Motivated by a question on another Topic, Nonviolence and the Bible
From Israel's Exodus from EgyptThe Plagues
According to the book of Exodus, when Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt, God brought a series of devastating â€œplaguesâ€ upon the people of the Nile. The visitation of these judgments echoes down the corridors of Bible history (Psa. 78:43-51; 105:28-36; 106:21-22; Jer. 32:20-21; Neh. 9:10; Acts 7:36; Rev. 8:7-11, etc.).
Egypt was a land of thousands of gods, and the Israelite people were not unaffected by the idolatry of these polytheists. This is reflected in the worship of a golden calf at Sinai (Ex. 32:1-6), and later in Israelâ€™s history as well (1 Kgs. 12:28-29).
The plagues were intended to be a â€œsmiting blowâ€ (Ex. 9:15; 12:13) of judgment against the â€œgodsâ€ of Egypt, as well as â€œsignsâ€ or â€œwondersâ€ of divine intervention (Psa. 78:43; 105:27). Each of the plagues was designed to neutralize confidence in the false deities of Egypt.
For example, several gods were associated with the Nile River. When the water was thus turned to blood, the reputation of the river deities was destroyed. When the cattle were afflicted with disease, it was a blow to Apis, the bull god. The sun was darkened for three days; thus the light from Re and other sun gods was shut off.
The popular modernistic view that â€œa natural basis for the traditions of the plagues must be assumedâ€ (Mihelic & Wright, 822) is totally without foundation and has been thoroughly refuted (see Davis, 84ff). The plagues came at the bidding of Moses and Aaron under Jehovahâ€™s direction, not at the whims of nature (7:19; 9:22, etc.). The timing was crucial. Also, Israel was unaffected by the plagues.
The tenth plague involved the death of first-born Egyptians (men and cattle), including Pharaohâ€™s son, who was alleged to be a â€œfullbloodedâ€ god by birth (Boyd, 107). According to Exodus 12, a year-old male lamb (or goat), without blemish, was to be slain on the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew religious year, â€œbetween the eveningsâ€ (12:6).
In the first century, the lamb was killed between 3 and 5 p.m. (Josephus, Wars, VI.IX.3). None of its bones was to be broken (12:46). The blood was to be smeared on the doorposts and lintel of every Israelite home, and the Lord promised: â€œWhen I see the blood, I will pass over youâ€ (12:13).
The passover lamb was a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus and his atoning death. The Savior was introduced by John the Baptizer as â€œthe lamb of Godâ€ (Jn. 1:29). Paul emphatically stated that â€œour passoverâ€ lamb is Christ (1 Cor. 5:7). Jesus was â€œwithout blemish,â€ i.e., sinless (1 Pet. 1:19; 2:22), and during the crucifixion not a one of his bones was broken (Jn. 19:31-33). He died at 3 oâ€™clock in the afternoon (Mt. 27:46), and his blood became a propitiation for sin (Rom. 3:25)â€"for all who access the application of it by obedience to his will (Heb. 5:9). We are cleansed by his blood (Heb. 9:14) when we receive the word (the gospel), and submit to immersion (Eph. 5:26).