Exodus 12:21-39 A Bloody Branch of Hyssop 2-15-15

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Life of Moses
Lesson 21
A Bloody Branch of Hyssop…
Ex. 12:21-39
Orig. 4.27.03; ed. 2.15.15



Introduction… God’s deliverance can be seemingly so unpredictably swift–worshipfully simple to the faithful and yet, powerfully devastating to those caught in the crossfire of evil’s destruction.

Doesn’t it surprise how unpredictable life can be at times? Sometimes, it is seemingly not so good, and other times, it can be beyond our wildest hopes and dreams? But just about the time we think neither good or bad is coming, wham! It comes sudden and unexpected. Our only defense against life’s ups and downs is the simple—the tried and true…a simple meal eaten with friends in the presence and dependence of God. God never goes away, sees all and knows all. He is our salvation everyday. We eat simple meals in trust that he is delivering us everyday and that someday he will deliver us forever. Simple meals, eaten in the presence of God with like-minded friends. Does it get any better than this, be it the Passover lamb or the body’s communion with our Lord…

What were the devastating costs required for Yahweh God to redeem (or buy back), his chosen people, the Children of Israel, via their miraculous  Exodus (or way out) from harsh Egyptian enslavement?

  • Moses makes 12 appearances before Pharaoh.
  • There are 39 mentions of Israel’s “release” or “deliverance” in order to celebrate a festival to Yahweh God in the desert.
  • 7  times Yahweh predicts that Pharaoh will not listen to Moses.
  • In order to motivate Pharaoh to release his enslaving grip upon the Israelites, Yahweh unleashes 10 Consecutive, Pervasive and Devastating Curses upon Egypt.
  • 10 times the text clearly says that Yahweh God distinguishes between Israel and Egypt with respect to the plagues’ devastating affects. 
  • Neither Pharaoh’s diviners nor his gods are any match for Yahweh’s mighty hand.  

In delivering Israel from Egypt, Yahweh God could be defeating as many as 118 Egyptian deities.


It is also interesting to note that Yahweh’s last and greatest curse against Egypt, the curse of Egypt’s firstborn, is not just directed against the firstborn of man and beast, but also “against all the gods of Egypt” (Ex. 12:12).

  • Under intense national pain and pressure, on several occasions, Pharaoh will express a momentary remorse and contrition for not releasing Israel to worship.

Pharaoh is momentarily contrite (3x) while admitting sin (2x) and asking Moses to prayerfully intercede on behalf of Pharaoh’s disobedience to Yahweh for not releasing the Israelite as commanded by Yahweh, in order that they may fully serve Yahweh God in the desert with sacrifices (4x); Once Pharaoh  even asks for forgiveness.

  • 7x Pharaoh will declare that Israel can go and sacrifice (after plagues 2, 4, 7, 8, 9 [2x]; 10); 
  • But because of the hardening of his heart, Pharaoh will change his mind and recant his promise 4x; 
  • In fact, there are 17 references to the “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart.

Moses makes mention of this “hardening” a total of 17 times, with 9 references being attributed directly to Yahweh’s divine intervention, 6 neutral occurrences, which could be inferred to as being attributed to Yahweh and 3 more occurrences in which Pharaoh and his servants are given the credit of “hardening” their own hearts.”

  • 4x Pharaoh unsuccessfully attempts to make a bargain with God or Moses so that not all of Israel will go and worship.
  • So what’s the point to all this protracted salvific drama? 

So with this one protracted drama acted out on history’s stage, God reveals the truth concerning God and man. God is big; man is small. Though for a time, it may seem that man can be God, when man attempts to play God, he is ultimately crushed by God, and those who choose to keep God, God and man, man, or those that ally themselves with God through faith, with will not only be delivered from corrupt man, but will be rewarded for their trust.


Read the Passage two-three times…

Ask Questions (no answers)…

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb

So if there were 600,000 men in Israel, how many elders were there and what qualified as an elder? And did only elders sacrifice this lamb or were there more?

Since they were shepherds to begin with, I suppose, the children of Israel had plenty of lambs to sacrifice, but what a sacrifice. What a sacrifice! Perhaps not 600,000, but perhaps 20,000-30,000 of the best lambs and goats? That would be one lamb or goat for every twenty to thirty people. Still, that’s quite an investment, but to save your first born and purchase your freedom from a harsh daily existence of making bricks without straw, I would have to say it’s worth it, and in the end, no dobut, it was.

22 You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.

Is everything spoken of here required? I mean was the hyssop what was available to them or could they use another plant to apply the blood? Why the lintel and both doorposts? And why stay in the whole night?

23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you

Because death will be outside? Evil, as far as calamity, is concerned, like a deadly virus? And what or who is the “destoyer”?

24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 

Forever? You shall never forget this night! Interesting, within Jewish homes, this meal is still observed 3400 years later. Amazing! Now that is a sustainable memorial.

25 When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 

Remember this is all connected to a promise. This is not just about freedom or release, this is about a destiny, a place, a going home and the fulfillment of a promise or covenant to Israel’ patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (or Israel).

26 And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 

They will ask…

27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.

This act of devastating and costly deliverance is connected to worship…

28 Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

In this case, they were obedient. The stakes were high…


29 Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. 

The final plague, like all the others, was extensive. No first born escaped. Why the “firstborn”? Value? The “first”? Thus the connection to worship?

30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead.

Extensive! What a collective mourning by one people group!

31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord, as you have said. 

Finally, the unconditional release to worship…

32 Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.”

So flocks of sheep and herds or goats? And “bless me also”! Are you kidding? Your stubbornness has become a curse to your people!

33 The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We will all be dead.” 

34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.

The unleavened and nonrisen bread of haste?

35 Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 

This was bold, but obedient!

36 and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Was this both a blessing to Israel and a humiliation to the Egyptians?

37 Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. 

38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock. 

What does “mixed” mean? Egyptians? What about other people groups living and working in Egypt?

39 They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.






  • Moses commands the elders to choose and sacrifice the Passover animals. Then they are to take a hyssop branch, dip it in the animal’s blood and paint the blood above and on both sides of their doors and to remain in their homes for Yahweh is about to Passover the door of their homes to prevent the Destroyer or destruction from entering their homes and striking (their first born).
  • Since the Israelites are to observe this ordinance forever, including when they enter the land that God is taking them to, and their children ask Why? you are to tell them that this is Yahweh’s Passover when he passed over our homes in Egypt and struck down the Egyptians, but delivered our families.
  • Then the people bowed down low to the ground and went away and did exactly what Yahweh had instructed them to do through Moses and Aaron.
  • At midnight, Yahweh attacked all the first born in the land of Egypt, including Pharaoh’s, including the slave in prison’s first born, including the cattle’s first born. No one is excluded, and there was such a great cry in Egypt for every home was affected.
  • Finally, Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron and releases the Israelites, along with their families, flocks and herds, to worship their God. In addition, Pharaoh requests to be blessed as they worshiped.
  • And as the people left, just as God said, they plundered the Egyptians, requesting gold, silver and clothing from them.
  • 600,000 men, along with their dependents, others and their flocks, herds and cattle journeyed from Ramses to Sukkoth on foot.
  • And since their was no time for them to prepare extra food, they quickly baked unleavened bread for their journey.



As the Israelites obey God and safely within their homes eat the meat of the sacrificial Passover lamb whose blood is now sprinkled upon their doorposts they are protected by God from the destruction which visits every home in Egypt and takes the lives of all of Egypt’s first born.

Because of Egypt’s great grief, Pharaoh releases all of Israel to go and worship their God and the Israelites plunder a willing Egypt.

600,000 men, along with their families, others and all their livestock make the journey from Ramses to Sukkoth, but not bread with leaven because there was no time to prepare any more food for their journeys.

Bottom line…

Because of the great devastation brought about by the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, Pharaoh finally releases the Israelites to go and worship; as the Israelites leave, they plundered the grieving Egyptians of gold, silver and clothing; at the same time, they have no time to prepare anything but unleavened bread for the journey ahead.

Why’s? Why did God include this passage in his timeless word? Or What do I learn about God? Life? People? Myself?

  • Worship is vitally connected with deliverance.
  • Through its leadership, each individual Israelite family played a very specific obedient, worshipful role, though small, via their eating this sacrificial meal, in God’s ultimate deliverance. 
  • One the one hand, what brought deliverance from man’s sin for the Israelites, costs the non-believing, non-worshiping Egyptians greatly. In other words, as God’s sword fell, its power brought both deliverance and judgment—deliverance to those who out of need sought his salvation and judgment to those, because of their power and standing, feel that they don’t need it and therefore, do not seek it and are not rescued by it.
  • God’s deliverance was extensive. All went. All were delivered, including families, flocks and herds, including those that were not Israelites, but perhaps did believe and did trust. Thus God’s deliverance was not just about being an Israelite, but about one’s faith, trust and obedience, which, in this case, was strongly associated with the Israelites as a people group, who were needy, trusting and obedient.
  • While the Israelites’ provisions were provided for via their aggressive plundering of the grieving Egyptians, quickly-cooked unleavened bread cakes, similar to what they had just eaten during the Passover meal, were their only meal provisions. In other words, some provisions were longer term, and even those, including the gold and silver they plundered from the Egyptians, will serve as the basis for Israel’s idolatrous downfall at Sinai, while others, such as the unleavened bread, are more temporary and represent both our worship and our daily dependence upon God.

So What’s? How does this truth personally apply to one of my life’s struggles?

 2003 Application…

Struggle…Trying to figure out how to teach, apply Revelation 10. It is kind of a hinge passage from the first half of Revelation and the first telling of the story from heaven’s point of view to the second half and telling the story from earth’s point of view.

They key line seems to be near the end of the chapter when John eats the little scroll or book. At first it seems sweet, but then, just as the angel from which he taken the book from had told him, it becomes sour in his stomach (IBS is in the Bible. In fact, I live this almost every day of my life).

But am struggling with what to do with this passage—and this after showing the youth team on Sunday, how one can take almost anything and turn it into a meaningful lesson.

So I am stuck—blocked. And I don’t like. I have other things I need to do. That is why I shifted to this lesson.

Principle or Truth…When God does provide or deliver his children from their woes, he does it in a rich and satisfying manner. Before that there even may be pain and resistance, but his salvation is promised and sure.

Application…I will trust God that he will show me a way. God is a God of salvation and he honors those who honor him. I will trust him that he will unblock or show me the way through my confusion. I am also trusting him for how he will provide with respect to Steve, my son and so many other difficult situations we all encounter. And that he will do it richly and with distinction. God will provide.

2015 Application…

Thanksgiving…My Spiritual daughter just had her baby and my Spiriutal granddaughter. I am greatly, greatly blessed. This journey began in earnest on Oct. 4, with a phone call that my Spiritual daughter was in deep trouble. I didn’t know what to do, but after asking my wife and my Spiritual daughter’s mother what they thought, I got permission to go check things out. Now four and a half months later, mom and baby are safe. Everyday, we eat your manna, Lord. Everyday, we eat and trust your manna. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Struggle…Being away from Rhonda, while leaving her my four-wheel drive, 5-speed truck to drive with potential snow coming in while I take the van on a extended trip with the guys south of any snow.

Truth… God’s deliverance involves both the communal worship and daily dependence, as symbolized in a simple, sacrificial meal, and cuts both ways—both deliverance to those who trust and eat and judgment to those who don’t trust and don’t eat.

Application…If I believe I am to be away for now, I still must eat and trust—his provision for me while away and his provision for my family back home. Every day is about simple meals of thankful trust. I trust God every day—this is life. This is living. This is thriving, trusting.

What about you? Struggle? Truth? Application?


Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org).

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