You might be wondering about the title of this post. I have linked together this present crisis with the time of Passover, which this year begins at sundown on Wednesday, April 8th and ends at sundown on Thursday, April 16th. Thus this year it encompasses the festival we know as Easter.
While those who celebrate Passover recall the blood of the lambs that saved the people of God from death, those who celebrate Easter remember the Lamb of God whose blood offers salvation to any who willingly accept its redemptive power.
In the one case it was the blood of a lamb dashed onto the lintels that caused the Lord to “pass over” the lives inside, averting death. In the other case, it was the shed blood of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, that provided a covering from eternal death.
Passover and Easter are therefore twin festivals, and have a common theme, but what about my mention of the present pandemic?
The Waywardness of Mankind
I believe we are experiencing the consequences of mankind’s selfishness and rejection of God; after many previous warnings and gracious deliverances from God, now death is once again roaming the world – and the people of God need to seek the blood of the Lamb for safety.
Many today are fearing the possibility of death, an invisible killer that may strike at any time. But it is my hope and belief that it will “pass over” those who have put the blood on the lintels.
Remember that God commanded a “lamb for a household”, so I would encourage those who truly understand and trust in the shed blood of our Lamb to claim the covering of the Lord for themselves and their families.
This is not just hoping for the best; it is not wishful thinking. Nor is it an automatic religious immunity for those who think they are Christian but are not. No, this is a working faith forged from a living relationship with God through Christ; faith that trusts in the blood of Christ, faith that believes God can deliver us just as he delivered the Israelites in Egypt.
The Plagues of Egypt
Bible students will know that the people of God ended up in Egypt, where they were eventually treated as slaves, increasingly coming under harsh treatment and then the threat of death.
The leader of Egypt had decreed that all male Israelite children should be put to death. Ultimately that decree rebounded upon himself and his own nation. Before that, however, God sent – using Moses and Aaron – a series of trials to challenge the Pharaoh’s behaviour. It also demonstrated the futility of Egypt’s false gods.
Instead of doing the right thing, in response to these warnings, the Pharaoh repeatedly lied and gave false promises.
After nine unheeded judgments, each one worse than the one before, the Pharaoh still held back on doing God’s will. So the tenth plague came – a decree that at midnight the first-born sons would die.
It has to be said that during the time of each plague, when life became tough and challenging, the Pharaoh would plead for mercy and beg Moses to pray to his God in order to alleviate the time of trial. Nonetheless, as soon as life was returned to normal, the leader would go back to his lying and false promises.
Thus, the tenth plague – that of death – arrived.
The Punishment Fits the Crime
I have seen some accusing God of injustice and murder because they do not understand the circumstances. God’s judgement of Egypt was exactly according to their own behaviour.
As I mentioned, the Pharaoh sent forth a decree that all the male children of the Israelites should be killed (Exod 1:16) and when that didn’t work out as planned, he did not relent, but reissued the command more strongly. (Exod 1:22). In other words, Pharaoh was determined to kill the babies even when given a chance to change his mind.
The death of the first-born of Egypt, therefore, was not an unprovoked malicious act by God (as some claim), but a fitting response to Pharaoh’s own murders.
Futility of Egypt’s Gods
However, before that we also see a pattern in the earlier plagues that befell Egypt. They were each linked to the idolatry and practices of Egyptians themselves.
- Water turned to blood – Osiris, the Nile was his blood
- Frogs – Heket fertility goddess represented as a frog
- Lice – Geb, god of earth, turned to dust
- Flies – Magic Amulet; Khephri, god with head of beetle (also Baal-Zebub, Lord of Flies)
- Death of livestock – Hathor, maternal goddess depicted as a cow
- Boils – Imhotep, god of medicine and healing
- Hail – Seth, god of storms and chaos; Nut goddess of the skies
- Locusts – Serapia, god protector from locusts
- Darkness – Ra, high god of the sun; Thoth god of the moon
- Firstborn – Pharaoh, worshipped as son of Ra in the flesh.
Thus each of their gods was shown to be useless, and unable to save them. Finally their most sacred belief of all, that their Leader was the son of the most high god, was challenged and overthrown.
The Plagues of the World
When nations worship false gods, it leads only to sorrow and death. Whatever foolishness led to the release of an unusual and very virulent virus we do not fully know, yet the consequences are grave for every man, woman and child. Now the easy enjoyment of a safe world has gone, and those who invested their future in such a thing are shaking.
Whatever people worship and put their trust in, God will shake.
Just as in Egypt, God needs to demonstrate the inability of the gods that people trust to bless or provide for them. Prosperity, health, comfort, possessions, relationships, safety and security, national identity or glorified leadership – all of this God will challenge in order to bring us back to the true essentials.
“I will send all my plagues… that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth” [Exod 9:14]
In Egypt, after the first three plagues, God separated his people in Goshen, which means “cultivated, well-watered”. Goshen was a place of provision even when Egypt was suffering the loss of water, crops and light.
When we consider that Egypt, allegorically, is the fallen WORLD out of which we are called, then it makes even more sense that our Goshen is the light and provision of God in the Saviour Jesus. There we can claim relief from the troubles of the world, including this virus.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
Protection in Goshen
After three plagues, God decreed protection for his people:
But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, Yahweh, am in the midst of the land. Exodus 8:22
Later, while there was darkness over the land of Egypt, God’s people had LIGHT in their houses! God made a distinction between the People of Israel and the Egyptians. However dark the judgement of this world becomes, we can look to the Light of God.
Jesus is the Light that came into the world [John 1:9-12] and even in darkness, we can be lit by HIS wisdom and truth.
We can be set apart to God (sanctified – because that is what it means) even at times of crisis, such as we face in the world right now. Our “land”, the place where we abide, is Jesus Christ and his salvation. There we can pray for and expect provision, help, and protection.
Where do you live? Do you abide in the Lord?
Try to imagine an Israelite living in Egypt during those times, who believes himself to be a favoured person simply because of his race.
This man has made a comfortable living trading in Egypt, perhaps straying outside the laws of his people by cheating and lying because he values the money it brings.
When judgement comes he is annoyed because it impacts on his profits, but he doesn’t believe what is happening to Egypt is a judgement from God. He puts it down to bad management or natural disasters.
After a while, this man hears that there’s relief to be found in the land of Goshen. Thinking to protect his family, his possessions and riches, as well as his former way of life, he applies for sanctuary in Goshen. His application is based on the fact that he is a natural born Israelite, thus he is entitled to protection.
How do you think the people of God and God himself would respond to this application?
This little puzzle is meant to demonstrate that God’s covering is for those who are genuinely his own, not only in word but in deed.
Christians in name only
Being a member of a popular church, reading the bible and paying a monthly tithe is not a guarantee of personal protection, any more than that self-important Israelite, depending only on his origins, “for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people.” Romans 9:6
Those who are entitled to claim the benefits of “the land of Goshen” are those who are not living in “Egypt”. The two places have no connection, they are set apart from one another
Those who can claim the covering of God have already come out of this world, are already living out their day to day lives as members of a kingdom that is not of this world.
They are “separated unto God” and that means they are NOT part of the present world, even though they have to be here physically for the time being. In spiritual reality, they are already “seated with Christ in God” (Eph 2:6) and their location is a living truth to them day by day – not just when danger comes along.
If you belong to God, and are already living in his Kingdom, you already possess the visa that entitles you to live in Goshen. Therefore claim its benefits now, and don’t look back to Egypt for salvation – Egypt is coming to an end and your heavenly life is beginning.