God announced to Moses and Aaron that after the next plague, Pharaoh would let His people go. Actually, he would drive the Israelites out of the land. The tenth plague was the death of the firstborn. Moses informed them that would take place and they began to prepare for leaving.
In preparation for their departure, God instructed the people to ask the Egyptians for articles of gold and silver. Even though Pharaoh was hard hearted against Moses, the Egyptians themselves held him in high esteem. They recognized the power of his God and freely gave their treasures to the Israelites.
The history of the children of Israel made a dramatic change. God instructed Moses and Aaron to mark the beginning of a new calendar. This would be the beginning of the first month, Abib later called Nisan. The tenth plague would soon come to pass and God gave instructions for the salvation of the Israelites from this plague.
In order for the Hebrews to be spared the death of the firstborn, God instituted the Passover, a feast that is still observed by the Jewish religion today. He gave strict instructions and expected them to be followed exactly. On the tenth day of the new month and year, they were to select a male lamb without blemish either from the sheep or goats and keep it up until the fourteenth day. On that day, they would slaughter it without breaking any bones; roast it on the fire; completely eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs that evening and sprinkle its blood upon the doorposts and lintels of their house. If any of it were not eaten, the remainder was to be burned.
God gave instructions that the children of Israel were to be fully clothed and ready for travel as they observed this first Passover. Upon their release, they would need to leave quickly.
The Israelites were unaware at the time, but the unblemished lamb and its blood were a type of the Son of God, Jesus, the Messiah. He would shed His blood as the sacrificial Passover Lamb for us many years later and none of His bones would be broken either.
While God was giving instructions for the salvation of the firstborn Hebrews, He also instructed that the Passover would be observed by them as an annual memorial of how He had saved the Israelites from death. The Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month would be immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread for the next seven days. Again, He gave strict instructions as to how this memorial would be observed. God demanded then and He still demands strict obedience to His commands.
After bowing their heads and worshipping, “The children of Israel went away and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”
Those memorials were also types of the Lord’s Supper that Christians observe today in memory of Christ’s death on the cross.
There are days in a person’s life that have greater significance than others. Many times, they are set apart for special memorials. Some of these include birth date, wedding date and the day that we became a Christian.
God instructed the Israelites to observe the Passover each year immediately followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. There was to be no leaven inside the house during those seven days. They were to remind their children of the meaning of those feasts. God expects us to teach our children about His ways.
Persons who were not Israelites were forbidden to partake of those memorial feasts. God made provision for outsiders who would submit to circumcising their males to become covenant children with Israel. They would then be permitted to have the same privileges as natural children of Israel.
As a commemoration of the death of the firstborn of Egypt and to remember His power, God commanded that the firstborn male of man and beast would be consecrated (set aside) as a burnt offering to Him. Since the donkey was an unclean animal, they could substitute a lamb in its place or destroy it by breaking its neck. Also their male children would be redeemed. Human sacrifices have never been required or acceptable to the Lord.
At midnight, it happened. God smote the firstborn of Egypt; from the king’s house to the deepest dungeon and the firstborn of the cattle. That was a harsh blow to a proud and haughty king, who was worshipped as a god.
Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Rise, go out from among my people…”
The Egyptians, also seeing the hand of God in their misery urged the Israelites to get out of the country quickly lest, “We shall all be dead.” In recognizing the power of God, they freely gave treasures of gold, silver and clothing to the Israelites.
During times of wars and civil upheavals, many people are sometimes displaced and travel great distances to safety. Nothing in modern times can compare to the vast number of Israelites who left Egypt in the exodus. Moses also took the bones of Joseph out of Egypt for burial in the new land. It is likely that they also took the remains of the other sons of Jacob with them too.
Man says that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. God, in His wisdom avoided the land of the Philistines. They were not ready for war and might become discouraged and want to return to Egypt.
Pharaoh realizing that the Israelites were not coming back decided to go out and capture them and return them to his service. He reasoned that since they seemed to be wandering in the wilderness, they were lost and would be easy to conquer.
When they saw the Egyptian army closing in on them with the Red Sea in front of them, the children of Israel cried out to the Lord and to Moses with the first of many of their wilderness murmurings. “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?”
The cloud and pillar of fire that had been leading the Israelites moved from the front to the back of the multitude. The cloud served as a shield to hide them from the Egyptians and the pillar of fire served them as a light.
Upon God’s command, Moses raised his rod over the sea and the water parted with a wall of water on both the right and left sides. The children of Israel crossed the sea on dry land. As Pharaoh’s army tried to follow them, their chariots broke down. Again God commanded Moses to raise his rod over the sea and the water crashed down upon the Egyptians and destroyed them in the sea. That was the final blow from God against Pharaoh.
“Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.”