Monday, December 10, 2012

Jesse Tree: December 9

December 9
Hang ornament with Door Frame (Passover)

To set the scene for today’s devotion, we are going to speed through a large section of history.  God used Joseph to preserve the nation of Israel during time of famine.  The Israelites moved to Egypt to be with Joseph and received a welcome from Pharoh.  Years and years passed.  

What Joseph had done for Egypt was long forgotten, and now all that could be seen was a group of people  who posed a threat to the Egyptians, for they were many in number.  This group of people, the Israelites, was enslaved, and now it seemed that they would never inhabit the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The fate of the Israelites seemed to be sealed when Pharoh had all of the  male infants thrown into the Nile river!

God always keeps His promises, and He protected a certain Hebrew baby from this cruel fate.  It was Moses!  God chose Moses to deliver His people from Egypt.  

Moses and Aaron had gone to Pharoh several times begging him to “Let my people go!”  Several times Pharoh had refused (or agreed and then changed his mind), and God had sent various plagues to the Egyptians.  

Finally, God was ready to deliver his people from Pharoh.  We read about it in Exodus 12:21-36:  

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. 22 You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. 24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25 When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.
28 Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
29 Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. 31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We will all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.
35 Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36 and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
This is really just the beginning of an amazing rescue that involves crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years...   But today’s ornament is the door frame with drops of blood on it.  
Yikes!  An ornament with drops of blood on it!?  That seems like something a boy might do, but why would we pick THAT to put on our Jesse Tree?  What could that possibly have to do with Christmas?
Well, really, it has everything to do with Christmas! In Hebrews 9, the writer tells us that the Old Testament priest was to sprinkle the tabernacle and all the vessels used in worship with blood and that without the shedding of blood there could be not remission (or removal) of sin. (Hebrews 9:21-22). He then writes further that sprinkling of blood in the Old Testament was a hint or shadow of the time when Christ's blood would be shed. His blood, sprinkled on the cross when He was crucified, did (and does!) what the blood of bulls, goats, lambs and doves could never do - it cleanses our hearts from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). 
For the Christian, the blood of Christ is figuratively sprinkled on our hearts and the judgment of God passes over us for all eternity. 
At the Passover in Egypt, the Death Angel could not enter into a home that had the blood sprinkled on the doorpost. Today  we CAN enter - not into death but into eternal life when the blood of Christ has been sprinkled on our hearts. That is why the true Christian can joyfully sing "There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains" (William Cowper). What a great song to sing at Christmas! Let's sing it now.

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