The Prison of Want

"Agnus Dei" by Francisco de Zurbarán

"Agnus Dei" by Francisco de Zurbarán

(EXODUS 12:1-13; CF. LUKE 22:14-20) 

This coming Sunday, God’s Word wings its way once more into our hearts as well as filling our hands with the sacrament of unleavened bread and wine (holy communion) …  as we hear again the story of God’s salvation in the central, defining event of the OT; namely, the Exodus with its entrée point of “The Passover.”  Specifically, we hear God’s concluding instruction to his people Israel as they begin their exodus journey, out of the bondage of Egypt: “In this manner you shall eat [the Passover meal of roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs and wine]: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste” (Exodus 12:11). 

Briefly recall from last week, how in the concluding chapters of Genesis, Abraham’s descendants move from the land of Canaan – due to a devastating drought – into the land of Egypt.  Some four hundred years later, these descendants (the people of Israel) become a great nation (Exodus 1:7), numbering several thousand – thanks to “Uncle Joseph” who became Egypt’s Secretary of Agriculture.  But Israel’s great prosperity led to idol worship and immorality (Judges 24:14).  Soon the Egyptian Pharaoh, Sethos I pressed them into slavery and hard labor – building what we know today as the great pyramids, in order to maintain control over them.

And so, for yet another couple of generations, the people of Israel suffered great persecution, until around 1280 B.C., now in bondage to a new Pharaoh, Ramses II.  The Israelite people lifted their repentant pleas to God for deliverance … and God heard their cry (Exodus 2:4).  And by God’s freeing power, through his servant Moses (which is our story for this week) God passed over their sin in his great mercy, setting them quickly on an Exodus journey of unleavened bread, through the Red Sea and wide ‘n wooly wilderness, into the Promised Land. So some questions: 

The Prison of Slavery to Pharaoh.  How-in-the-world does this relate to our lives today? 
Might such a slavery be one of living in a daily “Prison of Want”? 
The Passover meal with its unleavened bread and wine, roasted lamb and herbs.  So where’s the Lamb in our Christian observance of this Passover meal in Holy Communion? (Read Luke 22:14-22)
Overall, how does the Exodus journey to freedom’s home connect with us today – some 3300 years later?  What are we freed from?  And what are we freed for?

  dr. j.r. chrisopherson