A Retelling of the Passover
The story of God is one of deliverance.
God delivered Noah through the flood.
He delivered Abraham and Sarah a child who brought them much joy.
God delivered Abraham a ram upon the mountain when he thought he had to sacrifice his own son to please God, but instead God was showing him he isn’t interested in child sacrifice because he is the God who saves.
And God delivered Joseph from the hands of his brothers, saving him from certain death, and even elevating him to the highest of authority in Egypt under Pharaoh.
But times had changed, and the entire Hebrew community finds themselves under the oppressive thumb of a new Pharaoh. The harder they work, the more Pharaoh inflicts them, and it’s an endless cycle.
So God raises up Moses, to demand the Pharaoh, “let my people go,” but Pharaoh is a man hell-bent on power. Even after nine plagues and the threat of a tenth, Pharaoh is more interested in inflicting pain and abusing the Hebrew people for his own selfish gain than he is in letting them freely worship God because he sees himself as god.
So God instructs Moses and Aaron to tell the people to prepare for a Passover. A Passover that will be a symbol of God’s deliverance for all time. They are to share a meal together, a meal with lamb and bitter herbs at its center. The blood of the lamb smeared on their door posts, and bitter herbs as a symbol of their bondage in Egypt. And bread cooked without yeast because God is about to deliver them quickly.
And on the night of the passover, God let loose the destroyer. And the destroyer inflicted pain and suffering throughout all of Egypt leaving every firstborn child and animal dead except for those who had smeared the blood of a lamb on their doorposts.
Not only had God leveled Egyptian authority by striking down all firstborns in a firstborn led society, but God had allowed insult to injury by instructing the Hebrew people to kill lambs as a sign of salvation over their households. You see, sheep were an image of some of Egypts most powerful gods in that day and not only had God leveled Egyptian authority, he had also struck down their gods.
And this Pharaoh, hell-bent on power, finally lets God’s people go. His hunger for power had cost him everything, including his own son. The Hebrew people had finally been set free from 430 years of slavery, from 430 years of death and destruction and pain and life being stolen from them.
Life is sacred and many generations later, Jesus would share this same meal with his disciples, calling remembrance to God the Deliverer, the one who want’s to free us from all the things that kill and enslave us. Jesus would become the passover lamb, whose blood smeared upon some posts, would be the sign of our hope and salvation.
Every story can be broken down into a few parts. The setting, where the story takes place and why it might be important. The characters and their emotions and thoughts invested in the story. A tension that needs resolved. A resolution that brings us through the tension, and a through line (aka main idea) that carries the story through from beginning to end.
The Setting The Hebrew people have been living under the oppressive thumb of Pharaoh. God allows 10 plagues to befall Egypt and each time Pharaoh’s heart grows harder. No matter the plague sent, Pharaoh tries to maintain power over God and his people.
Moses and Aaron, speakers on behalf of God who give the Israelites instructions for the passover.
The whole community of Israel, a community of people expected to take care of each other and share equally with one another during the passover event. God has promised them a land flowing with milk and honey.
God, who is giving passover instructions and sending warning
The Egyptians, who lose their first borns both people and livestock because Pharaoh wouldn’t give up control of God’s people.
The Tension Pharaoh refuses to let the Israelites go, no matter what happens to him and his country. The worse things get, the tighter he holds on to the Israelites. Wielding power over them had become a part of his identity and to lose that power was to lose a part of himself. Sadly, he would lose both family and friends to death because he refused to release the Hebrew people from quote unquote, death.
The Resolution The Israelites carry out the first passover as instructed by God, and they’re spared destruction because they’ve done as God has said, smearing lambs blood on their door posts. This moment in time has become to the Jewish people what Easter has become to Christian people, a defining moment that reveals who God is. This is where they begin to understand te God of deliverance.
The Through Line God is the God of Deliverance
Why has this story endured? It’s a story of deliverance. Great stories of deliverance always stand the test of time. It’s been said that while the cross and resurrection is the easter story of Christians, this could be said to be the easter story of the Hebrew people, the moment in time that they realize that God is the deliverer. It’s a story that reveals the true nature of God and that will always stand the test of time.
What is true for them then that is still true for us today? The spirit of Pharaoh is still very much alive today. Oppression is rampant throughout the world but there really still is hope. One day, it won’t be like that any longer. God will have made everything new again.
How does this story help us love God? This is a story that shows God cares about humanity. Sure, when we oppress the image of God in others, there will be consequences. But God has made a way for us, and for the Christian, that way is Jesus, the one who delivers even from death.
How does this story help us love others? It’s a call to recognize the spirit of Pharaoh in ourselves and whether there are places we need to repent of in our own lives. Maybe we’ve unintentionally oppressed others or participated in it, and this story is a call to freedom, both to the oppressor if they’ll listen, and to the oppressed.