Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Firstborn sons and a bloody covenant- Exodus 4
My husband preached a wonderful sermon the week before Easter on Christ, our Passover Lamb. Probably because this sermon was still fresh in my mind, I really picked up on the firstborn son allusions in my reading yesterday. I love thinking about this!
As God is sending Moses off to Egypt to deliver His people, He gives Moses these parting words:
"When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharoah which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to pharoah, 'Thus says the Lord: "Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn."'" Exodus 4:22-23
God refers to His people by many names. Sometimes we're His sheep, sometimes His children, sometimes as His bride or the bride of Christ, and even as the body of Christ. I have never really pondered the passage above in relation to Passover, and ultimately Christ's sacrificial death. God wanted Pharoah to know from the outset that if he didn't let Israel go, it would cost him his firstborn son. And as it turned out, it cost all of Egypt its firstborn sons, right down to the livestock. But, as for God's firstborn son, Israel, he would be spared by the blood of the lamb. (Exodus 11-12) We know from Romans 9 and other passages in the New Testament that believing Gentiles have been grafted into Israel- true Israel- spiritual Israel. While we weren't present at the first Passover, God in His righteous anger is able to pass over judging us according to our sins because we are God's firstborn son, delivered by the blood of the Lamb, that is Christ.
And pondering this firstborn son imagery along with the blood of the lamb has helped me to see the next section in a little different light. I've always been so puzzled by this brief interlude that takes up where we left off in Exodus 4 above:
"And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, 'Surely you are a husband of blood to me!' So He let him go. Then she said, 'You are a husband of blood!'- because of the circumcision." Exodus 4:24-26
You have to admit that this scene seems a little strange as well as a bit on the macabre side. But considering the message God had just told Moses to deliver to Pharoah, I think it begins to make sense. I don't know why Moses had never had his firstborn son, Gershom, circumcised. Maybe because they were living in Midian and it wasn't practiced there. Anyway, it was obviously an oversight and not an acceptable one in the eyes of God. I think maybe what Moses was supposed to grasp was this: How can God spare Gershom when the firstborn son of Pharoah would be killed? What's the difference? Both are sinners, right? The difference is that Gershom would be spared by the blood of the lamb (Passover). Even though that hadn't happened yet, both Passover and circumcision point to something even more significant- the covenant that God has made with His chosen people. This covenant is a bloody covenant. Zipporah wasn't far off. It's not that Moses was a husband of blood, but that God's covenant that He made with His people is a covenant of blood. The blood of Christ is what seals this covenant for all eternity. And circumcision was a sign of entering into that covenant.
"For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying,'This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.' Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission." Hebrews 9:16-22
The writer of Hebrews further clarifies that Christ, "by one offering has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." Hebrews 10:14
The Passover recorded in Exodus is a shadow of the ultimate Passing over of God's wrath upon sinners. We are spared only by the blood of Christ. And it is Christ's blood that pays for our adoption allowing us to become children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ. God's firstborn son is saved by the blood of His only true Son. And circumcision was the bloody sign of this bloody covenant.
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.