Exodus 12:1-20 Before people can grow in faith, they must first be freed from bondage

Exodus 12:1-20 Before people can grow in faith, they must first be freed from bondage

Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover.

For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you. You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’”

Background

This final plague is set apart from the first nine plagues and must be treated independently. First of all, the final plague is judgmental in purpose which resulted in the destruction of the gods and death of the firstborn. Whereas the first nine plagues served as warnings. Secondly, the final plague carried assurance of freedom: after that he will let you go from here. (see v.11:1). Whereas the nine plagues promise further hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Thirdly, in the final plague, the sign of the blood functions to distinguish between the Egyptians and the Israelites. Whereas in the nine plagues, no special sign is employed. Fourthly, in the final plague, God assumes full responsibility as the Judge and slayer of the firstborn with Moses playing no part in it: About midnight, I am going out into the midst of the Egypt (see v.11:4). Whereas in the nine plagues, Moses played the primary role of performing them.

At the first reading, the angel of death is the main actor forcing the hand of the Pharaoh to release the people. And the Passover played the secondary role of protecting the Israelites in the background. This view is inconsistent with how covenants are treated in biblical history. A covenant is instituted to usher in a new era with greater promises. In this light, the Passover is not to protect against the angel of death but rather, to usher in an era of perpetual freedom. In this case, the Passover lamb is the main actor, not the angel of death. For the angel only proceeds from the Passover to ensure the release of the people.

God instructed the Israelites to observe the Passover as a lasting ordinance. This is to remind them that they will never again be enslaved as long as they walk in the ways of God. Without freedom from slavery, it is impossible for Israel to rise up as God’s people to fulfil their calling. The Passover encourages us to trust God who delivers us from all bondages. And it is the first step towards experiencing abundance in the kingdom of God. Today’s devotion teaches us: Before people can grow in faith, they must first be freed from bondage.

Observation

This month shall be the beginning of months for you … On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves…

The Israelites, who were enslaved for 400 years would soon be freed. The month of the exodus is to mark the first month of the Hebrew year. The birth of a new nation is remembered by marking the beginning of a new year. The instructions for preparations are explicitly laid out: the lamb is to be selected on the 10th and kept until the 14th when it is to be slaughtered. Two families can share a lamb if individually they are too small. The animal is to be as perfect as possible, male and one year old, either a sheep or a goat.

You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.

When it is killed at sunset, its blood is to be smeared on the doorposts and lintels of the house. The blood serves as a sign to God and to Israel that no harm will befall the family during the night the firstborns are killed. Then the animal is to be roasted whole and eaten in haste while getting ready to depart at a moment’s notice. Nothing of the animal is to be left over until morning, all must be burnt. The Passover covenant comprises two willing parties: man and God. The sacrificial animal is not considered a willing party but a sign employed by man to ratify the covenant. The covenant required man to acknowledge God as their Lord. And God to acknowledge the people as His children. With this covenant, God will deliver the people from the physical bondage of oppression while destroying their oppressors.

For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast.

This last plague is a judgement which is in accordance to the Abrahamic covenant where God will bless those who bless him (and his descendants) and curse those who curse him. Most importantly, this judgement resulted in the destruction of the gods of Egypt; the demonic powers propping up the Egyptian empire. Because the Egyptians dedicated their firstborn to the gods, the judgement of the gods resulted in the same for the firstborns. And that sealed the fate of Egypt and freed Israel.

Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses.

Leaven is a symbol commonly used in scripture to represent evil and falsehood. Although leaven is also used to illustrate the phenomenal growth of God’s kingdom (see Matthew 13:33). Jesus compared the false teachings and unbelief of the Pharisees and Sadducees to leaven (see Matthew 16:6). Paul compared leaven to malice and wickedness and unleavened bread with the virtues of sincerity and truth (see 1 Corinthians 5:8). Eating the unleavened bread for seven days reminds the people to live in the truth as fitting for the community of God. To live a life of perpetual freedom, one has to sanctify his heart continually and live to God.

Truth

Before people can grow in faith, they must first be freed from bondage.

Some people cannot grow because they have been oppressed all their lives. Hence, they must first be liberated from oppression before they can grow in faith. For this reason, God worked miracles to free the Israelites who were enslaved for 400 years. When they experience first-hand God destroying their oppressors, they acquire faith to stand up for themselves. For the first time, through the blood of the lamb, they put their faith in God and experience deliverance. Truly, the blood changes the destiny for those who believe.

Therefore, the church must be intentional in identifying people who need help. And be patient and persistent to help them overcome their lifelong bondages. The church must make it the priority to deliver them as the first step towards salvation. Some of the lifelong bondages are:

  • Chronic physical or mental sickness.
  • Continual mishap, poverty and failure.
  • Violence, divorce, adulterous relationship and familial oppression.
  • Drug abuse and pornography.
  • Fear, anxiety, self-condemnation and hate.

In today’s church, people who experience complete deliverance to live abundantly are rare. Many still struggle with the same issues in their personal life, career and family, unable to breakthrough. The reason is due to the following:

  • Lack of the teaching of the truth and the discipline of scripture reading. Even if demons are expelled, there is little truth to fill the void of the hearts. And the demons will return resulting in greater bondage. Hence, the church must move from the teaching of elementary things concerning salvation to the truth that governs Jesus’s way of life.
  • Lack of spiritual gifts of discernment. Ministers are unable to discern the spiritual health of members, not to mention the root causes of their bondages. Hence, most members have no growth direction being unaware of what plagued them.
  • Lack of spiritual authority in the church. Ministers are busy managing programmes and chasing after spiritual gifts as opposed to growing in truth. As a result, ministers cannot appropriate the full authority of Jesus when battling against evil strongholds.
  • Lack of knowledge and experience in doing spiritual battles and deliverance.

Unless church leaders change their paradigm and approach towards ministry, people will remain trapped in their bondages. And the church will continue to stagnate, unable to impact the community for good.

The blood of Christ works through a person who walks in the light.

Because of false teachings, churches use the blood of Christ and His name as magical incantations. They suppose the very mention of His name and His blood will strike terror in demons and destroy them instantaneously. However, Jesus has never taught the use of verbal incantations to set anyone free. Instead Jesus said, “the truth will set you free.” And the apostle John said,

but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7

Walking in the light + Blood = Authority to deliver

The blood of Christ works spontaneously and powerfully in one who walks intimately with God in the light. However, Jesus does not give the same measure of authority to all. But to one who is faithful in a very little thing, He gives greater authority (see Luke 19:17). “A very little thing” refer to things that truly matter to God however small they may be. In other words, God increases the authority of one who seeks to understand His will and obeys Him.

Acts 19:11-19 speaks of certain men who went from place to place attempting to use Jesus’s name to heal and cast out demons. On one occasion, just as they were invoking the name of Jesus over a demon possessed person, the evil spirits overpowered and possessed them instead. Many people today attempt to do many “big” things which God has not commanded them. For such, the name and the blood of Jesus carry no power even to protect them.

Today, many churches and organisations are doing things that matter to man but not to God. They pack people into halls by providing them with the hope of salvation, but never the experience of eternal life. They provide them with a platform to “serve” to fulfil their “Christian” ambitions. They provide a “conducive” environment for them to experience the “Christian” lifestyle. Yet these church leaders are under bondage themselves, their families are often quarrelling and moving in different directions. When the church is faithful over a “very little thing”, they begin to grow in the power of the blood.

What are the “very little things” that God is concerned with?

  • People must be delivered from poverty, sickness, broken families, worldly desires and bondage of sin.
  • People must be taught to be like Jesus in His virtues, wisdom and growing in divine authority.
  • People must be taught how to communicate with Jesus, to understand His mind, His perceptions concerning people and circumstances, and to know what course of action to take.
  • People must grow to influence their family and community, to be more harmonious, just, merciful and humble.

Application

What should believers do to deliver themselves and others from bondages?

  • By being patient and persistent in casting out demons and breaking curses by the blood of Jesus.
  • By understanding the ways to battle demonic influences.
  • By developing the discipline of reading the word and receiving truths from the Spirit.
  • By becoming a disciple under the church’s guidance.

Dear Lord, teach me to walk in the light so that I may experience the power of the blood. Cause me to know you more and to understand your mind in all things. Use me to deliver others from their bondages of poverty, sickness and family conflicts. Grant me greater wisdom and authority to do your work. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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