to but then didn’t?
- During the final plague..
- In the other plagues so far we’ve seen that God can distinguish between the Israelites and the Egyptians, so why in this plague does God require blood to be put on the doorposts of the Israelites houses?
- Many years after the plague…
- This festival was taken very seriously because anyone who did not celebrate it properly would be cut off, why do you think this festival was taken so seriously?
Exodus Chapter 12 continued…
21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.The Bible (NIV)
Consider the following hypothetical people during the Passover
House A: Very religious, well connected. Always praying. Do good deeds around the neighbourhood. Sure the LORD would ‘passover’ if he looked inside.
House B: Known as unfaithful Israelites in the neighbourhood, they lie to their brothers and try to cheat others. Hope God doesn’t poke his head around the door to see who’s inside…
House C: Weak, nervous and unsure of themselves. Always worrying about something.
- Which of these Households do you think will be passed over?
- According to the passages, if all follow the instructions, who will be saved?
- Do you think this is fair?
Exodus Chapter 12 continued…
24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘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.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.The Bible (NIV)
29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
- Why do you think it was so important to tell this story to their future children?
- Would you believe this story if you heard it from your grandparents?
- Do you think this plague will be enough for the Pharaoh to release the slaves of Israel?
- Why do you think this one was the one that got them their freedom?
The Bible tells a complete story of a powerful God who will do whatever it takes to rescue his people. The blood of the Passover Lamb used in the festival foreshadows the blood of Jesus. In the new testament, This link between the Passover Lamb and Jesus are also made clear in the Books of John and Peter.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. – 1 Peter 18-19
- What do you think they meant when they called Jesus the lamb of God?
- The Bible seems to say that we need this Lamb of God, why do you think the writers of the Bible thought that we needed Jesus?
- What do you think the writers of the Bible are saying will pass us over if we accept Jesus into our lives?
Take a moment in silence to think about the things in your life you would want to be passed over. Maybe there are things you are ashamed of, ask God to passover them and for Jesus the Passover lamb to cover them for you.
Maybe you feel like a lot of the time God has made his will obvious to you through different signs and you have chosen to ignore them, ask God to show those moments to you.
In this coming week ask God to reveal his will to you and ask him to give you the strength to follow it.