Nine of the ten plagues have come upon Egypt. Pharaoh, with his hard heart, still will not change his mind and obey. So, God sends a tenth and final plague.
Putting an End to Evil
God says that he is going to punish the Egyptians by bringing death to their firstborn. Not only the firstborn of their livestock, but their firstborn sons. Firstborn wasn’t just a descriptive word, telling you who happened to be born first. It was a title, signifying who would carry the family name, inherit the family estate, and run things when the father no longer could.
But why should the firstborn in each house die? Why not the fathers or someone else? In Pharaoh’s case, the firstborn would have taken the throne. By cutting off the line, God is saying that this evil, oppressive, idolatrous system of government and worship must come to an end.
But the punishment applied to everyone in Egypt. Everyone participated in the worship of false gods, including Pharaoh, and in the oppression of Israel. By taking the firstborn, God is saying, “I want all this evil to stop multiplying.”
Saved From the Plague
Like the other plagues, Egypt would be afflicted, but Israel would be spared.
But unlike the other plagues, this time God gives a visible sign that distinguished saved Israel from punished Egypt. If anyone would sacrifice a spotless lamb and spread its blood over the door of their homes, God would look at the blood and the plague and punishment would passover them.
Even though, as we will soon find out, Israel is just as evil as Egypt, God saves them. Even though Israel has a hard heart like Pharaoh, God shows them mercy. In the Passover God’s people are saved from what they deserve.
A Feast to Remember
But this wasn’t just a ritual, it was also a feast. The lamb was not just something to use, it was something to enjoy. The lamb whose blood was spread over the door of each house was also to be eaten by every single member of that house.
This intimate relationship between the people and their sacrifice created by injesting that which took their place, was a very real way for the people to slow down, understand, appreciate, and enjoy what God was doing for them.
This feast also became the starting point for Israel’s new yearly calendar. Every year, they were to remember this gracious act of God and eat this same meal.
Where is Jesus?
This is one of the most central stories of the whole Bible. It not only frames God’s relationship with Israel for a long time to come, it also gives us a picture of what God has done for us in Jesus.
Jesus Ends Evil
Just as the death of the firstborn in Egypt was God’s way of saying that this evil must stop, Jesus dying on the cross was God’s final way of putting evil to a stop once and for all. He is called God’s firstborn son. By dying on the cross and rising from the dead, Jesus disarmed the spiritual forces of evil.
Their power was our sin’s death and condemnation. But since Jesus has taken that punishment off of us, the spiritual forces of evil have no weapons left.
Not only does he disarm the powers of evil forces, he actually stops evil from multiplying within us. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit begins a new work in us. He kills that which is evil inside of us, and brings about a goodness in us that we could never have conjured up on our own. Jesus ends evil both outside us and inside us.
Jesus Saves Us From Our Plague
The New Testament calls Jesus our Passover lamb. It was no accident that Jesus’s death took place during the time when Israel was celebrating the Passover feast. He was showing that his death was the fulfillment of all the lambs slain to save the people of Israel.
Because of the evil we have committed, this same plague of death was coming to us. But when anyone puts their trust in what Jesus earned for them in his death and resurrection, his blood covers them like the lamb’s blood covered the Israelites’ doors. In the same way, God’s punishment and plague pass us over.
The Feast We Remember
Before going to the cross, Jesus himself ate the Passover meal. Only, the last time he did so, he showed us the full meaning of the true and final Passover.
Jesus said that the wine they had with the meal was his blood, and the bread they were eating was his body. What Jesus meant by this would make sense several hours later, when Jesus died on the cross to provide us with the final and perfect blood of the final and perfect Passover lamb.
Christians still participate in this feast today. Whether you know it as the Lord’s Supper, Communion, the Eucharist, or by some other name, Christians have been eating this bread and drinking this wine for the last two thousand years. When we eat this meal, we remember the lamb that was slain that made it so we could be passed over from the judgement we deserved.
See For Yourself
May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God of grace who passed you over even when you deserved death, and may you see Jesus clearly today as the Passover lamb who died so you might live.