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.
29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. 31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”
33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. (Ex. 12:21-42)
Everything that has been discussed about the Passover and the Exodus is finally here in our passage today. Everything about this event that God has said would happen, happens here. All of His instructions for His people for the Passover are finally carried out. Many of the themes of the Passover and the Exodus we have already discussed in previous weeks leading up to this point. But the extensive preparation and description of this event in Scripture again reminds us of the importance and weight of this act of God in redemptive history, and so deserves our continued meditation and study as we work our way through the text.
There are four overarching themes here we will consider today: God’s Discipleship, God’s Judgment, God’s Mercy, and God’s Word. First, God’s Discipleship.
God’s Discipleship, v. 21-28
In verse 21-28 Moses relays all of these instructions to the elders of Israel who disperse it to the people. In verse 27 and 28 we see the beauty of obedience from God’s people as they bow in worship and do as God commanded them. For a people who had at the start of things rejected Moses, yet now who have been preserved through all of God’s judgments up to this point in Egypt, and had been witnesses to His greatness and power and the surety of His Word, it is a joy to see them, at least for now, humble and obedient before their God.
In this we see God’s plan of discipleship for His infant church. The words of God are given through Moses to the elders of the people who teach it to them. Sadly, so many times there was rebellion and judgment, until they learned to obey. As we see in verse 24 and following, God gives them memorial days, times, and feasts to continually teach and remind them of the things that God has done for them and who He is. During these memorials, God designed that their children would see and ask questions as they grew; to which they were to answer and teach their children about God and His great works for them, that their children after them would learn, and know their God and be taught to worship and serve Him. Certainly we know Israel’s history and repeated failure at this many times; but the failure is not with God’s method of discipleship but in the fallenness and sin of the people at carrying it out. For we certainly also see the success and blessing of this when it is done.
It is no surprise that the family has been so attacked throughout history, and especially in the lives of our grandparents down to the present day. In our day it is becoming more and more of a rarity to see families that are united together under a godly father and mother who seek to teach and train and raise up their children in the ways of God; and our society is in great pain and hurt because of the lack thereof. Pharaoh’s attack on the Hebrew family was a desire to control and to have the future. God would not allow Him to have it; and this has remained a great tactic of the enemy in our present day. But God sets forth His plan of discipleship through the family here, and it remains essential today. While the New Covenant is different than the Old Covenant, in that membership in the Old was by bloodlines and birth; and membership in the New is by the blood of Jesus and being born of the Spirit; the New Covenant yet does not erase the importance of the family and the common means of family discipleship that God uses to bring about the second birth.
So in verse 24 and following, we see family integrated worship and family discipleship, or worship. The children were certainly to be present as the people would observe these rites and memorials going forward; and the fathers were to use these things to teach their children what it was all about. While the ceremonies and ordinances are different for us today, the principle of children being present in worship remains. Children were to be present in worship in the New Testament, as the epistles that were read to the congregations contain direct instruction to the children, directly addressing them. Likewise, as our children are present with us in worship today, and as they grow, they will have questions about what all is going on here and what things mean. They will ask about things they heard or saw in the assembly; and God has ordained that for parents to explain, teach, and instruct their children that they might learn it, believe it, and serve the God that their parents serve.
So boys and girls, as you hear and see things in Church that you have questions about, you need to be asking your parents all about it – don’t be afraid to ask all the questions. Parents, you need to be prepared for this and looking forward to this. We are to always be ready to give an answer, and especially to the children that God has given us, if He has given us children. Parents, you should definitely take advantage of the car rides home, that is so often where much of the questions and conversation takes place. Certainly throughout your week in family worship you should be proactively teaching your children about the faith. And I would greatly encourage you to encourage questions. Sometimes there are none, and that’s okay. They will come in due time. God made kids to ask a lot of questions. As parents we should not grow weary with the questions but thank God for putting the questions on a tee for us to teach our children. The blessing of children is a precious gift that God has not given to everyone, and for those He has given it to, it doesn’t last long, even if He gives you lots of children over a decade or two, the question-asking stage is a short and precious time, so do not waste it. It is one of the means of winning the future. Our enemies know this, which is why they so desperately want to take our children in so many different ways today. This is all the more reason why we must never lose vigilance and fervency in the discipleship of our children.
In moments of tiredness, stress, frustration, and disobedience it can be easy to neglect these responsibilities. In the moment, certain trials with children seem like they will never end, but they will end far more quickly than we realize. In this we also see the importance of faithful attendance in corporate worship. There are only 52 a year. You have your children for a few short years. The time you have to set those patterns of consistently bringing them in the assembly for worship where they can hear, observe, and ask questions is short. Yet at the same time it is also perfectly sufficient, as God has ordained this pattern – it is sufficient time to teach and train your children. Even when there are difficult seasons or rough years, there is yet time for these things to be taught and learned. You cannot change the mistakes you have made in the past, but you have time to be faithful today.
Back in our text there is an interesting detail here concerning the application of the blood to the doorposts, that we have not yet discussed here in Exodus. In verse 22 Moses tells the elders that when the people put the blood on the doorposts and lintels they are to use a bunch of hyssop to dip into the blood and then lift it up to the lintel and doorposts. Hyssop is of course a plant that was used as a tool not only here but in a couple different ceremonies of the Old Testament. In Leviticus chapter 14 there is a ceremony for cleansing lepers, which used hyssop dipped in blood to sprinkle the blood. There is another ceremony for purification described in Numbers 19 where Hyssop is again used to dip in blood to be sprinkled. Then in Psalm 51, David says, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
So Biblically, hyssop is a plant that is made use of in order to apply blood for cleansing and purification. The hyssop is the instrument dipped in the blood and lifted up to be applied. And the fact that it is used in cleansing and purification ceremonies elsewhere clues us in to see a similar thing here as well. The people needed the blood applied with hyssop because they too were sinners. They too were unclean. It wasn’t just the unclean Egyptians and the perfectly righteous Hebrews who are finally getting the deliverance they deserved. No, they two were unclean. They had Egypt all over them, but more importantly, all in them, and they needed to be cleansed; and only by blood can we be cleansed from sin. The LORD is teaching salvation by blood – indeed salvation by the blood of the firstborn, the unblemished Lamb.
But why was it that they had to use this hyssop? Both in the Passover, and the other purification ceremonies they were to keep? Why couldn’t they just use whatever household tool they had? Why did they have to go out and pick the hyssop? Why not use their hands? It’s because their hands were unclean. The household utensils were crafted by the work of their unclean hands. They were unclean, the hyssop was not.
And so it is, that when Christ, our Passover was sacrificed, as He hung on the cross, John 19:29 tells us that when the soldiers lifted up the sour wine to Jesus they did so with a sponge attached to a hyssop branch. There is Christ our Passover, touched with wine from hyssop, wine so often represents blood in the Bible, and He hung there as the door of Israel’s Passover homes – arms outstretched, blood on each side like two doorposts, and blood over the top where His head was pierced with the crown of thorns and the hyssop of wine was lifted up to His mouth. Christ is all at once the Passover Lamb which is substitutionary – sacrifice in the place of the sinner – and He is the blood which atones for sin which we must be covered by for the wrath of God to Passover us, and He is the door under whom we shelter and hide for salvation.
Understanding that Christ is our Passover, and in the institution of the Passover God was teaching His people salvation by blood – the blood of the firstborn unblemished Lamb, which was to teach them Salvation in the promised Christ alone – understanding this as the purpose of it, and the fulfillment of this in Christ, it is astounding to read what we find in Hebrews 11:28. Hebrews 11:28 says, “By faith he [that is Moses] kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.” Moses, and those who believed with him, kept the Passover by faith.
Sometimes you will hear certain types of Arminians rant about how the people were saved by their free will or by their obedience, because they were the ones who had to obey and put the blood on their doorposts, and so on. Such argumentation utterly lacks critical category distinctions and biblical theology. Yes, they had to obey God here, but their obedience was not the ground of their salvation. And all we need to do to refute such wild claims is quote Hebrews 11:28, which says that it was “by faith” that they kept the Passover. Moses’ obedience was done in faith. I love what Matthew Henry says here, he says, “Moses kept the Passover by faith in Christ.” Biblically speaking, and in particular in Hebrews 11, faith is not used to describe a general unspecific religious belief in whatever false religions you choose, like the word is often used in our society today. Biblically speaking, faith is specifically Christian. Hebrews 11 says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. What things? Not just anything that you choose to hope in that you can’t see, but the promises of God. For the Old Testament saints, the things hoped for and not yet seen was the fulfillment of God’s promises, the fulfillment of those promises being Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him [that is Christ].” So Moses kept the Passover by faith, and that being Christian faith.
So God’s program of discipleship is one of faith. It is not something that is earned or accomplished by the works of our hands or the strictness of our obedience. The successful discipleship of our children does not rest upon us, but upon the mercy and plentiful grace of God in Christ Jesus, and it is a task carried out by faith in God and His power to Save in Christ and to accomplish His will. And so it is that God’s children are born not by flesh and blood or the will of man, but they are born of the Spirit, and so God’s program of discipleship crosses nations, languages, borders, and cultures unto all the earth.
God’s Judgment, v. 29-30
In our text we also see God’s judgment. Rushdoony says, “Both God’s judgments and His grace are irresistible.” In the end all men will not be able to resist either God’s grace, or His judgment. The power and might of Pharaoh was no match for the power of God’s judgment.
Notice the terror of God’s judgment. The text says that there was a great cry heard throughout Egypt on that night. There was not a house in Egypt where there was not someone dead. His judgments, as His grace, show no partiality to the rich or to the poor, to the great or to the weak. It is difficult to imagine the horror of the sound of the cries of Egypt on that night as it was drowned in death and utter darkness. What an awful type this is of the final judgment to come and the horrors of eternal judgment in hell, the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth and where the worm does not die.
Contrary to how some view hell, it is not the total absence of God, nor man simply left to have his sin, but as we see in Egypt, the LORD, Yahweh passed through and struck the Egyptians. The Destroyer Himself afflicted this judgment upon Egypt. And His judgments are just.
How we are reminded here that the wages of sin is death. Death and judgment from God is not an injustice, it is the due penalty for sin. When the gavel of God’s judgment comes down there is no bargaining or negotiating that can be done. Notice how Pharaoh, even as he sends the people out, tells Moses to have the LORD, as Pharaoh says in verse 32, “bless me also.” But there is no response. There is no blessing left for Pharaoh. He has declared war on the Almighty and has hardened his heart in rebellion, so judgment has come. His blessing will be a grave at the bottom of the sea. Even to the very end here, Pharaoh remained in obstinance and hard heartedness toward God, demanding a blessing, which was essentially a demand that his sending the people out be justified. To the end, he wanted his own sovereignty to be recognized and his sending the people out to be seen as a good deed. If God blessed him for it, it would validate his sovereignty as a legitimate authority, and he would retain a victory, albeit a small one, over the battle with Yahweh God. But there is no compromise in God’s judgment. It is total surrender or total judgment.
God’s Mercy, v. 31-39
In the face of the severity of God’s judgment, we see also the wonder of God’s mercy. The sound of the terror of God’s judgment that was heard in the cries throughout Egypt, was also accompanied at the sound of God’s great grace as the footsteps of 600,000 men not counting the women and children marched out of Egypt in victory, delivered from bondage by the salvation of God. God saved and delivered His people from bondage and from His great judgments. His mercy is very great.
Not only has God delivered the Physical sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but with Israel comes out from Egypt a mixed multitude as it says in verse 38. We aren’t given exact details on who this mixed multitude was, but certainly it included some Egyptians who heeded the warnings and believed the Word of God and so joined themselves with the people of God by faith. It could’ve included other various sojourners who entered the land of Egypt over the years and joined themselves with God’s people having heard and believed His Word. Thus we are reminded that while the seed of the woman came from a specific physical line, the people of God were always those and are always those who share the same faith in Christ. For the Egyptians who converted and believed Yahweh God, this meant that they had to leave their families, their people, and their nation who would come with them. While the Exodus was of course a unique event in history we see here the precedence that the family of God has over the physical family if a situation requires it. As Jesus said in Matthew 10:35-38, “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Now Jesus is not telling us that when we become Christians we are to cut off our families – certainly not. But He is saying that when the practice, belief, tradition, or religion of our family or nation comes into conflict with Christ and His ways, then we absolutely must go with Christ, and many of us know that can bring division, or hatred between families, but it is a godly division unto life. The Exodus is a great illustration of this. Imagine the vitriol and hatred an Egyptian who converted received from their family and fellow Egyptians. Yet, it was a necessary division unto life for they were delivered by God’s mighty hand of salvation and spared His judgments.
In fact, in verse 31-33, Pharaoh, and then the Egyptian people, are in urgency for the Hebrews to leave, they are essentially rejecting them and driving them out. They want them gone. So often that is the way the world is with believers. Maybe before you were a Christian you hung around with some bad guys and did some bad stuff, but then you became a Christian and you stopped going along everything and you stopped doing everything they were doing, and bit by bit you stop getting the memos and invites to go and hang out, and pretty soon altogether they don’t want you around anymore because they don’t like your godliness, they don’t like that judgment upon them of your righteous conduct. That happens sometimes.
So out of Egypt the people went, plundering the Egyptians simply by asking them for their goods as they went. Then verse 39 reminds us that they went out with unleavened bread, because of the haste in which they left. Remember last week how we discussed leaven representing growth either of sin or of righteousness, and how the unleavened bread represented the removal of the sinful leaven of Egypt. So here we see the people go out taking the goods of Egypt with them, but not the leaven of Egypt.
This is a great lesson for us. Plundering the Egyptians means that we can use the stuff of the world – the goods, the resources, the money, the technology, etc. All of those types of things ultimately belong to God and are part of His world and are to be taken and used for His glory and for godly dominion of creation. But, we don’t take the leaven of Egypt, that is not to be taken, it cannot be redeemed or used. The leaven we refer to is not of course literal leaven, that’s a good thing, but it is sin, unrighteousness, ungodliness – it is accepting the myth of neutrality in our dealings with unbelievers, and things such as that. So, we are to plunder Egypt of their goods, but cut out and reject their worldview and their morality.
God’s Word, v. 40-42
Finally, in verse 40-42 we are reminded of God’s Word, that it is unbreakable and true. We are reminded that God keeps His promises. We are told it was 430 years that the people were in Egypt. Now that dating doesn’t begin with their slavery in Egypt, but it goes back to Abraham when he was still Abram and He sojourned in Egypt, and it was there in Genesis 15 that God promised him 400 years, and his offspring would be afflicted in Egypt, but that God would then bring them out with great possessions. The New Testament confirms to us that the timeline of the 430 years begins with Abram, you can find that in Galatians 3:17.
So know this: the time of affliction and waiting for the sons of Israel was not arbitrary, and it was not in vain. God kept His promise to the very day that He promised because His Word is true and it cannot be broken. God is faithful to His Word, and so He will keep it to you. All the promises we have in Christ, all of the blessings of the New Covenant that are promised to us, God does and will keep to the uttermost. He is faithful to His Word, and He is faithful to the finished work of His Son. God often doesn’t work according to our timeline or in the exact ways that we think He should. Great suffering could be the story of our whole lives. But God has not forgotten. He is not slow in keeping His Word. All that is wrong will be made right and all of God’s children will be redeemed and kept so that they are brought finally unto salvation.
Each one of us may have some different aspect of our lives that we are struggling to submit to God’s Word and believe what God has said about it. But the problem is not with God, His ways, or His wisdom, the problem is with us and our lack of wisdom, understanding, righteousness, or perspective. We weren’t created to be God, but to trust God. And God has proven over and over again throughout the Scriptures and throughout history that He always keeps His Word.
Let us look to Christ, the Son of God, Who perfectly entrusted Himself to the Father. As the Apostle Peter tells us, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
Amen. May we do the same and may God be praised.