Generations of Hebrew families looked back to Egypt, remembering the ominous ten plagues and the first Passover night. They recalled that Moses, at God’s direction, had entered Pharoah’s chambers and announced the tenth and most devastating plague. “This is what the Lord says: About midnight I will go throughout Egypt, and every firstborn male in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the servant girl who is at the grindstones, as well as every firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a great cry of anguish through all the land of Egypt such as never was before or ever will be again” (Exodus 11:4-6). A death-sentence! “Every firstborn male in the land of Egypt will die!”
After the announcement of impending doom came the promise of amazing grace. “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they must each select an animal of the flock... You must have an unblemished animal, a year-old male; you may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter the animals at twilight. They must take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where they eat them. They are to eat the meat that night; they should eat it, roasted over the fire along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or cooked in boiling water, but only roasted over fire—its head as well as its legs and inner organs. You must not leave any of it until morning; any part of it left until morning you must burn. Here is how you must eat it: You must be dressed for travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in a hurry; it is the Lord’s Passover. I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both people and animals. I am the Lord; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:3–13).
Those who faithfully and thankfully applied the blood of the substitute sacrifice onto their houses were spared the death sentence. As each Israelite family butchered their sacrificial lamb, as they caught its blood in a basin, and as they painted the doorposts, they rejoiced in the grace of their Redeemer. The substitute sacrifice had shed its blood and died so that the first-born could live.
Generations later, at the annual Passover celebration, Jewish families continued to rejoice. They worshipped and sang the Great Hallel, the Great Praise. “He struck the firstborn of the Egyptians; His faithful love endures forever; and brought Israel out from among them; His faithful love endures forever; with a strong hand and outstretched arm; His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 136:10-12).
Like the Israelites, Christians look back to the dark and dreadful Friday when Jesus, the sinless and spotless Lamb of God, our Passover, was crucified on Calvary’s Cross. The Substitute Sacrifice died so that we can live.
Thank you, Lord! Your faithful love endures forever! Hallelujah!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.