Preparations are being made for the celebration of Passover. The 14th of Nisan occurs on April 22 this year. For an entire week, those who celebrate Passover will not eat food with leaven in it. Many will remember how God's Spirit passed through Egypt and struck down the firstborn of men and animals to bring judgment on all the gods of this nation. Yet, He protected the firstborn in the houses where the blood of a lamb was on the sides and top of the door frames.
Unfortunately for the Egyptians, it took a major tragedy to convince Pharaoh that he should release the Israelites from slavery. The Egyptians were eager to see the Israelites go. They "urged the people to hurry and leave the country. 'For otherwise,' they said, 'we will all die!'" (Exodus 12:33) "So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians." (Exodus 12:34-36)
What better way to show the Israelites that they were being moved from slavery to freedom than to put the riches of the Egyptians into their hands? The word plunder usually denotes things taken by force. In this case, the Egyptians were eager to give their wealth to the Israelites, because God was in the middle of the equation. It is thought that there were over two million Israelites leaving Egypt. Can you imagine this picture? After 400 years of slavery, God's people were being led to freedom with masses of plunder!
God gave Moses a "heads up" when He met him in the burning bush. He told Moses, "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians." (Exodus 3:21-22)
Taking plunder, or spoils, became a way of life for the Israelites as they moved toward the Promised Land. It was taken from the Midianites (Numbers 31), the Amorites (Deuteronomy 2) and the Bashanites (Deuteronomy 3). God instructed His people, "...And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies." (Deuteronomy 20:14) This was true except for the plunder from Jericho--the first city taken in the Promised Land. The Israelites were to dedicate all this plunder to God as a firstfruits offering. After this they were permitted to collect plunder for themselves.
Isaiah confirms God's plan to stand by His people and give them the treasures of the enemy. "Yes, captives will be taken from warriors and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save." (Isaiah 49:25) And, so it would be that our Passover Lamb, Jesus, would demonstrate this arrangement of plundering the enemy camp. Here is how it is written about in the KJV of Colossians 2:15. "And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
During this season, let us remember that we have a heritage of being able to plunder the enemy camp. When things are stolen from you by the enemy, do not be passive. Go into his camp and retrieve all that has been stolen plus take plunder!
Joan E. Mathias