When looking at contrasting items, it’s easy to identify the main aspects and components of each item. For example, if I asked you to contrast an apple and an orange, you would likely notice a difference in color, texture, firmness and taste. The differences are highlighted in contrast with another fruit.
In Exodus 11 and 12, a contrast exists between Israel and Egypt. But the contrast isn’t limited to the two groups, it’s connected by the way each group responds to what God has told them to do. In short, the contrast exists between obeying or rejecting what God has said. What God made clear is that: God offers salvation to those who follow His word and submit to His plan.
- A Final Warning: 11:1-10
The section begins with a final warning to Pharaoh of the final plague to come. God has promised that He will take His people out of the land, and He is about to do that. But first He pronounces judgment on Egypt. You may say, why is Egypt judged, what have they done? They participated in the slaughter of Jewish sons. They enslaved and oppressed the Israelites. What haven’t they done? It’s important for us to note that just like the Egyptians, we too are guilty before God, and that this warning is applicable to us as well.
- Salvation is Offered to Those who Listen to God: 12:1-28
In chapter 12, God begins to lay out the specific aspects of Passover. What is clear in the text, is God’s salvation comes through sacrifice. More specifically, we see the requirements of sacrifice, the instructions for sacrifice, the purpose of sacrifice, and finally a reminder to remember what God has done. While books could be (and have been) written about what is happening in this chapter, let me give us two things to consider:
One, there are two theological terms that are helpful in understanding what is happening here. The terms are expiation and propitiation. The word, expiation, means a covering; specifically a covering for sin. Propitiation refers to a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath completely. Here’s one connection for us that impacts our life immediately; if you are in Christ, when God looks at you, what He sees is the righteousness of Christ. Irrespective of how ‘righteous’ or ‘unrighteous’ you have been this week, God sees the righteousness of Christ. Secondly, if you are in Christ, you are not under the wrath of God and you are not awaiting the wrath of God, but it has been satisfied in Christ at the cross!
Two, it’s worth noting that the destroyer didn’t move only through the Egyptian portion of the land, but also through the Israelite’s land. The Israelites were not spared because there was some righteousness in them, they were spared because of the blood. Do not confuse God’s redemptive forgiveness in our lives as some sense of self-righteousness. We are all broken and rebellious sinners! We are just covered by a perfect sacrifice!
- Judgment is Given for Those who Reject God: 12:29-32
The plague, itself, is executed and judgment falls on Egypt. It’s hard to imagine the horror of that night, as scream after scream would pierce through the darkness, announcing time and again God’s judgment on the Egyptians. What we must understand, is that judgment is what awaits us all. This is the stark contrast of what awaited those who heard God’s word and followed it. There are two, and only two options for us; salvation or death.
As we consider Passover and this glorious text, let us be reminded of our glorious Savior and the incredible work that He has done to restore us to God!