Recap and Thought Starter:
Last time you explained the cross to your friend by referring to Passover. Just as the Israelites sheltered under the blood of the lamb and so judgement passed over, so we trust in the blood of Jesus who saves us from the coming wrath.
Your friend understands your presentation and then asks this question:
If you’re saved by Jesus, doesn’t that just leave you to indulge your sins with immunity?
What do you reply?
SECTION ONE (Optional):
The first section of our study tonight is optional – for purposes of time you might want to leave it out…
In section one we’re going to look at two ceremonies which surrounded Passover: The Consecration of the Firstborn and The Feast of Unleavened Bread. So split up into two groups and each group take on one of the ceremonies.
The Consecration of the Firstborn
Read Exodus 13:1-2 and v11-16
What role did the firstborn play in the Passover? (see Ex 11:5; 12:29)
They were the targets for judgement. They stood for the rest of the household. If the firstborn was judged, the household was judged, if the firstborn was spared, the house was saved.
How are the firstborn described in these verses?
Belonging to the LORD
What was to happen to the firstborn of “man and animal”?
The sacrificial animals were to be sacrificed, the non-sacrificial animals (like donkeys) were to have a lamb sacrificed in their place and the boys were to be bought back – redeemed – with money. (See Numbers 3:40-51 for more).
What was this practice teaching the Israelites?
Those who were saved by the blood of the lamb BELONG to the LORD.
Read 1 Peter 1:18-19 – What does this teach us about our salvation?
We are redeemed at an infinite cost. We totally belong to God.
How does The Consecration of the Firstborn answer our thought-starter question?
We’re not given the resources to sin, we are purchased out of sin!
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
Read Exodus 13:3-10
What happens during the feast of unleavened bread?
Eat nothing with yeast for seven days then hold a festival.
Read Exodus 12:39 – if you baked bread with yeast on the night of Passover, what would that say about your desire to leave Egypt?
You would rather eat well in Egypt than be rescued by the LORD. Your heart is still in Egypt. You want the lamb’s blood to shelter you from judgement, but you don’t particularly want to leave your old life!
After the Israelites celebrated Passover every year they would then rid their houses of yeast for a week. What was this practice teaching them?
It was reminding them that salvation takes them out of the old life. They need to examine whether vestiges of Egypt remain in their lives.
Go to 1 Corinthians 5:6-9. What is the lesson for us about the Festival of Unleavened Bread?
We’ve been saved by our Passover Lamb, so we need to get rid of the old ways too!
How does The Festival of Unleavened Bread answer our thought-starter question?
We’re saved for purity not impurity. If we’ve said Yes to the Lamb, we’ve said no to staying in Egypt.
Come back together and explain to each other what your ceremonies were all about. Tell each other how what you’ve learnt answers our thought-starter question.
SECTION TWO: Crossing the Red Sea
Read Ex 13:17-14:22
There was an easy way to get to Canaan, why didn’t the LORD take them that way?
v17 – the LORD was shielding them from early battles.
How would this decision have seemed to the Israelites at the time?
Have you had a similar experience regarding God’s guidance? What happened?
We get a couple of descriptions of how the LORD goes with His people – look at 13:21-22 and 14:19-20:
How is the LORD described?
“the LORD” and “The Angel of God” (see Exodus 3:2,4,12)
How does He travel with them?
Cloud and fire, leads when needed, goes to the rear to defend when needed.
How would this have comforted the people?
Though He leads to difficult places He also provides what’s needed.
Describe Pharaoh’s attitude in 14:5-9
Hard hearted, mad, intent on revenge.
Put yourself in the Israelites’ shoes from v10. Can you sympathise with their words in v11-12? Are you tempted to say similar things when life gets tough?
What’s wrong with what they say in verses 11-12? What can we learn?
They never said ‘Leave us alone, let us serve the Egyptians’! When they were back in Egypt they cried out for deliverance (2:23; 3:7). And Egypt was a terrible place – see chs 1&5. But we’re always prone to looking back at the old life with rose-tinted glasses and to bail on God’s ways the minute things get tough.
There would have been easier ways for the Israelites to come out of Egypt. Why does the LORD do things this way? See 14:4, 17-18.
The LORD is glorified in this mighty salvation / judgement. It’s not particularly glorious for industrial action to solve the Israelite working conditions; or for the people to simply keep the Mediteranean on their left and walk out of slavery. The Red Sea is a mighty redemption: Glory to God!
Read Ex 14:23-31
Describe Pharaoh’s attitude in these verses. Look also to 15:9
Utter madness – he’s seen the power of the LORD in so many ways and yet he is intent on killing the LORD’s people.
In what ways is this judgement scene “poetic justice”?
The Pharaohs wanted to drown the Israelites in Exodus 1, now Pharaoh is drowned. Pharaoh pursues them for their death and it proves his own.
How do judgement and salvation relate in this scene? In general?
Completely bound up together. The salvation of God’s people is in the midst of the judgement of His enemies. And His enemies prove to be His enemies in their treatment of His people. This is the way with ultimate judgement also (see Rev 15:1-4).
Read Ex 15:1-18
In verses 1-2, what reasons do the Israelites give for singing?
The LORD is exalted in His strong salvation
He is My God – this is cause for much praise!
He is my father’s God – the One who promised and who came through!
In verses 3-11, does the emotive language of the song shock you? How are we challenged by this rejoicing in judgement?
We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the Israelites – they have endured 4 centuries of slavery, oppression and attempted genocide. The destruction of this apparatus of evil is a very good thing. And when we see Satan hurled into the lake of fire at the end, we too will sing with fear, awe and great rejoicing (cf Rev 15:1-4).
In verses 13-18, what is the link between the Red Sea experience and their future hope?
Because they’ve been brought through the Red Sea, they know the LORD will bring them through to the promised land.
In 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 Paul relates the Red Sea experience to our experience – we’ve also been brought out from the old life into a wilderness time. And it is Christ’s intention not just to bring us out of slavery but to lead us all the way to our eternal sanctuary.
So then, how should you answer the person who says salvation by Jesus just frees you to sin all the more?
Use the answers above. Additionally we should notice that the Israelites weren’t just sheltered under the blood but brought out of slavery. God’s salvation doesn’t just rescue us from sin but delivers us into a new realm (Col 1:13-14).