Summary: A sermon on how the Passover served to free the Israelites and convict the Egyptians. Not for the faint of heart wanting a cute little story to entertain someone.
July 27, 2003 Exodus 11-12
Several weeks ago a family member was in her apartment when she and her husband heard a terrible screaming next door - the kind that makes you think, “something isn’t right.” After they walked tentatively walked outside, they found out that the father of the household had stabbed himself in the chest with a knife. Women were screaming and running around with blood on their hands - it was a real mess. Imagine how much worse it would sound to hear over one and a half million people crying at one time - screams coming from household to household to household. That’s what happened at the Passover. At midnight at the beginning of Abib - otherwise known as April - at least a million people in Egypt were crying and wailing uncontrollably. Why? Because God had just put to death at least 250,000 men and children - whoever was classified as a “firstborn son” in Egypt. With the warning in place ahead of time, I wouldn’t doubt that some mothers and fathers were possibly holding their sons for the last time - realizing that the same God who brought the frogs, lice, pestilence, and hail would make good on his threat to put the firstborn sons to death. It is impossible to imagine the shock and horror of these people walking in their rooms or holding their children in their arms for the last few moments, knowing what this God of the Israelites was going to do. As Pharaoh also lost his firstborn son, he finally let go. With a devastated land and stockyard, and a people in uproar, Pharaoh finally said, Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. (Ex 12:31-32) The Passover was the final straw that loosened the grip on God’s people.
The Final Straw
I. The judgment
The first question we naturally ask - we have to ask - is “why”? Long before this ever occurred God told Moses why it was going to happen. In Exodus chapter 4 he told Moses to say, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” (Ex 4:22-23) Israel was like a firstborn son to him - the one that would eventually give a Promised Land to along with the birth the Savior of the world. Therefore, he treated Israel with special care and privileges. But these Egyptians had not only enslaved God’s firstborn, they also whipped them, beat them, and even threw their baby boys into the Nile River. All God asked of the Egyptians was to let His people go and worship Him for three days. Three days. But their high priest and king - the Pharaoh - would not even allow this. Instead he decided to say, “who is the LORD, that I should listen to him?” Then, on top of this blasphemy, he decided to abuse God’s firstborn even more by making them work harder than ever before. And it wasn’t only the Pharaoh who did this - but Pharaoh’s workers who followed through with the command. So God said to Moses, “when the time comes for my people to be set free - I want Pharaoh to know WHY his son is laying there dead in his arms. It’s because you have abused and murdered and held MY son captive for long enough! Now let him go!”
So let’s set the record straight. How could a “loving God” willingly go out and slaughter so many boys? Look at it this way. Fathers, if someone were to take your son captive and start punching him and beating him up, and then question your manhood if you tried to stop him, how would you respond? I would not only have such a person arrested, but if possible I would probably take him in the corner and give him a few elbow drops to boot. The only thing that would be the “final straw” to let the Israelites go would be the death of the firstborn sons. So God did what He had to do.
When it comes down to justice and the law, God doesn’t mess around. When he ran the Israelites as a state - he didn’t only have murderers put to death - but child molesters, adulterers, idolaters, and homosexuals as well. When God deals with sin, He doesn’t treat it lightly. He says in Psalm 5:5, “I hate all who do wrong.” He doesn’t say He just wants you one hour a week, He wants you every minute of every day. He wants perfection. If not, He says in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death.” If you disobey God’s law at any point, God doesn’t just say that He is going to give you a headache. He is going to make you die. He also says that He has to throw you into hell.