1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord‘s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 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 no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”
21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord‘s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. – Exodus 12:1-28 ESV
What happens next is most significant. God had chosen to redeem His people from their slavery and suffering in Egypt but before that event could take place, He needed to further separate them from the Egyptians. From the time they had arrived in the land of Egypt nearly four centuries earlier, they had lived in the land of Goshen. And during the outpouring of the last nine plagues, God had provided divine protection for His people, preventing them from experiencing the vast majority of the judgments that befell the Egyptians.
When the swarms of flies invaded the land, God somehow sealed off Goshen.
The Egyptian homes will be filled with flies, and the ground will be covered with them. But this time I will spare the region of Goshen, where my people live. – Exodus 8:21-22 NLT
God told Pharoah, “I will make a clear distinction between my people and your people. This miraculous sign will happen tomorrow” (Exodus 8:23 NLT). The Israelites and their livestock would be spared the debilitating effects of the biting flies. No pain would be felt. No discomfort would be experienced with the borders of Goshen.
With the fifth plague, God continued His divine preservation policy. Moses informed Pharaoh that a deadly disease would inflict all the livestock belonging to the Egyptians but all the livestock in Goshen would be spared.
“…the Lord will again make a distinction between the livestock of the Israelites and that of the Egyptians. Not a single one of Israel’s animals will die!” – Exodus 12:4 NLT
The seventh plague brought more judgment upon the land of Egypt, in the form of a massive hailstorm that destroyed virtually all the vegetation in Egypt. “The only place without hail was the region of Goshen, where the people of Israel lived” (Exodus 9:26 NLT). God’s personally placed a dome of protection over the land of Goshen, preventing the hail and lightning from so much as touching a single leaf or stalk of grain.
With the eighth plague, an apocalyptic infestation of locusts followed the hailstorm and it would appear that the land of Goshen was spared yet again because God was very specific concerning the target of the locusts.
“Raise your hand over the land of Egypt to bring on the locusts. Let them cover the land and devour every plant that survived the hailstorm.” – Exodus 10:12 NLT). Since the hail only fell outside the borders of Goshen, the locusts only attacked those plants that had survived the damage done by the storm. The land of the Israelites was shielded and their crops were passed over by the locusts.
Then when the ninth plague sank the land of Egypt in a deep and impenetrable darkness, the land of Goshen was drenched with sunlight.
“…darkness covered the entire land of Egypt for three days. During all that time the people could not see each other, and no one moved. But there was light as usual where the people of Israel lived.” – Exodus 10:22-23 NLT
Now, in chapter 12, Moses records yet another instance of God setting His people apart for special favor. He was instructed by God to institute a new religious practice among the people of Israel that was to become a permanent and perpetual ritual.
“From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household.” – Exodus 12:2-3 NLT
According to God’s instructions, this lamb “must be a one–year–old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no physical defects” (Exodus 12:5 NLT). This distinction ensured that this was an animal of great worth. Its purity would have qualified it to serve as breeding stock that could help to improve the overall quality of the flock. But this lamb was to be set apart for a completely different purpose.
On a predetermined evening, all of the families living in Goshen were to “slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight” (Exodus 12:6 NLT). Then they were “to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal” (Exodus 12:7 NLT). Having completed this rather strange ritual, the people were to wait inside their homes until God had sent his tenth and final plague upon the people of Egypt.
This time, the land of Goshen would not be spared, but the people living in Goshen could be exempt from God’s judgment as long as they obeyed His command.
The tenth and final plague would bring death to the people of Egypt. God would take the life of every firstborn, in every household in the land of Egypt, including that of Pharaoh. The loss would be significant. No family would escape this outpouring of God’s judgment unless they followed God’s plan. And that plan probably sounded a little far-fetched, a little bit strange, even to the people of God.
They were to take a 0ne-year-old lamb or goat, the best of their flock, without blemish, sacrifice it, then sprinkle its blood on the doorpost and lintel of their homes. Then they were to remain inside their homes so that the angel of God would pass over their homes, sparing their firstborn from death. This plan also included odd instructions concerning unleavened bread and the purging of their homes of all leaven. But all those who obeyed God’s instructions would be spared the loss of their firstborn. Those that did not would be visited with death and loss.
In his commentary on Exodus, John Gill has this to say about the Passover lamb. “This lamb was a type of Christ, who is therefore said to be our Passover sacrificed for us, comparable to a lamb for his innocence and harmlessness, for his meekness, humility, and patience, for usefulness both for food and raiment, as well as for being fit for sacrifice; and who is a lamb without spot and blemish, either of original sin, or actual transgression, holy in his nature, harmless in his life” (John Gill, Exposition on the Entire Bible, The Book of Exodus).
Jesus has done for us what each Passover lamb did for the children of Israel. He died so that His blood could cover our sins.
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. – 1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT
Jesus gave His life so that death would not visit our doorstep. Death was coming to every household in Egypt – regardless of their nationality, status, religious disposition, or moral standing. It was inevitable and unstoppable. But it could be avoided by following God’s of salvation. The same holds true today. Death in the form of eternal separation from God is coming to every household and person who lives today. But that death sentence can be avoided by accepting God’s plan of salvation – the gift of Jesus Christ as our sin substitute.
To many, it sounds odd and even ridiculous that this plan is the only plan. For others, they doubt that death is really coming, so they ignore the offer of salvation. Many think they can save themselves. I am sure that there Israelites who believed the same things during the time of Moses. They refused to believe Moses’ warning. Some decided to do it their way and save themselves. Others thought all this talk of lambs, blood, unleavened bread, and death was silly. They rejected God’s plan of salvation and lived to regret it. They suffered great loss.
But those who obeyed were spared. They were also delivered and blessed. Not only were they able to leave their slavery behind and walk away as free men, but they did so with their pockets full of the treasure of the Egyptians. God had blessed them with abundance – wealth beyond their wildest dreams. But this wealth was for a reason. God had a plan for that plunder. It would be used to build a tabernacle or dwelling place for Him.
As believers, we have been set free, released from slavery to sin, and are able to walk in freedom, thanks to the blood of Jesus Christ. And God has blessed us beyond belief.
How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ. – Ephesians 1:3 NLT
We who were poor are now rich in Christ. He has blessed us and filled us with His Spirit. He has made us His heirs. He has called us His children. We have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We are walking witnesses of His grace, mercy, power, and the truth of His redemptive plan.
Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. – 1 Corinthians 5:7 NLT
Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was sacrificed for us, and we have been set free.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.