BY THE BLOOD
Gracious Lord, forgive me, empower me, and guide me as I endeavor to live for You today.
Read EXODUS 12:21–36
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. 22 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 doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 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.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.’1 Let a cleansing time of confession prepare you for today’s reading.
Blood is frequently associated with crime scenes or catastrophes; a bloodbath signifies a disaster, not a deliverance; unsightly bloodstains are scrubbed away as quickly as possible. Yet, like a scarlet thread, the theme of blood runs through the biblical story of salvation: in some parts, a slender, almost invisible, strand; in other places, woven richly and thickly into the narrative – as in Exodus 12, where the word ‘blood’ occurs six times. Detailed instructions had already been given about how to ‘select’ a Passover lamb (v 21), an animal that would be both acceptable and sufficient (vs 2–11). This lamb alone, however, would not save the Israelites from the tenth terrible plague. Only by applying the blood as directed around their door frames and then remaining indoors (v 22) could they claim God’s powerful protection.
Scientists have developed vaccines against a variety of diseases, but even in countries where these vaccinations are readily available – sometimes even free of charge – the diseases haven’t always been eradicated. The reason? People have to choose inoculation to enjoy immunity. Sin is the most virulent virus known to humanity. God’s solution is ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’,2 but provision of this absolutely sinless and all-sufficient sacrifice is only one part of the transaction of salvation; acceptance and appropriation of that sacrifice complete the circle. Just as the Israelites had to daub their door frames with the blood of the lamb and take shelter within (v 22), so it is by exercising faith that we allow Jesus’ saving work to take effect in our lives. ‘God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear.’3 The former is God’s work of grace, already finished; the latter is our grateful response to that finished work.
‘God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in His rightness.’4 Are you living right?
‘Father God, thank You for sending Your only Son, Jesus, to die for me.
1 Ps 51:7 2 John 1:29 3 Rom 3:25, The Message 4 Rom 3:26, The Message
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