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The Passover

Exodus 12:13


"And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." (NASB)

Exodus 7-12 records that God brought down 10 different plagues upon the people of Egypt because Pharaoh refused to release the children of Israel from their bondage. Each of these plagues would play a part in the ultimate exodus of God's chosen people from their captivity into a forty-year journey into the promised land, but the tenth plague-the death of the first born son-would be the ultimate cause for Pharaoh authorizing the release of the people.

When the time was right, God appeared to Moses from a bush that burned, but was not consumed to invite him to join Him in the work He planned on doing with His people. At first, Moses hesitated, but God convinced Moses to submit to His plan. Moses returned to his former home--the palace--to ask Pharaoh to release the people and allow to Moses to lead them into their destinies, but Pharaoh wasn't convinced it was what he wanted to do. Even after Moses demonstrated the power of God before Pharaoh, he didn't cooperate, so God unleashed the plagues and pestilence upon all of Egypt. These were historic catastrophes of Biblical proportions. They were miraculous, no doubt, but not because they weren't natural. Each of the plagues sprung from things that happen in nature, but to a greater extent than you'd expect. The plagues came out of nature, but they were more than natural-they came as a result of Divine activity.

The first plague foreshadowed the last one, God turned the Nile river into blood (7:14-24). Death was everywhere. All the fish in the Nile died and the water was no longer potable and fit for consumption. This catastrophe should have been enough to turn Pharaoh's heart, but it wasn't. Even though the people suffered, he did not relent and did not let God's people go.

A week later, God unleashed a plague of frogs upon the people (7:25-8:15). According to the scripture, frogs were everywhere, even in their kneading bowls they used to make bread. When Pharaoh was up to his eyeballs in frogs, he called Moses and asked him to talk to God about getting rid of the frogs. In return, Pharaoh was willing to let the people go and make some sacrifices unto the Lord. Moses prayed to God and God answered his prayers. All the frogs died, but then there was the problem of the disposal of their remains. Once again, the smell of death filled Egypt. But Pharaoh hardened his heart and did not let the people go.

The third plague (8:16-19) brought gnats upon the land, which convinced the magicians that this was from the finger of God, but because of his hard heart, Pharaoh wouldn't listen even to his own people. Next came another pesky insect-the fly (8:20-32). This one was getting to Pharaoh to the extent that he allowed Moses to leave Egypt to sacrifice to God and ask God to remove the flies. Moses, being a man of his word, prayed and God, being a faithful God answered the prayer of Moses, but Pharaoh, being a hard-hearted man, didn't relent.

The fifth plague (9:1-7) brought about the death of many of Egypt's cattle, including their donkeys, camels, sheep and other types of domesticated beasts. While the destruction fell upon Egypt, Israel's cattle were spared. But even after 5 plagues, hard-hearted Pharaoh wouldn't let God's people go.

With the sixth plague (9:8-12), it gets personal. Boils infect both man and beast-the pain was such that the magicians had to call in sick and couldn't stand before Moses as they had been doing. But even now Pharaoh wouldn't let the people go, because of his hard heart. Look closely at Exodus 9:12 and you'll see that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, "And the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses." (NASB) Up until now, you might have had the idea that Pharaoh was thwarting the plans of God, but by now it should be clear, even Pharaoh's disobedience was in God's plans. What possible good could come about by Pharaoh's rebellion? God answers that question before he visited the seventh plague, the plague of hail (9:13-35) upon Egypt. Exodus 9:16 says, "But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth." (NASB) Pharaoh's rebellion became the background for God to display is might among the people, so that His name would be exalted throughout all the earth. Pharaoh was an unwitting double agent, if you will. Even in his rebellion, he was accomplishing the purposes of God.

The hail fell and Pharaoh became aware of his sins, begging Moses and Aaron to intercede on his behalf and ask God to remove his fury from the storm clouds. Gladly, Moses interceded and the storm abated, but not before it had destroyed the crops of Egypt. And once again, Pharaoh's hard heart wouldn't let him turn lose of the people of God and let them go.

What the hail didn't get, the locust (10:1-20) would. Moses stretched out his hands and the locust swarmed in with the east wind. The pests ate from the crops and the fruit trees, stripping the land of its vitality. Once again Pharaoh repented and asked for Moses to pray, and once again, God lifted the plague from the land. And as before, God hardened Pharaoh's heart and Pharaoh wouldn't let the people go.

The ninth plague was the quiet before the storm that would rock all of Egypt; darkness (10:21-29). Darkness fell upon all the land for three days. I wonder if after Jesus rose from the grave the disciples ever made the connection between the 9th plague and the three days of spiritual darkness they experienced while awaiting the Son rise of Easter Sunday? 

The tenth and final plague was the big one-the death of the first-born son. (11:1-10; 12:29-42). The death angel would pass through the land of Egypt and would kill the first-born son of every man, except for those who were covered by the blood of the lamb.

In preparation for the tenth plague, God instructed the children of Israel to put the blood of the Passover lamb on the two doorposts and on the lentil of the house. God made a covenant with the people: when the death angel saw the blood on the doorposts, it would "pass over" that house and not kill the first-born son. But if a house did not have the blood on the doorposts and lintel, the death angel would visit their home and kill their first-born son. The Lord said, "And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." (Exodus 12:13 NASB)

Pharaoh didn't make the proper preparations and his son died, ultimately leading him to let God's people go. How great that pain must have been. He withstood the hassles of the other plagues, the resulting poisoning of the water supply, the devastation of their foodstuffs, but he couldn't bear the grief of losing his son. God's people were free to go and would from that day forth, celebrate the Passover-the day God graciously spared their sons. It was a day unlike any other.

But from the perspective of the cross, it is even more significant. God spared their sons, but he didn't spare His own. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV) 

Jesus gave the blood of the lamb that protects us from the death angel. At the first Passover, it was lamb's blood, but today it is the blood from the one slain before the foundation of the world. 1 Cor. 5:7-8 says, "Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. [8] Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (NASB) 

When the bells of eternity chime, will the death angel pass over your home? Or will you fall victim to your own disobedience. Just as those who spread the blood of the lamb over their doorpost were spared, so will those who are redeemed by the spilt blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Jesus paid the price for our sins and made the free gift of eternal life possible to everyone who believes.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you've accepted Jesus as your Savior and surrendered your life to Him as your Lord?

Won't you pray with me now? With a simple prayer, tell Him that you've sinned and that you're sorry for you sins. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to take them away from you. Tell Him you'll live the rest of your life for Him and that you'll serve Him until your dying day. Tell Him that you are willing to exchange your life for His death. Ask Him to save you.

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