If you live in the South you know this, but if you grew up in the South, you understand it’s a way of life. You take it for granted that with spring comes azaleas, dogwoods, pollen and bad weather. Fierce thunderstorms and occasional tornadoes dot our existence. Every so often, they result in the tragic loss of life. More times than not though, they blow through and down a few trees and maybe damage some property. But the truth is, you never know what they will do so when you hear there is a tornado warning, the smart thing to do is to seek shelter and wait it out. You find something to do while you wait, but you always have one eye or one ear on the news to see what is going on—because you never know for sure.
I think this was something like the Passover night for Israel. They were different than us in they absolutely knew they were safe (due to the blood of the lamb), but it was nonetheless a night like no other. The Egyptian houses were filled with the mournful cries of those bereaved of loved ones, while inside the Israelite homes they huddled in holy silence where not even a dog barked (Exodus 11:6-7). The contrast could not have been starker. That was precisely Yahweh’s desire as the nation waited the night out (v. 7).
It was part of a month like no other—the month in which the events of the Passover occurred was from then on to be “the first month of your year” (12:1). Four hundred and thirty years of time living in Egypt was about to come to an end. The culminating years of this era were lived under oppression of forced labor, beatings and infanticide. Moses, Aaron and the plagues had given them hope of something better and Yahweh’s word to Moses was that the death of the firstborn would bring them the deliverance they longed for.
They were ready to leave. They had chosen their lambs or goats on the tenth of the month. They had killed them four days later. Their blood now marked the door frames of their homes. They had eaten the Passover meal in haste, burned the leftover portion of meat and now they sat in silence. The stillness of the night was broken only by the wailing from the houses occupied by the Egyptians.
Soon they would leave Egypt. They would never return. But they would carry with them over four centuries of experiences handed down from generation to generation. And they would never forget this, their night of deliverance. The meal they had taken would be observed every year to remind them of this very moment.
And then one day about fifteen hundred years later, a Jewish teach would gather in an upper room with His twelve disciples and tell them the Passover was being fulfilled in His approaching reign (Luke 22:15-16)!