Meditations in Exodus: 40. Moses instructs Israel
Ex 12:21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb.
The Lord has instructed Moses and now Moses instructs the people. What follows will depend entirely on their obedience. Earlier in the chapter the Lord had said to Moses, “tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household,” (v.3) and then, “Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.” (v.6) That was the timing of what follows.
So now, “Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb,” (v21) which must be happening in that time-frame. The elders would no doubt have been over a group of families and so each elder would take the men and they would choose the best of the lambs as instructed and made sure there were no cast-offs being used. Stage one was selecting the lambs, and stage two was slaughtering the lambs and making sure each family had one. Now stage three was the most important part: “Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the door-frame.” (v.22) Hyssop was a plant that grew naturally in the desert regions and so would be plentiful and when several pieces were tied together would act as a brush with the blood of the lamb so it could be dabbed clearly on the door-frame of each of their houses.
Then comes a crucial instruction: “Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning.” (v.22b) Why was that so important? “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.” (v.23) Reference to ‘the destroyer’ suggests, as so often was the case, the Lord had an angel carry out the destruction. It may be that it was Satan himself so that, as in the case of Job, he was given permission to bring destruction, “thus far and no further”. The blood on the doorpost indicated obedience of the family within and thus they should be spared, but it was only those behind such a door that could receive that protection.
Now, so significant was this who affair that, as we have said before, it was to become something remembered by all future generations of the Lord’s people. So now we come to how it is to be remembered: “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.” (v.24,25) So, this wasn’t something to be done just this once, but it was to become an annual event and so, “And when your children ask you, `What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, `It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ “ (v.26,27) Such an annual ceremony was bound to raise questions from the younger generation and so when the asked, they would be told all about the Passover and the deliverance from Egypt.
The result of this communication? “Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.” (v.27b,28) Belief, worship and obedience! How things have changed since Moses first came back to them and Pharaoh turned on them. They have now witnessed amazing miracles of judgments on this land and this people – and they have been spared. Now when they are told what is about to happen, unlike Pharaoh, they have no reason not to believe and they fall on their knees in awe and wonder at the goodness and greatness of God and they worship Him, and then they do what they have been told to do – and wait.
I wonder if we need to see nine miracles before we will believe? We have the miracle of the Bible. We have the miracle of the coming of Jesus to earth, we have the miracle of his life and ministry, we have the miracle of his death and resurrection, we have the miracle of his ascension, we have the miracle of the coming of the Holy Spirit, we have the miracle of the indwelling Spirit, we have the miracle of the history of the Church, we have the miracle of revivals in that history, we have the miracle of the worldwide Church today, we have the miracle of the body of Christ. That is ten miracles that I suspect we so often take for granted, but miracles of blessing they are. Not miracles of judgment but miracles of blessings. Do we need anything more to be people of faith, people of obedience, people who truly worship? Perhaps it is, as we said at the conclusion of the previous meditation, that we need to revisit each of these things on a regular basis and thank the Lord for them. Look back in this paragraph to the ‘ten miracles’ I identified and thank the Lord for them.