Summary: The Passover is a wonderful picture of the plight of sinful man and the provision of a gracious God - a God who judges sin with death but gives grace through the blood of the Lamb of God.
Chapter 12 of Exodus is one of the most important chapters of this book, and perhaps one of the most important of the Old Testament. The reason is that it paints for us a picture of the human condition, and God’s plan to save mankind.
The family of Jacob came to Egypt because of a famine - God actually directed them down there even though He had told Abraham that they would be subjected to slavery and abused as a people. For a while they enjoyed favor because of Joseph’s position in the Egyptian government. But after Joseph’s death a new Pharaoh took over who did not know Joseph and who didn’t like the Hebrew people - so he made them slaves - as a way to stop the children of Israel from being a political force and to keep them as an economic force.
Onto the scene comes Moses - saved from a death sentence and raised in Pharaoh’s court - then driven out of the country after he killed an Egyptian overseer for beating some Hebrews. 40 years later God calls Moses to return and rescue the people. God used 9 plagues to try to wrest Israel from the grip of Pharaoh - natural disasters that took on an increasingly personal and deadly form: loss of water, frogs, gnats, flies, boils, livestock death, hail, locusts, darkness. The plagues also got more discriminatory - at first everyone suffered, then God spared the Israeli territory of Goshen, then the people of Israel itself. Nothing worked and now God has promised one last plague - knowing that this one will do the trick - but it is an unusual plague - unlike any of the others.
It is called the Passover - but could also be called Death of the Firstborn. How is it different?
1. The judgment covers everyone - Israel cannot escape just by living in a certain place
2. It is very discriminatory - no massive hail, but literally an angel will kill every first born male of human or animal
3. There was preparation for the plague
4. To escape death, death had to occur and be appropriated to each family
5. There was warning, but no chance to escape for Pharaoh
First, God takes great pains to give specific instructions to Moses and Aaron for the people:
Verses 1 - 2
Passover is a beautiful and powerful picture of God’s plan for salvation - and just as the people is Israel were starting over - this was now going to be the beginning of their year - so too with us when we come to salvation through the Lamb of God Jesus Christ we start over as well.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation . The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ESV
Now the children of Israel are going to have to follow a very specific recipe to be saved from this plague - very picturesque and full of shadows of things to come - but could have been somewhat confusing for this people.
Verses 3 - 6
Initially, Moses told Pharaoh that they were going to go out to the wilderness and there make a sacrifice from among their flocks. In reality, the sacrifice would happen within Egypt - just as for us, the sacrifice of Jesus took place in this world.