That night there was a visitor to the Land of Egypt. He was sent by God with one mission and it was a deadly mission. He was the destroyer, the angel of death. This visitor was looking for something. Every house he went to he stopped for a brief second and looked at the door of the house. If he saw blood, he passed over that house and went on to the next one. As the destroyer that night made his way up and down the Nile River, he entered into the houses whose people were not covered by the blood of the Lamb and killed the firstborn.
As he traveled to all the different cities of Egypt, he would come across entire settlements where not a single house had been marked by the sign of salvation; not a single house had sacrificed the substitute lamb but each bore the brunt of God’s judgement themselves.
29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead.
1. No One Was Exempt
31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”
While this event was unlike anything the world has seen or ever will see again. Yet, God was declaring the basis on which people would be saved from His wrath against sin. Salvation is directly connected to the blood of the Lamb. The death of a substitute has always been the plan and it goes back as far as Cain and Abel…
Genesis 4:3–5 (ESV)
3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.
One of the main themes throughout the Bible is substitutionary atonement…the death of a substitute to pay for my sin. We see in Genesis now let’s jump to the end of the Bible and see those entering into heaven are doing so by the blood of the Lamb…
Revelation 7:14 (ESV)
14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
We also see this great separation between those who enter heaven and those who are assigned their place in the Lake of Fire. Being rich or poor, popular or unknown, smart or not, gifted in some way or unskilled even…good or bad has nothing to do with where you spend eternity. Attaining to some level of morality will not get you into heaven. Moral people are cast into hell probably quicker than anyone. No, it all has to do with substitution. In the OT it was a lamb who died in place of the sinner and in the NT it is Jesus Christ, God’s Lamb who died in place of the sinner. The application of this death to us is by faith. All who believe will escape God’s wrath.
What did God say to Moses?
Exodus 12:13 (ESV)
13 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 no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
Pharoah has been beaten by God, just as God said. There are no exceptions all must be covered by the blood of the Lamb from the smallest to the king. Pharoah was not covered by the blood so he experienced God’s wrath.
His final words here to Moses are very pathetic… and bless me also!”
But there was no blessing for Pharoah. He had passed the point of no return long ago. The only thing now was for God to defeat him but He would not bless Pharoah. God will not bless anyone who will not repent. At this stage Pharoah had gone far past the point of repentance. All along the way Pharoah desired his comfort not God.
Even now, Pharoah does not repent but asks Moses for some blessing but he does not receive one. Pharoah is the enemy of God and His people and will not be blessed.
Now we have entered into a discussion that Paul tells us is a place we had better tread very carefully.
Romans 9:14–23 (ESV)
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
Our understanding is human. God is not like us. He can do whatever He wants and it is always right…there our analysis probably had better stop.
2. The Riches of Egypt
33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
God was victorious over all of Egypt. God’s people were more than conquerors and they took the spoils of war as they left Egypt. This is the wording we find in the Bible. It’s military language. What’s even more amazing is the God calls His people the victors as they collect the plunder…
36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
Most see this event as sort of a bribe from the Egyptians to get the Israelites out of their land at any cost.
This plundering event fulfills what God had told Abraham…
Genesis 15:13–14 (ESV)
13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
Numbers 33:3–4 (ESV)
3 They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians, 4 while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them. On their gods also the Lord executed judgments.
So, they left Egypt with their unleavened bread and the gold of the Egyptians. This gold was a gift from God because as the Bible tells us, God had given the Israelites favor in sight of the Egyptians.
Unfortunately, this would be the gold that the Israelites would gather up to forge the golden calf. How quickly can we humans take the blessings of God and turn them into idols.
3. The Great Exodus Begins
37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.
This marks the end of the Israelites 430 years living in Egypt.
The number of people who left Egypt falls into the millions. six hundred thousand men on foot. This typically refers to men 20 years old and older. Most men on foot were probably married with multiple children and would at lease constitute ¼ of the entire population.
Verse 38 is a verse we should not overlook. It tells us a mixed multitude also went with them. Possibly some from Egypt who had seen the plagues and repented and trusted in God. Perhaps these were ones who had also trusted in the shed blood of the Lamb and had applied it to their doors like the Israelites did.
Verse 40 is a little confusing in English. Moses does not mean that they left Egypt 430 later to the day but actually he means that the same day of the Passover they left Egypt. There was no delay in leaving is what He means.
Exodus 12:43–51 (ESV)
Institution of the Passover
43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
50 All the people of Israel did just as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
4. Looking Back to the Plagues
What the Plagues did…
Remember Moses prior to the plagues? Remember how he tried to get out of going to Egypt? Remember at the burning bush how he tried everything he could think of? He was timid and did not fully trust God at that point. As he saw God in action doing everything, He said He would do Moses because a man who believed God. Moses became very bold in Pharoah’s presence because he was confident in God. He became a very articulate statesman and a great leader. He had become a man of unwavering faith.
Remember all of Egypt’s gods? The plagues showed that God possessed true power and all of Egypt’s so-called deities were nothing compared to God. One by one the Lord showed they were nothing and in fact, to trust in them meant total devastation. We learned the foolishness of idolatry.
Remember Pharoah? We see in Pharoah how sin makes you stupid. He saw what God did. He saw how his god’s were worthless. He saw the land of Egypt after God was finished and all Pharoah did was harden his heart. He resisted the hand of God at every step. The plagues served to harden Pharoah.
The plagues are also a testimony of the power of God to save. The plagues did not affect the Land of Goshen. So many times during the ten plagues we read that those in Goshen had not been affected. The tenth and final plague we learned that God would not judge those who are covered by the blood of the Lamb. Salvation is available to all who believe.
The plagues served to free God’s people. They are an eternal testimony to God’s power that He displayed for all to see. God’s people are now free from the bondage of Egypt.