In this passage we come to the final plague upon Egypt; the death of the firstborn. It is a terrible judgment. It was a long time coming. Egypt had oppressed and killed Israelites for 400 years, The Lord had warned Pharaoh this would happen if he didn’t let Israel go. The previous nine plagues, though severe as can be imagined, had not humbled Pharaoh to the extent he complied.

Thus the death of the first born came. In ancient culture the first born represented the future of a people; the main heir, leader of the family, and the one responsible for stability. The death of all the first born indicated an effective end to Egypt’s viability and strength. There is much to learn from this solemn passage.

First, God keeps his word. He always keeps his word. We see here two direct references to this truth. First, God had instructed Moses when he first called him that he was to warn Pharaoh that if he failed to let Israel go he would kill his first born son (Exodus 4:23). Pharaoh heard this warning before any of the plagues began. He chose to ignore it. Judgment came exactly as the Lord warned.

Also, God had promised Abraham (Genesis 15) that he would free his descendants from a nation that oppressed them, and when they left they would leave not empty handed, but with “great possessions.” In Exodus 11:2 God tells Moses when this final plague occurs, Israel will take Egypt’s wealth with them when they leave. God kept his 400 year promise to Abraham.

Men may make empty promises or threats. They may forget what they promised. God is not like that. He does not warn or promise and not follow through. He acts according to his word. We must take heed to what God says in his word. The good news is you can absolutely rely on his promises.  The bad news is the warnings will be applied if you do not respond humbly to his word. Repentance is required to escape from the warned judgment. Faith is required to receive the promises.

Another truth we learn is that God’s judgment is inevitable. This is taught throughout the Scriptures. Sin is worse than we think or imagine. Though God takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, he will by no means clear the guilty. The punishment on Egypt is retributive, not arbitrary. God gives Egypt what justice demands, what is due according to her sins.

 We notice that none are exempted from judgment. From Pharaoh to the poorest laborer, all would suffer God’s judgment (Exodus 11:5). This foreshadows the final judgment of God whereby no one is excluded.  All sinners are held to account. God’s judgment is according to his standards, and there are none righteous when that standard is applied. This is a truth we must come to terms with.

The good news of the gospel is that God’s grace provides us with what we need to meet God’s perfect requirements. Because of sin we cannot hope to meet God’s standards. God’s design in the promise of grace is to exalt the riches of his mercy above all the sin and unworthiness of man.  The perfection he requires is found in Christ, whom God gifts to us. Christ makes people right with God.

We may not have perfect faith, but if it is sincere it knits us to Christ, in whom our perfection lies. Outside of Christ, a man must give account of his sins; the result being judgment like Egypt suffered. There is no sinner who should entertain any hopes he can pass the bar of God’s judgment by his own deeds.   But in Christ, God looks upon the believer as completely absolved of all guilt due to Christ’s death in their place, and clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

It is required by God our faith be genuine. We must completely give ourselves to Christ. Suppose I told someone I was giving them my truck, yet I maintained the title and put restrictions on its use. It couldn’t be said I entirely gave it to him unless he had liberty to do with it as his own. As sinners, we can’t offer ourselves in faith to Christ unless we give ourselves without restriction to him, and he has title to our lives to do with as he pleases.

The lessons of this plague are needful. This passage of Scripture is given for us to avoid the judgment Egypt suffered and cleave to the salvation God offers in Christ. We are warned not to ignore God’s word as Pharaoh did. God will always do as he says.