Thoroughly Equipped: Cleanse Me With Hyssop

Today’s reading is Exodus 12:14-13:16, Matthew 20:29-21:22, Psalm 25:16-23, Proverbs 6:12-15.

In today’s reading we come to the reason for the name of the book of Exodus.  They finally leave the slavery of Egypt.  They didn’t know what lay ahead, but they were ready to rid themselves of the shackles that had held them for so long.  And because they were ready, they were willing to listen to God’s instructions and follow it to the letter.  And what were those instructions?  Exodus 12:21 tells us.

21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them, “Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. 22 Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down.

 Hyssop grew freely in the land of Egypt.  They would have been familiar with hyssop because of its common occurrence in the landscape, but also because of its frequent use for cleansing and purification among the Egyptian priests.  Of course, those priests weren’t worshiping the One Living God.  And their use of hyssop involved eating it.  For them, the hyssop was the emphasis.  In God’s instructions, the hyssop was only a tool for application.  The blood was the emphasis. Later, hyssop was used for ritual cleansing and for sprinkling blood in the tabernacle. Here it was used in the first Passover in Egypt.  Moses summoned all the elders of Israel to select and slaughter the Passover lamb.  They were instructed to take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in blood, and put some of the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe.  The Lord would then “pass over” that door and not bring death to that home.

Hyssop was symbolic for cleansing, healing, and the forgiveness of sin.  Psalm 51 is David’s confession concerning his adulterous affair with Bathsheba.  Listen to what he said in Psalm 51:6-7:

            Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

These instructions of applying the blood over the doorpost with the hyssop was reflective of what was to come.  It was symbolic and prophetic.  It looked forward to the day that the Lamb of God would be slain so that death would forever pass over those who trust in the blood of the Lamb. It was perfect and complete timing when Jesus entered Jerusalem–knowing He would be entering to shed his blood—during the Passover celebration.

This week we have seen Moses overcome his slave mentality.  We have seen him overcome his shameful past and his insecurities.  Today, I want to push through to the practical and ask, what is your mentality?  How are you like Moses?  Do you have a slave mentality?  Do words of self-hatred and self-condemnation fly through your mind on a regular basis?  Do you feel unworthy to receive anything from the Lord?  Do you find yourself in bondage to the cycle of sin-slavery: sin which leads to guilt which leads to promises that we can’t keep which leads to more sin?  Even the great apostle Paul dealt with that in Romans 7:14-25:

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

But there is good news which Paul found, which I found and which you, too, can find:  Jesus came to set the captives free!  In his very first sermon, Jesus stood up and proclaimed the fulfillment of prophesy found in Isaiah 61:1-3:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,

       because the LORD has anointed me

       to preach good news to the poor.

       He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

       to proclaim freedom for the captives

       and release from darkness for the prisoners, [a]

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor

       and the day of vengeance of our God,

       to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

       to bestow on them a crown of beauty

       instead of ashes,

       the oil of gladness

       instead of mourning,

       and a garment of praise

       instead of a spirit of despair.

       They will be called oaks of righteousness,

       a planting of the LORD

       for the display of his splendor.”

 Through the shed blood of Jesus, we can be released from the slavery of sin.

Do you, like Moses, run and hide from your past mistakes?  The truth is that your past is a part of you and it will catch up with you.  The only way to deal with it is looking at it squarely.  In Ephesians six, we are told about the wonderful armor of God that we are each given:  the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Each piece of armor is ours to take and wear and use so that we can stand firm.  However, think for a moment about the placement of the pieces of armor—.they are all on the front.  If we don’t face our sin, our fears, our anger and our past, we can get hit from behind.

Moses eventually overcame his past, his slave mentality, and his life of mediocrity when he stopped running.  He did not run from the voice of God in the burning bush.  He stopped, stood face to face with God and took off his running sandals, because he knew he was standing on holy ground.  I’m sure he was terribly afraid, but after he quit running and saw God for who He really is, he craved that presence.  Later, he spent much time in the Tent of Meeting where the presence of God was the strongest; and once, he begged to see the full glory of God.  It was said of Moses that he talked with God as a friend.  That could only take place when he quit running and began to allow the Great Physician to heal his past.  Jesus can do the same for you, if you will let Him.

I don’t know what trials, past, or insecurities are a part of your life.  But God does know.  And He adores you.  Today, run to Him.

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