Reading through the Bible: day 33

Sorry I didn’t get this out last night, but I had very little sleep and a very long day.
Gustave Doré, The firstborn slain

Exodus 11 – 13

This section has many issues which is the main reason I didn’t want to do it while I was half asleep.

How many god’s

Exodus 12:12 seems to imply that there are Egyptian gods, and that Yahweh was not alone as the only God. This is obviously a problem for Christian theology which teaches there is only one God.

Christian theology teaches that there is only one God and that all other gods are simply human creations. If God were to execute judgment on these other gods one may say that they really are gods, just weaker than Yahweh. Another possibility is that since they are man made, they are impotent and God’s judgement on them would be to show their impotence and therefore there human origin. Thus God can execute a kind of judgement without making them real.

Another possibility is that there is a supernatural origin to the idea that these gods exist. Perhaps some of God’s fallen angels used their power to appear as if they were gods at work. God would then execute judgment on them by showing that they are powerless against him and therefore aren’t true gods.

Keeping the Passover

It would seem that the Passover festival was to be kept forever, if one looks at Exodus 12:14,17,24. Verse 24 uses the words for ever, which are vague in Hebrew, meaning a time out of mind, and one which Jonah used to describe his three days in the whale (big fish). But the other two verses refer to it as an everlasting ordinance, as a result there are modern Christian groups that keep the ancient festivals. I don’t agree with these groups, so I am required to give an explanation.

Firstly, the Israelites where told to keep it throughout their generations, but I’m not an Israelite. As an Adventist I believe I am part of the New Covenant’s spiritual Israel, so it would be unclear that I should keep them.

I’m pretty confident that Colossians 2:14-16 (which is often used to refute the validity of Sabbath keeping) omits the New Covenant requiring keeping of Old Testament festivals. While many modern versions translate verse 16 using sabbath, the KJV uses the pural sabbaths. The festival days were like the Sabbath in that all work was to be put aside and only God was to be the focus, and are referred to as sabbaths. Colossians 2:17 points out that the sabbath/s in question are a shadow of things to come, that is, they are like a prophecy. The Passover, which is the issue here, was a pointer to Christ dying for the redemption of all people, as the original was a celebration of the redemption of Israel from Egypt. Since the actual event being prophesied has been realised, celebrating the original is now void, this was Christ fulfilling the law in question. So while I support celebrating Christ’s death as the primary focus of Christian theology, I don’t see the point in keeping the passover.

The issue of sacrifice is a problem. While sacrifices were instituted for the Sabbath, they weren’t central to it, since the Sabbath preceded the fall, and thus sacrifice (God rested on the seventh day of creation and sanctified that day). The sacrifice is central to the Passover since it points towards Christ’s sacrifice, and thus keeping it properly is not possible without sacrifice. We can therefore assume that since we aren’t to sacrifice, we aren’t to keep the Passover.

So if we then ask why it says they should always keep it, we have a problem, since it seems clear we shouldn’t. By accepting Christ’s sacrifice as Christians, we symbolically take part in the Passover, and are thus keeping it, and will keep it into eternity. Thus there doesn’t seem to be to much of an issue. I’d be interested in other people’s answer to this question, since I like hearing what others believe on difficult issues.

And killing all those kids

One could say that God was a bit unfair on all the firstborn children by killing them. Perhaps this is the case, but there is another possible explanation. Since the Egyptians had their own theology and the firstborn children would have been brought up accepting that they had a special place in this theology. This being the case, their conversion to another religion may have been abhorent to them and they might already have rejected God in their hearts, and thus they weren’t paying for the Pharaoh’s hard heart, they were paying for their own sins, and God was just using the opportunity to show the younger children the impotence of their own theology.

It still sounds cruel, but the period was a cruel one, and it is likely that was the best way to make an impact on a cruel people.

Sacrificing children

The consecration of the firstborn is sometimes interpreted by critics to be a call for sacrifice, since that is how firstborn animals were given to God. This is simplistic, since donkeys were not to be sacrificed, but a lamb would take their place. A donkey as a sacrifice was unacceptable to God and we see later that it is unclean and He wouldn’t accept an unclean animal as sacrifice. We also see later that the tribe of Levi is taken by God as payment for the firstborn, and they weren’t sacrificed, they were committed to God for life, as priests. Like the donkey, a human is an unacceptable sacrifice, although for different reasons.

Taking all that stuff from Egypt

The Israelites left with a whole lot of valuables from the Egyptians, as was pointed out to Moses at the burning bush. Was this stuff stolen?

Well, it could have been stolen, but according to the text, it was given freely, albeit with some divine intervention. It is reasonable to assume that the Egyptians owed currency of some kind to the Israelites for all the building work they did, thus the valuables they took were possibly simply due them, and were thus not stolen.

Without blemish

The Lambs sacrificed were to be without blemish and no bones were to be broken. This is because the payment for mankind’s sins could only be made by a perfect being who lived a perfect life. It is also possible that giving up an animal that was sick or cripple wasn’t as great a sacrifice as giving up the unblemished animal, and thus people felt that what they were doing was really meaningful. It is also this text that made it so important that Christ’s legs were not broken with the other two who were crucified alongside them.

What are your thoughts?

Please give the reading through the Bible page a look if you haven’t already, there are some background posts and the index to this reading plan. Share it with others who you think can benefit from Reading the Bible.


2 thoughts on “Reading through the Bible: day 33”

  1. I agree with the you concerning the passover and that we do not need to celebrate it as law. However, I have found that having a passover meal and seeing the significance of the various parts of it has increased my understanding not only of the old testament but of the new as well. As for continuing to celebrate it, we do every time we have communion.

    1. Communion is the resulting New Testament celebration, thank you for pointing it out. The key difference (apart from actual sacrifice) is that Communion is to be held fairly often, and doesn’t have a specific day designated to it.

      I have met people who insist it must be held at night because it was The Last Supper, and in Afrikaans it is Nagmaal (literally night meal). Truth be told I’m doubtful of this too, apart from the fact that Jesus did it at night, I can’t see any evidence that it should be held at night, as the appeal to do it not only gives no date, it also gives no time.

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