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“And it Came to Pass”
“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….And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.” (Exodus 12:29-51)
Here are five words that are used hundreds of times in the Book of God, words that are used so often that we tend to ignore them; but they are tremendously instructive words. — “And it came to pass.” Everything that comes to pass is brought to pass by our God; and everything that our God has purposed shall come to pass. Everything predestined from eternity shall come to pass in time, because our God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” And everything that comes to pass in time was predestined in eternity “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). — “Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6) — “Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?” (Lamentations 3:37) — “I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:6-7). And everything God has promised shall come to pass in time, because “all the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Here, in Exodus 12, these words, “and it came to pass,” refer specifically to the destruction of Pharaoh and the land of Egypt, and the deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian bondage by the hand of God and according to the purpose of God.
All that came to pass that night in Egypt was allegorical. It was a picture of the redemption, deliverance and salvation of God’s elect in and by Christ Jesus. We read Israel’s history without understanding and with no profit to our souls, if we do not apply it spiritually to ourselves, as the Spirit of God intended (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11).
In Exodus 12:29-51 the Holy Spirit gives us a tremendously instructive picture of our salvation in Christ, showing us six things involved in the deliverance of our souls from sin and Satan and the curse of the law.
Deliverance by a Great Slaughter
First, in verses 29 and 30, we see that the salvation of our souls is deliverance by a great slaughter.
“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. 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 there was not one dead.”
That which came to pass that night in Egypt was exactly what the Lord God had purposed. — “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn” (Exodus 4:22-23). God’s judgments are always just. Pharaoh had ordered the slaughter of God’s firstborn (Exodus 1:22). In doing so, he ordered the slaughter of his own house. If you reap the wrath of God, you will but eat the fruit of your own ways. What a solemn warning! — Hell is but the just retribution of God upon ungodly men and women.
But I see something more here than the certain judgment of God upon the wicked. These things are recorded to teach us God’s method of grace, to show us how the Lord God saves his people from their sins. There could be no deliverance from the wrath of God but by a great slaughter. And the slaughter was twofold. — 1st There was the slaughter of the paschal lamb. We could never have known the grace of God, mercy could never have come to our souls, we could not have been saved, except Christ our Passover be sacrificed for us. — “Without shedding of blood is no remission!” — 2nd In every house in Egypt one died that night, “for there was not an house where there was not one dead” (v. 30).
In Pharaoh’s house, and in the houses of every Egyptian, there was one dead. The firstborn in every house, the one who represented the whole house, was killed that dark night when God sent destruction in Egypt. That part of this history most everyone understands. Where were the children of Israel? Where did they live? Where were their houses? Were not their houses in Egypt? Of course, they were. And the Word of God asserts plainly, “There was not an house where there was not one dead.”
Does that mean that the firstborn in Israel were also slaughtered? Indeed, it does. In every Jewish home, also, there was a death. A lamb was sacrificed; and the blood of that lamb protected God’s chosen people from destruction, because the lamb was slaughtered in the room and in the stead of the chosen object of deliverance. Typically and ceremonially the Israelites died when the lamb died. — “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). — When the Lord Jesus Christ died in our place, we died in him, and we died with him (John 10:11, 15; 1 Peter 3:18; 4:1-2).
Deliverance with a Great Spoil
Second, in verses 31-36, we see that the salvation of God’s elect is deliverance with a great spoil.
“And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.”
Many speak of Israel’s actions in borrowing the Egyptian’s silver and gold as an evil thing, as something they should not have done. Do not be so foo1ish. This was done by God’s express command (Exodus 3:21-22; 11:2-3). When the Egyptians “lent” their silver and gold to the Jews, they “lent” them in the same way Hannah “lent” Samuel to the Lord. They had no thought of getting them back. They gladly gave the Israelites everything they asked, because God gave Israel “favor” in the eyes of their enemies. He caused the Egyptians to gladly give them their riches, just to get rid of them. Why? He had promised “ye shall spoil the Egyptians.” — “And it came to pass!” So it is with you and me (Jeremiah 30:16; 50:10; Zephaniah 2:9; Zechariah 2:9; 14:1; Revelation 21:6; 21:24; Isaiah 53:10-12).
Deliverance on a Great Scale
Third, the salvation of God’s elect is deliverance on a great scale. Read verses 37-39.
“And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.”
This was not a small band of Jews who sneaked across the border out of Egypt. This was a great host, almost incalculable. Moses mentions just 600,000 men. These were men who were at least 20 years old. But the number does not include the women, the children or the aged. And it does not include the mixed multitude. Altogether there were, at the very least, two and a half million people who marched out of Egypt that night! — “And there was not one feeble person among their tribes” (Psalm 105:37). Israel marched out of Egypt triumphantly, ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, carrying with them everything they needed. What a picture! Need I say more? — What a multitude! What a great multitude! What a rich multitude! What a mixed multitude! What a Triumphant Multitude!
“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” (Revelation 5:9-14)
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12)
Deliverance by a Great Scheme
Fourth, the salvation of God’s elect is deliverance accomplished by a great scheme. The scheme by which Israel sojourned in Egypt, multiplied in Egypt, gained wealth in Egypt, and came out of Egypt was a covenant of pure, free grace made with one man who represented the whole nation, a covenant based upon a great sacrifice. That is what we have before us in this chapter; and the whole thing speaks of God’s covenant grace made with Christ for us, and its accomplishment in our deliverance (vv. 40-46; Genesis 15:1-21).
“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.”
It was not until the blood of the “lamb” was shed that redemption was effected. As soon as the blood was shed, the very next morning, Israel marched forth a free people. — “All the hosts of the Lord (That includes the mixed multitude, not just the Jews.) went out from the land of Egypt” (v. 41). They were the Lord’s purchased people, “bought with a price,” and that price was “not corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of a lamb!” — All the redeemed, every sinner purchased by Christ at Calvary, must go out of bondage into liberty, out of darkness into light, out of death into life at God’s appointed “time of love” for his chosen.
Deliverance with a Great Seal
Fifth, our salvation in Christ is a deliverance with a great seal. The seal of Israel’s deliverance was circumcision.
“All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.” (Exodus 12:47-50)
Circumcision was an Old Testament sign by which the chosen nation was separated and distinguished from other people, a mark of identification in their bodies, an operation performed upon each newborn boy in Israel by which all the promises and blessings of God’s covenant were sealed to him for life. That legal ceremony of the Old Testament was typical of and pointed to the work of God the Holy Spirit in regeneration by which God seals to the hearts of chosen, redeemed sinners all the blessings of his covenant grace (Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11; Ephesians 1:13-14).
Circumcision was a family mark of identification, a mark made in the flesh, a mark that was painfully made, a mark of divine favor, a mark of covenant blessedness, a mark of divine protection and care, and a permanent mark. That is an exact description of the work of God the Holy Ghost in us, called “circumcision made without hands” (Colossians 2:11).
Deliverance by a Great Savior
Sixth, verse 51 describes a deliverance performed by a great Savior, “the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Salvation is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, our great God; and his glory is great in the salvation he performs. — “And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.”
“Salvation is of the Lord!” — Let the Lord alone be praised for it. Let us ever sing God’s praise with rapture for the blessings of redemption, deliverance, and salvation in and by our great and glorious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 103:1-4; 107:1-2; 108:1-6).
Whenever we contemplate God’s goodness to Israel as it is recorded in this chapter, let us see our personal interest in all that is here recorded. If we do, we can never sufficiently adore the mercy, grace, and love of our God. Oh, what deliverance that is which the Lord God accomplished for us! With what a high hand he has brought us out of bondage and into the glorious liberty of the sons of God! — “It is a night much to be observed unto the Lord of all the children of Israel in their generations forever. This month shall be to you the beginning of months, the first month of the year!” It is indeed a new month, a new year, new life, new privileges, new joys. — “What hath God wrought!”
“O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; show forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.” (Psalms 96:1-4)
O blessed Son of God, our Passover, our Savior, our Redeemer, our all, help us by the sweet influence of your Holy Spirit to keep the feast of faith, “not in the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Oh, may the blood of the everlasting covenant be sprinkled upon our hearts, that it may be our security from the condemning sentence of the law, the guilt of sin, and from all the dreadful evils of iniquity. Enable us to feed upon your flesh and blood by faith. Make it to be meat indeed and drink indeed to our souls, to support and nourish us throughout the days of our pilgrimage. And grant that, like the believing Israelites, we may feed upon you, our Passover sacrificed for us, with our loins girded about with truth, and our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Oh, give me grace, my Savior, to feed upon you with my staff in my hand, ready to be gone and to depart in haste and be with you where you are forever!