June 4, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”—Exodus 12:12–13 (NIV)
Have you ever seen a warning sign? Maybe you’ve driven down a road and saw a sign that said “DEAD END” but you keep going, or maybe you were walking around a condemned building with a sign that said, “RADIATION RISK. KEEP OUT!” and you went in anyway. After seeing that, you can say you weren’t warned!
As you read a passage like this, you may be tempted to think God was too harsh in killing the firstborn sons of Egypt without warning. You may be picturing tons of babies dying. However, this picture, influenced by movies like The Prince of Egypt, isn’t accurate. While some infants and young boys did indeed die, this plague impacted older men and animals at a significantly higher rate—unlike Pharaoh’s act to kill all Hebrew boys two years old and younger (Exodus 1).
This picture also completely ignores the nine other wonders that were performed in Egypt that served as warning signs to the Egyptians and Pharaoh that their gods were powerless and fabricated. Each plague proved the gods of Egypt were false, but none more so than this plague. And in Exodus 11, Moses literally warned Pharaoh about the final plague!
Egypt had plenty of chances to let Israel (the Lord’s firstborn son) go. They had opportunities to turn from their gods and repent for their sins and the 400-year enslavement and oppression of God’s people. But they didn’t. Thus, judgement came upon their gods and their sinful, unrepentant hearts.
Now, I want to point out something powerful and amazing to you. There are two phrases uttered in today’s passage that carry profoundly different implications.
“I will pass through” was in judgment . . .
“I will pass over” was in mercy . . .
Wrath and love. Justice and grace. Two sides of one coin; to inseparable aspects of God’s character. His judgment and wrath are perfect and good. They ensure the wicked, evil, and depraved receive the wages for their sins. However, His mercy, love, and grace are equally good and perfect, offering redemption, restoration, reconciliation, and forgiveness to all those who truly repent, turn away from their wickedness, and submit to Him!
Friends, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18 NIV). However, even though “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” everyone can be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23–24 NIV) by repenting and believing in Jesus. And so, all who believe will be passed over, but all who reject Him will be passed through in judgement.
So, you, as one who has been passed over, must share both the good news and the warning with those around you. This is a matter of life and death, Christian. Take seriously the call of God to be “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV).
Pause: Why can we never separate the wrath, justice, and judgment of God from the mercy, grace, and love of God?
Practice: Today, spend time writing down how you would present the gospel to someone. Is it a complete picture of the truth? Of the bad news and good news?
Pray: Heavenly Father, help me to be an effective minister of the gospel, who presents the truth—the bad news of our sinfulness and deserved separation and the coming wrath, but more importantly, the good news of mercy and redemption through the love and grace of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.