Trusting God is risky business.
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb." (Shemot/Exodus 12:21)
Pesach (English: Passover) this year begins the evening of Friday, April 3. This means that the normal Torah-reading cycle is preempted for two weeks due to both the beginning and end of Pesach occurring on Shabbat (English: the Sabbath). But as it turns out, the special Torah reading for the first day of Pesach continues the theme of sacrifice that we have been looking at in the normal Torah readings. In the last two TorahBytes messages I have mentioned how foreign the concept of animal sacrifice is to most of us even though it is central to the Bible and especially the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Few incidences underscore the foundational role sacrifice plays in the Scriptures as does Pesach.
In response to Pharaoh King of Egypt's stubborn refusal to let the people of Israel leave his domain, God struck Egypt with ten destructive plagues. On several occasions Pharaoh appeared to give the go-ahead for Israel's release, but each time changed his mind. The tenth and final plague, the killing of the firstborn of humans and animals was different in two ways. First, it was decisive, being the impetus to Pharaoh's decree for Israel to finally leave, and second, Israel's protection from the Angel of Death was conditional upon their following God's instructions. Let's look a little closer at this second difference.
It appears that the Angel of Death was assigned to indiscriminately kill the firstborn regardless of their nationality. God through Moses told the people of Israel to take a one-year-old male sheep or goat into their households for four days and then kill it. They were to put the animal's blood on the top and sides of their doorframes and eat the meat roasted with bitter herbs and matza (English: unleavened bread). Regarding the blood smeared on their doorframes, God said, "The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. 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" (Shemot/Exodus 12:13).
"The blood shall be a sign for you." To us, such an application of sacrificial blood is strange, even disgusting. But for the people of Israel at that time, their concern would have been the risk incurred by identifying themselves with God's plan for them. Up until then Egypt may have viewed Israel's hope for release as nothing more than the whim of Moses and Aaron. But once a family expressed their trust in God by indelibly staining their home with blood, they placed themselves in the crosshairs of their taskmasters, personally marking themselves for all time as rebels against the Egyptian regime. Thus their act of faith in God required risking death at the hands of the Egyptians. But unless they took that risk, they would never be free.
So today, finding the freedom God offers us through the greater Pesach lamb, Yeshua the Messiah, requires similar risk. In order to experience release from the tyranny of sin and death, we need to personally identify ourselves with God's freedom plan. While we don't literally smear Yeshua's blood anywhere, true faith is evidenced by the indelible marks of loyalty to him. The godly lifestyle that emerges from trusting in the Messiah will inevitably set us apart in the eyes of the world and place ourselves in the crosshairs of its oppressive regime. But ironically, that's the only way to be released from its control.
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