Exodus 10-12: The Ten Plagues (pt.2) and the Passover Lamb of God

1.  The Ten Plagues (pt. 2) (Exodus 10-11, 12:29-32)

2.  The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:1-28, 43-51)

1.  The Ten Plagues (pt. 2) (Exodus 10-11, 12:29-32)

Plagues

Scripture

Christological Interpretation

8. Locusts

10:1-20

The ESV translation says the ‘wind’ brought the locusts, but this is an overly limited translation, not giving the semantic range which the Hebrew word ‘ruah’ offers. Instead, it is the Spirit who brings the locusts (the ‘east wind’ is characteristic of the judgment/disciplinary side of the Holy Spirit – Genesis 41:6, 23; Psalm 48:7; Isaiah 27:8; Ezekiel 17:10, 19:12, 27:26, Hosea 13:15, Jonah 4:8). Note in v. 13 that Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt again. As a result of this, all the plants and fruits of trees which the hail did not destroy was further destroyed by this plague – “not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt”.

For the first time Pharoah responds positively, albeit for a short moment. V.17 –“Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the LORD your God only to remove this death from me.” Indeed, the Pharoah in v. 11 had only allowed the men of Israel to go, but this is unacceptable (look at God’s response in v.12). Clearly, God wanted all to leave, not just men. The LORD however still hardened Pharoah’s heart in v.19 – and Pharoah still didn’t let the people of Israel go.

9. Darkness

10:21-29

This darkness is very unusual, a one that can be felt. Egypt has, by now, become fruitless, treeless, dark, barren, ruined. This is the result of rejecting him, the 10-step approach in God’s judgment on the apostate. We are now approach the 10th judgment, the death of the firstborn in Egypt, with the darkness covering the land for 3 days. When the firstborn of God the Father died on the cross, darkness covered the land for 3 hours (Matthew 27:45), and darkness throughout Scripture has been a sign of God’s judgment (day 1 of creation; 1 Samuel 2:9; Proverbs 4:19).

For this action, he stretches out his hand to the heaven.

10. Death of the firstborn

11:1-10; 12:29-32

After 9 plagues, Moses is now hot with anger (v.8). There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again (v. 6) – such is the magnitude of the 10th plague.

Unlike the previous 9 plagues where Moses is asked to stretch his hand/staff or throw soot from a furnace into the air, he is instead told to take cover. This plague is very different and seems to be a culmination of the damage and what the previous 9 plagues had been testifying to.

The Angel of the LORD strikes at midnight, in the darkest of night. But even this does not bring about total destruction – only the firstborn are killed on behalf of the nation. This gives Exodus 4:22 the sort of weight that we did not perceive on first reading; the Angel knew that the 10th plague symbolized the death of the firstborn of God, Israel. But who is the true firstborn of God the Father, besides Jesus Christ himself, which Israel (not “Jacob”) is only a type of? Israel, the Church, is God’s firstborn by adoption, but the Angel is God’s firstborn (Psalm 89:27) who the church is molded after.

This prophetic message of the death of God’s son is prophesied in Genesis 3:15, in the global flood, in the rainbow, in the circumcision, and especially detailed in Genesis 22.

Some interesting things about these 10 plagues may be found in the 7 plagues in Revelation 16:

Plagues

Scriptures

1. Harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast.

16:2

2. Bowl poured into the sea, and became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

16:3

3. Bowl into rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. The explanation of this is that the non-Christians have shed the blood of saints and prophets (v.8).

16:4-7

4. Poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire, scorched with fierce heat.

16:8-9

5. Bowl poured onto the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness.

16:10-11

6. Bowl poured over great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, and out of the dragon, beast and false prophet came three unclean spirits like frogs, which are demonic spirits, performing signs, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.

16:12-16

7. “It is done” – flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, great earthquake… great city split into three parts, cities of nations fell… great hailstones, about one hundred pounds (a talent in weight) fell from heaven on people.

16:17-21

The following plagues were repeated in Revelation: Water into Blood (1), Frogs (2), Boils (3), Hail (4), Darkness (5).  Here is what Glen has to say in his sermon on Revelation 15-16:

In Exodus, Pharaoh and his household is hardened against the LORD through these plagues.Though actually we learn elsewhere that many Egyptians do end up joining the Israelites. In the same way in Revelation 16 the unbelievers who face these plagues are hardened in unbelief as a whole, though from elsewhere in Scripture we know that many unbelievers do turn to Christ in these circumstances. The emphasis in both these places though is on the madness of unbelief and the hardness of the human heart.

So it’s very Exodus like but Revelation 16 is telling us that this will be a cosmic Exodus.Judgement falls on v2 – the land, v3 – the sea, v4 – fresh water, v8 – the sun, v10 – the throne of the beast, v12 – the Euphrates, v17 – the air. Here is a worldwide judgement and it culminates with an almighty earthquake in v18.

And it is a fearful judgement. Verse 2: “ugly and painful sores broke out on the people.” Verse 8, people are scorched with fire. Verse 9: they are seared by intense heat. Verse 10: “Men gnawed their tongues in agony.”

Can you imagine the pain that would make you gnaw your own tongue? Can you imagine (v21) 100 pound hailstones falling on you?

Now does this mean there will be literal hailstones – well no, not necessarily. Verse 13 describes frogs gathering together the armies of the nations. This is pictorial language but we mustn’t miss the intensity of it. Whatever these images are describing is no less intense than the scorching of the sun or the pounding of these hailstones.

These are preliminary judgements on the unbeliever – not hell, not the final judgement but preliminary judgements straight from the throne of heaven

What can be said about the plagues in general is this – the plagues in Egypt is a microcosm of the plagues to come, preliminary judgment on unbelievers – not hell, not the final judgment but preliminary judgments from the throne of heaven.  All the 10 plagues are repeated in some shape or form, although not in the same sequence, in the book of Revelation (not just chapters 15-16, but also the other chapters e.g. chapter 9:1-12 for the locusts).

The only judgments without the staff, hand or direction of Moses is the Flies, Death of Livestock, and Death of the Firstborn.  Unsurprisingly, these are the only plagues unrepeated in Revelation – suggesting their limited shelf-life in the prophetic role of either the judgment on the cross, or the judgment on all people in the future.  What think you?

2.  The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:1-28, 43-51)

Jesus himself was crucified at the very Feast of Passover. Without chapters 11-12 and Exodus, the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross is debilitated since the New Testament does not offer any new explanation.  As it is spoken in Luke 22, the bread and wine were there, but the Lamb was not provided for the Passover except for Christ himself.

I remember reading a review on the Prince of Egypt film a few years back (with the famed Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston duo “When You Believe”), a hugely negative comment on how one can even believe in a God who kills the firstborn of Egypt despite the atrocity on the Hebrew slaves.  The thing is, God is indeed extremely pained that he had to go to such lengths; I’ve already shown that it is the Pharoah who hardens his own heart until the latter plagues when the LORD hardens him as the epitome of evil in this history of salvation.  Above all, although it is the Angel who wrecks the judgment on Egypt, it is he himself who will be the very object of sacrifice on the cross.  These atrocities are only a type of the true salvation on the cross, a type of mediation and propitiatory work that was a result of our choice to side with darkness than the Light of lights.  So, when we read these seemingly negative chapters of Exodus, we must remember that our righteous God is pained, but he goes to these lengths to show us a picture of true redemption, because of our utter fallenness.

The LORD instructs each Israelite household to kill a lamb and place its blood on the door-frame of the house.  Exodus 12:12-13 explains the Festival of Passover because the LORD would effectively ‘pass over‘ any house marked with the blood of the lamb, and “not one of [the Israelites] shall go out the door of his house until morning” (v.22), the morning being a symbolism of the inevitable and awesome coming of the LORD on the great judgment Day.

Note what is so awesome about this passover meal and testimony is that it is NOT for strangers – but the same law “applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you” (Exodus 12:48-49).  This is a message of evangelism, it is a witness that even those who sojourn with the Israelites shall partake in this sign, just as they should partake in the sign of Genesis 17.  And those who do sojourn with the Israelites will no longer be strangers of God, for this is a holy priesthood, the firstborn Church – and only one law (Exodus 12:49) suits both Israelites and Gentiles, the same law which reveals the personality and covenant of God with men.

To quote Spurgeon on this:

I. First, then, THE BLOOD ITSELF. In the case of the Israelites it was the blood of the Paschal Lamb. In our case, beloved, it is the blood of the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.
    1. The blood of which I have solemnly to speak this morning, is, first of all, the blood of a divinely appointed victim. Jesus Christ did not come into this world unappointed. He was sent here by his Father. This indeed is one of the underlying ground-works of the Christian’s hope. We can rely upon Jesus Christ’s acceptance by his Father, because his Father ordained him to be our Saviour from before the foundation of the world. Sinner! when I preach to thee the blood of Christ this morning, I am preaching something that is well pleasing to God; for God himself did choose Christ to be the Redeemer; he himself set him apart from before the foundation of the world, and he himself, even Jehovah the Father, did lay upon him the iniquity of us all. The sacrifice of Christ is not brought to you without warrant; it is not a something which Christ did surreptitiously and in secret; it was written in the great decree from all eternity, that he was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. As he himself said, “Lo I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will O God.” It is God’s will that the blood of Jesus should be shed. Jesus is God’s chosen Saviour for men; and here, when addressing the ungodly, here, I say, is one potent argument with them. Sinner! You may trust in Christ, that he is able to save you from the wrath of God, for God himself has appointed him to save.
    2. Christ Jesus, too, like the lamb, was not only a divinely appointed victim, but he was spotless. Had there been one sin in Christ, he had not been capable of being our Saviour; but he was without spot or blemish—without original sin, without any practical transgression. In him was no sin, though he was “tempted in all points like as we are.” Here, again, is the reason why the blood is able to save, because it is the blood of an innocent victim, a victim the only reason for whose death lay in us, and not in himself. When the poor innocent lamb was put to death, by the head of the household of Egypt, I can imagine that thoughts like these ran through his mind. “Ah” he would say, as he struck the knife into the lamb, “This poor creature dies, not for any guilt that it has ever had, but to show me that I am guilty, and that I deserved to die like this.” Turn, then, your eye to the cross, and see Jesus bleeding there and dying for you. Remember,

“For sins not his own, he died to atone;”
Sin had no foothold in him, never troubled him. The prince of this world came and looked, but he said, “I have nothing in Christ; there is no room for me to plant my foot—no piece of corrupt ground, which I may call my own.” O sinner, the blood of Jesus is able to save thee, because he was perfectly innocent himself, and “he died the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.”

What is therefore most important, is that we understand what the Lamb points towards when we take our communion.  We are still the watchmen of Israel (Exodus 12:40-42), and it is still a night of watching kept to the LORD when the LORD will come back like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:43).  Until then, we will keep this witness of the Sacrament of the Communion, of this Eucharist “throughout [our] generations” (Exodus 12:42).

Some interesting views by Justin Martyr on this:


“The mystery, then, of the lamb which God enjoined to be sacrificed as the passover, was a type of Christ; with whose blood, in proportion to their faith in Him, they anoint their houses, i.e., themselves, who believe on Him. For that the creation which God created–to wit, Adam–was a house for the spirit which proceeded from God, you all can understand. And that this injunction was temporary, I prove thus. God does not permit the lamb of the passover to be sacrificed in any other place than where His name was named; knowing that the days will come, after the suffering of Christ, when even the place in Jerusalem shall be given over to your enemies, and all the offerings, in short, shall cease; and that lamb which was commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb…


…And the blood of the passover, sprinkled on each man’s door-posts and lintel, delivered those who were saved in Egypt, when the first-born of the Egyptians were destroyed. For the passover was Christ, who was afterwards sacrificed, as also Isaiah said, ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.’ And it is written, that on the day of the passover you seized Him, and that also during the passover you crucified Him. And as the blood of the passover saved those who were in Egypt, so also the blood of Christ will deliver from death those who have believed. Would God, then, have been deceived if this sign had not been above the doors? I do not say that; but I affirm that He announced beforehand the future salvation for the human race through the blood of Christ.”

While I have my reservations about how the lamb is laid out, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is apocryphal whether the lamb is laid out in the shape of the cross or not.  Indeed, even such details should proclaim some truth about Jesus and reveal a practice of the Passover meal during the global church father period.

Given Martyr’s minute detail of how the lamb is laid out, let’s go through the commands in Chapter 12.

(a)  Tell all the congregation (Gk: συναγωγην, Hebrew:‘edah, synagogue/church) of Israel

(b)  This is now the first month of the year for you. 10th day of this month, a lamb for each household, each shall taking according to how much he can eat (v.1-4)

(c)  Lamb without blemish, a male a year old

(d)  You may take it from the sheep or from the goats

(e)  Keep it until the 14th day of the month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight (between the two evenings)

(f)  Eat the flesh roasted on the fire, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs

(g)  Do not eat any of it raw, boiled in water, roasting its head/legs/inner parts.  None should remain until the morning (v.9-10) – and burn any that is left in the morning.

(h)  Eat with belt fastened, sandals on your feet, staff in your hand, eating in haste.

(i)  Blood on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses (v.7)

(j)  The day shall be a memorial day, as a feast throughout all generations, as a statute forever – 7 days of eating the unleavened bread (v.14-15)

(k)  On the first day the leaven shall be removed, and if anyone eats of the leaven in those 7 days he/she shall be cut off from Israel.  This takes place from the 14th to the 21st of the first month.

Let’s summarise the 11 sub-points above.  The message of the Passover is to the (a) church of Christ, symbolised by the congregation/synagogue/assembly which is synonymous to the new Testamental usage of the term ekklesia, meaning the global church.  On the 10th day of the first month of the year should we retrieve a lamb for each household ((a) and (b)) to symbolise the death of the firstborn as the 10th plague on Egypt.  What is very interesting is that the month of Nisan/Aviv, the original name of the 1st month of this Hebrew calendar, during this period is the time when the barley ripens; and such is the hope and new life given by the Passover Lamb.

Note, each household has to take the initiative; even though you are in the physical Israel, if you do not partake in the physical communion you will be considered as merely part of the physical, and not the spiritual and saved Israel; and everyone is expected to eat and partake in the Eucharist.  (c) – this Lamb is sinless, a year old (1 Peter 1:18-19), in the prime of the lamb’s life (Job 29-30) when he is killed at twilight.  This lamb is taken from the sheep or from the goats, difficult to distinguish on the outside just as Christ should incarnate and become one of us sheep (d).

From the 10th day to the 14th day the Lamb is kept.  Why?  Why for four days?  Because our Lamb of God entered five days before the Passover, and inspected for four days (John 11-19) before being slain on the Passover (e).  On that 14th day, he was slain on the cross, nailed to the tree, and punished by God – the offering given up to God as the Passover Lamb was roasted on fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  There is nothing tasty nor joyful about the death of this lamb; it is a bitter and solemn crucifixion (f).

The entire lamb should be consumed with the judgment of fire and water (roasted and boiled) (g) until the day of his return on the Judgment Day, which the morning symbolises.  It is interesting how the detail of boiled in water is included; Jesus, after he was resurrected, at broiled fish (Luke 24:42).  Why?  While the fish was heated until it is good to eat, just as the raw meat is boiled in water just until it is good to eat; and so we are disciplined and refined until we are good to eat by Christ (Hosea 7:8 – a cake fully turned, not half-baked!), so that when Christ consumes us after his resurrected self, we should take part in his body, just as we partake in His body when we eat of his boiled flesh.

Much of it should be eaten hastily (h) after the Passover, such as we are after the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ.  We are not yet comfortable in our life in this world; we are in the world, but not of it — there is no reason for us to settle comfortably when the judgment day is still coming.  The staff in hand carries the symbolism of both shepherding and judgment; just as we take the role of the steward of Christ, discipling, rebuking and building up the sheep (2 Timothy 3:16). (i)  The blood being painted on the lintel and the doorposts is akin to the blood painted in the shape of a cross; why wasn’t the blood painted on the door?  Why wasn’t the blood spread on the doorstep?  But the blood is painted in the shape of a cross, protecting the heart which is the door through which Jesus enters by the blood of the cross (Revelation 3:20).  (j) and (k) – And thus, any apostate should eat leavened bread during these seven days symbolises their comfort in this world, although new leaven is made after the 7th Day, the day of the Sabbath.

Conclusion

In the same way, we are looking forward to the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lamb, followed by the period of unleavened bread.  But we must wait; we must wait until the 7th day, the day of the Sabbath, before we can fully be comforted and fully partake in the newly re-created world.  Yes, we may be saved after eating the flesh of the Paschal lamb, but we are only saved spiritually; our fleshly body is awaiting true redemption.  Thus, the Old Testament saints were in the period of the unleavened bread, and the working of the leaven into the bread after the Pentecost is a full symbolism that the New Testament period is a time of the End of Days when the giving of the Spirit to Jews and Gentiles alike is a symbol of the full-redemption to come!

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Exodus 10-12: The Ten Plagues (pt.2) and the Passover Lamb of God

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