The year is 1446 BC*.
The Lord has made it clear: He intends on delivering the Israelites from their affliction under the Egyptians. With great patience, He uses Moses and Aaron to present His intentions before Pharaoh; ruler of the Egyptian land. Pharaoh, with a hardened heart, naively believes he has the final say over his land, the people inhabiting it, and the resources within it. He shrugs off Moses’ warning: “I don’t know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2)
God responds with ten plagues over Egypt, warning Pharaoh and his people of the consequences of their refusal to free the Israelites through His mouthpiece, Moses. After each plague, Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh to ask if now God’s people may be set free.
First comes the bloody Nile - God made it so the life source of the Egyptians ran red; a coursing body of thick blood running through the center of the expanse of the country. Then come the frogs - found on porches, in bedrooms, underneath tables. The gnats follow, as numerous as specks of dust. Flies by swarm come shortly thereafter. Through a fifth plague, death of Egyptian livestock sweeps the land. Boils on the faces of the Egyptians follow, then severe hail, and, later, locusts.
Next: darkness. For three days, those inhabiting Egypt cannot even see the faces of those in close proximity. The ninth plague hangs over the country. All is still, quiet, eerie … dark.
And then, God warns Pharaoh: if he does not free His people from the chains of bondage, the firstborn son of each household shall be slain. Even still, Pharaoh’s heart is no softer. He continues to refuse the Israelites freedom.
God makes instruction for the Israelites to kill the perfect lamb of their flocks. With the blood of this lamb, they are to cover themselves: they shall paint it above the doorway in order to signify that they are spared by the perfect blood that hangs above them.
Do not miss this - the night that death swept through Egypt, taking the son of each family, Exodus 12:30 explicitly states: “And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead” (emphasis added). Someone died in each house in the country, but the lamb was the substitute for the death in Israelite households.
Generations later, Jesus, the Lamb of God, stood before a jeering crowd in Jerusalem.
“Crucify him!” said the sinners, shoving one another to get a better view of the One that came to save their souls.
“Crucify him!” said the ones He loved, inching forward so their mocking could be heard by the man who longed for their eternity in heaven.
“Crucify him!” said you and I, haunted by sin and burdened by death.
And we did.
The Lamb of God was slain as a perfect sacrifice for all mankind. He died a gruesome, mortifying, entirely real death and was put in a guarded grave so that He might stay there forever. And for three days, it seemed as though He would. Had humanity violently put an end to the only One who had truly loved us? Had death defeated even our God? The sin of the world rightly still rested upon our shoulders. Displaying the depth and severity of our sin, we collectively disposed of the One who had come to save us.
Yet not so! Being rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, while we were still sinners, Christ died for our sins (Ephesians 2:4-5) and then rose again three days later. Christ Himself stepped in as the spotless sacrificial lamb, so that when death sweeps through, it is His blood that covers us.
Subject to sin and shame no more, those who believe now live under the doorway with Christ’s blood painted upon it. Just as the Israelites, we are now free from the bondage that formerly entrapped us. Not only this, but death has no claim over our formerly sinful souls that deserved it. We are free to spend eternity with God, who fought and bled and died and rose for our freedom.
Worthy is the lamb that was slain.
*give or take several hundred years. This date is the most accurate finding based upon sources such as Associates for Biblical Research, Christian Courier, and Bible Hub.