Benjamin shivered in the morning air, a grave expression deepening the lines around his eyes. He wasn’t an old man. His face was just prematurely aged from the years of labor under the hot Egyptian sun. This morning Benjamin’s dark brown eyes were troubled. It was all so confusing.
Young Ben, his firstborn son, stood beside him with Baby Sarah in his arms. Only a father could see the fear in the boy’s eyes. He was proud of his son; the last few months had really matured him. Benjamin met Leah’s eyes, barely visible now over the head of her eldest son’s head. He saw the brave smile clinging to her lips and he watched as her arms went around their little girls’ shoulders, hugging them reassuringly. It was a strange time for them all.
What should he do? Believe? Oh, how desperately he wanted to believe! From a child he’d heard the ancients declare, “Believe! Believe–and we’ll see the God of Abraham deliver His people again. We must always believe.” Like the rest of his people, Benjamin had studied and learned the stories that were so much a part of his history, and then he’d passed them down to his own children. “One day,” he’d tell them, “Jehovah will deliver us from the Egyptians and we’ll again be a strong and mighty nation. We must always believe!”
But now, there was so much uncertainty. Who was this Moses and what did anyone really know about him? Some said he was a lost son from the house of Levi, returned to lead his people to the Promised Land. Others whispered rumors of the man’s questionable past. Benjamin didn’t know who he was, but he knew things had gone from miserable to unbearable since the man’s arrival. There was no denying the power of the man’s words, the fulfillment of The Great Promise his father had taught him to expect. Still, the risk they were taking grew larger each day. Benjamin wished his father were still with him. He would know what to do.
The stir of the crowd drew his attention back to Moses as the man addressed the divided crowd. Benjamin shielded his eyes from the harsh glare of the sun to get a better look at this one that called himself a prophet.
“You must heed the demands of your God,” Moses thundered. “Draw out each of you a lamb from your flock and kill it for your family.” The man’s eyes searched the crowd as he spoke, his bushy white brows pulling together into one stern line. He seemed capable of reading the minds of those listening. His eyes burned into those of the dissenters until the rebellious ones lowered theirs.
Stretching his hands toward the crowd, he motioned to the heavens with authority, “I speak for JEHOVAH! Dip a bundle of hyssop in the lamb’s blood and strike the lintel and side posts of your house. No one must leave your home until the morning light. Tonight the Lord will cause a great cry to fill this land unlike any you have ever heard. He will smite the firstborn of the land of Egypt, but He will pass over your homes because of the blood—that you may know that He does draw a distinction between the Egyptians and the house of Israel. You must continue this ordinance yearly; even after the day the Lord confirms His word and brings you into the Promised Land. There your children will ask of you the reason and you shall tell them of Jehovah’s Passover and Israel’s deliverance!’
Benjamin bowed his head with the others and worshiped. Slowly the crowd began dispersing. Benjamin wondered if the others were as confused as he. There’d been trouble already from listening to this man. Who knew the consequences of following this day’s admonitions? His children were silent as Leah gathered them up.
Much later that evening Benjamin came home exhausted from the hard labor the Egyptians demanded. The sweet smell of his wife’s cooking brought a smile to his face as he pushed open the door. Somehow Leah had done it again. He would never understand how she could complete her own hard labors, guide the children through their stories and prayers, and still have a hot cake ready on the coals when he arrived.
Supper was a quiet affair. Benjamin tried to talk to Leah and the kids during the meager meal but his mind swirled with the decision he was facing. The prophet’s words rang in his ears. To do this…it was like a plea for harder work and less food for his little ones. Pharaoh was getting angrier each day. What if it this wasn’t for real? And how could anyone know?!
Benjamin couldn’t talk to Leah, calm sweet Leah, whose parents supported the man’s every word. Maybe he should separate himself from the others and declare loyalty to his taskmasters. He knew Leah felt this was the will of the Holy One. But– what if it wasn’t? What if it was meant for his family to live out their days here? Wasn’t he bound to do what he felt best for their future safety? On the other hand, what if it were true? What if this was a night of judgment and deliverance?
By the end of the meal Benjamin’s thoughts had finally lined up and fell into place. It was time to believe. Jehovah would see to his family. Something deep within him was compelling him and he knew he had to believe that this was that moment; Jehovah was about to fulfill his Great Promise.
After supper young Ben helped his dad choose the best lamb out of the three they had left. Together they sacrificed it and put the blood on the lintel and doorposts. They were quiet as they worked but it was the best type of silence, a feeling of closeness, of the strengthening of a father-son bond. The boy even reached for his dad as they went inside and hugged him fiercely.
“Don’t worry, Father,” Young Ben said; his voice husky with emotion, “it’s the right thing. It’s what you taught us.”
The morning light came accompanied with screams. Benjamin’s stomach rolled as a thousand wails rose in unison. The kids were frightened. They were clinging to Leah and Benjamin when the door flew open wide. Benjamin’s heart stopped. It was Nashon, his neighbor–
“The Egyptians!” the man cried. “The firstborn of their families are all dead. ‘Tis true! From the house of Pharaoh to his captives in the dungeon–even their livestock, every firstborn—dead!”
Benjamin reached for his eldest and Young Ben collapsed in his arms like a baby. Safe for now, and confident of their future, Leah repeated her husband’s words, “Believe, children, we must always believe…”
(c) Shellie Rushing Tomlinson
Friends, God is calling us to do that same example of belief, a belief demonstrated by our actions. In Exodus 11:8, God said something eternally significant about the first Passover, “I will do this so that they will know that I do make a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel.” God intends to do the same thing through us— to show the world that He does make a distinction between His children and those who haven’t chosen Him as Lord and Savior.
As Christians in this culture we sit among the Egyptians of our time, called to believe and be set apart by the actions that result from that belief. While they go about their lives, we’re called to heed his commands. Our disbelief may not result in the immediate death of our firstborn at morning light, but it will bring death — eternal separation from God. And if we know Him, our disobedience will sever our fellowship with Him.
Exodus 12: 39 records that when the children of Israel left Egypt they left with unleavened bread to signify the haste with which the Lord brought them out. Thereafter God instructed them to keep Passover on the first month of the year, for seven days. During this time they were not to use leaven in their homes, to illustrate both that the Lord had brought them out in haste, and to demonstrate their readiness to obey.
We have our own feast to keep. I Corinthians 5:7-8 reads, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor the leaven of malice and weakness: but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
In the New Testament leaven symbolizes the pervasive character of sin in our daily lives. It is all that disgraces and distracts from God. We aren’t called to celebrate the feast that is our Passover once a year, but daily, not penetrated by evil, but ready and prepared at all times for service through fellowship, worshipping him in spirit and truth. Celebrate the Passover in your hearts—that Jesus’ blood was shed over us; that judgment would forever pass over us. Celebrate it by living in it, employing it, enjoining it, and swimming in it!
Happy Easter Hugs, Shellie