The Quarantine Before The Exodus

Yesterday I had the chance to listen (along with a few thousand other people) the weekly church services that were being filmed in a generally empty hall by the Home Office of the church I attend.  Among the many practical aspects of joy in the face of isolation, the president of our church brought attention to a part of the original Passover celebration just before the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt that has not often been noted or considered, and that was the way that this ceremony was originally kept in a state of quarantine on pain of death.  It was easy to see what the speaker had to say about this matter, and it was intriguing that it mirrored some of the thoughts my mother and I had expressed when it came to threat or absence making the heart grow fonder.

First, I would like to talk about the passage that was referred to and cited by the speaker.  As it is written in Exodus 12:21-28:  “ Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.  And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.  For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.  And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.  It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service.  And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’  that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ ” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.  Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”

As a bit of an aside when I was chatting with my mother at the beginning of Sabbath she mentioned that a noted Church of God hymn composer was talking about a psalm that he had composed about Psalm 91, which is one of those psalms that is encouraging in times like these.  Among the more encouraging verses of the Bible in such times is Psalm 91:1-6, which reads:  “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”  Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.  He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.  You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.”  Being fond of this particular psalm [1], I find it intriguing when people seek biblical insight that matches the issues of our times and that provides a sound perspective on situations that are not common for any of us to experience.

Although I have not lived a particularly long time on this earth, which means that my own memory and experience are somewhat limited when it comes to being able to compare our contemporary times with others that have existed, there are certainly parallels between this year and 1995.  Twenty-five years ago, I was but a young teenager at the final crisis of the Worldwide Church of God, and I remember being particularly inspired and moved by the response of thousands of like-minded people in choosing to assemble and celebrate the worth of God’s laws and ways when they were under assault by corrupt religious authorities.  On the first day of Unleavened Bread at the Largo Cultural Center (which has since changed its name), the songleader made the inspired choice of a hymn which had seemed rather hackneyed and cliched, “Oh How Love I Thy Law,” but whose meaning has ever afterwards remained firmly imprinted on my mind as a result of the specific context of those times in which I lived.  The threat of official hostility to the laws and ways of God was enough to encourage a deep fondness for what was imperiled by the times in which I spent my youth.  So it may be in these times when it comes to the importance of fellowship.  It is easy in times like ours to feel that fellowship is not important and to be lackadaisical about assembling with other brethren, but the threat of fellowship and the reality of being isolated and unable to fellowship may cause us to view such things as more important since we know that they can be imperiled without our choice and consent in the matter.

Whether or not there will be any consequences in our own lives and in our own times as momentous as that which happened in 1995, to say nothing of the historical significance of the Exodus, is currently unclear.  To know our times fully we usually require some sort of retrospective glance to see what came to pass.  While we are living history it is hard to know where things will go and how they will end up.  In the meantime, though, let us celebrate the encourage such fellowship as we can now enjoy in the knowledge that our isolation will not last forever, and may have salutary consequences for those of us who will reflect upon these times and the way we felt to be isolated and cut off from the fellowship of our bothers and sisters, and to care about such things more in times to come.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

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