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A Midweek Devotional - Substitute

Why do we read the Old Testament? What does it have to say about grace and redemption? Does Exodus have anything to do with us or can we just skip ahead to Jesus? At times it may seem fashionable to ask these questions, but as we approach the Passover in Exodus 12, Unfolding Grace helps answer them:

“The Passover teaches us that we are saved from God. God does not limit the final plague to Egypt alone; Israel too is under God’s judgment for its sins. This means that the Israelites are not morally superior to Egyptians. If they are to be saved from God’s judgment, they need a substitutionary sacrifice...

This pattern — that salvation is from God, by God, and to God — is at the heart of the Bible. It finds its ultimate fulfillment in the greater deliverance through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus comes as a sacrificial lamb to bear our punishment so that we might be restored in order to glorify and enjoy God forever.”

Wednesday, March 3rd

Larger Portion of Scripture - Exodus 12-15

Focused Passage for Reflection - Exodus 12:21-32

Reflecting on the Text:

Why did God choose to free the Israelites from the bondage of slavery in Israel? We’re tempted to think it was because they were better people than the Egyptians. In a few chapters though we’ll see the fallacy in that thinking. No, God must have chosen to free them for some other reason. But try as we may, we can’t find it. That is, we can’t find it in them. He must have chosen to free them for some reason in Himself. And if we are to take Him at His word in Scripture, we are left with only one option: He loved them.

And yet, He still chose this manner by which He would save them. He chose to pass over them that night, but there was a method to His passing over. The Israelites were told to kill a lamb. They were told to prepare it and eat it. But there was more. They were told to take some of the blood from this sacrificial lamb and “touch” the lintel and two doorposts with it. This blood was to be the sign telling the destroyer to pass over the house. But why that sign?

Verse 30 gives us a clue. “And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead.” When you read that verse, are you only thinking about the houses of the Egyptians? If so, you may be missing the importance of the lamb. You see, there was a death that night in EVERY house. In the Egyptian houses, the firstborn child died. In the Israelite houses, the Passover lamb died, taking the place of the child. The Passover lamb was not merely a commemorative meal, it was a substitute.

God loved the people, so He chose to save them, but in the method of salvation, He was pointing them to their need for a greater salvation. He was pointing them to the Redeemer who would come. He was pointing them to Jesus, the lamb of God. On the cross, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb when He took His place as our substitute. Just as the Passover lamb was not merely a commemorative meal, Jesus’ death on the cross was not merely a symbolic act. He took our place in death, bearing the wrath of God in our stead, that the destroyer might pass over us.

Some passages call us to respond in a certain way so that we might more fully live the Christian life. Others call us to know and embrace the gospel more fully so that in the knowing, we might be equipped for the Christian life. This passage seems to be in keeping with the latter. It invites us into a clearer, more intimate grasp of the gospel. See how the Father loved His children and how because of His love for us, He chose to save us. See the true cost of our redemption and let it build within you a greater love for and devotion to Jesus — our Passover Lamb.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Have you grasped the gospel truth that in dying on the cross, Jesus was taking our place?

  • Have you truly come to place your faith in His gracious and substitutionary life, death, and resurrection?

  • How does the reminder serve to renew your confidence in the Word of God and love for the Lamb of God?

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