Exodus 11–12 describes the last of the ten plagues that God brought upon Egypt. The final plague is also the best known of the ten—the death of the firstborn of both people and cattle.
In Exodus 11 and 12, God gave explicit instructions for the first Passover: the Hebrews were to put the blood of a slain, unblemished male lamb on the two doorposts and lintel of their homes.
“The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”Exodus 12:13
“Now it came about at
midnight that the LORD
struck all the firstborn in
the land of Egypt, from the
firstborn of Pharaoh who
sat on his throne to the
firstborn of the captive who
was in the dungeon, and all
the firstborn of cattle.
“Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead.”Exodus 12:29–30
And Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron to “get out from among my people,” and go.
It is no coincidence that Jesus’ crucifixion took place at Passover, because the Passover lamb of Exodus was a type of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the word lamb in the New Testament almost always refers to Christ.
If you’re unfamiliar with the terms type and antitype, Edmund Clowney explains them as anticipations of God’s final salvation in Christ in his discussion of Peter’s reference to Noah in 1 Peter 3 (emphasis added):
“Peter continues to relate the time of Noah to that of the church by appealing to typology. The inspired authors of the New Testament find in the Old Testament history not merely instances of God’s saving power, but also anticipations of his final salvation in Christ. By providing the ark, God saved Noah and his family from the judgment of the flood. That deliverance, however, did not in itself give eternal life to the eight persons that were spared. Like the exodus liberation, it was a symbol of God’s final salvation from all sin and death. Peter uses the term ‘antitype’ to describe the relation of the new to the old. (3:21; NIV’s verb symbolizes translates the Greek noun antitypos). This use of ‘type’ and ‘antitype’ is itself figurative, drawn from the striking of coins or the impression of seals. ‘Type’ describes either a matrix from which an impression is made or an image created. In the letter to the Hebrews, the typology is vertical. That is, the heavenly realities are called the ‘type’ and the earthly symbolizes the ‘antitype’. The tabernacle in the wilderness was therefore the antitype of the heavenly sanctuary. In Paul’s letters and here in 1 Peter, the typology is horizontal in history: the Old Testament is the type, and therefore Christ’s fulfillment is the antitype.”1
The Passover lamb anticipated the Lamb of God. The Passover lamb was slain so that God would pass over the people of a house marked with blood and not visit them with a judgment of death. This week we remember the death of the Lord Jesus for His people and celebrate His Resurrection. God passes over those who believe in His Son and does not visit us with the judgment we deserve for our sins because Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, was slain for us.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”John 1:29
James Tissot, The Signs on the Door.
J. M. W. Turner, First Born Plague
Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Death of the Pharaoh’s firstborn son (Ex. 12:29).
Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei.
1Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1988) 164–165.
Original content: Copyright ©2014–2020 Iwana Carpenter