Faith and RedemptionJanuary 2, 2014 - 5:00 am
“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”—Exodus 12:13
The Torah portion for this week is Bo, which means “come,” from Exodus 10:1–13:16, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 46:13–28.
An impala is an African antelope capable of jumping to a height of 10 feet and covering a distance greater than 30 feet. Yet, these magnificent creatures can be kept in any zoo behind a mere three-foot wall. Why? Because impalas will not jump where they cannot see. They become the keepers of their own prison.
One of the most famous scenes in the Exodus story is when the Israelites each slaughtered lambs and placed the blood on their doorposts as God had commanded them. The blood served as a signal to God to “pass over” their houses during the final plague of the death of all the firstborn in the land, and indeed, that is how Passover got its name.
But have you ever wondered why it was necessary for the Israelites to give God a sign? After all, our God is all-knowing and all-powerful. Surely He knew which homes contained Egyptians and which housed the Israelites.
The reason, of course, is that placing the lamb’s blood on the doorposts wasn’t really for God’s sake. It was for the children of Israel.
God knew where each and every Israelite lived. However, in order to be redeemed, they had to pass a test – a test that would prove that they knew where God was. They had to demonstrate their faith in God and their belief that He was everywhere and would protect them from all harm.
In ancient Egypt, sheep were considered sacred. So when God required that the Israelites slaughter these lambs, He was essentially asking them to kill an Egyptian god. There was no greater level of faith and reliance on God than flaunting the killing of these so-called deities by placing their blood on Israelite doorposts for all Egypt to see. This was stepping out in faith to the fullest. It was a declaration that they fully trusted in the God they could not see — and then, they were seen by that very God and saved.
Often, all it takes for our own redemption is trust and faith. We can be like the impala, imprisoned by our own insecurities and fears. Or we can be like the Israelites on the eve of the Exodus — we can embrace trust and step out in faith. It’s the only way out and the only prerequisite for redemption.