Passage: Exodus 11:1-12:28
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Coming Home – A Journey Through Exodus
Led Out By God’s Name
What if God actually showed up in answer to our prayers? Annie Dillard says:
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.
Crash helmets. Flares. Life preservers. These aren’t usually the typical items associated with an encounter with God. Yet I wonder if we have made God too tame. Indeed, our passage in Exodus today shows that when God shows up, death follows (11:1–10), but life is offered through death (12:1–12:13), so we must remember (12:14–28).
First, when God shows up death follows (Exod 11:1–6). God promises to show Moses his favor (11:1–3), and He promises to show up: “About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt” (11:4). However as God shows up to the Egyptians, “every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die” (11:5), which would bring up a great cry throughout the entire land of Egypt. God’s holiness and our sin simply cannot mix; when God shows up in his holiness, death happens. But this is not the end of the story.
When God shows up, death follows but life is offered through death (12:1–13). The LORD gives a new beginning for Israel as they take a lamb without blemish to be killed (12:1–6). This lamb is to take the place of those who were to be killed; blood from this lamb is placed on the doorposts and the meat of the lamb is eaten. When the LORD strikes the firstborn in the land of Egypt, the blood would be a sign, and the LORD would pass over them so that they would not be destroyed. Yet this is not simply to be a one time event.
Instead, since life is offered through death, we must remember for all generations (12:14–28). We are formed by what our regular practices, and we are taught to keep this memorial as feast to the LORD for all generations to remember this Passover. The Passover lamb looks forward to Jesus, the Passover Lamb that was sacrificed for us (1 Cor 5:7) to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The Passover feast is transformed into the Lord’s table of communion, as we remember the body of Christ, broken for us, and his blood shed for us. And this great feast was to be remembered and taught from generation to generation (12:21–26). And this leads the people of God to bow their heads, worship, and do as the LORD had commanded (12:27–28).
So what? The wrongs of the world can be made right when God shows up. Yet we should not trivialize the prospect of God showing up, for when God shows up death follows. Yet life is offered through death, and so we must remember for all generations. May we trust in the power of the God who shows up to bring life through death. God is not just an ole’ matey, but God Almighty, and He is to be feared…and can be trusted.
 Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk (New York: Harper, 1982), 52-53.