Passover: the price of protection

Jewish families all over the world are preparing for the Passover Seder, a holiday meal with songs, prayers, and storytelling—all celebrating how God delivered us from slavery in Egypt so long ago. We remember the harsh bondage by eating bitter herbs, usually horseradish. We eat unleavened bread because God commanded us to rid our homes of all leaven, as we recall that when He brought us out of Egypt, there wasn’t even enough time for our bread to rise.  And we remember the lamb that was at the heart of everything that happened that fateful night of the tenth plague.

God struck down all the first-born sons of Egypt, passing over houses that were protected by the blood of a spotless lamb, sprinkled on the top and sides of the doorframes. Families that were not protected by the blood fell victim to the destroyer (Exodus 12:23). That final plague was so catastrophic that Pharaoh was finally willing to let the Israelites go.

Perhaps you have heard it said, as I have, that Jewish families were spared, while Egyptian families were not. But that is not true!  It was not who was inside the homes, but what was applied to the doorposts, that made the difference between life and death. If a Jewish home was not marked by the lamb’s blood, the first-born boy inside would die exactly the same death as an Egyptian boy. Imagine the horror for anyone whose home was not protected by the blood of the lamb!

Passover: the portent of ultimate freedom

altPassover pointed toward the day when Jesus, the Lamb of God, would pour out His blood for us. Now, as then, only those lives marked by the blood of the Lamb are spared from the effects of sin (Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:19). Through His sacrifice, every person who trusts in Him receives both forgiveness of sin and freedom from its power to enslave us.

Just as the Israelites received a new life and a new identity when they were no longer enslaved to Pharaoh, so our gracious God redeems us into a brand new life and identity when we are forgiven and set free through Jesus.

Set free to serve

As we celebrate our redemption and forgiveness this Resurrection Sunday, we can reflect on how our day-to-day lives reflect what God has done for us. As God forgives us, He commands us to forgive others. Are there people in our lives we need to forgive? Let’s commit them to prayer and ask the Lord to help us celebrate our redemption with hearts of forgiveness toward all.

So many people are in slavery to addiction, fear, jealousy, or bitterness because they don’t understand that God gives us the power to live in freedom. God wants to set us free.  Recently Igal Vender, who works with us in collaboration with CWI in Israel, was recounting this modern-day story of God’s redemption. I just had to share it with you!

I met Stephan during an outreach to the homeless in Tel Aviv. He was 30 years old and addicted to drugs. When I told him how Yeshua freed me from addiction, Stephan began to weep. I comforted him, explained the gospel and invited him to begin a new chapter in his life. Praise the Lord, Stephan came with me to rehab, and subsequently professed faith in Jesus as his Messiah and Lord.

Before long, Stephan was baptized and began serving the Lord in our congregation. Eager to share the gospel with others, he completed a Bible training course and now serves the Lord at the rehab center.

Hallelujah! We rejoice with you, our partners, to see God’s redemptive power at work.  I love how Stephan is using his freedom to help others hear the gospel! It reminds me of the verse, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36), because true freedom is not the absence of responsibility or service. God makes us “free indeed” by transforming us from slaves to servants. He breaks the chains that hold us back from loving and obeying Him.

As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and what it means to us, let’s look for new ways to serve Him. What a clear and compelling testimony it is when we use our freedom, and accept our service as a privilege and a joy, because of all He has done for us.