I just finished watching “The Prince Of Egypt” again. I love love love this movie! I am always awed by the awesomeness of God when I watch it.
I watch it thinking – how can they not believe??? Especially when God caused the Red Sea to part…how hard did Pharaoh’s heart have to be that he wouldn’t fall on his face and repent…or even cry at his foolishness in fighting and resisting God?
Today though, as I watched the scene where the Spirit of God moved through Egypt claiming all the firstborn, I remembered something I had read earlier in my Bible readings about this act of God. It caused me to understand the nature of our indebtedness to God. God explained that EVERY firstborn is His (Num 3:12-13). Even among the Israelites…and His decision to take the firstborn of all the Egyptians at that time, was not so much an act of judgment as it was an act of His prerogative!
They owed Him that debt, but they would not even give Him honour nor worship. So, He showed them that He could take what what was His, and until that moment, He had chosen to be merciful to them by not demanding it of them before.
Likewise, every firstborn among the Israelites were His… Even among the flock. But this is what He did, because He had a covenant with their father, Abraham. Because they had a special relationship, being called His own people, He gave them an out. He said “I will pass over you, if you will kill instead a lamb without blemish, and mark your doors with its blood…then I will know that you are people of My covenant and spare you!” (paraphrase of Exodus 12:12-13).
Atheists have asked me (well, one in particular), why the need for the blood? Why not simply forgive? What’s the significance of this blood?
Theologians could probably come up with a better explanation (though it seems their answers have not satisfied him), but for me it is simply a matter of the Creditor’s Choice and Right! It is what God wanted and what He asked for. And for Him, obedience to this, however flawed we may believe it is, is more important than the actual blood that is shed.
But God asked for blood. From a specific animal. That was young and without blemish. It was a choice offering, pleasing to God. Yet, the act of obedience is better than the sacrifice itself (1 Sam 15:22)!
Abraham knew this, and was probably prophesying when he said “God will provide Himself a lamb” (Gen 22:8), while he went in obedience to sacrifice his first child, as God asked. And God did provide the sacrifice. And it was a type of Christ, for the everlasting covenant, redeeming us all from our debt to God.
Our obedience is an act of trust and faith, and submission. It is an act of humility and repentance. It is also an act of reverence and respect. So, however ridiculous, obedience of His terms shows that we are truly worthy of His mercy.
Let me use the example of a Copyright owner of, say, images. Imagine that you used an image that was copyrighted, on your blog, and for the way it was used, you would have needed to purchase a license from the Copyright owner of, say, $200 a year. You’ve been using that image for five years without realising your error, and without any issue from the owner of the image. Maybe you even thought it belonged to someone else, and ascribed credit to them on your blog, thinking that would be sufficient (kind of like the way the Egyptians gave honour to false gods).
Then one day, the Copyright owner writes to you about your image, stating his right to the image and your disregard of his rights through your unlicensed use of it. The Copyright owner has the prerogative to take several actions against you for this, and demand recompense up to the value of the image license and any damages caused by your breach. Minimally, he can demand the actual cost of the image you have incurred to date, being $1000. Even if you remove the image, you are still a debtor to this Copyright owner.
But, no. He doesn’t. He simply asks you to appease him by settling the matter peaceably, with a fine of $500.
You can see this as grace, or you can argue about it, and face his full wrath. You can accuse him of being ungracious for not simply forgiving and forgetting what you did, and letting you go scot free. You can even demand to only pay for the license going forward, to settle your pride that you can pay, and the money is not the issue to you.
But get this…it isn’t really about the money for them either. Not if they are seeking to settle with you, and provided you with an out. It is about RESPECT. It is about the fact that you need to acknowledge their right and honour it. It is about realising your mistake and humbly seeking to appease them by fulfilling their requirement.
The point is, they could have asked for anything (within reason and law). They could have asked for a lamb sacrifice, which you will do and post a picture of it on your blog for a month or whatever… However petty or ridiculous or extreme you may think the requirement is…it is what they want, and since YOU wronged them, you ought to humbly comply and appease. If you are wise, you will see the need for this.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa 1:18).
So, the blood requirement of God is His choice, prerogative and unique understanding alone. Now, God no longer demands the blood of lambs and bulls. He has provided the sacrifice that will appease Him forever for all our past and future sins, and that is HIMSELF, through the Person of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God…the Saviour of the World (Heb 9:19-28).
You do not have to kill Him yourself. God has already sacrificed Him – never mind that He now lives!!! All He asks of you is that you CLAIM His blood in your life. That you acknowledge His Person, appreciate and accept His sacrifice and enter a favourable relationship with Him. If you do not like His terms of settlement, then the whole LAW stands against you, and you alone will pay for your debt!
Ridiculous? Stupid? Contrived? While you are contemplating this, others are being redeemed. They are those who have faith like little children, and humbly accept and repent, and enter into a blessed relationship with their Maker (Matt 18:3).
But to you who waits to determine if this is true or not, He is both Judge and Executioner. And a dreadful One, I might add. I hope and pray that you will realise your wrong and indebtedness, and accept the gracious love of God, through Jesus Christ.
Photo credit: http://www.pixabay.com
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