Beginning of the End


The First Passover

This chapter is based on Exodus 11; 12:1-32.

When Moses first presented the demand for Israel’s release to the king of Egypt, he gave warning of the most terrible of the plagues. “Thus says the Lord: ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn’” (Exodus 4:22, 23). BOE 133.1

God has a tender care for the beings formed in His image. If the loss of their harvests and their flocks and herds had brought Egypt to repentance, the children would not have been harmed. But the nation had stubbornly resisted the divine command. Now the final blow was about to fall. BOE 133.2

Moses had been forbidden, on pain of death, to appear again in Pharaoh’s presence; but again Moses came before him, with the terrible announcement: “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.’” BOE 133.3

Before executing this sentence the Lord gave direction through Moses to the children of Israel about leaving Egypt and how to be preserved from the coming judgment. Each family, alone or with others, was to slaughter a lamb or a kid “without blemish,” and with a bundle of hyssop sprinkle its blood on “the two doorposts and on the lintel” of the house, so that at midnight the destroying angel would not enter that dwelling. They were to eat the roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs at night, as Moses said, “with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.” BOE 133.4

The Lord declared, “I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. ... Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you.” BOE 133.5

To remind them of this great deliverance, Israel was to observe a yearly feast in all future generations—“the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when he struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.” BOE 134.1