The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 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. 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. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 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.
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. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 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. 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. 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."
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. 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. 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. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 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.
Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
Exodus 12:1-13, 21-28
Israel is miserable and suffering under the oppression of bondage to Egypt, so they cry out to God. The Lord hears and responds, calling Moses to lead His people to freedom according to the promises He made to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He tells Moses what His plan is, what the outcome will be, and then sends him to set the plan into action by telling Pharaoh to let His people go to the wilderness to worship and sacrifice.
Just as God said would happen, Pharaoh says no. Pharaoh does not believe the God of Israel is sovereign over him, and furthermore, he thinks the Israelites are just being lazy and trying to get out of work! So he oppresses the Israelites even more, which causes them to be angry with Moses and Aaron and despondent over their situation. Like Pharaoh, God’s people won’t listen either. But neither response will sway the plans God has for His people and what He has promised to do.
In the face of their unbelief, God shows them who He is. He carries out a series of plagues that take away the Egyptians’ comfort, sustenance, livelihood, well-being, health, ability to work, their future, and everything they have on which to depend. He does it ALL so that they will KNOW He is the one sovereign God. Repeatedly with each plague, God tells both Pharaoh and the Israelites why He is sending these plagues…
“…so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.” 8:10
“…that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth.” 8:22
“…so that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.” 9:14
“…to show you My power, so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 9:16
“…so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.” 9:29
“…that you may know that I am the Lord.” 10:2
Stop and consider these words, what God Himself says is important to Him, that all people KNOW He is Lord over everything. All the time, everywhere, over all things, He is the Lord, and there is nothing that can take His place. Whether Egyptian or Israelite, He desires they all know Him and His sovereignty over all things. Think of the trials you are facing in your life right now. Or the trials someone you love is facing. What difference would it make to be 100% certain that God is sovereign over them all? That He has a plan, and He will carry out what He has promised? That He is all powerful to do anything, and you can trust Him?
But here we see that it’s not just about knowing; it’s also about faith and action. We must take what we know about God, believe it to be true, in faith submit to His sovereignty, and act on it. We see this in the different responses of Pharaoh and the Israelites. Pharaoh saw and experienced the same wonders as the Israelites. He was undoubtedly impressed at the power of God, but he did not believe or submit to Him as Lord. The Israelites were far from perfect followers of God; they often doubted Him, grumbled, and rebelled against Him, and yet they responded with belief and action. What set the Israelites apart from the Egyptians in the end was that they believed God’s words. They believed He was sovereign over ALL things, and they demonstrated it by doing what God had commanded.
Before the final plague is carried out, Moses gives the Israelites instructions for the Passover meal and then tells them to eat the meal dressed and fully ready to leave. He says to do it in haste - with urgency and eagerness showing they believe God is sovereign and that what God said will truly come to pass! Despite their doubting, anger, and despair over the trial they were facing, they chose to believe and submit to His sovereignty. In God’s plan for them, not only did these plagues and Passover instructions save their lives, they ultimately saved their faith and drew them back to Him. And that is the same for us. Our trials are also part of God’s plan to draw us to Him and strengthen our faith.
I can guarantee it wasn’t any easier for the Israelites than it is for us. Like the Israelites, how God calls us to live doesn’t make sense in the world we live in now. It is wild and outlandish to believe what we are told in the Bible. To make decisions shaped by the Word of God sets us apart and makes us look foolish to those who don’t believe, even to some who say they believe too. But if you truly believe in God’s sovereignty and believe His Word to be true, then that is how you are called to live. What would it look like for you today to apply this to what you are facing? How might God be drawing you to Him now so that you will know Him better and believe in His sovereignty and power in your life? How are you being challenged to trust in faith and act on God’s Word and commands?