Opening Prayer: Our Father, you Word is a great and powerful story. We do not know how it works, but you have determined to remake this world by the telling and retelling of this story. We thank you for Moses and Aaron, and we thank you for all of the faithful saints who killed lambs and smeared blood on their doors on that night some three and a half thousand years ago. We ask that you would teach us now by your Holy Spirit, that we would know you and your Christ and serve him more faithfully, through Jesus, Amen!
The Passover Is Kept
Moses commands that the elders “draw out” and “take” the sheep for their “clans” and for them to slaughter the Passover/Pesach (12:21). The instruction is to “touch” the blood to the lintel and doorposts of their houses. The word here is used in conjunction with several of the proto-Exodus accounts in Genesis: Yahweh touches Pharaoh for the sake of Sarai (Gen. 12:17), Abimelech is spared for not “touching” Sarah (Gen. 20:6), and he later forbids anyone to touch Isaac’s wife (Gen. 26:29). It is used a few other times, but only twice previously in Exodus where it occurs in the proleptic Passover in 4:25 and then as a foretelling of this final plague 11:1. This indicates that Israel is in this sense coming under this final plague, but rather than being “touched” by the plague, their houses are “touched” with the Passover blood. Notice that the safety of the blood is tied to the house/household. Anyone who goes out of the house is not protected by the blood (12:22-23). This law/ordinance is to be kept in all generations (12:24), and this Passover is to be their “service/labor.” Remember that Israel has been “laboring” for Pharaoh, but now Yahweh is enlisting their service. But instead of labor/service that is intended to shrink their population (remember Ex. 1-2), their “labor” is life-saving and preserving.
What Children Ask and Pharaoh Commands
God assumes first of all that their children will ask them about what they are doing (12:26). Children ask questions, often lots of questions. Those parents who despise these questions or refuse to spend time answering them are refusing to teach their children. But this also means that God delights in having odd things for children to ask about; in other words faithful parents should do things in order to be asked about them by their kids. The parents are instructed to rehearse the story of the original Passover and Exodus, how God struck Egypt and “delivered” the houses of Israel (12:27). The same word for delivered is used later to describe how Israel “spoiled/plundered” Egypt. Yahweh is the warrior who has fought and conquered Egypt, and He is taking Israel as his plunder. In the middle of the night, Yahweh comes and strikes throughout the land of Egypt, and it is so widespread that there is not a house which is not touched by the death (12:30). As we mentioned previously, there were probably some Egyptians who followed Moses’ instructions, but this verse indicates that there was still widespread disregard for the word of Yahweh. Notice that Pharaoh instructs Moses to do everything according to his “word” (12:31-32). His final request is that Moses would bless him which echoes what occurred between Jacob and the Pharaoh that Joseph served under (Gen. 47:7). This Pharaoh now acts like he knows Joseph (cf. 1:8).
Who Went and When
The text tells us that some six hundred thousand “feet of men” went out of Egypt (12:37). This description is probably a military designation, like “foot soldiers” (cf. Num. 11:21, Jdg. 20:2). A “mixed multitude” went up with them from Egypt which means that Egyptians went with them, and they ate the unleavened bread on their journey (12:38-39). They left Egypt after 430 years, to the very day (12:40). Remember Paul indicates that this period of time began with the covenant made with Abraham in Canaan (Gal. 3:17). It was on that very day that all the “armies of Yahweh” went out of Egypt (12:41, 51). This fits with the military designation of “foot soldiers” in 12:37. Finally, a last regulation is mentioned regarding the Passover meal: only covenant members are to eat it. This assumes first of all that this would be an issue, that is, there were foreigners, strangers, and other uncircumcised people in this “mixed multitude.” Yahweh says that there is to be one law for native-born and the stranger who dwells with Israel, if they want to eat the feast all the males of their household must be circumcised (12:44, 48). This final restriction on Passover is the basis for our practice of restricting participation in the Eucharist to those covenant members who have been baptized.
Conclusions and Applications
There is a huge emphasis on children throughout the entire Exodus narrative. It is the sons of Israel that Pharaoh attempts to exterminate, and it is the children of Israel that must go to the feast. Yahweh has done all of these wonders in order that his people may tell their children. And now Yahweh again gives instructions for passing on this story to their children. The Exodus story is the story of Yahweh fighting for the children. Israel must understand this. We do not live in a very different world. While we are not being directly persecuted by a tyrant (yet) we live in a culture that hates children. As Christians we are required to see the salvation that God has won for us as directly tied to our children. And it is not enough to *know* this; we must believe it deep in our bones. What we see here in this story is the command to tell stories to our children. Parents (and Fathers in particular) you are required to be reading and telling stories to your children regularly. They should be asking for stories, and you should be telling them. If you do not tell them the stories of God’s salvation and deliverance and goodness, the world will fill in the gaps. Tell stories. Tell the great stories, tell the funny stories, tell the glorious stories. Tell the gospel story. And if they are like any other child, they will want to hear the stories again and again. Faithful parents must be faithful story tellers. This is nothing more than imitation of our God, the God of our salvation.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Closing Prayer: Good and merciful God, you have saved us and cleansed and delivered us from the kingdom of darkness into your marvelous light. We thank you and praise you for this, and we thank you that part of that salvation means the salvation of our children. But recognize that this is all by faith, and that we must trust you and obey you. Therefore give us this grace, the grace to remember and to tell the stories of your victories in history in our lives that our children may grow up to know and love you all their days. We know that this is all of grace, all your kindness, and therefore we give you thanks for what you have already given and what you will give.