This is a weekly guest devotion written by my mother, Estelene. Each week she shares with us scripture and a short devotion to encourage us.
Can you think of a horrific tragedy, if it occurred in your life, that would totally devastate you? If you knew in advance that you could prevent it from happening, would you do so? For me, it would be the death of one of my children. That includes my grandchildren and my in-laws. I consider them all my children. I would do everything in my power to prevent them from dying before me. In my eyes, a parent should never have to bury a child. I would give up my life in order to save one of theirs.
We have come to the tenth and final plague God said would fall on the Egyptians if Pharaoh did not let His people go. It is the most horrific plague of all. What do you think Pharaoh is going to do? Is he going to surrender to God’s will and plan for the Israelites? We will begin today’s study with scripture taken from the book of Exodus.
Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)
So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt–worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.
The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you–so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire–head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it; with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste, it is the Lord’s Passover.
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn–both men and animals–and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord–a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat–that is all you may do.
“Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”
Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ ” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!”. So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. Exodus 11:1-12:36
Pharaoh was so hard-hearted that he didn’t listen to what God said would happen to the firstborn of every Egyptian family if he did not let the Israelites go. God warned him nine times before and Pharaoh witnessed nine devastating plagues because he refused to obey God’s command to let the Israelites go. So you would think that he would believe that if God said every firstborn son, including Pharaoh’s, would die, he would quickly help the Israelites pack their belongings and escort them out of the country. But he chose not to obey God. I tend to believe that Moses left the presence of Pharaoh hot with anger because he knew that many lives would be lost due to the hardheartedness and stubbornness of Pharaoh.
The lamb that was slain and its blood placed on the tops and sides of the doorframe of each Israelite house symbolized the sacrifice offered to take the place of each individual’s life that was spared from death. The lamb had to be spotless and without defect. It was only by sacrificing a lamb that the members of that house could live. God told them the meat had to be roasted, and that they were supposed to eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. The bitter herbs symbolized the misery of slavery and the unleavened bread could be made quickly because without yeast it did not have to rise. Eating while dressed with their cloak tucked into their belt and wearing their sandals signified their trust that God would deliver them. They would leave in haste as God had commanded them. For generations to come, they were to follow this command in remembrance of the night God delivered them from Egyptian slavery.
The Hebrew children did not realize it at the time that God was foreshadowing the greatest and final sacrificial lamb that would ever live, his only begotten son Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of an animal only covered the sins of individuals, but it did not take away their sins. Christ is our sacrificial lamb, and our sins have been completely washed away by his blood.
It is obvious that the Egyptians feared God’s warning because they got up in the middle of the night, and their worst fear came true. God stands by his Word. He cannot lie.
By this time, the Egyptians were willing to give the Hebrew children whatever they wanted in order to get rid of them. So upon the request of the Hebrew children, they gave them their gold, silver and clothing.
There is so much we could discuss today, but this is supposed to be a short devotion. I do want to bring one more point to your mind. Did you notice what Pharaoh’s last words were that he spoke to Moses? “And also bless me.” I want to laugh at his boldness, be angry because of his selfishness, and cry out of pity for him. If he really wanted to, he could have chosen to trust in God to rule the nation of Egypt. Instead he wanted nothing to do with God.
To me, that is the greatest devastation of all; to know about God yet choose to reject his love and his gift of salvation through accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior.
Next week, the Hebrew children leave Egypt, but we haven’t seen the last of Pharaoh. Join me; you won’t regret it.