Paradigm Shift

Exodus 12:33-51

Paradigm shift – “a major change in a certain thought-pattern—a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing” Wikipedia

What the Jewish people were about to experience on first Passover night. For generation alive at the time, might have begun even earlier. Almost certain none of them had ever sacrificed a yearling from the flock, would not remember it having been done by previous generation. Remember after fourth plague (flies) Pharaoh’s “suggestion” to Moses, Ex. 8:25-26

“Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.”And Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us?”

Animal sacrifice never before practiced would become common way of worship for children of Israel God delivered from Egypt. Only one detail among many that would radically change in relatively short space of time. Had lived all their lives as subject people – strict limitations on what could decide for themselves, under control of harsh overseers, told what to do and when and how. Were beginning process of becoming separate nation with new laws, new leaders, new way of worship.

That way of worship is overriding concern all the way through, starting with final instruction to Moses as he left for Egypt – Ex. 4:22-23

“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.“So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”


Let my son go that he may serve me, that he may worship me – God’s intent for his people… that they be free to worship Him. And not much has changed – God still expects his people to serve him, brings them out of slavery to sin so they are free to please God. Paradigm shift just as significant for believers today as for children of Israel in our text – God brings about change of heart, change of address, and change of identity.

A. change of heart v.33-36, 38

from hostile (8:26) to favorable

people who had cooperated with Pharaoh – to kill their babies, get every possible ounce of free labor possible

at least in Moses’ view, would have killed Hebrew children for offensive religious practice, by no means tolerant

total about-face, change of heart toward Hebrews – looked on them with favor, not something Egyptians did on their own

a clear act of God – “the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians” – change of mind and heart only God could accomplish

good reminder for us… in relation to our own circumstances, those of brothers and sisters – may appear to be hopeless situation, oppressors will never let up

God can change hearts and minds today as easily as 3500 years ago, will do so in response to persistent importunate prayers of his people

oppressors begged them to leave

from Pharaoh on down, same people who refused to give up control for any reason now wanting to be rid of Hebrew children

combined work of God directly changing hearts and motivating through fear – Egyptians could see no reason for plague of death to stop with firstborn

from grasping to generous

just as readily gave away all that was asked of them as they had tried to increase fortunes by labors of enslaved people

appears to be no thought of holding back, trying to negotiate different terms – primarily interested in seeing people gone whatever the material cost might be

children of Israel, too

not just Egyptians whose hearts God changed, did major work on Hebrew children also – were just as unready to leave as captors to let them go

told them what God had promised to do, to deliver, to be their God, their response?

Ex. 6:9 So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.

now all did as instructed regarding Passover, being prepared to leave at moment’s notice, ready and willing to follow God’s servant

deeper for some – mixed multitude

not only Hebrew children that left Egypt – included people from other nations and native Egyptians content to throw lot in with Hebrews, at least for a while

certainly number of motives behind others tagging along – probable that at least some were genuine converts to true God… plagues that should have convinced all who true God is convinced some

great work of God

God thru Moses told Pharaoh “Let My people go, that they may serve Me,for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.” (Ex. 9:13-14)

no one can objectively consider account of what took place during early chapters of Exodus and reach any other conclusion – this can only be work of God, no other possible explanation

B. change of address v.37, 39-41, 51

Rameses to Succoth

not a great long journey on first day but long enough – distance not only important consideration at beginning of what would develop into 40-year pilgrimage

first time in memory when all Hebrew children together in one place – able to see who and how many made up total group

this only first of number of stops on way to final destination – Canaan; people not accustomed to travel, would need to tweak details of organization, get accustomed to entirely new lifestyle: tenting vs. house with walls

out of Egypt

reached first stop, baked bread (unleavened) had brought with them “out of Egypt” – might not seem like much progress

represented change of country – “in Egypt” to “out of Egypt” – tangible, on the ground indication things were going to be different

clear evidence for everyone in group that God was continuing to work his plan – achieving what seemed to be impossible

end of sojourn

interesting word translators used: sojourn… temporary stay; time in Egypt intended by God from beginning to be limited length

God had promised Abram “strangers in a land… four hundred years” (Gen. 15:13) – brought them out exactly on schedule… “on that very same day”

great work of God

almost expecting Pharaoh to put foot down… again, tell them they can’t leave – that he did not further evidence God doing the work

considering powerful acts of God in plagues and effect they had on Pharaoh… to further harden his heart, required even greater work by God to change Pharaoh’s position long enough for Hebrews to leave

C. change of identity v.42-50

solemn observance – night of watching

“It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.” ESV

God was working the night shift, on watch over his people to protect them, the Egyptians to bring judgment upon them

night of watching for Hebrew children, too – waiting for God to do as he promised and bring about their deliverance

regulations included participants

were to make clear distinction between those welcomed at Passover meal, those who were forbidden to participate

since their experience to serve as lesson/example for us, should be no surprise similar conditions apply to observance at Lord’s Table

all the congregation of Israel

everyone who was included in God’s covenant community – descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and bearing covenant sign

not simply permission being granted, declaration v.47 shows expectation that everyone eligible would observe it – “shall keep it”

not foreigners, hired servants, aliens, uncircumcised

at same time no mistaking who was barred from participating: no foreigners (immigrants, resident aliens), hired servants usually aliens, too

but here’s root condition: “no uncircumcised person shall eat it.” (48c) – participation really based on identity: how does person identify, as one of God’s people… or not?

“as a native”

harsh, maybe even racist? not really… look at first part verse 48 – stranger wants to keep Passover rightly, be circumcised, then keep it

doesn’t stop there: “and he shall be as a native of the land” – one who identifies as genuine follower of God welcomed into family

God had more in mind than physical external ritual – see Deut. 30:6 “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

When all that separates our hearts from God is removed, we experience just as significant a paradigm shift as Hebrew children. Have change of heart toward God and others, have change of address from residency in Satan’s kingdom to Christ’s kingdom, have change of identity from rebellious sinner subject to Satan to adopted son or daughter of God. Comes about when our trust in Christ alone for our salvation, because he alone has paid price in full for our redemption from slavery to sin and Satan.



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