Actually this story did not start in Egypt; it started in the Garden of Eden. After sin had crept into the human race, God promised that the seed of the women (watch the phrase, not the seed of man) would come and crush the head of Satan who dragged the woman into sin, a violation or disobedience against God’s direct command. About 750 years before the Messiah’s incarnation, Prophet Isaiah the Glorious predicted about this seed of the woman appearing from a virgin as the Messiah and suffering in the form of a Servant! The whole bible is pointing to the great event of God’s direct intervention into humanity through His Messiah in order to liberate mankind from the bondage of sin enwrapped by a cunning Satan in order to sabotage the divine plan in the act of human creation. Prefiguratively, the Egyptian Passover is just a learning model for us to fully comprehend the mysteries behind redemptive actions, behind the new Pascha; and in fact the very word, Pascha, was coined for us in Egypt; had it not been coined 1500 years before Christ, it would have been very difficult for us to internalize the mystical underpinnings of the sufferings and slaughter of the Lamb of God, Who, with His blood sprinkled on the door posts of every new Israelite home that believes in Him, wiped out the wages of sin, which is death.
We read in the Book of Exodus that those Israelites had to struggle through the Sinai for forty years. Liberation from Egypt did not mean a thing to them. WE realize that none, including the deliverer Moses, except Joshua, had a chance to get inside Canaan, the land promised to the children of Abraham. There were many reasons for this struggle. First, the deliverance from Egypt was just a physical occurrence for most of them. Most of them did not properly understand the miraculous plan of God. A number of them really thought it would be impossible to get out of Egypt. They did not trust what Moses had told them. Even if they could get out, they definitely thought that they all would perish in the long desert terrain of Sinai, where there was no water or food. Some of them must have thought that Moses would have been joking! However, the mandating leadership of Moses they could not resist, and hence had to follow him out of Egypt. The entire episode of the exodus was a test on their fidelity to their Yahweh. Even Moses, the mighty leader, was not immune from suspecting God’s caring for His people. The result was a lengthy sojourn that took forty years to complete. The price of their lack of trust was terrible; even Moses, could not step inside the Promised Land. Joshua was just retained without harm in order to maintain the continuity of the entire saga of transplantation of the people of God from Egypt to the land of Canaan. Why did it take forty years? God wanted to create a brand new generation of Israelites who were not tainted by the disbelief and distrust of the generation that had started from Egypt.
Another very important juncture during their sojourn was the granting of the Decalogue. Every nation is to be ruled with a constitution; so on the fiftieth day after their departure from Egypt God gave His children a set of laws that bind them with Him and to themselves in the most just and righteous manner. Laws are supposed to provide discipline to a people, and they regulate their behavior. Yes, these Ten Commandments were burdensome for the Israelites as their later history tells us; and God heavily punished them when they deviated from them as a people. Even after receiving a code of conduct, their journey back to Canaan and their life in Canaan were not entirely comfortable.
We have a great spiritual lesson to learn from this part pf the paschal and post-paschal experience of the Hebrews.
Actually the Passover, or Pascha, was eventful, but the crossover was even more eventful. The crossing over to Canaan after reaching the Sinai required forty years of intense and excruciating hardship. Not all that crossed over the Red Sea to Sinai reached their destination! This should not discourage us, though.
Christ is the heavenly paschal lamb, whose blood averted the direct consequence of sin. His incarnation, ministry, betrayal, suffering, crucifixion and resurrection are all one event in the new Passover; although the resurrection of Christ is the culminating event that sealed the new Passover. If you compare this event with the first Passover in Egypt, we are also liberated with the blood of Christ like those Israelites who were liberated from death and the bondage of persecuting Egypt. Like the Israelites whose journey to Canaan started immediately after the sacrifice of the lamb and their first Passover meal, the journey of every Christian to the heavenly Canaan is only starting immediately after accepting Jesus the Christ and His suffering for our sins, and every believer in Christ has to go through the Red Sea and the Sinai desert, which is even more difficult.
The Israelites that were liberated from death and from the bondage of the Pharaoh, did not prove themselves worthy of entering the Promised Land, and although they were emancipated physically from Egypt, only one of them could become heir to the land of Canaan; even Moses the greatest of the prophets, who directly heard God’s voice and talked with God, could only gaze at the Promised Land from the top of Mount Nebo.
This is the course of every Christian believed to have been saved by Christ’s blood. Every Christian has to live a life, which is very similar to what Jesus Himself tasted. His life on earth started in the virgin womb of Mary; He lowered Himself to the level of His own creation, which is the lowliest one can think about the Sovereign God of the universe. If one studies the Gospels, they tell us His humiliation as a human being, the way the Jews treated Him, the way the Roman soldiers treated Him, and the worst form of execution that a criminal could get in the Roman Empire.
Jesus Himself demanded us to take up our crosses and follow Him up to the top of Golgotha and die with Him. Like Jesus completed His Passover with His subjugation of death by His own resurrection, our Passover will be also complete only with our resurrection in Christ, which He guaranteed for every believer in Him.
Our resurrection has two phases. One is in our own life time on earth. A Christian’s life must be a resurrected life, resurrected from our fleshly nature, resurrected from our sinful nature which we inherited from our first parents. Every individual Christian has to realize this experience if he is a believer in Christ, and claims to have been saved by the blood of Christ. This is not achieved just by showing off a Christian culture, such as going to Church every Sunday, attending Liturgies during the Holy Week, giving alms to the poor, donating money to bishops, or conducting prayer meetings in our home. They are good spiritual exercises if the Spirit of God dwells in us; otherwise such activities are not only futile, but also inviting condemnation. The Spirit of God lives in us only if we do not separate us from God by our sin. Think about ourselves: Are we keeping our body and soul pure without indulging in sexual sins, are we giving pain to our priests if they do not approve our own selfish agenda (and we sometimes bribe a bishop to punish a law-abiding priest or to get the former on our side!), are we plotting snares for our own brothers and sisters; are we cheating our spouses, are we stealing the property of others, are we doing a good job for our employer, are we raising our children faithful to God and His precepts, are we creating feud in communities or churches,….? The list of sins goes on, and still we pretend to be “good” Christians by going to Church every Sunday and supporting the bishops and their projects. If you are a person being guilty of any of these or other sins, you are one of those Pharisees condemned by our Lord. You have no righteousness in you; Satan, not the Holy Spirit, lives in you. You do not live the life of a resurrected person.