Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Gospel Stories. Part 2

This is a series on the many stories found in the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) that depict and foreshadow the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

(Jump to: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4)

2. The Passover (Exodus 12:21-23)

Perhaps the ordering is back to front here: we saw in the last episode how God used the bronze snake to bring salvation to the Israelites in the desert. That story takes place after today's story: the story of how God brought Israel out of Egypt.

Through a miraculous series of divine reckonings against all the gods in the land of the Nile, God led the Hebrews out of Egypt. The last of the Ten Plagues was The Passover. It is not an exaggeration to say that even to this day, almost all things Jew find their origins in this one particular historical event. So let's examine it in more detail.

The night before the Exodus, God was to pass through the land of Egypt Himself, as the destroyer of all firstborns. Before he did that, God commanded Moses to tell the Israelites to do the following: to kill a lamb, one for each household, and paint its blood on the top and on both sides of the door-frame. God gave the following explanation for this seemingly odd command:

When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the door-frame and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. [italics my own]

What so fascinates me about this story is the way it gives us such a clear picture (the image of something passing over on top of you) of what God was doing with the blood sacrifices. In the Letter to the Hebrews it clearly states that "without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness", and this is such a clear picture of what God did for us in Jesus. When we put our faith in Jesus, God looks at us and sees not us, but the blood that Jesus shed on the Cross, and he (as the destroyer) will simply pass over us.

Whereas the story of the bronze snake is about us fixing our eyes on Jesus, this Passover story is about God looking at us and seeing Jesus' perfect sacrifice.

A very common reaction I observe when I tell the Gospel to people is that of bewilderment: "But that seems ludicrous!" or "But how is that fair?", they cry. We'll look at one such person in the Old Testament in our next post.

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