For the six weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ll be surveying the Old Testament. From creation and the fall of man to the prophets anticipation, the entire Old Testament points to the coming of Christ. The rest of this year we will accomplish two things: 1) Teach a very brief history of the Old Testament and 2) demonstrate how every stage of the Old Testament is leading us to Bethlehem.
I like to know the how behind the what. I am no expert on fixing appliances, but a dryer repair man saved me a lot of money a few years ago when he taught me how to change a dryer belt on my own. Between that knowledge and YouTube, I have repaired several different washing machines and dryers over the years. And I’ve realize that those appliances really aren’t that complicated.
I find myself approaching faith the same way. I want to know how it works. Maybe I’m a little like the disciple Thomas, needing to see things clearly, but I like to know the how behind the what. There is not sufficient time in eternity to explain the fullness of salvation, we find a beautiful picture of the salvation of Jesus Christ in the book of Exodus.
The Hebrew people had been in Egypt for 400 years. They were large in number, but weak in power. God had promised their ancestor Abraham a nation of his own, but right now they were slaves in a foreign land. God raised up Moses to speak to Pharaoh about releasing the Hebrew people. Pharaoh refused and God had sent nine plagues systematically attacking Pharaoh and his false gods. It is in the tenth and final plague that we see a clear picture of salvation and the method behind it.
In Exodus 12, God details a plan to kill the firstborn male in all of Egypt. The Hebrews would be spared (given salvation) if they followed his specific instructions.
“I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. I am Yahweh; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 12:12-13
God outlines a plan that offers salvation to the Hebrews and foreshadows the salvation we can experience through Jesus Christ.
1. God judges sin. This is not a minor judgment. The firstborn male of every human and animal in Egypt will be killed as punishment for the sins of Egypt. God does not take sin lightly. A quick review of the post A Broken Journey will detail the seriousness of sin and the devastating consequences. It is interesting here, though, that the judgment isn’t only against the Egyptians. It is against their people. It is against their animals. It is against their servants. It is even against the Hebrews themselves. If not for some very specific instructions, even the Hebrew families would lose their firstborn.
God is a just God who judges fairly. All sin must be paid for. By sending the angel of death to the land of Egypt, God is demonstrating the seriousness of sin and the consequences that follow. As believers, it is easy for us to point at a lost world and condemn them for their sin. But we must be reminded that we too deserve the condemnation that we so quickly hurl on others. But…
2. God atones for sin. God does not want anyone to have to experience His wrath. He does not delight in giving it. However, because God is just, sin must be atoned (paid) for. In Exodus 12, God allows a sacrifice of a sheep or goat to die in place of the Hebrew family. But blood must be shed. Hebrews 9:22 reminds us that “According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Leviticus 17:11 says that “the life of a creature is in the blood.” So if death is the ultimate consequence of sin, removing the blood removes the life.
Exodus 12 is just a glimpse of salvation. The blood of a goat is not equal to the blood of a man, created in God’s image. While Exodus 12 paints a vivid picture, the gospels share the reality of atonement when Jesus – the only perfect man – shed His blood to pay for the sins of all humanity. God takes what you deserved and puts it on His Son.
3. God separates His people. The bloodshed saved the Hebrews. Painting the blood on their door frames distinguished them. God separates His people from the world. The righteous and the wicked are different in the eyes of God. There is no doubt that the Hebrews still fell in to sin after this incident. But because of the blood on their door frames, God did not see them as sinner. They were distinct, set apart, holy.
This does not mean the Christians should withdraw from the world. God has placed us in the world to share this message of salvation. But this distinguishing mark of salvation means that our home is not this world. Our desire are different from the world. Our motive is to please God, not to serve the world.
Many details of salvation may remain a mystery. But the saving work of the blood of Jesus is not a mystery. We deserved death for our sin. God allowed Jesus to die so we do not have to. And now God views us as His child, not as His enemy. When we see the how of salvation, we realize that salvation isn’t as complicated as we make it out to be.