Grades 3-6 Lesson for Sunday School:
Moses: Egypt…Meet Almighty God! (Part 4)
Teacher’s Notes: This week we’ll be concluding our look at how God revealed Himself, in a very mighty way, to Pharaoh, and the Egyptian people. Last week we watched Pharaoh’s heart continue to harden with each new plague that Moses and Aaron brought. But this week, there will be one final plague that will finally bring Pharaoh to his knees before Almighty God. We’re also going to learn about the institution of the Feast of Passover, and also see how Jesus Christ was the ultimate Passover Lamb.
Do any of you observe the Jewish feasts that were established in the Bible? Do you know of any families that do? Today we’re going to be learning about the Feast of Passover – how it began, and what it means for Christians, today. So I’d like to share with you a little bit of what a Jewish child might be doing to prepare for and enjoy this special feast. Then, we’ll take a close look at how it all began, back in the Book of Exodus.
The information I’m going to share, here, is from Wikipedia.com. So if any of you have computers, and would like to learn more about Passover on your own, that is an excellent place to start.
The calendar that most of us use is called the Gregorian calendar. It begins with January, and end with December. The Jews, however, traditionally use a Hebrew calendar. And it begins with the month of Nisan (which falls in the spring, sometime in our March or April). Passover begins on the 14th day of Nisan, and lasts for seven days. The week-long celebration is to remember the story of how God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. And we will learn about that in just a few moments.
The celebration of Passover includes a time of preparation, and a time of celebration. To begin with, all Jewish households were to get rid of any leavening. That is what is used to make bread rise (and in The Bible, it sometimes represents sin). And in Hebrew it is called chametz. (Encourage the students to try to pronounce this word, with you.) This meant they were to throw away (or give away) any food that was made with chametz, or any substance that could be used for leavening. And this can be quite an undertaking.Not only do Jewish families rid their kitchens of chametz, they also try to remove any traces of it from their house. And this means a thorough spring cleaning of every room in the house. Do any of your families typically have a time in the spring when you do a very thorough job of cleaning your house? Many families around the world do. So perhaps “spring cleaning” was started from this Jewish tradition.
Once the house is so clean that not even a crumb of chametz could be found, it is time to begin preparing for the Passover meal. Since no chametz can be used, a special bread called matzo must be prepared or bought. Because it is not made with any leavening agents, it is a very flat bread, and must be very quickly prepared so that no rising can occur. Then it’s time to prepare the dishes. It is so important the no chametz contaminate the meal, that some Jewish families have a special set of dishes that are used only for this occasion. Others carefully place their dishes in boiling water to remove any traces of chametz that might remain from another meal.
Are any of you the oldest child in your family? If you are the oldest in a Jewish family, and you are a boy, then there is something special you must do on the morning before Passover begins. Because of the special significance of the firstborn in the Biblical account, the firstborn Jewish son must fast (or not eat) that morning. Today, they usually fast only until the end of the morning prayer service.
The highlight of the Passover celebration is probably the special dinner that is held on the first night of Passover. It’s called a seder (pronounced sader). During the seder, Jewish families eat matzo and lamb with bitter herbs, and drink wine in a very orderly meal. During the meal, family members take turns retelling the story we will be learning about today, as well as singing traditional Jewish songs, and reciting Scripture. Each part of the Passover celebration commemorates part of the story in Exodus. So let’s remind ourselves of the memory verse we’ve been working on, then jump right into the passage in Exodus that means so much to the Jewish people, as well as to Christians.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.) This will be the memory verse for the next several lessons.
“Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.” Deuteronomy 4:35
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for the many lessons we can learn through studying the life of Moses, in Your Word. Please help us today, Lord, to have ears ready to listen and learn about who You really are. And open our hearts to obey, because we know that You are the only true and living God. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: (Moses: Egypt…Meet Almighty God) from Exodus 11:1 - 13:16
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen Aaron and Moses on a mission for God. They’ve gone to Pharaoh to ask for the release of the Israelites. But though he considered the request a few times, by the end of Exodus chapter 11, Pharaoh had still refused to let his slaves leave Egypt. We learned last week that this was all part of God’s plan, as He wanted to bring the plagues on Egypt to show to the world that He is, indeed, the one and only true God.
Let’s see how many of the plagues we can name:
Yes, nine plagues have brought devastation to Egypt’s people, animals, and crops. They have challenged the Egyptian gods, and shown them powerless. And still, Pharaoh refused to obey God’s request to let the people go. In fact, following the last plague, the plague of darkness, Pharaoh had become so angry with Moses and Aaron, that he told them he never wanted to see them, again.
But God, too, has had enough. Listen to the opening words of Exodus chapter 11: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.” God had prepared one last plague that would finally bring Pharaoh to his knees. In fact, this verse tells us that Pharaoh will be so convinced, that he will actually “thrust” the Israelites out of Egypt. We’ve already seen some pretty horrible plagues. Can you imagine what must be coming that will finally turn Pharaoh’s heart so completely around? Let’s find out…
4And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:
5And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.
6And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.
7But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
8And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger.
Wow…that was quite a warning. Moses just told Pharaoh that the firstborn in every family (including Pharaoh’s) was going to die at midnight! Up until now, everything that Moses and Aaron said was going to happen, did. What do you think you might have been thinking if you were one of Pharaoh’s servants, and overheard this prediction? Would you be frightened for your family? Do you think that Pharaoh was? If he was, he didn’t show it. Instead, verses 10 tells us this:
10And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
Now before you begin to worry about all those innocent children dying because of Pharaoh’s hard heart, there’s good news. As He did with the plague of hail, God did not leave the people without a way to escape this plague. Instead, He gave Moses and Aaron some very specific instructions about what each family (Israelite or Egyptian) could do to avoid losing their firstborn sons.
But before God gave them their escape plan, He first wanted them to understand just how important this night would be in the history of the Jewish people. So He let them know that the instructions He was about to give were not only for this one night, but were for all time. From that day forward, the Jewish people were to set aside that same day, every year, to repeat the instructions they would follow that night. And it would be a reminder to them of how God had miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Here’s what they were to do:
1And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying,
2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
7And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
11And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's passover.
Do you have a picture in your mind of what the Israelites must have looked like as they sat down to dinner that night? They were to sit down to eat, after applying the lamb’s blood to their doorposts, with their traveling clothes on. In other words, they were to be ready to leave Egypt at a moment’s notice. God knew the heart of Pharaoh, and He wanted His people to be ready to go when Pharaoh finally gave his consent. And God knew that it would be coming soon. He knew this would happen because of the rest of His plan…
12For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
13And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
14And 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 for ever.
15Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
16And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
17And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
18In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
19Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
20Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.
These were the specific instructions that came directly from the Lord. And Moses believed every word He’d said. So he went right to the elders of Israel, to tell them, “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever…And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. (Exodus 12:23-24, 28)
It seems that at least the Israelites were now convinced that God would do exactly what He said. Notice they did not question Moses’ instructions, or ask why God would do such a thing. They simply went out and followed the instructions Moses had given them.
And did you notice what God called this day in verse 11? He called it “the Lord’s Passover.” This is the celebration we talked about at the beginning of our class. But for some, this night would not be a night of celebration. Because even after all they’d seen with the previous nine plagues, there were still some in Egypt who did not take God at His word. And they did not follow God’s directions to protect their families.
And God was ready, once and for all, to follow through on His promise, and bring Pharaoh to the point of releasing the Israelites. But before we find out exactly what happened, let’s take a moment to think about what might be going through Pharaoh’s mind as midnight came closer and closer. This wasn’t just a matter of some little inconvenience. If Moses was right, the choice Pharaoh was about to make could cost him the life of his son. Would he take that chance? Would he continue to defy the Israelite God when the stakes were so high?
Here’s what happened:
(Exodus 12: 29-30)
29And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
30And 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.
Perhaps Pharaoh had still doubted God’s power. Perhaps he had counted on God’s mercy. But whatever he was thinking, Pharaoh must not have counted on finding his own child dead. He also must not have considered the effect of a widespread death of the children of Egypt. Notice that verse 30 tells us that every Egyptian household, at midnight that night, was touched by the death of a firstborn. And finally, the heart of Pharaoh was so deeply touched by such a personal loss, the loss of his own son and many more sons of Egypt, that in anger and deep pain, “he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.” (Exodus 12:31-33)
At last Pharaoh and the Egyptian people had finally gotten a clear picture of who the true and living God is. He is the only One who has the ultimate power over life and death. There were no Egyptian gods or rulers powerful enough to stop the word of God from coming to pass. What a pity that it took so long, nine mighty plagues…and the final plague of the death of the firstborn to bring Pharaoh to his knees before God. Pharaoh’s heart was broken, and Israel was free.
They were free to go and serve a God who had now shown Himself to be a mighty protector and Savior of this people He had chosen for His own. And this same God had an exciting plan in mind. The Jewish people would one day bring to this earth the greatest Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. John the Baptist once said this of Jesus, “…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Do you see how Jesus fulfills the picture of a Passover Lamb? The first Passover lamb was sacrificed so that his blood could be used to mark the doors of those who believed what God had said. When God saw its blood, he passed over that house, sparing the firstborn there. That lamb’s blood was the covering that granted the firstborn his life.
And that’s just what Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross did for us. When we apply His sacrifice to our hearts, believing what God says – that Jesus’ death and resurrection were the payment for our sins – then God sees the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) over our hearts, and does not condemn us to eternal death, but grants us life through His Son. And when you look back two thousand years, would anyone like to guess what day Jesus died on? Yes, it was Passover.
There are many Jewish people who do not believe that Jesus was their Messiah, who celebrate the Feast of Passover every year, not even realizing how Jesus fulfilled the role of the Passover lamb that would give us eternal life. What about you? Have you applied the blood of Jesus to the door of your heart? Jesus was the perfect Passover Lamb. He shed His own perfect blood so that the angel of death will pass over us…so that we can have eternal life.
If you have received the gift of God’s grace through Jesus’ sacrifice, then let’s thank Him together, today, for being our Passover Lamb, and for freeing us, today, from our slavery to sin.
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word; and for the promises we find to the Israelites, and to us, today. Thank You, Lord, for providing us with a perfect Passover Lamb in Your Son, Jesus Christ; and for the blood He shed so that the doorposts of our hearts could be sprinkled, and declared righteous. If anyone here today has not applied that blood to their hearts, Lord, soften their hearts and open their eyes, so they will see Who You truly are…without having to face the kind of proof that Pharaoh needed. Thank You, Lord, for providing this way for us to have eternal life. Amen.
Class Discussion/ Activity:
Have the class discuss the following Fill In the Blank and True or False questions to review today’s lesson.
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. God warned Pharaoh that his firstborn son would die at midnight. (true)
2. The Israelites were allowed to choose between beef and lamb for the Passover meal. (false – it was to be a lamb)
3. Pharaoh believed Moses’ warning and prepared a lamb and sprinkled its blood on his door. (false – Pharaoh’s heart was still hard)
4. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that everyone would learn, from His signs, that He is the one, true God. (true)
5. Pharaoh’s son was spared from the plague. (false – every Egyptian household had a dead child that night.)
There is even one more part of the Passover story that was fulfilled in the life of Christ. When Jesus came into Jerusalem, just before His death, and was welcomed with palm branches and cries of “Hosanna,” John chapter 12 tells us that it was five days before the Passover. That would have been the time that Jewish families were going out to select their lambs from the flock for the coming Passover sacrifice. But as they looked for that one, perfect little lamb, most of them missed the most perfect Lamb of all, and His name was Jesus. God the Father selected Him to be our perfect sacrifice. I hope you have chosen Him as your Lamb, too.
Behold the sacrifice of love;
Behold the pure and spotless lamb
Who hung between two dying thieves,
To pay the price for sinful man.
And now, behold the Savior reins!
For He has conquered death and sin.
Will you consider such great love?
Open your heart…invite Him in.
Lisa DeVinney,May 2015