The date was approximately 1,480 B.C. and the place was Egypt. For several hundred years now, all of the Jewish people had become the slaves of the Egyptians. They had been forced into cruel slavery since Pharaoh needed cheap laborers to build his empire. Sadistic Egyptian work bosses carried whips and heavy sticks, whipping, yelling and beating their Jewish slaves as they struggled to perform back breaking labor in the hot Egyptian sun. Prayers, moans and cries for mercy came up before God from the oppressed Jewish slaves!
To make matters worse, Pharaoh was worried that the Jewish people were having too many babies. Someday the Jewish people might out-number the Egyptians and try to break free from their hard labor! Pharaoh reasoned that if he killed all the Jewish baby boys then the Jewish people wouldn’t someday outnumber the Egyptians.
Pharaoh ordered that all new born Jewish male babies born throughout Egypt be thrown into the Nile River to drown. This decree was the law of the land. Jewish mothers and fathers could only watch helplessly in horror as their new-born baby boys were drowned in the Nile River! Prayers, screams and cries for help came up before God from terrified and broken hearted Jewish parents of new-born baby boys! (Exodus 1:1-22)
God heard the cries of the Jewish people and He appeared to Moses in a flame of fire in the middle of a burning bush. At that time Moses was a shepherd in the land of Midian and when he walked over to check out the bush, God spoke to him out of the flames. First God told Moses to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground.
God told Moses that He had heard the cries of the Jewish people and then God called Moses to go free his people from Pharaoh. God was sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. (Exodus 3;6-8) When Moses argued with God that he wouldn’t be able to persuade Pharaoh to let the Jewish slaves go, God promised Moses that He would be with him.
The Pharaoh of Egypt just laughed at Moses the first time he came before his throne! Of course, Pharaoh would not let the Jewish people leave Egypt! What would Pharaoh do without his Jewish slave laborers? But then God began sending plagues to Egypt. Surely the Pharaoh would change his mind when he understood that God was sending the plagues because he was not letting the Jewish people go!
First God caused the water in the Nile River to turn to blood. Then God sent frogs, millions of them, in people’s houses, hopping on their dinner tables, jumping in their beds, everywhere. Then there was an outbreak of lice and then flies. Then cattle all across Egypt got sick and then Egyptians everywhere caught an infection of boils making many people miserable. Next came fire and hail from heaven and then locusts were everywhere eating all of the crops. And then darkness fell across Egypt and the sun didn’t shine. During each of these plagues Pharaoh would promise to let the Jewish people go and then he would change his mind when the plague was gone.
Finally, God told Moses that the last plague would cause Pharaoh to let the Jewish people go! God’s judgment would be poured out upon Egypt, and God would finally deliver Israel from slavery and death. God would make a covenant or promise to the Jewish people that He would lead them to the Promised Land. Moses told the Israelites to prepare for this final plague by slaughtering an unblemished lamb and roasting and eating it as a family. Many of the Jewish people were shepherds and had flocks of sheep. Each family was to take the lamb’s blood and brush the blood on the doorposts of their homes. (Exodus 12:29-31)
That night, God would send an angel of death throughout Egypt and if blood from the lamb was not brushed over the doorposts of the house, then death would enter that house and take the firstborn boy. Also, death came upon the firstborn of every flock of sheep. But when the angel of death would come to a home where the blood of the lamb had been brushed on its doorposts, then death would pass over this home.
Every Jewish home and first- born child was saved because they obeyed God and applied the blood of the lamb on their home’s doorpost. But every Egyptian home, including Pharaoh’s was visited by the death angel and there was great mourning throughout the land. Pharaoh called Moses and told him to tell all of the several million Jewish people to go. The nation of Israel was finally free and on their way with God guiding them to their Promised Lane!
Down through the thousands of years now the Jewish people have celebrated that night when God freed them from slavery and death. That night when the angel of death saw the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts and passed over every Jewish home. Every single Jew obeyed God’s instructions through Moses and so every Jewish home had the blood of the lamb sprinkled on their doorposts on that terrible night. Because the blood of the Lamb covered each Jewish home, death passed over each home that night. And down through the ages the Jewish people have celebrated this night when death passed over them. And God saved them from slavery. Once a year they stop and celebrate their Passover Seder.
The early Christian church saw the slaughter of the lambs used at Passover as giving us a picture of the death of Jesus. Scripture says: “Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast.” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8a) Scripture says that the blood of animals cannot actually take away sin. Only Christ, the Lamb of God, can do that.
Many Bible scholars believe that the shed blood of unblemished lambs that were sacrificed in ancient Israel pointed to the future unblemished Lamb of God, their Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus was described as, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) The lambs sacrificed in ancient times had to be unblemished, perfect and healthy. That is another picture pointing to Christ, the Son of God who is sinless and perfect.
Jesus’ last supper with His disciples was on the night before His crucifixion during the annual Passover celebration. It was not by accident that Jesus’ death occurred at the same time that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. Jesus gave His disciples and all of us who love and follow Him a new feast to celebrate and remember His sacrifice for us. With the breaking of bread Jesus told his disciples, “This is My body given for you, do this in remembrance of Me.” And with the drinking of wine He said: This cup is the new covenant (promise) in My blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)
Scripture also says: “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22) The Bible teaches that death is caused by the sin of the world. Scripture says: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23) He died that we might live. Jesus washes us from our sins, covers us in His righteousness, and gives us eternal life.
For the nation of Israel, God’s saving act on their behalf happened on the night when death passed over them in Egypt and God liberated them from slavery and set them free. And for Christians, God’s saving act was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God to take away our sins. Death (physical death) passed over every Jewish house that had the blood of the lamb sprinkled over the doorposts. And death (eternal death) will pass over every person who has the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, sprinkled over the doorposts of their heart.