“And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.” (Exodus 12:29)
When we consider the circumstances surrounding the Tenth Plague to fall on Egypt, and all of the events leading up to it, we see that there are some unchanging characteristics about God’s judgments revealed. Let’s look at them a little closer:
God’s Judgments Are Preceded By Warning
“And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more” (Exodus 11:4-6)
These words of warning were given to Pharaoh before the night of the Passover. The people of Egypt were not ignorant that this judgment was coming. In fact, Exodus 12:29 reads almost identically with Exodus 11:4-6. The Egyptians were even given the time of night that the Lord would move His hand in judgment!
God does not bring about His judgment except He first sends out a warning. No one who comes under the judgments of the Lord can claim that they did not know that judgment was coming. They may not have believed the warnings, but the warnings were given nonetheless.
God’s Judgments Are Impartial
From the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon. No one in Egypt escaped God’s judgment on the basis of who they were. God never takes into consideration our position or status in this world; what office we hold or how much money we have is irrelevant. If we reject God, regardless of who we are, we will come under judgment. Our worldly success and prominence can do absolutely nothing to save us.
God’s Judgments Are Fitting
Back in Genesis, I wrote about the “Ironic Nature Of God’s Judgments” following the Fall in the Garden of Eden. God’s judgments are always appropriate for the one coming under judgment. It is hard to imagine that Pharaoh, embracing the lifeless body of his own son, his eyes filled with tears, his heart filled with sorrow, did not reflect on that wicked decree coming so many years prior, the executive order handed down from the very throne upon which he himself now sat, calling for the murder of the sons of Israel (Exodus 1:16). Though his heart was hardened, he must have recognized the ironic justice now being meted out against himself and his people.
God’s Judgments Are Merciful
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NASB)
Consider if the first time Moses entered the court of Pharaoh, issuing his demand for the release of the Hebrews, that God decided to strike Pharaoh and all of his advisers dead the moment he refused. Would this have been unjust? No. The Lord could have very well taken the life of Pharaoh the moment he defied Him. The same is really true for any of us. God would be perfectly just and holy even if He blotted all of us out the very first time we rebelled against Him.
But God is not only just and holy, He is merciful. Not only does God send a warning, as we have already considered, He keeps sending warning after warning! The Lord does not wish for anyone to be lost or to come under judgment, He wishes for all of us to turn to Him and avail ourselves of His mercy. We must keep in mind that not only one, not only two, but nine separate plagues preceded this Tenth act of God’s judgment upon the land of Egypt. Pharaoh had several opportunities to obey God before his son was taken. He chose not to.
God’s Judgments Are Avoidable
Something very interesting about all of the instructions given by the Lord concerning the Passover is the fact that, while God stipulated specifically who could and who could not partake of the lamb, nothing is said about who could be covered by the blood. For a person to enter into fellowship, to become part of the congregation of Israel, certain steps needed to be taken. The bread needed to be prepared a certain way, the lamb needed to be cooked a certain way, but no specifications were given in order to avoid the coming judgment. Every one was free to be covered by the blood of the lamb, both Jew and Gentile.
Suppose one of the Egyptian families had believed God and what He was about to do. What if they had decided to cover their own house with the blood of the lamb? Or had they asked one of their Hebrew neighbors to come into their house, would they have been turned away simply because of their race? As far as we can tell, the Spirit of the Lord moving across the land that night, taking the lives of the firstborn, was not looking in each house to see who was inside. He wasn’t doing a “background check” of the occupants of each house to make sure they fit a certain criteria in order to be saved. We can be certain that any Israelite family that had failed to cover their house with the blood of the lamb would have received the same fate as the Egyptians, would not any Egyptian family that had covered their own house have been spared?
Escaping the judgments of God has nothing to do with what race or background a person comes from, it really has nothing to do with who we are at all. As we saw, who a person was or their position in society could do nothing to save them; we see now that it also could do nothing to prevent them from being saved. Anyone, Hebrew or Egyptian, who believed God and was covered by the blood of the lamb would be saved. It is the same today. Anyone who believes God and is covered by the Blood of the Lamb will be saved, regardless of who they are.
We are warned throughout Scripture that God judges the sins of man and He will continue to do so. Ultimately, all sin will be judged and those who die apart from Christ will be forever lost. Let us heed the warning and avail ourselves of God’s gracious mercy. He Himself has provided a Lamb for each of us in the Person of Jesus Christ and if we will be covered by His blood we will not come under God’s judgment.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,