Moses was in a showdown with Egypt’s powerful king. Though the king despised Moses, the people of Egypt had come to live in fear and awe of him: “The man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people” (Exodus 11:3).
As plague followed plague, Moses’ reputation among the people grew quickly, and soon Egyptian magicians could no longer mimic those plagues.
Moses became “very great” in Egypt when the plagues stopped affecting Goshen at all and after their intensity increased. While the people could not ignore that Moses was the agent of a God much different than any of their own, with a hard heart Pharaoh remained unmoved.
The first nine plagues had affected the productivity and well-being of Egypt, her people, property, and animals; but no previous plague would cut so deeply and painfully into the rebellious pride of unbelief as would the tenth and final one.
The killing of the firstborn would affect Egyptian households of rich and poor, slave and free alike; that plague would be the death not only of the firstborn children but also of the animals (some of which were regarded as gods by the Egyptians).
The “great cry in Egypt” exceeded anything we have ever seen—even with our large natural disasters and terrorist attacks—because “there was not a house where there was not one dead” (Exodus 12:30). The heart-numbing sorrow, anger, and misery associated with such a personal loss of life was only magnified for Pharaoh since his firstborn was also heir to the throne.
After each of the previous plagues Pharaoh had said “No!” to the Israelites’ departure from Egypt.
But after this tenth and most penetrating plague, Pharaoh finally said, “Go!” On their part, the Egyptian people not only said “Go!”, but they even helped the Israelites on their way. “[They] urged the [Israelites], that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead” (Exodus 12:33).
As the Israelites exited Egypt, they followed God’s direction and “asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians” (Exodus 12:35-36). God plundered the Egyptians of their wealth in judgment against their wickedness and in order to provide unique “back pay” to the Israelites for their years of slave labor.
Jacob’s family had arrived in Egypt 430 years earlier (as a family of 70, Genesis 46:27). Imagine the joy and excitement of the amazing scene as Jacob’s family left Egypt “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children” (Exodus 12:37)!
That was an amazing deliverance from God, yet it only scratches the surface of the deliverance God revealed in Egypt!
An Even More Marvelous Escape!
In the midst of all the sorrow and pain of the tenth plague, there was a rescue from it all. On that eventful night Egyptian and Israelite alike saw the reality and effects of sin as well as God’s judgment upon it. However, all who heeded God’s Word would be spared, for in the announcement of
the coming plague God also provided the escape.
“On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb…your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year…now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it…For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:3ff).
The LORD also gave instructions for roasting the Passover lamb and for how it should be eaten—that the leftovers should be burned and the people should eat it while being ready to travel (cf. Exodus 12:8-11); but it was the blood of that lamb that would deliver the faithful from the sorrow of death and the misery of judgment.
We rejoice to know that the Passover Lamb is an Old Testament picture of our Savior Jesus. The blood of the holy, unblemished Son of God was poured out on the cross. As the Son of God suffered and the Father forsook Him (cf. Matthew 27:46), we see God’s just judgment against sin—our sin—carried out upon Jesus.
The Passover was to be celebrated and remembered every year throughout the generations. “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations…And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who…delivered our households’” (Exodus 12:14, 26).
On the night Jesus was betrayed, He observed the Passover with His disciples and remembered God’s deliverance from Egypt. Then He provided the transition from Old Testament remembrance to New Testament remembrance by instituting the Lord’s Supper and saying, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
As we recount the events of the Exodus, we see God provide deliverance from the tenth plague and the bondage of Egypt, but even more amazing, wonderful, and joyful is the deliverance He foreshadowed in Egypt and accomplished on Calvary.
Our proclamation of the saving gospel and our celebration of the Lord’s Supper remember God’s deliverance accomplished for us in the midst of death, sorrow, and judgment.
The deliverance transcends all space and time!
It is a deliverance of all sinners—a deliverance for the ages!
And it is the central truth of HIS story!