Oh Lord God, who reveals Himself to his people, speak to us tonight though your word-preached as it is by an unworthy servant. Quiet our hearts, Lord God, that we might hear your Spirit speak. And would we act in faith and in obedience according to the example of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Now let’s read God’s word to us .
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. (Hebrews 11:23-28 ESV)
Our focus tonight is on that last verse. Let’s read it again.
“By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”
Now before we discuss how this demonstrates exemplary faith, let’s remind ourselves of what the author of Hebrews is talking about.
But let me ask you, what is the Passover about? What do you know about it?
The nine plagues are all very Egyptian in nature.
It has been noted by commentators for quite some time that the ten plagues is something of a competition between YHWH, the god of Israel,and the main gods of Egypt.
Even before the plagues started, when Moses met with Pharaoh and his staff turned into a serpent and ate the serpents that the priests of Egypt conjured up. Well the serpent was an important image in Egypt. It represented protective spirits. The Pharaohs wore jewelry with and were depicted in sculptures as having serpents on their crowns, and their belts.
So the fact that Moses’s serpent easily ate the serpent of Pharaoh’s priests is highly significant. This demonstration of YHWH’s superiority is at work in all of the plagues. One-by-one, God is showing himself to be more powerful than all the main gods of Egypt.
Another example is the 9th plague…Darkness. This is a direct refutation of Egypt’s most important god named Ra, the sun god. Not only does YHWH block out the sun for the Egyptians, but he caused it to remain light where Israel lived.
And then the 10th plague is promised. And what was that?
The killing of every first born male offspring of “both man and beast.”
One of the major significances of this plague is that Pharaoh was considered a god, the son of Ra. The royal title of every Egyptian king of this period began with the words, “son of Ra.” This is not only very personal and terribly heartbreaking for Pharaoh, but is also a direct attack on the house of Egypt’s god incarnate. This is a supreme act of sovereignty on the part of YHWH. He is supreme. Pharaoh could do nothing to stop this from happening.
And this is issued for both Egypt and Israel, isn’t it?
But what means does God provide for protection?
Now there’s no end to what we could talk about here. We could talk about how Christ is our perfect Passover lamb, whose blood saves us from the destruction of hell. We could talk about how Christ’s blood opens the door to God’s redemption of worthless sinners just as God redeemed for Himself a race of worthless slaves from Egypt.
But the author of Hebrews does not discuss these issues here in our text, though he does elsewhere. What does he focus on? The fact that Moses kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood.
How is this an act of faith? What’s the obvious answer?
Yes, it required faith because Israel had to obey and trust that God would spare the lives of their children. They had to live by faith when God told them to do something strange.
This is really no different then the calling of the Christian. To live contrary to the world’s teaching and expectations.
The world says that you are a cosmic accident. And even worse, humankind is what’s wrong with this world. The world said that the beauty of life is in its infinitely small likelihood. But God says that you are not an accident. He says that you are of infinite worth to Him because he made you, loves you, and sent His son to die for you.
The world says, “gender is a social construct..we now know that it is fluid.” But God tells us that gender is a blessing, that it’s a part of God’s design and His good purposes.
We know that what the world tells us is contrary to the values of God’s kingdom. And the world may be full of people living worldly lives devoid of God, and some of those people may even live lives that we are tempted to envy.
What are you going to believe, though? Who’s account of reality are you going to trust?
The author of Hebrews is concerned with this very issue. Living by what is seen versus living by what is known to be true though faith.
This is not our home.
Christ will return for His church.
We will live with Him in his kingdom forever.
These are the things that matter because they are eternal. We know this. We believe this. The author of Hebrews wants us-he wants me and he wants you-to look at the example of these great men and women of faith and to imitate their faith. His point is that they lived their lives on the basis of what they knew to be true even when (and especially when) it didn’t match up with what they saw.
And this brings me to another way in which Moses’ keeping the Passover was an act of faith.
Turn with me to Exodus 12.
Let’s begin in verse 7:
“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 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. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
Now skip down to verse 21:
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. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. . . . You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.'” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Did you notice that the Passover is a memorial feast!?
What does that mean? It means that it is a feast to remember an event. Right? But for the first Passover, the event which Passover remembers hasn’t happened yet! So sure should they be of God’s redemption and deliverance that they. Celebrate a feast to remember that redemption before it’s even happened! That’s remarkable. They are even given the outline for how to teach their children about the Passover.
This is a serious step of faith, am I right?
So sure should we be of our future redemption from this broken world that we live in light of it.
But I know that this is extremely difficult.
Just look at the apostles. When they were celebrating the Passover with The Lord on the night he was betrayed, they were being obedient to the command in Exodus that we read for Israel to remember the Passover and the exodus. But Christ informs his apostles that he is giving them a new memorial feast. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you do so in remembrance of me.”
Just like Israel’s first Passover, that first Lord’s supper was a memorials feast remembering an event that had not yet happened.
And just as Moses and Israel’s has much to teach us, so does the apostles’ example. For they struggled to understand and believe that what Christ was telling them was true. And yet, Christ remained faithful even though they fell away, even though they doubted him, even though Peter denied him.
And Christ is faithful to us as well even though we struggle to live faithfully. Even when we fall away, even when we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself (2 Tim 2:13).
This kind of living is incredibly difficult. This is why these particular men and women are singled out and offered to us as exemplars. They are meant to encourage us. To spur us on to live faithfully. They lived faithfully in the face of incredible trials. With the help of God’s Spirit, we can too.
Oh Lord God, who loves us without measure, be with us now, we pray, as we go forth into a world, created by you, and yet hostile to you and to your will. Send your spirit with us to guide us and conform us into the likeness of your son. We pray this with confidence knowing that it is in your will. Amen