Today, most loathe over the idea of waiting. Waiting equals boring. Waiting means reflection, a recalling of the present situation of human purpose, meaning, and dignity. In the quiet moments of human existence, beating hearts come to realize that without God no purpose or meaning exists. But with a God, who just might be holy and righteous, human dignity resonates to the thinking person as lost and unworthy. Waiting, therefore, is often detested as an unpleasant experience that requires a quietness that could haunt the conscience with the questions of life and death.
The Bible speaks of waiting differently. Waiting, for whatever reason, should be utilized and happily endured. While in Egypt for 430 years the Israelites waited for Yahweh to fulfill His covenantal promise to bring them to the promised land. Often in Scripture waiting is equivalent to hoping, a time to hope in the Lord while waiting for His provision (Is. 40:31). The day of the Passover was both a time of waiting and hoping in Yahweh for His gracious deliverance.
. . . it is the LORD’S Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. (Ex. 12:11-13 ESV)
The Passover was a day of judgment when Yahweh passed through the land of Egypt and killed all the firstborn of the Egyptians—man and beast—but passed over all the firstborn of the Israelites who had the sign of blood on their homes. Not only had the Israelites been waiting on this day for 430 years but they were also commanded to eat the Passover lamb in a manner that typified their Savior’s coming (12:11). Eating in haste while dressed for a long journey with staff in hand represented the urgent expectancy of their Deliverer. Yahweh was coming, and their hope was readily fixed on Him who promised (Gen. 22:16).
While sojourning in Egypt the Israelites grew into an extremely large and fruitful people (Ex. 1:7). The Egyptians began to severely oppress the Hebrews in fear that one day this growing nation might turn against their land and fight with the enemy if war were to break out (1:10). Our technological advances that have made life comfortable, convenient, and, deceptively, carefree make it difficult to understand the terrible plight God’s people endured through hard labor (1:14). But let’s see if we can put ourselves in their shoes.
The Israelites lived a miserable life while in Egypt. The conditions were probably similar to that of a modern day third world slum. Disease would have spread rapidly due to the poor living conditions and lack of medical expertise. Death would have been visually experienced on a consistent basis, which would no doubt have a desensitizing, morbid affect. The pain of injustice committed in plain sight would have tormented the minds of parents and lovers as their loved ones were abused. Most of all their spiritual condition would have been hopeless and heavy, for all hope would have seemed severed as Yahweh remained silent for many centuries.
Why were they in such conditions? What were they waiting for? They were waiting for deliverance. After nine calamitous plagues rumbled through the land of Egypt, the silent God was to execute a tenth that would guarantee the freedom of a people in need of hope. The expectation on the night of the Passover would have been a broiling desire of hopeful eagerness and needed vindication. God was about to restore the years the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:25).
The Climax and Resolution
And He did. God rescued His people. The blood from the Passover lamb that was smeared on the doorposts of those who believed the words of God prefigured the Shepherd-Lamb that was to have His blood smeared on the posts of the cross. Jesus Christ, the Shepherd-Lamb, provided in a single sacrifice the deliverance and freedom of all those who will believe in His arrival and atoning sacrifice as the Son of God. Christians have a sure hope, a deliverance that’s fixed in the heavens where Christ sits victoriously at God the Father’s right hand.
The Coming Lord
The Lord will be coming again. God will once again pass through the land and strike with an eternal judgment all who do not have the sign of blood, but He will pass over all who drink of the blood of the New Covenant (John 6:53; Luke 22:20). The peace bestowed on everyone who believes in Christ while living in a fallen world is a gift that surpasses all understanding—a gift that grants the disturbed conscience rest from the tyranny of the oppressor Satan, the world, and self.
As we wait for this day may we continue to remember the Lord’s Passover, both of the Exodus and of the cross (Ex. 1:14). The good news is that we wait with purpose. Jim Elliot, while waiting on God to send him to a savage tribe in South America that would eventually take his life by the end of a spare, learned the secret of waiting: “Thank God for purpose in life. So many purposes come into existence when one works the will of God, that there is no excuse for laziness or wasted time. He is redeeming our lives, as well as our souls.” The hope we have in the living God while we wait for His return gives us purpose in life. The Passover of Jesus Christ as the true Paschal Lamb has provided this purpose that allows us to wait quietly in Yahweh for His coming salvation.