There are moments in history that change everything. This story is one of those moments, not only for the Hebrew people, but a pivotal moment in God’s redemptive plan for all His people. God is getting ready to send one last plague upon Egypt, and after 430 years of slavery, God’s people will finally be free.
God Prepares His People (12:1-20)
Before God sends the final plague, He gives Moses and Aaron instructions on how to celebrate the Passover meal, before they ever experienced what a “Passover” was. God tells them their calendars are about to change. Their freedom from Egypt was so significant, so important for them to remember, they would reset their calendars by this event.
Then God described how they would commemorate this event with a very unusual meal – “the LORD’s Passover”. Every Hebrew family would take a male lamb or goat of one year old, without defect. They would take the blood of the lamb and put it on the outside of their front door on the two side posts and on the beam overhead. Then they were to roast the lamb whole (unbroken) and serve it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Every person would eat some. No meat would be saved for later. All would eat it standing up, with their shoes on, as if ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
God gave all of these instructions before He sent the plague. That’s because He wants His people to be prepared. No panic. No running around. No one paralyzed by fear. God wants His people to be ready. And, because God wants His people to have faith, to trust in Him. To know this has been God’s plan from the beginning.
God Sends the Final Plague (12:29-32)
Unlike the other plagues, God did not use Moses or Aaron to initiate it by some act of using a staff or praying. No mediation by man. God did it all by Himself. It’s also different because God didn’t automatically exempt His people – they had to act. They had to apply the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, or they would have experienced the very same judgment as the Egyptians. Your nationality couldn’t save you from this judgment. Only the blood of the lamb could.
God sent forth the final plague – death itself. You could not hide. Swords and shields could not protect you. All the magicians and false gods of Egypt were powerless. Walls were not thick enough. Not a single person was good enough or rich enough or strong enough. No prayer was fervent enough. You were protected by one thing and one thing only – the blood of the lamb.
From the poorest to the richest, from the captive to the king, every single house was affected. Every single house experienced a death – either the death of a firstborn child, or the death of a lamb. Wailing cries filled Egypt, including the cries of Pharaoh. He commands Moses to take all the Hebrews and leave Egypt.
God Leads His People to Freedom (12:33-51)
Just as God had instructed them before, the Hebrews went to the Egyptians and asked for their gold and silver. The Egyptians quickly gave them everything they asked for, and begged the Hebrews to leave Egypt quickly, fearing God would kill them next.
What a turn of events. Now instead of the backs of God’s people bending under the weight of bricks as they had in slavery, those scarred backs were now carrying out the treasures of Egypt as a free people. Back pay for 10 generations of slave labor and injustice. The rich made poor, the poor made rich. The strong made weak, the slave made free.
That night, 600,000 men left Egypt, not including women and children and foreigners, (about 2 million people in all). The Bible says it was “a mixed multitude”, meaning not just Hebrews, but some Egyptians and other nationalities, who heeded the warnings, and obeyed God’s commands, and God in His mercy took them in.
What an amazing moment, a history-defining moment. Not only for what this meant for the Hebrews, but how all of this points forward to God’s faithfulness shown, many years later, when He would send the better Moses to bring a better deliverance. When God would send His only Son Jesus Christ to free all God’s people from the slavery of sin.
All through the final plague and the Passover, we see reflections and reminders of Jesus throughout:
-God graciously providing a death substitute for His people – the blood of a spotless lamb. That points us to the greater substitute, God’s own Son, who died in our place. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
-Like the lamb, Jesus was spotless. He was sinless. Only one who is without sin can die for the sin of another. Jesus alone is our sinless, substitutionary sacrifice.
-With the final plague, God did not automatically protect the Hebrews. For our salvation, Christ did the work, but we must believe, repent, place faith in Christ, and live for Him.
-As the lamb was kept intact, so was Jesus on the cross, (not a bone was broken). This not only fulfilled prophecy (Ps 34:20), but it also preserved the picture of an undivided Body of Christ, which is the church, unified in our love for Him and one another.
-The Passover meal is now replaced by communion. The Lord’s Passover became the Lord’s Supper. Every believer partaking of the Lamb, trusting in His shed blood, remembering how He rescued us from death and made us free in Him.
Thank God for His faithfulness – not just in freeing the Hebrews, but in freeing all His people from our sin by the blood of His Son. May we see with new eyes what Christ has done for us. May we thank Him, celebrate Him, proclaim Him and worship Him forever.