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What Makes the Difference?
Ex. 11:4-7 (key), 12:3-7, 12-13
v. 7 “...the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”
At this point in the story, Israel has been held in slavery for many years in Egypt. God raised up Moses to go to Pharaoh and say, let my people go. Pharaoh hardened his heart over and over. The land lay in ruins after 9 massive plagues devastated everything and everyone except for Israel. [recount]
Still Pharaoh hardened his heart. The thought of God our Creator should melt our hearts, but for some the devil has his way and they view God differently, and actually allow their heart to be hardened at the same.
Ill.—imagine a frozen river w/ clay banks (the same sun which melts the ice hardens the clay)
There was 1 plague more to go…the death of the firstborn…and God will show the plan of salvation in a beautiful picture painted in broad strokes of blood!
The Plague, and the Protection
1. This was the Final Plague.
It was a spiritual illustration of the finality of death, if you’ve not been saved. The NT says we are all under either the love of God, or the wrath of God, all are saved or lost, there is no gray area. You are either redeemed, or doomed.
And all of us will one day face the final plague—death!
11:5-- says that the death angel will visit everyone, the smallest hut / grandest palace…poorest of poor / richest of rich…educated / uneducated!
Heb 9:27 -
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
None of us are getting out of this world alive. In spite of all medical science has come up with, the death rate is still one per person!
Are you saved? You may have hardened your heart 9 times, but there’s a final plague, a final test coming…what will happen to you when the death angel comes to visit?
This was the Final Plague…
2. This was a Fatal Plague.
Physical death=when soul and spirit separate from the body (empty shell)
Spiritual death=when soul is separated from God
Rev. 20—death and hell cast into lake of fire…this is the second death.
Only born once?…You’ll have to die twice…born twice…die once!
No wonder Jesus said, ye must be born again!
Knowing that we all must eventually face this final, fatal plague…it would be wise to find out if there’s any protection available to us, that we might avoid that second death!
11:7 What made the difference? The death angel stopped at most of the homes, but not all…what made the difference? Why were some spared?
Were they better people? No!
(they crossed red sea and built the golden calf, then had an orgy / ran out of food and water and cursed God)
It wasn’t their morality that made the difference!
You say, I know, their priests did ceremonies and performed rituals! No!
Empty, repetitive formalities bring nothing but drowsiness!
No ritual / no morality could make the difference…only 1 thing could make the difference: the blood of the lamb!
12:7, 12-13 “pass over” is where we get the word “Passover”.
Here is the theme of the entire Bible: It is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!
Adam and Eve sinned. Their boys inherited that sin nature. Both were told to bring a sacrifice for their sins. Abel brought a lamb, Cain brought fruits and vegetables / Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain’s rejected…what made the difference? The Blood!
That’s Gen. 4:4—it was a lamb for one man in those days.
Next we come to our text in Ex. 12, where God told every family to take one lamb, sacrifice it, and apply its blood to the top of the doorpost and the sides (what were they forming? A cross!)
Now it’s a lamb for each fam.
Lev. 16—God told the high priest to kill a lamb for the sins of the whole nation (this was done once a year for hundreds of years)
A lamb for the whole land.
Here’s the best part:
Jn. 1—Jesus is introduced…Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!
All the other lambs were leading up to this, they were just pictures of the perfect Lamb to come.
The Lamb to span all eternity!
All 4 of these lambs do have something in common:
All had to be spotless (12:5)
I Peter 1:19
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
v. 3—picked out the lamb on the 10th day of the month / watched until 14th day (v. 6) / inspected it
(for nearly 4 years the Jews inspected Jesus in His earthly ministry, looking for faults, but at the end of His life, even His enemies had to admit he was sinless.)
[Pilate—I find no fault in Him / Judas—I have betrayed innocent blood / thief on cross—this man hath done nothing amiss / even the Centurion said surely this was the Son of God!] They all admitted, this is a perfect lamb!
All had to die (6b)
Was there a death in every household? Actually, YES! If the death angel passed over and didn’t take the firstborn, it was because there had already been a death there…of the lamb!
The blood of each had to be applied as directed!
Can’t you imagine on Passover night, a little Jewish
family in their Israeli slave hut, eating their roasted lamb and bitter herbs / their bags are packed / sandals are on their feet, they’re ready to go / one by one they can hear screams throughout the land of Egypt / a painful sound / dad tries to explain what is happening to the firstborn / little boy realizes he’s the oldest and asks, “daddy, am I gonna die tonite?” / “no son, you’ll not die” / why not? / because (pointing at door), the blood makes the difference!
The lamb had a body which had to die…and blood which had to be shed…the body & the blood which we celebrate remembering when we receive the Lord’s Supper.
12:3 a lamb
v. 4a the lamb
v. 5 Your lamb
Some are willing to admit Jesus is A Savior, maybe even that He’s THE Savior, but what you must be able to say is “Jesus is MY Savior!”
If I could get saved for you, I would! But I cannot…it has to be personal!
Ill.—John Griffith was in his early twenties—newly married and full of optimism. He and his lovely wife had been blessed with a beautiful, blue-eyed baby, Gregory. The stock market crashed in 1929 and they made their way to Missouri, to the edge of the Mississippi River, and there he found a job tending one of the great railroad bridges that spanned the massive river. Every day John sat in a control room and directed the enormous gears of the immense bridge.
By 1937 his son Greg was 8 years old, and on April 5, 1937, for the first time, John brought Greg to work with him. Excitedly they packed their lunches and headed off toward the immense bridge.
Greg looked on in wide-eyed amazement as his dad pressed down the huge lever that raised and lowered the vast bridge. Soon, noon arrived. After John elevated the bridge and allowed some scheduled ships to pass through, he took his son by the hand, and they headed off for lunch. They inched their way down the narrow catwalk and out onto the observation deck that projected some 50 feet out over the majestic Mississippi. There they sat and watched spellbound as the ships passed by below.
Suddenly, they were startled by the shrieking whistle of a distant train. He quickly looked at his watch and saw that it was time for the 1:07, the Memphis Express, with 400 passengers, which would be rushing across that bridge in just a couple of minutes. He had just enough time.
He instructed his son to stay put. Quickly leaping to his feet, he jumped onto the catwalk and climbed the steel ladder leading into the control house.
Once in, he searched the river to make sure no ships were in sight. And then as he had been trained to do, he looked straight down beneath the bridge to make certain nothing was below. It was then he spied something so horrifying that his heart froze in his chest. For there, below him in the massive gear box that moved the bridge was his son.
Apparently Greg had tried to follow his dad but had fallen off the catwalk. Even now he was wedged between the teeth of two main cogs in the gear box. Although he appeared to be conscious, John could see that his son’s leg was bleeding. Then an even more horrifying thought flashed through his mind. For in that instant he knew that lowering the bridge meant killing his son.
His eyes filled with tears of panic. His mind whirled. What could he do? In his frantic search he spied a rope in the control room. He would rush down the ladder and out the catwalk, tie off the rope, lower himself down, extricate his son, climb back up the rope, run back into the control room, and lower the bridge. But even as he thought this he knew the horrible truth: there was just not enough time. He’d never make it.
Suddenly he heard the whistle again, this time much closer. The clicking of the locomotive wheels on the track beat out their cadence of doom. He heard the puff puff puff of the train with its 400 passengers. How could he sacrifice his son? His mother—he could see her tear stained face now. This was their only child, their beloved son. How could he. . . .
But he had no choice. He knew what he had to do, so with terror on his face he buried his head under his left arm and pushed the gear forward. The cries of his son were quickly drowned out by the relentless sound of the bridge as it ground slowly into position. With only seconds to spare, the Memphis Express roared out of the tress and over the mighty bridge.
John Griffith lifted his tear stained face and looked into the windows of the passing train. A businessman was reading the newspaper. A uniformed conductor was glancing nonchalantly at his large vest pocket watch. Ladies were sipping their afternoon tea in the dining cars. A small boy, looking strangely like his own son, Greg, pushed a long thin spoon into a large dish of ice cream. Many of the passengers seemed to be in either idle conversation or careless laughter. But no one looked his way. No one even cast a glance at the giant gear box that housed the mangled remains of his blue eyed boy.
In anguish he pounded the glass in the control room and cried out, “What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you care? Don’t you know what I’ve sacrificed for you? Doesn’t anyone care?” No one heard. And soon the disappearing train had vanished over the horizon.
The blood of the Son made the difference!
[This story is adapted from Bob Barnes, 15 Minutes Alone With God for Men, as well as accounts by Dennis Hensley and D. James Kennedy.]
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