Exodus 12:11 | Door to Mercy

One of the most fearful, memorable, and horrifying judgments on this present earth by God is found in the final plague against Egypt when Moses at the direction of God demanded that Egypt let the Hebrew people leave to worship God. The King of Egypt was stuck in this awful cycle of rebellion, stubbornness, and arrogance against God due to his own selfish and evil nature. In this final plague Pharaoh comes to the end of himself and he finds God’s crushing judgement on his entire worldview.

6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. Exodus 11:6 ESV  

God’s wrath is not looked upon kindly by modern man and many Christians willfully overlook God’s judgment to think and speak only on God’s love. But God’s love is not true unless God’s judgment is also sound. God’s judgment on Egypt is juxtaposed against his mercy for Israel here at this moment in history as recorded in Exodus 11 and 12.

God’s Judgement:

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. Exodus 12:12 ESV

In this final plague where the firstborn in every household dies in one terrifying night God communicates clearly that this death is a result of his judgement on Egypt. They are being judged as we all will be judged based on the life lived in service to self or stuff apart from God who created us. Egypt put their trust in false god’s that promote selfishness and hedonism. Egypt killed the first born of the Hebrew people out of selfish desire to remain in control. Egypt the same Egypt that is keeping as slaves the people of Israel deserved this judgment. It not my judgement or the judgment of the Hebrews or modern man’s judgment but it is the perfect righteous judgement of God who is the creator of all things.

God is also allowing this judgment on Egypt to be an example to the Hebrews and indeed the rest of history since we are still to this day discussing this terrible event and why it happened. God has chosen this moment with Egypt and Israel to reintroduce himself in a permanent way. God is taking control of the narrative and altering the course of human history. From this moment forward people will know God the one true God. No longer will people be ignorant of their Creator.

God’s Love:

11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover. Exodus 12:11 ESV

God’s love is found in His mercy. The Hebrews could have been left to the same fate as the Egyptians. But God provided an undeserved way of grace. If the people would follow his instructions and listen to His voice, they could find Passover from the judgment to come.

God instructed them to sacrifice a lamb for each household. The blood of this lamb placed on the doorframe of the house would allow the angel to Passover them in the moment of judgment. Yet there was more to God’s instructions that speaks to us today. There is a realization that this meal must be eaten in haste with nothing left for tomorrow because God is leading those that will submit to his word out of the world and they should be ready to go as one just passing through. Don’t put down the kind of roots that fools us into believing that this is our one best life. But stand with cloak on and staff in hand ready for the life with God that awaits. The Passover meal represents how they should live as one covered by the blood of the lamb.

My Response:

…For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed… 1 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

All that happened as recorded in Exodus is but a sample of the perfect justice and perfect love that God is working out to a final conclusion. Judgement is coming on those who willfully live lives in service to their own selfish desires. Our sin will be judged by God just as Egypt was judged. All are guilty of sin before God. I am not here to judge others because I stand condemned as well. Yet because God is also perfect in His love, He provided a perfect Passover lamb in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The blood of this lamb is available but it will only cover households that want to receive and trust God. The Hebrews received the instruction of Moses and were saved. The Egyptians rejected those instructions to trust in their own ways and were condemned by their own actions.

My response to God’s instruction is to yield to Jesus and partake in the grace and mercy God poured out in his Son. I am covered by the blood of the lamb and judgement will Passover me not because of my worth but because of my faith in God’s worth.

“goodness, kindness, faithfulness”

idly

What does it mean to idly desert God’s mercy? I like to casually read the NIV Bible and recently the words of Jonah, yes the same man swallowed by a sea creature, jumped off the page…

Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. Jonah 2:8 NIV

Turn away from God’s love by clinging to the things of this earthly world? Why yes, I can see that happening to myself and all those around me. What a truth. God the loving Creator calls and I am distracted by an obsession with a new car, or a new boat, or chasing women, or wanting to resist the oppressive government, or wanting social justice. I turn way from God because I want to use my talents for the good of the culture. Jonah is speaking to me. I wanted a more literal translation than the NIV so as usual I turned to the ESV and the clarity became muddied somewhat.

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love Jonah 2:8 ESV

The clarity of turning away from God’s love becomes forsaking hope of steadfast love. It is an interesting change in the translation. I like the direction of the NIV creating the image of worldly focused peoples turning away from God’s love that is so clearly present. The literal ESV translation however presents the image of a worldly focused people giving up the hope that God will love them. The ESV is a more realistic translation of the nature of people. Sure giving up the hope of love not yet experience is understandable and God’s love is not so clear and present as the NIV might make it sound. It is a subtle but striking difference.

The word Jonah used in this sentence from Hebrew חֶסֶד and means “goodness, kindness, faithfulness”. The context of this verse is that Jonah is fleeing from God. God has asked Jonah to warn the Assyrians that they need to repent of their sinful ways. Jonah is worried God’s mercy will be given to this murderous people. Jonah as a prophet has lived a called life. A life with a deep spirit filled relationship with a most good, kind, and faithful God. Jonah has witnessed firsthand God’s character and it is not a hope for him it is real and it is present. The NIV and ESV leaving me unsatisfied I continued on in my research and then I found clarity in the Wycliffe translation. Wycliffe is one of the first translations of the bible into English predating even the King James version.

They that keep vanities, forsake their mercy idly. (Those who worship idols, idly desert thy mercy.) Jonah 2:8 WYC

Wycliffe communicates the image of people who idly throw away without concern what God is ready to be to them… “Goodness, kindness, faithfulness”. Deserting his mercy we keep our own selfish vanities or idols of this world. We turn to the physical offerings of the here and now and idly fail to pursue the mercy of God. It is more complicated than making a conscious decision to turn a back on God, although some do come to that point. We are distracted by idols of money, fame, power, sex, and whatever makes one supposedly happy. In self-seeking such vanities people have no regard for their Creator. Jonah with wisdom from his relationship with God knows that many people have deserted God through ignorance, laziness, and the consuming distraction of physical pursuits in this life. Jonah also knows that given the opportunity of a confrontation by God they can be overwhelmed by God’s love because these earthly pursuits ultimately are empty, worthless, and loveless.

Here Jonah uses the same word for חֶסֶד “goodness, kindness, faithfulness” in his complaint to God that he has been asked to preach to this people.

He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Jonah 4:2 NIV

There is an opportunity here even for the enlightened and educated person. An opportunity for the wise of this age. Paul preaching to the philosophers, and those that think much like the western world of today, told them how God is still calling for peoples to repent of their obsession with the material pleasures. Paul is telling us, the modern reader, to repent. God has placed each of us in our country and in our time that we might find Him because He is not far away. God as Christ is near and ready to be involved in the life He has given.

26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, … 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:26-27;30-31 ESV

Repent dear reader. God is near and he embodies what we need “goodness, kindness, faithfulness”.