The Preacher continues with Moses and the children of Israel speaking of those two events which standout in Jewish history: The Passover and deliverance from Egypt—the Exodus. The Passover marked the last plague God sent upon the Egyptians which broke Pharaoh’s back, at least for the moment. The death angel would be coming to every household in the land to strike the firstborn. There was only one remedy: sacrifice a lamb and take some of its blood and smear it on the doorposts and lintel. Thereupon the people were commanded to roast the lamb whole and serve with bitter herbs (a reminder of slavery), unleavened bread (the bread would have no time to rise), and eat dressed to go—because they were about to go, indeed, be driven out of the land by desperate Egyptians who gave them anything and everything they needed for their farewell. But if there were no blood on the doorposts, not even an Israelite household would be spared.
The Preacher says, “By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.” I read that and think, “No problem. Smear the blood and go to bed.” How stupid of me! We read these accounts after the fact; anyone can have faith then. Moses knew the Destroyer was coming; that might cause a sensible person to worry a bit for one’s own family. That angel will pass over us, won’t he? Some might have even scoffed. But Moses and the Israelites doubted not but feared God as only such fear will preserve and keep one from evil. And their obedience to God’s word proved that word true as they were saved while the Egyptians awakened to screams.
That was the first grand event in Jewish history. The second was at the crossing of the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened one last time. He with his army marched out to crush the slaves. The Israelites lost faith as they looked back upon the greatest army in the world at that time marching towards them and blamed Moses for liberating them. Perhaps Moses was even faint, the Lord reproving him, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.” And Moses believed and obeyed God and raised his staff once more to watch the sea part. Yes, we’ve read these episodes so many times that we dismiss the faith called upon by the participants. Indeed, it is only by faith. But let us not forget that the faith of these Old Testament saints was proven by their obedience. God brought the plague and parted the sea but God’s people had to do their part. They had to move forward into the sea. And so do we.