Please read Exodus 12:1-30.
Image by James Best, (C) 2020,
Study people at an airport or bus terminal and you can quickly recognize overpackers. They have multiple bags, all of which are bulging. We all have stories to tell about ourselves and family.
I learned this week the psychology behind overpacking. The emotion that drives it is fear. The overpacker is generally not an experienced traveler, so they have an understandable fear of being in an unfamiliar place and not having access to something they need.
Overpacking is a coping mechanism that attempts to deal with fear by over-preparing. There are all kinds of people on the internet with packing advice, but it seems to me the place to start is managing that fear.
One way to pack appropriately is to deal with the facts and keep them at the forefront. How long will you be gone? Where are you going? What will the weather be?
Then make a list of items that are absolutely necessary. Set them out on your bed around your bag, and eliminate everything that is not obviously needed. If it’s there because there’s a remote possibility it’ll be needed, you’re packing out of fear.
Have your bags packed the day before leaving. Packing at the last minute increases your fear and makes you more likely to overpack.
As we make our way through life, we are confronted by similar decisions. Fear will counsel us to take matters into our own hands, to trust to our own resources instead of trusting in God. Faith makes room for God in our plans, trusting Him to provide our needs.
The Passover teaches us to be ready to promptly follow God.
1. God commanded them to observe the Passover (1-13).
The ritual was to have a hurried feeling to it. Verse eleven describes how it was to be eaten.
“THIS IS HOW YOU ARE TO EAT IT: WITH YOUR CLOAK TUCKED INTO YOUR BELT, YOUR SANDALS ON YOR FEET AND YOUR STAFF IN YOUR HAND. EAT IT IN HASTE; IT IS THE LORD'S PASSOVER.”
Why did God command this? I can speculate two reasons. First, to accurately re-create the Passover event. As it happened in Exodus 12, the people of Israel were to be ready to leave Egypt.
Second, to create a feeling of urgency about our response to God. Other Scripture support this interpretation.
Psalm 95:7-8 = TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS...
2 Corinthians 6:2 = I TELL YOU, NOW IS THE TIME OF GOD'S FAVOR. NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION.
An important symbol in the thing was the lamb. From Genesis to Revelation, a lamb is a symbol of sacrifice that is necessary to make peace with God. The Law of God states that sin causes death. The only way to be restored to life is through the shedding of blood, the pouring out of a life given in exchange for ours. In the Old Testament, a lamb served that substitutionary function, but the sacrifice had to be repeated year after year. In the New Testament, Jesus death saved us - one act of sacrifice, effective for all time.
When Jesus comes again, a “pass-over” of greater magnitude will take place. Those who have received Him by faith will pass over from death to life.
2. God carried out the plague on the Firstborn (29-30).
This plague demonstrated God’s justice. The Egyptians tried to kill the sons of Israel (see Exodus 1:15-22). Justice was served when they lost their firstborn and in Pharaoh’s case, a son (11:5). The punishment matched the crime.
God acted justly in a second aspect: Egypt’s sins against God’s people were committed by their exercise of free will choosing sin. With each of the preceding plagues, Pharaoh was given the choice of setting Israel free. (As we read in Exodus 7:14-11:10, the preceding plagues included blood in the Nile, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness.
God Himself explained the purpose of the plagues: to bring glory to God. In Exodus 11:9-10 we read, THE LORD HAD SAID TO MOSES, “Pharaoh WILL REFUSE TO LISTEN TO YOU - SO THAT MY WONDERS MAY BE MULTIPLIED IN EGYPT.” MOSES AND AARON PERFORMED ALL THESE WONDERS BEFORE PHARAOH, BUT THE LORD HARDENED PHARAOH'S HEART, AND HE WOULD NOT LET GO OF HIS COUNTRY. In Exodus 14:4 it is written, “AND I WILL HARDEN PHARAOH'S HEART, AND HE WILL PURSUE THEM. BUT I WILL GAIN GLORY FOR MYSELF THROUGH PHARAOH AND ALL HIS ARMY, AND THE EGYPTIANS WILL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD.”
On the first Passover, only those under the lamb’s blood were saved. Otherwise, all the firstborn children died, from the household of mighty Pharaoh to the child of the lowliest prisoner. Even the firstborn among the livestock died. This was a blow against Egypt's livelihood. This plague finally broke the pride and arrogant disbelief of Pharaoh, and, as predicted, God's people were free at last.
This account of the Passover is a warning against ignoring God until it is too late. We have all seen people reject God until their life is broken down by adversity until nothing remains standing between them and God.
This is precisely what happened to Pharaoh through the whole process of these plagues. Each new plague was designed to wear down his resistance, to strike down the false gods and the excuses he'd made.
We're told repeatedly that God “hardened” Pharaoh's heart. Why was this necessary?
One, as we noted earlier, God's purpose is, as always, to make Himself known to people - for their good. If the thing is over too quickly - people will not experience God's power in a convincing way.
Two, as a demonstration of the lengths to which God is will go in order to save His people.
Three, at no time did God violate Pharaoh's free will. He chose stubbornness, pride and disbelief at the beginning and remained committed to them until the end.
The Passover teaches us to be ready to promptly follow God.
One way to deal with an over-packer is to buy them a suitcase that is shaped like two slices of bread. Then it will be OK if it is “jam-packed.”
A man stormed into his lawyer’s office with a suitcase. “I want to sue!” he told his lawyer.
“What seems to be the problem?” the attorney asked.
“I bought this suitcase for my wife and even though she may have over-packed it, this wheel broke off! The thing has got a lifetime guarantee, the company refuses to replace it! I will sue!”
The lawyer looked the baggage over and shook his head and said, “I don’t think your case will stand up in court.”
There are important lessons to be learned here. In both Old and New Testaments, the Passover Lamb is God's way of bringing life out of death. It was the cure for the penalty for sin, which is death. Today is always God's day. Now is the time to be saved. The present opportunity may be our last, so act NOW.