Come, Follow Me
“Remember This Day, in Which Ye Came Out from Egypt”
Exodus 7: Moses is appointed to give the word of the Lord to Pharaoh—The Lord will multiply signs and wonders in Egypt—Aaron’s rod becomes a serpent—The river is turned into blood—The magicians imitate the miracles of Moses and Aaron.
Exodus 8: The Lord sends plagues of frogs, lice, and flies upon Egypt—Pharaoh hardens his heart.
Exodus 9: The Lord destroys the cattle of the Egyptians, but not of the Israelites—Boils and blains are sent upon the Egyptians—The Lord sends hail and fire upon the people of Pharaoh, but not upon the people of Israel.
Exodus 10: The Lord sends a plague of locusts—This is followed by thick darkness in all Egypt for three days—Moses is cast out from the presence of Pharaoh.
Exodus 11: The departing Israelites are authorized to ask for jewels and gold from their neighbors—The Lord promises to slay the firstborn in every Egyptian home—He puts a difference between the Egyptians and the Israelites.
Exodus 12: The Lord institutes the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread—Lambs without blemish are slain—Israel is saved by their blood—The firstborn of all Egyptians are slain—Israel is thrust out of Egypt after 430 years—No bones of the paschal lambs are to be broken.
Exodus 13: The firstborn of man and of beasts are to be sanctified unto the Lord—The Feast of Unleavened Bread is to be kept in the land of Canaan—Moses takes Joseph’s bones out of Egypt—The Lord attends Israel in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
Mar 28 – Apr 3 (Exodus 7-13) Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
This is Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.
Today, Exodus, chapter 7-13.
So as far as the history of the Old Testament is concerned, this particular lesson combined with the lesson for next week, these two, the Passover, the plagues of Egypt concluding with the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea, everything moving forward, people are going to keep referring back to these two events. So this is a really big deal, being in Egypt, trying to convince Pharaoh to let these people go. And by the way, from a nursing perspective, can we blame him? He has this huge, fairly low price workforce. These servants, these slaves of his, they build up cities for him. He doesn’t want to let them go. And so that’s where we jump in today in chapter seven of Exodus, you’ll notice verse one says, the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee of God to Pharaoh, and Aaron, thy brother shall be thy Prophet. That wording feels really strange to us in the King James Version. If you look at your footnote, there are some clarifications here that he has made the as a God, not into a God. And now you put that in its Egyptian context and it makes a lot more sense.
I’m going to make you so powerful and mighty, Moses, that the people will see you as their perception of what a God is. Because keep in mind, in Egypt, how many gods and goddesses do they have in their pantheon?
Too many that they worship a number.
They have so many gods that and there’s all kinds of crossover between the gods and the types of things that they oversee or that they’re in charge of. And ultimately, what we’re going to find with these ten plagues is you could plug in a lot of different gods being kind of challenged by the Lord God of Israel at each of the ten plagues and the God of Israel overpowering their Egyptian gods and goddesses, that they’re supposed to have all this ability and capacity. And in the face of Jehovah, there’s no competition. And so that should help us make better sense of what God is promising. Moses here, I’m going to make you as a God. You’re going to be able to go and take on their gods and goddesses, and you’re going to overcome. And because of that slowness of speech issue that Moses has addressed earlier, God says, I’ve got a solution for that as well. Erin is going to be a spokesman. Joseph Smith changed the word profit to spokesman in the footnote there to help us understand that you’ve got this duo going in. So we begin, we begin the confrontation.
The spokesman is actually probably a better clarification. The origination of the word Prophet is profane, which somebody who speaks forth. It’s really what the original word means. It’s important as we talk about Pharaoh, that we understand that for the ancient Egyptians, the Pharaoh was the embodiment of order, that Pharaoh was divinely appointed to his role. In some cases, Pharaohs claimed that they were divine themselves. So the job of Pharaoh was to provide order and stability, power, strength and prestige to the Egyptian land. And what we have here is a conflict between the false religion of the Egyptians and the true religion of God himself. And this is very powerful narrative going on trying to teach people that there’s only one God. So remember, at creation, God demonstrates his power by putting order into things. So the Pharaohs come along and they claim that they are the ones who provide that order. And God comes in to the Pharaoh and actually shows I am the one who can bring chaos and order. I have total control. So the themes to look for some of the themes, there’s many themes, but some of the themes to look for is how does God demonstrate his character to these people?
Look for the theme of knowing and God’s power. So God is trying to create a testimony building experience for the Israelites and Egyptians so they know who God is. And in our own lives, God is probably not going to do the whole ten plagues with us because our culture is different, our time period is different. But God will work with us to show us who he is, that we can know who he is. And this is one of the major themes of this portion of the exosuit that people will know who God is and will see it revealed again and again his ability and power to overcome the Egyptians and their false beliefs.
Now as we jump into the story a little further, you’ll notice that there’s a repeat pattern going on here in the King James Version of the Bible as well as many other English translations. Look at verse three and I will Harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. If all we had was the KJV, we would be forced to conclude that, wow, God is kind of cruel or kind of playing games here with Pharaoh. Gratefully Joseph Smith comes along in these chapters and every time that it says something like I will Harden Pharaoh’s heart, Joseph changes that to Pharaoh will Harden his own heart. Pharaoh isn’t losing his agency. So we love the fact that Joseph fixes all of those misconceptions to the fact that Farah has full agency and he’s hardening his own heart. That’s his choice. Ironically, if you didn’t have the JST and for Christians with just this translation, the way it sits in the Bible, even then it could still be instructive in the sense of what you just got through talking about. Taylor, this idea that Pharaoh is seen in many contexts and at certain times in the history of Egypt as divine, as a God or the son of RA.
The fact that God is hardening his heart tells you, okay, he’s not really a God because he doesn’t have complete control. So even if you didn’t have the JST, you could still make some sense of maybe what the Editors of this back in the day were trying to show and demonstrate by telling the story that Pharaoh, who sees himself as the end all be all, he can’t even control how he feels. From their view as they’re putting this story together.
This little change of inspiration from Joseph Smith is very powerful. And again, if we look at what some of these, it seems like there was an ancient editor who came in and trying to evoke and forefront that God has total power and control. They make it seem that Pharaoh has zero agency. And so they overexpress God’s character to the point that there’s another important doctrinal principle that gets hidden and this gets fixed by Joseph Smith. So that’s a great insight.
Yeah. Look at verse four. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you that I may lay my hand upon Egypt and bring forth mine armies and my people and the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. The reality is verse four, a gives you an or there. But if Pharaoh will not hearken, it doesn’t make it in a prophecy realm. It’s in a conditional realm. But if Pharaoh the reality is God already knows past, present, future. But sometimes he doesn’t give us all of the details so that we have that ability to move forward in faith and watch things unfold. And he sets up the condition perfectly, which leads us full circle to back to what Taylor was talking about before. If you look at verse five, what is all of this about? Yeah, this is the theme or the thesis statement of the existing right here when this story is coming together in its written form. This is the core as far as the Egyptians are concerned, verse five. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord. When I stretch, force my hand upon Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them, there will be no question in their mind about who is God and who has power and knowledge and authority to make things happen.
We want to remind everybody the symbol of the hand is a symbol of power. The arms are actually usually represent Grace and mercy. Where the hand is power, God is not stretching out his arm here in an embrace of love and welcoming. It’s the hand of power. And this is the power to save and to deliver people, to remove them from the grasp of a human hand, the human hand of Pharaoh. The God’s hand is more powerful than that of any earthly hand.
So we jump in verse seven. Moses was four score years old, so he’s 80 and Aaron four score and three years old. When they speak unto Pharaoh so now the confrontation begins. They go in and the Lord told them in verse nine, when Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, show a miracle for you, then thou shalt say unto Erin, take thyroid and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. So here’s this scenario. You come into Pharaoh with this demand, or maybe at this point, it’s a simple request, let the people go and show me a miracle. Show me a sign that your God has actually sent you. And so Aaron throws his Rod down, and you know this story well, that Pharaoh looks at his magicians and says, that’s easy. Go ahead, guys. So they throw their rods down, which turn into serpents or snakes as well. But the next part they didn’t expect, which was Erin’s snake consuming their snakes and then picking his Rod back up. That leaves kind of an awkward feeling, you would think in Pharaoh’s court as they’re looking at each other without their staffs, which, if you think about it, a Rod and a staff, what is it used for?
What is its intent? It’s got a variety of uses. One is to help with balance. So here’s Aaron. He’s 83 years old, and he’s walking with this Rod. It could be a walking stick. It can be a sign in some degrees of power and protection, shepherds would use staffs to help guard the flock, a myriad of possible uses for a Rod. And now the magicians, Pharaohs, Pharaohs people no longer have that capacity. So God is going to systematically cut down all of the things that they’ve been relying upon in the past. He’s going to take all of those away as we start working our way through the plagues. But he begins first with this Rod episode, and I think it’s fascinating.
Yeah, the Rod is also a symbol of power and authority, and that power and authority among the Egyptian priests has now been consumed by God. They don’t have any power and authority anymore.
Yeah, the object lesson is pretty poignant. So the first request to let the people go didn’t end up with Pharaoh acknowledging that they could go verse 13, he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he harkened not unto them.
As the Lord had said.
Once again, Joseph Smith changes that to say Pharaoh hardened his own heart. So the next morning, Moses is told by the Lord that you’re going to go out onto the water, stand by the river’s Brink. And when he comes, take the Rod which has been turned into a serpent. Take it in your hand, and you’re going to Smite the Rod upon the waters which are in the river, and they’re going to be turned to blood. So the first plague of Egypt, verse 20 and 21, that’s what happens. Pharaoh comes out. Moses says, You’ve got to let them go. He strikes the water with his Rod, it turns to blood. And Pharaoh says, we can do that, too. So he calls out his magicians again and they take water and they turn it into blood. Now, many of you might be wondering what’s going on here. How are these magicians able to turn their staffs into serpents or turn water into blood as well? That’s a valid question. We don’t have all the answers, but it seems that the devil has power over certain elements and he can do certain signs and certain wonders. But you’ll notice it’s never signs and wonders to bring life or to heal or to restore in lasting ways.
I find it ironic that Pharaoh watches Moses turning his water source into blood, and he says, oh, we can do that too. And getting his magicians to go and turn more water into blood. To me, it seems a little bit counterintuitive that you would want to just prove the power that you might have to end up actually bringing upon you and your people more suffering and more destruction. You need water. They’re going to be digging, trying to find water for seven days. And it would be as if somebody came up and did some destruction to your house and said, well, that’s not very powerful. I can do that too. And so you destroy another part of your house. It’s that idea. A house divided against this I can’t stand is going to come up later on in the New Testament. So I hope that you’re not bothered by the fact that they’re able to do some of these things because it’s going to end very quickly, that it doesn’t take very many plagues before the magicians say, you know what we’re done? His God is God, and we’re not going to keep doing this. We can’t keep up.
We can’t keep doing what he’s doing. So after the seven days are fulfilled, in verse 25, we open up chapter eight with verse one. The Lord speaking to Moses, go unto Pharaoh and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Do you notice the wording here? It’s beautiful. These people for 430 years have been in Egypt, and for about 400 of those years, we would anticipate they have been serving Pharaoh. They’ve been serving the people of Egypt. They’ve been doing what the people of Egypt have been demanding that they do and commanding them to do. And isn’t it amazing that now the Lord’s words to Pharaoh are, Let my people go, that they may serve me? Notice they’re not your people, Pharaoh. You have staked a claim on them. You think you own them. You think they’re your people, but they’re my people. Do you remember the Covenant given to Abraham? I will be your God and you will be my people. There’s your Covenant of language coming in. Let my people go. Why? So that they may serve me? Because that’s what a people does with a God is they serve the God they’re loyal to, that God they obey that God’s commands, they’re connected to that God.
And so it’s beautiful to me to look at the 10,000 foot overview of this story and to see how God is going to use ten plagues. We’ve only got one so far. We’re about to get number two, but we’re going to end up with ten plagues. It’s this process of getting him to let go of those people so God can bring them out into the wilderness. And what is he then going to give them? Ten Commandments. I don’t know if there’s a direct connection between the ten plagues and the ten Commandments, but to me, it’s beautiful symbolism at a certain level to see how God is detaching them from Pharaoh and then attaching them to him through this number ten, two handfuls, the word serve.
The underlying Hebrew word. Actually, same thing in Greek really can be translated as slave. Now, slave has a pretty negative connotation in our world today. But imagine the Israelites are slaves in Egypt, and God is now saying, I want you to be my servants. I want you to be part of my Kingdom. But it’s actually about ownership. Are we going to allow ourselves to be fully owned by God, by choice? He’s saying, I want you to serve me, and here’s what I expect you to do. And are we willing to give our lives over to him fully so that he owns us, so that he can save us? So there’s these interesting words that convey these principles.
Now you come to plague number two, verse three, four, and five with the frogs. And keep in mind, again, we’re not going to point out every single plague, but we’re going after here. There are deities in Egypt that even have representation of a frog’s head, and they have this power, and yet the Egyptians can go and pray to their gods all they want to fix this problem. Nothing’s going to happen. The frogs are multiplying. And Ironically, Pharaoh in verse seven has his magicians do the same thing with their enchantments. And they brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. Again, it makes me scratch my head and say, you know, if I wanted to demonstrate power, it wouldn’t be making my problem worse. It would be showing, look, I have power and then using my power to make the problem less, to help, to fix, to heal, which is what the Savior always does when we have a penitent heart, when we’re Meek and when we’re humble and asking for help. Pharaoh is not asking for help. He’s in a power struggle right now, and this power struggle isn’t going to end very well for him.
So verse eight, he calls for Moses and Aaron, and he said, entreat the Lord that he may take away the frogs for me and for my people, and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord. So there’s a promise he’s bearing a witness. And it turns out he’s bearing a false witness. There’s going to be a commandment later on about that. And so he hardened his heart again. And verse 14, they gathered the frogs that had died together in heaps upon the land. But verse 15, when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart and harkened not unto them.
As the Lord had said.
So this brings on the third plague, lice.
So in ancient Egypt, particularly for the priests, they would shave all the hair off their body about every other day. The point was so they wouldn’t get lice. Because if you’re trying to serve the gods, the ancient Egyptian gods, lice was a way of making you essentially unclean to be in the service of the gods. So it’s interesting, God sends all this lice to basically say all the land is unclean and I’m the only one who can clean it. Now, by the way, you’ve always wondered why my hair is short. I’m just trying to avoid lice here.
There you go. He’s following the Egyptian priest model. Here. You’ll notice an adjustment in this particular plague if you pick up verse 18. And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice. It says in the footnote 18, eight says to try to get rid of the lice, but they could not. So there were lice upon men and upon beasts. And the magician said unto Pharaoh, this is the finger of God. And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he hardened not unto them.
As the Lord had said.
So now Pharaoh is not even harkening. He hasn’t been listening to Moses and Aaron, but now he’s not listening to his own magicians, his own priests, his own counselors. He’s getting angrier and angrier and they couldn’t remove the lice. And you’re going to notice that from here on out, never do the magicians try to replicate what the plague is that Aaron and Moses have brought upon them, that part of the story has passed. It’s as if they’re convinced. But Pharaoh is not convinced and he’s not going to be convinced for six more plagues.
Let’s remind ourselves here, what is God trying to do? He is trying to demonstrate who he is and he’s trying to invite people to accept him and the totality of His Majesty, his power, his ability to create order out of chaos, or even to show that he can create chaos, to prove that he can create order, that he can bring order to our lives. So you look at the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, his anger, his incredulity, his unwillingness to see the truth in front of him. And I sometimes say to myself, how in my life am I like Pharaoh? How am I unwilling to listen to other people who have shown me and demonstrated to me with evidence God’s hand in my life or that there’s something wrong in the way I see the world? So all of us in our fallen nature can get caught up in thinking that we have all the answers and there are some answers that really are true, that we need to hold onto, that God is your father who loves you. But there’s lots of other things in the world that we may hold on to that we shouldn’t.
That would help us to better see God and to better grasp truth. And I have often thought to myself, if God has all truth and has rejected everything that’s false, and I want to be like God, shouldn’t I also be a seeker and a pursuer after truth and to always be looking to sources of truth and rejecting everything that’s false and to not Harden my heart against the truth and not be accepting things that are misinformation or wrong? So there’s some interesting personal lessons here. We can get that we don’t ever want to be like Pharaoh. We never want to Harden our heart in the face of God’s actions.
Which is interesting if you look at verse 20 again. Here we go again. The Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh low. He come up to the water and say unto him, now, this should sound familiar. Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me to this idea that you’re talking about. Taylor, at a very personal level, stop and think about a God in heaven who is looking at certain individuals on the Earth today who feel completely bound down or feel like they’re in captivity. That captivity may be in relation to an addiction. It may be in relation to some relational struggles or some family issues that are really difficult and intense, and they can’t deliver themselves from whatever that bondage may be that they’re facing. I love the fact that in this story you’ve got a God who doesn’t just come and make one attempt to help free the people. This is a long, ongoing process where his power, his love, his knowledge, his Majesty is being manifest over time with his ability to release us from bondage and ultimately brothers and sisters.
The power of these plagues for me personally isn’t to read them and look back through the quarter of time, 3500 years and start cheering for down with the Egyptians go Israelites, which it’s great. But at the end of the day, it becomes a powerful lesson on the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ and his ability to release us from the bondage of sin and hell and the bondage of death and the grave. This let my people go. And he bursts those two bands of hell and of death. Jacob in the Book of Mormon calls them that awful monster, death and hell. He bursts both of them by going into them. And I love this figure of Moses, this Christ like figure, symbolic metaphorical figure in the story going into Egypt to break those bonds in order to bring them out of captivity into this new life. So as we move forward in here, I hope you can sense that it’s not just about Egyptian gods and goddesses and Pharaoh and servitude and slavery, which it is in its historical context. But the power for me, at least, is to see how God is doing this very same thing with little old Tyler Griffin and Taylor Halverson and others today to release us from the bondages that the world, the grasp that the world can sometimes take hold upon us.
So now let’s go in fairly quick fashion through plague number four through nine. We get the flies in 21 through 24. That becomes the fourth plague. And then you go over to chapter nine, and you get the death of the cattle in verse two through seven. And then the boils come upon them in verse eight through twelve. And again, Pharaoh hardens his heart. Then you get the fiery hail in verse 14 through 17, destroying all the property and the land. And if anybody was left outside, if they didn’t listen to Moses and Aaron, they’re in trouble.
And again, you think, at what point did people finally get the message and say, Maybe God really exists and he has something to teach me? Maybe I need to stop hiding my heart, and he gets to this perfect number of ten. It’s beautiful. Hopefully we can all just kind of stop at one.
Yeah. So the fire Hill was prophesied back there, and then it actually comes in verse 20 through 26. Notice the wording here in verse 20, he that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh, made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses. I love that line, because there are people in Pharaoh’s court who are recognizing we’ve been through six plagues so far, not to mention the Rod. That doesn’t even count as a number. So seven experiences that these people have had watching what Moses and Aaron are doing. And by the time you get to this point here in chapter nine, verse 20, there are some of those who are saying, Look, I don’t care what Pharaoh is saying. I don’t care what Pharaoh believes. We’re going to be in trouble if we don’t get our servants and our animals out of harm’s way, because Moses said they’re going to be destroyed. I love that they’re recognizing that the Lord God of Israel is God. And so they’re taking measures to preserve life. Look at verse 21, and he that regarded not the word of the Lord, left his servants and his cattle in the field, which implies that just because you’ve seen all these signs doesn’t force you to believe, doesn’t force you to trust that God’s prophets are telling the truth, but there are always consequences attached to following the Prophet or not following those prophets.
And that plays out beautifully in this fiery hail plague number seven.
We should clarify the word fear. You see this in other places in the scriptures that people feared the Lord in the ancient context, when people thought about the enormity of God’s glory, I suppose people might feel fear of just like the difference between them and God, but really the better word here, instead of saying fear, probably the better word that should have been translated as respect. And if you ever think of spectacles, it means to look and remains again. So respect means to look again, to consider again, even regarded has that same sense of taking the time to carefully look at something so it’s not being like, oh, I’m so afraid of God, it’s about have I actually respected the word of God? Have I taken the time to look again and pay attention, to make sure I really understood what’s happening here? So when you see the word fear and fear of God in scripture, you might instead say to yourself, this actually needs to be respect and to look again, to pay attention, to take care and put heed into God’s word.
It’s helpful. Now you jump into chapter ten and we’re going to get the 8th plague in verse 13 through 15 of the locusts coming and destroying whatever the hell had left behind, but not where the Israelites are staying. Again, the promises standy and Holy places be not moved and look to God for deliverance. So Moses and Aaron make the prophecy of this plague in the first verses of chapter ten, and then the locusts actually come look at verse 16. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste, and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God that he may take away from me this death only because this is consuming my future here in Egypt. Back to what Taylor had mentioned at the beginning of the episode. Pharaoh is supposed to be this being to bring order and life and to make sure things run in a perfect manner and everything’s just falling apart under his watch.
It’s total chaos. And at this point, if this was like a movie, right, we a lot of watch movies and we just love the progression of intensity of each scene, getting to a climatic ending where the hero comes through in triumphs. And you can see what’s going on, that the Pharaoh at first is just like all prideful, and he still hardens his heart here. Yet you can almost see that he’s now realizing he is no God he thought he was, but he isn’t. He’s nothing. And his life is just totally chaotic. And you can see the crescendo of the chaos of his life that God is going to show with a mighty hand that he is the one in charge. He is the one who delivers people. And you can imagine before the age of the Internet and movies and videos that this story would be one of the most powerful ways of convincing people about who God is. It’s just so gripping and so powerful, and I love it. It’s just so compelling. Sometimes we get so stuck into the science of the question how this all happened that we missed, that the story was not written to give us scientific rationales for what was going on, but to make a clear, convincing case of who God is for his people.
And I find myself quite convinced that’s great.
So you jump down now he’s repented. He’s pledged for forgiveness from Aaron and Moses and entreat the Lord your God, that he’ll take away his death. And so Moses did. In verse 19, the Lord turned a strong west wind which took away the locust and cast them into the Red Sea. There remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. Are you noticing a pattern? Are you noticing that every time there’s any turning back to God or to reconsider God, that he responds, I like that. Inasmuch as my people will repent, I will forgive them of their sins is the promise that we get from heaven. If you’ve wrestled with something and you’ve messed up again and again and again, I think the message for Moses and Aaron might be, don’t stop repenting, don’t stop striving, don’t stop pleading with God to help release you from that bondage. Keep working at it, keep fighting against it, keep wrestling with it. There’s great power, and God will keep working with us through that process of time. But verse 20, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
So it’s like these patterns that sometimes we fall into of going back after the moment of forgiveness and everything’s good. Then we go back. Well, here he goes again. So verse 21, you’re going to get the 9th plague. It’s an interesting plague. It’s darkness. Look at the way it’s described. Verse 22, Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven, and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt. Three days. Have you noticed that pattern? It comes up in scriptures in a variety of places when there’s an individual or a group of people that has spent a significant amount of time in sin or doing some things that they really shouldn’t have been doing, not focused on God, but focused on self and on the world and on everything they shouldn’t be, that it’s often accompanied with a three day experience that is filled with darkness to some degree. So we get this in the story of Saul, who is going to be changed by the Lord and become one of our greatest missionaries ever in the New Testament. And he’s going to go by his Latin name of Paul. Moving forward, he spent three days with blindness, so he sat in darkness for three days as he’s making this transition.
You get the story with Lemonai. In the Book of Mormon, you get the story with Lemonade. You also get the experience with Lemonade’s father. Both of them experience three days of being in this state where they’re not awake and alert and attentive. You get with the Nephites and Lehmanites in third Nephi, chapters eight through ten, you get that massive destruction in the new World, followed by three days of darkness. There’s a change that is allowed to take place during that time, and there are others in the scriptures. This is just a small sampling. The point here is I think there’s a potential symbolic pointer in these stories and in this experience here with this particular plague, three days of darkness. Why is that so significant? Because I can no longer rely on my own site. I can no longer go where I am comfortable, where I’m in this comfort zone. I have to completely rely upon God, and it gives more time to turn inward and heavenward. It doesn’t force me to, but it gives me that opportunity because I can’t turn to the world like I have before and to those things that I have enjoyed in many times, negative ways in the past that’s all cut off for me in that site, I’ve lost my ability to see.
So now the eye turns inward and I explore my thoughts, my feelings, my history, what I’ve done, who I have become. And it becomes this opportunity to really, truly analyze what I want to be moving forward as I make this transition and try to improve my life. Isn’t it interesting that the three days is the timestamp that scripture writers always give to Jesus being in the tomb as he makes that transition from mortality to immortality and eternal life, as he becomes a glorified and exalted being? It’s that three day reference once again. So I love the fact that this particular 9th plague lingers for three days. But you’ll notice verse 23, the Egyptians saw not one another. Neither rose any from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. So it’s this beautiful exception to the darkness plague that the children of Israel didn’t need to live in that darkness for three days like the Egyptians. So then Pharaoh calls Moses and says, Go, make your sacrifices. And in chapter eleven, God authorizes them to go and ask for riches and jewels and gold and silver from the Egyptians, almost as if it would be like a form of payment for what they did.
The word here is to borrow, but that isn’t the intent, because when you borrow something, the intent is to give it back. And that is not what’s going to happen here.
Later, when they get to Mount Sinai, they melt down a lot of this gold that they have borrowed from the Egyptians and turn it into a golden calf like you might find in the worship of half or other Egyptian gods. And it seems like even though they were physically out of Egypt, that their hearts were still in Egypt. When we get to that story.
Yeah, you’ve probably heard the phrase it was probably easier to get the children of Israel out of Egypt than it was to get Egypt out of the children of Israel. And so we’re going to wrestle with that struggle as we move forward. Okay. So we are going to now spend the rest of our time on the 10th plague, commonly called the Passover. This particular plague is such a bedrock tradition among Jewish people down to this day. If you know anybody who is a practicing Jew, they celebrate and look forward to with great anticipation passage or Passover, this beautiful remembrance that they reenact every year. And for them, it’s traditionally the first full moon after spring Equinox, but they’re on a lunar cycle. And so every once in a while they’ll have to throw in an extra 28 day month like in 2016, Passover happened on the second full moon after the spring Equinox so that it could catch up to our solar calendar. Point being they’re very cognizant of chapter twelve and 13. And this event that took place in Egypt 3500 years ago to the point where to this day and moving forward, practicing Jewish individuals and families reenact this Passover experience.
For Christians, it’s Christ. And for Jews, this is like one of the yearly events they deeply look forward to. And we’ll point out that this Memorial was the Last Supper. So when Jesus does the Last Supper, they’re memorializing the Passover experience. And so our Sacrament is a weekly remembrance of the mighty hand of God to deliver us. If you think about what happens at Sacrament, we want the destroying angel to pass over us. We want the atoning blood of Jesus to cover us and protect us so that we do not die like the firstborn. Jesus is the firstborn who dies. So there’s all sorts of interesting connections that on a weekly basis that we miss that if you go back to this chapter and tied into Sacrament, you’ll see some really incredible connections that might uplift you a bit more in your Sacrament experience on a weekly basis.
Absolutely. So it’s important to acknowledge the fact that today, if you’ve had the opportunity to participate in a formal Passover Seder service or a Seder meal, Seder means order. It’s a very specific order, the way that this meal progresses. And it’s filled with group chanting of scriptures and prayers and their different cups that are drunk at different times for different reasons. They’ve got a place at the table for Elijah the Prophet, because it’s prophesied that when he returns to the Earth, it will be on Passover. And often, if you’ve been to one of these, you’ll notice that you have a Haggadah, a book that everybody at the table has, and you can follow along and read along. And there are questions, there are answers. We read the story, we sing songs. This is a celebration. Now here’s the problem. What we don’t have is a Haggadah or an outline of exactly how they did everything back in Egypt. All we get is here in chapter twelve, so many of the traditions that you maybe have seen are much later 11th, twelve, 13th, 14th century Jewish traditions that are beautiful. And it’s fascinating to participate in some of these Seder service opportunities, but just recognize that it’s difficult to say and to know for sure what Jesus in the first century would have experienced in a Passover meal, the exact order of events, and even harder to know exactly what it looked like back 3500 years ago.
But what Taylor was saying is the point is that all of these are connected for us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, to the point where every time we go to Church with the Sacrament ordinance taking place, we are reinstituting or celebrating the deliverance from captivity and bondage to death and hell through the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ so that the destroying angel will pass over us and not destroy us. So without Foundation, let’s jump into chapter twelve, realizing some of the insights we’re going to share now are connected to much later rabbinical Judaism and traditions that have been introduced into the Passover experience. But keep connecting them to your Sabbath worship into your Sacrament experience.
Two brief notes. You might think about how many Christians celebrate Christmas. It’s not what actually happened. Jesus didn’t have a tree, as far as I know, with presence, and he did have presents, but lights and so forth. So it’s okay that sometimes religious traditions change over time as needs of people change. And also, it’s interesting. We call it the Sacrament ordinance. And the Passover service that has happened for centuries is called the Seder, or the order. So you could call it the Sacrament Seder, the Sacrament order, the order of actually how we make things sacred in our reengagement with God on a weekly basis.
Let’s jump in.
So now let’s jump in. Chapter twelve. Notice verse three, speaking on to all the congregation visuals, saying in the 10th day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house. So you’ll notice that you select that lamb on the 10th day and then four days later that lamb is going to be sacrificed and consumed as part of this meal. You then get the requirements for the lamb. In verse five, your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. Someone say, what’s the significance of the first year? I don’t know, but I think part of it might be that it denotes the innocence of the lamb. This lamb that is perfect, it’s without blemish. It’s done nothing wrong, and yet it’s selected precisely because of its perfection and because of its innocence. Well, now we’re talking about the Lamb of God ultimately. So in verse six, it tells us you shall keep it up until the 14th day of the same month, and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. Brings nice, hauntingly beautiful symbolic connection to the crucifixion of Christ out in a very public place.
Who he gives up the ghost near the end of that day, on that Friday on the cross. Look at verse seven. They shall take of the blood of the lamb and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses wherein they shall eat it. So it’s this amazing symbolism of you take the blood from that lamb that has been sacrificed. So you’ll notice that later on in verse 22, it actually describes how to put the Lamb’s blood on the door posts and on the lint Hill. And you’re using hyssop. It’s fascinating that when Jesus is on the cross, Hisp comes up again in the New Testament as part of the sponge element where they offer him vinegar mingled with gall. Connecting these two stories with this particular element of hyssop that we take that almost as if it were like a paintbrush. And we put the blood of the Lamb that was slain on our door so that when the destroying angel comes into Egypt that night, he will pass over that house and not destroy the firstborn. The symbolism is once again hauntingly beautiful, that we’ve slain a firstborn lamb to save us from death.
The first born in our family would be now saved from death. But the first born in God’s family is ultimately the Lamb who causes death and hell to eternally pass over us. We feel its effects, obviously temporarily, but we’re released from that bondage through the death of God’s firstborn Son and the blood that was shed for us. Now bringing us back into this Passover comparison with Sacrament There’s an interesting sequence that takes place in many Passover Seder services today that may or may not have taken place this exact same way back 3500 years ago, or maybe not even in the first century with Jesus, with his Apostles. We don’t know for sure, but there’s a tradition that often takes place where you’re sitting at the table and you take unleavened bread and you have wine, or if you’re doing one of these grape juice and you have some herbs that are bitter, you have Choset this represents the mortar that they would use in bondage in building all of their buildings. It’s this mixture of dates and apples, and they’ll often put wine in with it to sweeten it. And it’s this mixture so that you can dip your unleavened bread in that.
So you’ve got all these different elements, and then you have the lamb at the table all these different foods? Well, at one point in Seder services today, it will often take place where you take an herb, we’ll use parsley, and you’ll dip it in something really bitter, often something like horseradish sauce. And when you put that in your mouth to represent the bitterness of bondage, if you get horseradish sauce that is really hot, it can be beyond painful. When you put that in your mouth, it can create pain. You will find that you feel your sinuses cavities inside of your head that you didn’t know existed before. It is that powerful. It brings tears to some people’s eyes. If they’re using the really hot horseradish, then an amazing thing happens when the next sequence is you take a piece of unleavened bread and you put it in your mouth and you suck on it and it’s almost this instantaneous reaction where the bread absorbs all of that bitterness from the bitter herbs out of your mouth. And the bread takes it, it absorbs it, and the pain is gone almost instantaneously. And then the next sequence is you take a drink of grape juice, or many Jewish families would take a drink of wine and wash it down.
Now, did you notice what just happened in the sequence? There’s an interesting connection that Christians looking at a Passover reenactment in this sequence could superimpose over this Jewish ordinance, and it could be tied into our Sacrament of you and I coming into a Sacrament meeting and we bring with us all of the bitterness of life. We bring the tears and the sorrows and the pains and the anguish and the hurt and the offenses that we have given and that we have received. We bring it all and it doesn’t feel good. It hurts. And we sit there and then the very first thing offered to us is a piece of bread. And we take that bread into our mouth. And the symbolic capacity of that bread is to absorb the bitterness of our life that we’ve brought. But then the Lord doesn’t leave it there. He gives us a cup. And it’s not a bitter cup like the cup that the Savior had to partake of symbolically his infinitely bitter cup was consumed so that we could in return get a sweet cup representing his blood that was shed to redeem us, to save us, to set us free, so that we could worship our God with our agency and not be held captive forever to sin or to death.
So as we look at these symbols and the connections we acknowledge with respect the fact that our Jewish brothers and sisters in the world have this rich, long, 3500 year tradition. And we’re borrowing from that tradition as we now look moving forward to the Savior as the symbolic fulfillment of all of this Passover event. Back in Exodus, chapter twelve, as the blood of the Lamb being shed to take away the bitterness of our life and to give us hope moving forward.
Here’s what we have in Exodus 1214. And this day shall be unto you for a Memorial, and Ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. Ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.
What is the wording in the Sacrament prayers? They shall always remember him a Memorial, remembering it’s. Don’t ever get so caught up in what you’re doing now that you forget why you’re able to do what you’re able to do and who you’re trying to become. The verse 17 gives them a repeat of that command, and you shall observe the feast of the unleavened bread. For in this self same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore shall you observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. So in the rest of chapter twelve, you get the actual destroying angel coming into Egypt. And if you didn’t have the blood of the lamb marking your door, the firstborn male was destroyed that night. And that night, verse 30, Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. So it became this widespread problem for all of them, but once again, not among the Israelites, who hearkened to the words of the Prophet and followed.
And then chapter 13 is where we get verse three. Moses said unto the people, Remember this day in which he came out from Egypt out of the house of bondage. For by strength of hand, the Lord brought you out from this place. There shall no leaven bread be eaten. And so you have this seven days of leaven being forbidden that you’ve got to prepare your meals in haste. You’ve got to eat it with your shoes on, staff in your hand. You’ve got to eat that night, and anything that’s not eaten gets consumed by fire because we’re out of here. There’s a sense of urgency with this Passover meal, the original Passover meal that we have got to be on the go, and our bread didn’t have time to rise. So it’s this tradition of the seven days of unleavened bread where you can’t have even today, practicing Jewish families aren’t even allowed to have leaven in their house. In some traditions, for seven days, it’s commemorating once again, this we’re on the move, we’re leaving the bondage and we’re going towards Salvation. So there’s no time for the bread to rise, which ties into this unleavened bread concept in chapter 13.
So we reviewed these really old stories, and sometimes we might say to ourselves, yeah, so what? How does this matter? What are the doctrinal principles we can take away from this?
You know, it’s fascinating because if you watch the way other scripture writers refer back to some of these events, they’ll give you different angles and different perspectives sometimes using this story to teach a principal to congregations in their own day. Paul, for instance, in one Corinthians chapter ten, he’s writing this letter to the Corinthians Saints. And he refers back to this Red Sea experience of Moses bringing them out to the Red Sea, which, by the way, is fascinating. If you’re getting that big group of people out of bondage and then to take them out to where they’ve got some sort of a water barrier, it doesn’t seem like the logical place to take them.
You’re trying to save people. Why would you now put them? You’re trapping them. And what I love about this is that we often want to counsel God and say, look, you want to save your people. It could have been done a lot easier ways if we could get together and brainstorm. We come up with probably ten ways he could have done it. And yet God actually has a plan. And Paul actually picks up on some interesting things about what may be going on here, at least in his perspective.
This is fascinating. He doesn’t expound on it, but listen to what he says in one Corinthians chapter ten, verse one. Moreover, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant how that all our fathers were under the cloud and all passed through the sea. All of them passed through the sea. Now look at what he does in verse two. And we’re all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. He’s connecting this ordinance of baptism. At least he invokes the word baptized with reference to them coming out to the sea. And they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized in the sea. Now, we know that they walked through the Red Sea on dry ground, but the implication could be that Paul is invoking this idea of Moses is bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt, out of bondage, out of everything that represents the fallen world, and he’s going to take them out into the wilderness. They’ve been in apostasy for centuries. They need something to get onto the Covenant path, because the Covenant path isn’t just their physical exodus, it’s the spiritual rebirth as well. They need baptism.
Where do you go if you need to take people who for generations have been living in apostasy, they haven’t been baptized. Where do you go? Possibly Paul might be invoking this idea of Moses recognizes the need. They need this ordinance. We need to get them baptized as we begin this journey. It’s the gate that is opened up. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ repentance and baptism gift of the Holy Ghost is how we define that gate that gets us on the Covenant path. Well, maybe 3500 years ago, this is seen as this opening Covenant path journey for them as well out there in the Red Sea.
Like a rebirth, like they’re getting this new identity as no longer slaves in Egypt, but as servants owned by the God in heaven Jehovah himself.
So as we conclude this particular story, this particular episode, I hope you’ve seen the hand of an Almighty all loving and all knowing God saying I will deliver my people so that they may serve me. And I hope you’ve seen yourself and put yourself into this story as his people not just those people back then, but us today. As we turn to the Lord God of Israel who brought these people out with a mighty hand, he promises to bring us out with a mighty hand in our day as well if we’ll just trust him and follow his prophets and do what he’s asked asked us to do. And we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ Amen know that you’re loved spread light and goodness.