“LESSONS FROM HISTORY”                         By Pastor YAU

Text: Exodus 12:21-28                                        March 15, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    A historical event: One of the most important events in Jewish history is the exodus when God freed the Israelis from the bondage of Egypt. Prior to leaving Egypt, the Israelis were commanded to eat a special meal called the Passover. As an act of judgment on the Egyptians, God would strike down every firstborn, human and animal. But as an act of mercy and grace, God would pass over the houses that had the blood of a lamb on the top and sides of the doorframe. (Exodus 12:1-14)

2)    A historical lesson: To commemorate this special event in their history, God commanded the Israelis to celebrate the Passover every year after they had entered the Promised Land. They will celebrate the event with the same rituals with their children and grandchildren so the act mercy of God will never be forgotten. When their children and grandchildren would ask: “What do this mean?” Then they were responsible to retell the story of God’s judgment and grace. The exodus story of salvation would not be forgotten.

 

BACKGROUND OF THE PASSOVER:

1)    First, a dysfunctional family: “So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for 20 shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt.” (Genesis 37:28) Because of a dysfunctional family, the older brothers of Joseph sold him to Egypt to get rid of him. No one could imagine that a crime in a family would lead to a disaster of a nation. Many seemingly small mistakes might sew the seeds of much worse downfall in the future. If Joseph were not sold to Egypt, there may not be a Passover.

2)    Then, a worldwide famine: “When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses. And all countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.” (Genesis 41:56-57) Often times we see things just don’t happen independently, one thing will lead to another, they will get worse before they get better. The 10 older brothers who sold Joseph to Egypt were sent to buy food from Joseph for their survival. (42:1-3) This led to the whole family of Jacob moved to Egypt on the invitation of the Pharaoh. (Gen. 47:1-6)

3)    After that, an oppressive king: “Then a new king, who did not know Joseph, came to power in Egypt. So, they put slave masters over the Israelis to oppress them with forced labor.” (Exodus 1:8, 11) The good days of Jacob’s family didn’t last long. A new king in Egypt was suspicious of the Israelis and plotted to destroy them. He first plotted to kill all the male Israelis babies. Then he forced them under the burden of hard labor as slaves. Egypt had never been a sanctuary to God’s people in the past. It had been a place of temptation and spiritual entanglement and failure.

4)    Finally God took charge: “So now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelis, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10) When men tried to handle things by themselves, God will allow them to try for a while until they can’t handle them any longer, then God will take over and change things to His way. God stepped in and called Moses to bring His people out of the land of slavery into a land flowing with milk and honey. (Ex. 33:3) But Pharaoh despised God, refused to allow the Israelis go. (Ex. 5:1-2)This left God without a choice but to punish the Egyptian king and his people with plagues. It was the last plague, killing of the firstborns, led to the event of the Passover. (Exodus 11)

 

LESSONS FOR THE EGYPTIANS:

1)    God is God of justice: “Yet the Lord does not leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their grandchildren for the sin of their fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:7) When the new Pharaoh rose to power after Joseph, instead of continue to treat the Israelis with mercy and gratitude because of how Joseph had saved his country, he plotted plans of genocide to destroy the Israelis. God won’t allow human injustice to last long. He will set His time and form of punishment.

2)    God pays no favoritism: “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.” (12:29) When God punished the Egyptians, He punished them all regardless of their background, wealth, social status, position in the court or society, education or who they were. From the top to the bottom of the country, all have to pay for the cruelty they treated God’s people. No one will be exempted from God’s law. God never plays with different rules to different people. No one may be lucky from God’s judgment.

3)    God punishes where it hurts: “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn, both men and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12)All the firstborns in Egypt form men to animals were stricken down and so were their idol gods. To every culture in history firstborn is always the most precious and most important both to men and animal. Take out firstborns is the most serious and painful punishment in all people. There is no replacement of the firstborn ever.

4)    God punishes for results: “During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said: Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelis! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested.” (12:31)If Pharaoh obeyed God in the first place, there won’t be any death in the nation. Many people have to go through punishment to obey God’s commands. No man, including the powerful and fearful Pharaoh of Egypt, may despise God for long. God gave the Pharaoh 9 chances to obey Him but the Pharaoh resisted on his pride. Eventually, he had to do what God told him to do in the first time. People suffer unnecessary punishment due to their stubborn resistance. No one may fight God and win.

 

LESSONS FOR THE ISRAELIS:

1)   God has concern of His people: “The Lord said: I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave masters and I am concerned about their suffering.” (Exodus 3:7) This verse of the Bible have been quoted countless times in the past 2,000 years by many to comfort God’s people who were under the yoke of burdens and pain. God told us He did see and hear our cry and He is concerned of our suffering. The omnipotent God always hears our prayers and sees our situation.

2)   God has a plan of deliverance: “Go and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.” (12:21-22)The plan of deliverance was the blood of a lamb to cover the house of God’s people. That Passover lamb at the exodus for the Israelis became the Lamb of God in Jesus Christ for the sinners of the world. No one would be excluded from salvation of God.

3)   God wanted them to remember: “When you enter the land the Lord will give you as He promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask” What does this ceremony mean to you? Then tell them it is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord.” (12:25-27) Telling our children the acts of God in our life and teach them the meaning of devotion to God is very important part of being Christian parents. Nothing we may leave for our children is more important than helping them to know God, His love and mercy so they will continue to tell their children. Passing on the spiritual heritage to our children is our honor as well as duty.

4)   God wanted to see obedience: “The Israelis did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.” (12:28)Obedience to the commands of the Lord is the sure way to be saved. It was true then and it is true now. Knowing God’s command is only the beginning. Obeying God’s command brings results of salvation. This is about being humble and having faith in God.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    The value of history: Many years ago, my high school history teacher told the class the value of studying history: learn from people of the past and how they lived: the good and the bad, so we don’t have to repeat their mistakes. There is one more benefit in studying biblical history: we learn how to follow God’s plan to live right in the future.

2)    When life is in despair: Few people, if any, live their life all in smooth rides. We all will go through bumps and potholes. When your life is plunging into a ditch, there is hope if you have God on your side. God can see where you are and what you are facing. “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavily laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus said.

3)    Life beyond history: Every life will have a history after that life is over. But the spiritual life continues to live after the soul leaves the body. We all work and plan for physical life and its needs. We also need to work and plan for the spiritual life and its needs. Have you done anything to prepare for your spiritual life? Do you know where you will go after this life? It is never too late to start planning: believe in Jesus and receive His grace of eternal life.