I know that we have heard so much about the ‘lockdown’ in recent days and that you are probably, like myself, fed up of that term. But did you know that there are periods of ‘lockdown’ in the Bible? I am going to share with you one of the most dramatic lockdowns in history. Let’s turn to the book of Exodus.
We begin with, what must have been, the most memorable night for ancient Israel. A supernatural night. For some, it would have been quite a frightening night. Others may have been very confident and rested safe in the promises of God. Unfortunately, for those who disobeyed, it was a traumatic night. Exodus 12 takes us through the narrative of this early ‘lockdown situation’. The Lord commands the Israelites that, ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household […] Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.’
They would have kept that lamb in the house for some time (v.6). Everyone knew what would eventually happen to the animal. As I’m writing this, I can see the lambs in the field opposite me ‐ you grow attached to these creatures. Then the day came. Twilight descended on the land of Goshen and the congregation killed these animals before taking some of the blood and painting it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses (v.7). The Lord then commanded them to eat it all. Whatever remained had to be burnt in the morning. Scripture says, ‘And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover’ (v.11).
Can you imagine the noise and the horror of that occasion? After the great cull, the families would have stayed indoors.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn […] both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt (vv.12-13).
They were in a lockdown until the morning. Yet, they had nothing to fear. What was the ground of their assurance?
The blood of the Lamb
Some of you may be familiar with a sermon by Don Carson called ‘The ground of all human assurance before God’. He discusses the Passover in what has become a very popular clip on YouTube. A warning: his illustration is very ‘American’ but the truths conveyed are so heart-warming and encouraging that I have included his illustration below.
Picture two Jews, by the name of Smith and Brown.
The day before the first Passover they’re having a little discussion in the land of Goshen, and Smith says to Brown, ‘Boy, are you a little nervous about what’s going to happen tonight?’
Brown says, ‘Well, God told us what to do through his servant Moses. You don’t have to be nervous. Haven’t you slaughtered the lamb and daubed the two door posts with blood – put blood on the lintel? Haven’t you done that? You’re all ready and packed to go? You’re going to eat your whole Passover meal with your family?’
‘Of course I’ve done that. I’m not stupid. But, it’s still pretty scary when you think of all the things that have happened around here recently. You know, flies and river turning to blood. It’s pretty awful. And now there’s a threat of the first-born being killed, you know. It’s all right for you. You’ve got three sons. I’ve only got one. And I love my Charlie, and the angel of death is passing through tonight. I know what God says; I put the blood there. But it’s pretty scary, I’ll be glad when this night is over.’
And the other one responds, ‘Bring it on. I trust the promises of God.’
That night, the angel of death swept through the land. Which one lost his son? And the answer of course is: neither. Because death doesn’t pass over them on the grounds of the intensity, or the clarity, of the faith exercised. But on the grounds of the blood of the lamb. That’s what silences the accuser.
The blood silences the accuser of the brothers as he accuses us before God. He silences our consciences when he accuses us directly. How many times do we writhe in agony asking if God can ever love us enough, if God can ever care for us enough after we have done such stupid, sinful, rebellious things after being Christians for 40 years?
What are you going to say? ‘Oh, God, I tried hard, you know. I did my best. It was a bad moment.’
No, no, no.
I have no other argument! I need no other plea! It is enough that Jesus died, and that he died for me!
We overcome our accuser by the blood of the lamb. There is the grounds of all human assurance before God. There is the grounds of our faith.
It’s not the intensity of our faith but the object of our faith that saves.
I have highlighted that last section because it is so important. We are still being kept by the blood of the Lamb of God: Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 John 2:1). In Carson’s sermon, Smith and Brown were so different when it came to their characters, their temperaments, and even their faith. But because of the blood, their families were kept. You may have little faith at this point, or you may have a great faith. However, as Carson wonderfully puts it, it’s not your faith that saves or keeps you but the object of your faith. In my opinion, nobody captures this idea of Christ as object of our faith better than Ann Griffiths, that young Welsh woman who died in her late twenties. Listen to one of her hymns:
O! f’enaid, gwêl addasrwydd Behold him all-sufficient,
Y Person dwyfol hwn, My soul, thy need to fill;
Mentra arno’th fywyd Take heart, and cast upon him
A bwrw arno’th bwn; The weight of every ill;
Mae’n ddyn i gydymdeimlo True man, in all thy weakness
Â’th holl wendidau i gyd, He truly feels for thee;
Mae’n Dduw i gario’r orsedd True God, o’er world, flesh, Satan
Ar ddiafol, cnawd, a byd. He reigns victoriously. (Translated by H. A. Hodges)
Anne is writing in the spirit of Hebrews 12:2, looking unto Jesus, gazing on him as fully man and fully God. He is object of both her desire and her faith.
Peter writes, ‘Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon him, for he cares for you (1 Pet.5:7).
Jesus, Jesus all sufficient
We have a caring God, brothers and sisters. Both Peter and Ann Griffiths could say a loud ‘amen’ to that last phrase. Pantycelyn had written similar words which may be more familiar: ‘Jesus, Jesus, all-sufficient, beyond telling is thy worth’. Jehovah Jireh. The Lord will provide the sacrifice. Not only will the Father provide his only begotten Son (John 3:16) out of love; but the Son willingly lays down his life himself (John 10:18).
May you be blessed as you meditate on the Lord Jesus – the all-sufficient Lamb of God.
This article first appeared in Y Cylchgrawn Efengylaidd and is used with permission.