Bible Readings for February 28th
Exodus 11–12:21 narrates the final showdown between Yahweh and Pharaoh. Again and again, Pharaoh has hardened his heart against Yahweh, exalting himself against the God of the Hebrews, and in today’s reading, Yahweh finally brings this story to a close.
Despite Moses’s warning that Yahweh himself will go out into the midst of Egypt to strike down every firstborn in the nation—including even the firstborn of Pharaoh himself—Pharaoh does not listen. Yahweh again hardens Pharaoh’s heart so that Yahweh’s “wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 11:9). Pharaoh has pridefully exalted himself against Yahweh, brutally dealing with Yahweh’s beloved people, and now Yahweh will redeem his people out of Egypt with a strong hand and a mighty, outstretched arm.
But because of the nature of Yahweh’s judgment in this plague, the Israelites are not automatically exempt—the firstborn of Israel are also in danger since they too live in the land of Egypt. So, Yahweh makes provision to protect his people through ordaining the Passover feast, a feast that Israel shall keep throughout their generations (Ex. 12:14). Through sacrificing a Passover lamb and smearing the lamb’s blood on their houses, Israel’s firstborn will be protected. When Yahweh sees the blood, he promises to pass over his people so that they will not be harmed along with the firstborn of Egypt (Ex. 12:13).
In this story, we see at once Yahweh’s judgment and Yahweh’s mercy. Where Yahweh pours out his judgment on the rulers of this world who wickedly defy him by oppressing his people, Yahweh at the same time provides for the protection of his people so that through the blood of a sacrifice, Yahweh passes over his people.
Over the course of the rest of the story of the Bible, it becomes very clear that the Passover had always pointed forward to Jesus Christ. At the crucifixion, Jesus became the ultimate Passover lamb for the people of God. And because we are covered in the blood of Jesus, the judgment of Yahweh simply passes over us, just as Yahweh passed over the Israelites when they were in Egypt. Paul even explicitly calls Jesus “our Passover lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7).
But there’s another aspect to how this story points forward to Jesus that is sometimes overlooked. It is not only that Jesus became our Passover lamb, sacrificed to protect the people of God with his blood, but Jesus also became the ultimate firstborn Son whom Yahweh struck down in judgment. Just as every firstborn in Egypt was struck down, so also the firstborn Son of Yahweh himself was struck down at the cross.
Of course, these two aspects are related. Jesus acted to protect his people by receiving the judgment that they deserved, and in doing so, he became our once-for-all Passover lamb, whose dying protected our living.1
1 I borrow this phrase from Kara Tippetts, “Dear Brittany: Why We Don’t Have to Be So Afraid of Dying and Suffering That We Choose Suicide,” October 8, 2014. Accessed October 20, 2014. <http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/10/dear-brittany-why-we-dont-have-to-be-so-afraid-of-dying-suffering-that-we-choose-suicide/>
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.