The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.”
Biblical chronologists may disagree with this as a specific line of demarcation, but as a general one Exodus 12 marks a stark tonal transition between the remainder of Moses’ writings (Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) and what we’ve read thus far in Genesis-Exodus 11. No doubt, this Passover is a new genesis for God’s people, the start of a new literary genre for biblical revelation, and it feels on the surface like a seismic shift from a narrative where God works behind the scenes, only imposing Himself into the story at special moments to bring special promises to certain individuals, to a narrative where God etches Himself into the script through rules and regulations until every facet of human life is covered.
I feel compelled to admit that as I step across this significant terrain of God’s Self-revelation, I do so hesitantly. Because, to me, there’s great allure in watching God wrestle with Jacob through the night. There’s rich symbolism in witnessing Him draw long-lost brothers back together in the most surprising fashion. There’s wonderful humor in seeing Him obliterate the life’s work of Egyptian wizards with the snap of His finger. But where these opening chapters of Moses’ testament have been like a coat of diverse colors, personalities, and Theophanous events, the law of God spelled out in rules and injunctions starts to feel very black and white. To speak metaphorically, one feels like an unrestricted Promised Land flowing with milk and honey; the other feels like a gated community with a stringent HOA and a hefty set of covenants and restrictions.
But there’s a paradox here, friend. C.S. Lewis writes that “holy places are dark places,” which is a way of saying that very bright lights tend to blind our eyes until we grow accustomed to them. So while this language of law is shrouded in shadow, while it can sound restrictive rather than constructive, that’s only because our eyes aren’t yet accustomed to the radiant light behind it. And to see the Spirit’s form through the fog will take time. Which is great news for us as God’s children, because we’ve got an eternity!