Tuesday, March 31, 2015

By The Blood Of The Lamb: A Story for Passover


     Intense forceful wind swept the floor of the desert hurling bits of sand that stung our faces. Yet, with feet feeling of lead, we trudged toward the sea of tents.

     The encampment seemed deserted, but muffled voices filtered through the walls of each tent. Clearly, the brief sandstorm had forced the inhabitants to remain sheltered.

     Determined to reach the odd rectangular-shaped structure in the midst of the camp, we wove our way through crude walkways while our shadows, splashed against the tents, made known our presence. By the time we reached our destination, whipping sand had given way to searing heat and Nahshon, son of Amminadab, leader of the children of Judah blocked our way.


     “We come in peace,” I said, bowing.

     “Who are you and what do you want?” he inquired while confirming we were unarmed.

     “We are men seeking God. We have observed from afar, witnessing the fire and cloud pillars over this curtained structure.  We are convinced God is with you and that He dwells here. Does He?”

     “Yes.”

     “Excellent; we’ve brought gifts. Will He see us? ”

     “Hold on. Only our priests can truly answer your questions. Salmon, run and see if Ithamar is available. Eleazar is serving the Lord in this Tent of Meeting today.”

     The thought of encountering God overwhelmed us. What would He be like? Would He be in the form of man or beast? Would He accept us? What sacrifice would He require; our firstborn; our virgin daughter, or infants burned in his arms as other gods do? We hoped none of these, but our questions were as endless as the wait seemed to be.

     When Nahshon’s son, Salmon, returned with Ithamar, we bowed low to honor this chosen one. But he said, “Do not bow to me for I am just a man, as you. Bow and worship only El-Elyon, the Most High God, whose memorial name is YHWH, I Am Who I Am. He is the living God whom you witness in the pillars of cloud and fire.”

“May we see God now?”

“Yes and No, for no man can see His face and live. But you can meet Him in spirit and in sacrifice.”

Sacrifice? Our hearts sunk. “What sacrifice does He require? Please do not say one of our children?”

“Never! Although God’s law teaches many acceptable sacrifices, the most precious to Him is a spotless lamb. In four days, each family of Israel will offer this very special lamb as we celebrate the Passover.”

“Passover?”

“Like beasts of burden, Egypt had us enslaved. After four hundred years, God sent Moses to demand our release. But Pharaoh refused. One after another, the Lord delivered nine plagues and still, Pharaoh hardened his heart forcing God to send a tenth and final plague. Pronouncing judgment against all the gods of Egypt and in fulfillment of our ancestor Abraham’s prophecy, this God, who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, passed through Egypt striking the firstborn of both man and beast. Nevertheless, God saved Israel by the blood of a lamb.”

“How so?”

“At God’s instruction, we took lamb’s blood, applied it to the doorposts and lintel of our homes, while remaining inside prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. As we ate roasted lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, God moved through Egypt striking the firstborn. However, at the sign of the blood of the lamb, God passed over our homes. When morning dawned, death abounded and Pharaoh insisted we leave. Now, as a reminder of what it took to set us free, God gave us this day as a memorial to keep throughout our generations. Today, we select our Passover lamb. Come.”

                                  To be continued…