Besides parenting and folding a fitted bed sheet and feeding six people breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, writing has been one of the most challenging things I’ve put my mind to. Sharing details in a succinct manner is not easy. Each new story is like sewing a patchwork quilt. Turning squares this way and that; removing one and replacing it with another; until it looks just right in hopes of producing a “Wow, how lovely,” or “That’s incredible,” or a very special “I need another look,” from anyone who encounters it.
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 11 – 12:7, 13
Key Verse: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7b
The problem is, there’s always leftover squares. Details you wanted to include but for the sake of impact and purpose and a story your reader can easily follow, they had to be left out. And let me just tell you, choosing which details stay and which go, is like trying to decide which child gets on the plane with you and which one stays behind. It’s excruciating my friend.
Sometimes an author might add a bonus chapter at the end, filled with all the favorites that just wouldn’t fit in chapter five. Or other times after taking several chapters to lead the reader where they want, the author may pause to tell the backstory, adding in elements that didn’t fit elsewhere.
Which is exactly what Moses does for us in Exodus 11 and 12. After weaving the sovereignty of God through nine plagues, over four chapters, he pauses to give us some backstory.
Verses one and two of chapter eleven filling us in on a conversation Moses likely had with the LORD during the dark hours of the ninth plague where the LORD informs him, “You’re almost done. There’s just one to go.” Allowing Moses to respond with “Fine, no problem,” when Pharaoh says to him after the three days of pitch darkness, “Take care never to see my face again” (10:28).
But before Moses walks out leaving Pharaoh in the dust forever, chapter eleven gives us the rest of the story. Verses 4-9 a continuation of Moses and Pharaoh’s final conversation, we learn Moses gave Pharaoh one final warning. “Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die” (11:4-5a).
Midnight! Yikes! Things were happening quickly, wouldn’t you say? Now it’s possible Moses meant midnight tomorrow or midnight in a few days, but it doesn’t say that. The text just says midnight. Leading me to believe there’s mere hours until the grievous final blow against the gods of Egypt.
Which in turn, means Israel was just mere hours from Passover. When the LORD would pass over Israel, instead of striking them with the same deadly plague, as long as the Hebrew household was covered by the blood of the lamb. (There’s so much symbolism here, I’m giddy!)
But this wasn’t something God sprung on the people the morning before. According to chapter 12 (the backstory), God had been instructing for a few days now and Israel had been preparing. Selecting their male lamb (a year old, without blemish) four days prior to Passover. Separating it from the flock, they checked it over to be sure there were no blemishes. Many probably brought it indoors for those four days, keeping it close, making the sacrifice that much harder. (Think any kiddos grew attached to little lamby?)
Then at twilight on day fourteen, they killed it. At which time they were to use hyssop to place the blood of the lamb on the two doorposts and lintel leading into their homes. Then they were to roast the lamb and eat until it was gone. Any leftovers had to be burned.
When the LORD came that night to Egypt, the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, showed propitiation had been made for the household. Because they weren’t exempt. Ezekiel 20 explains how the Israelites weren’t any better than the Egyptians. They too worshiped idols and whored after false gods (Joshua 24:14). They too were unrighteous and deserving of death, just as we all are. “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).
But God, for the sake of his glory before the nations and the fulfillment of his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saved them anyway. Yet he couldn’t just ignore their sin. Payment needed to be made, “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Thus, God enacted the principle of substitution. In place of the firstborn, was the innocent blood of the lamb.
A backstory we should be well familiar with because we’ve got the same one. I smile not because my day is perfect, but because my Savior is. I have hope not because I’m any good, but because my Savior is. “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7b).
Hebrews 9:22 makes it clear, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” Therefore, Christ’s blood was shed in our place. That first Passover and the day of Christ’s crucifixion, the blood was a propitiation (an appeasement) of the wrath of God. It’s not that the penalty for our sins was nullified; it’s that the penalty for our sins has been paid. “We have now been justified by his blood” (Romans 5:9).
Not because we deserve it, but that God might be glorified. That those who hear and believe may praise His Holy Name. Along with the angels, in awe of His willingness to die for a wretched people like us.
On that dreadful night in Egypt, when the LORD passed over, it didn’t matter who was in the Israelite home. It didn’t matter if they had a sketchy past or were a strange mix of people. It didn’t matter if they’d messed up yesterday or the day before that. It didn’t matter if they’d struggled and failed yet again to conquer a particular sin. The only thing that mattered, was the covering of the blood of the lamb.
My friend, it’s not going to church that saves us. It’s not being good. It’s not giving to the poor or walking the straight and narrow. What saves us is the covering of the blood of our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. It’s the backstory of every believer and it’s always, every day, one hundred percent, perfectly sufficient.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
Are you covered by the blood of Lamb? Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
If this is your backstory, praise the LORD! Thank Him for his grace and mercy extended to you. And share it! Give someone the extended version today, with all the added details, as to why you smile and why you have hope.