…if thou[ie Pharoah] wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division ( = redemption) between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be. And the LORD did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies.
God sent a number of signs and plagues on the Land. These were in order to persuade Pharaoh to let Israel go and serve God. The details of which we cannot now go into. The plagues were a judgement on the gods of Egypt (Num.33:2-4). There came a point in the series of plagues where they did not touch Israel.
The passage above shows that at the time of the plague of flies God put a division where Israel dwelt – Goshen- and the rest of Egypt, the word for division used here is in fact redemption. there was to be a division of the people: those who belonged to God and those who do not. From there onwards, excepting for the last plague, Israel was spared the judgement unleashed on Egypt.
Time and again Pharaoh hardened his heart, he promised to release the children of Israel, albeit with some compromise, only to go back on his word. This continued until God’s timetable had run its course and there was to be one last plague, and Israel would at last be redeemed.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether…… And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out…… and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
All the first born of Egypt were to die, including Pharaoh’s. No one was exempt. This great judgement would result in Pharaoh finally releasing Israel, indeed the text says that he would thrust them out. God then gave instructions to Israel as to how they would escape the judgement of the first born
The First Passover
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
A lamb, without blemish, was to be taken, one for each house and kept for four days. It was to be slain, its blood applied to the door posts and lintels. The lamb was to be roasted and eaten by those inside the house. At the appointed time the Lord would come and destroy the first born, but those in the house would be passed over when He saw the blood.
Christ Our Passover
This is one of the most profound types of Christ’s redeeming work in the OT. In Heb.3:6 we are told that we are Christ’s house. There is a lamb for that house and it is Jesus Himself. Right at the start of His public ministry the Baptist declared Him to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world Jn.1:29.
For three and one half years Jesus ministered in Israel preaching the gospel. In the fourth year, just as in the fourth day the lamb in Egypt was slain, Jesus became the Lamb slain. The lamb in Egypt had to be without blemish, Jesus too was without blemish, and during those long years of ministry not one person or devil could rightly accuse Him of sin. He was thoroughly examined and was found to be entirely sinless and worthy.
The blood applied to the door and lintels was a token so that when God saw it those in the household were safe. Those who did not have the blood applied were visited with judgement: the death of their first born. This included including Pharaoh’s house.
In the flood those who were in the ark were saved from judgement, so those under the blood in the house were saved too. The lamb had been the sacrifice for the safety of the household. This a picture of the substitutionary death of Jesus for us. But note, the household had to be eating the Lamb inside. This leads us to the important NT application.
Keep the feast
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
In addressing a problem of immorality at Corinth Paul makes this comment: Christ is our Passover, and we are to keep the feast. The Jews had their Passover in Egypt and were instructed to remember that yearly as one of their great feasts. As Christians we have our Passover. It is NOT the Jewish Passover. Our Passover is Christ, and we are to keep it. How?
The children of Israel had to eat the lamb, we are to eat the lamb provided for us and that is Jesus Christ Himself. To keep our Passover we are to eat Christ.
I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever…… It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
In this well know portion of John’s gospel record Jesus, after having fed the multitude. In this section He declares that He is the bread of life that came down from heaven, and that eternal life is only to be found in eating Him.
True life is only in Christ and if anyone is to have eternal life they have to eat of Christ, just as the Israelites had to be eating the lamb in those houses in Egypt under the token of the sprinkled blood. Jesus explains what He means: it is His words that He speaks that are Spirit and life, just as God spoke life into man at the beginning so now we need to listen to His words and eat and drink of Him.
The Passover being completed, the first born destroyed the children of Israel were thrust out of Egypt towards their baptism unto Moses. This is considered in the next article.