Today’s Parsha is entitled Bo which means ‘Go’ and covers Exodus 10:1 through 13:16. Egypt has already suffered severely through seven plagues. Moses was instructed to announce to Pharaoh yet another plague – the plague of locusts.
This time, Moses’ warning produced a great reaction. The situation had become so desperate, that finally Pharaoh’s officers dared to challenge him. They said, “How long will you let this man hold us hostage? Let the men go to worship the Lord their God! Don’t you realize that Egypt lies in ruins?”
Pharaoh tried to negotiate, offering to let only the Israeli men go and worship their God. Had Moses allowed this it would have been like abandoning their wives and children. Faith involves the whole family. Moses flatly refused Pharaoh’s counter-offer.
Pharaoh’s heart was again hardened. Adonai told Moses, “Raise your hand over the land of Egypt and locusts will come.” Now when locusts swarm in full force, they are terrifying. They can enter a lush and fertile land and leave it a desolate wilderness. They destroy all greenery, crops, vegetables, trees; even the bark of fruit-trees suffers.
Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron, saying, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.” Moses made supplication to the Lord, and God sent a wind from the west to drive the locusts into the sea. But again, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he refused to let Israel go.
Adonai told Moses to lift his hand toward the sky. A thick darkness spread over all of Egypt, except in Goshen where the Jewish people lived! This plague was aimed at the Egyptian’s sun god Ra. Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and said he was willing to let the people leave, but without their flocks and herds. This was another attempt at compromise in order to keep Israel captive in Egypt. But Moses wasn’t buying.
Pharaoh terminated this interview, and cut off all further communications with Moses with a threat of death if he showed his face again. Do you see how hardness of heart and contempt for God’s Word can bring men and nations to certain destruction? Adonai had already told Moses that this would be the last appeal to Pharaoh, so Moses affirmed that Pharaoh would never see him again.
Now God’s final judgment was about to fall – the death of every firstborn in all of Egypt. Death would come to every family, unless they were protected by the blood of a flawless lamb on the doorposts of their homes. Passover and the Exodus from Egypt would mark the birth of the nation of Israel and its deliverance from bondage. This great event also foreshadows Messiah and His redemptive work on the cross.
From a human point of view, there was no difference between the firstborn of Egypt and the firstborn of Israel. The difference was in the application of the blood. The same principle applies to us today. All of us are sinners, but those who transfer their loyalty to Messiah are under His blood and saved.
In chapter 11, we are reminded that the Jewish people had labored as slaves to the Egyptians without pay. Now Adonai tells them to ask for articles of silver and gold.
Generations earlier Adonai told Abraham that his people would be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years, but afterward they would come out with great possessions – back wages due them. The Three-in-one God had now honored His promise to Abraham. The God of Israel is faithful, His Word is true and He is true to His Word.
Chapter 12 tells us that Passover also marks the beginning of the Jewish people’s religious year. The death of the lamb marks a new beginning, just as the death of Messiah marks a new beginning for everyone who believes in Him.
Selected on the tenth day of Nisan, and slain on the evening of the fourteenth day, that flawless male lamb was set aside for death. Yeshua is the Lamb set aside before the foundation of the world! Just as the lamb was without defect, so Yeshua was without sin. And just as death passed over the homes marked by blood, so those under the covering of Messiah will not be subject to the second death.
Just as the Jewish people watched the lambs for four days to make sure they were satisfactory, Yeshua was observed for the three or four years of His earthly ministry.
A living lamb was a lovely thing, but it could not save! We are not saved by Messiah’s example or even by His life; we are saved by His death. It was God’s way of salvation. According to Scripture, sins cannot be forgiven without the shedding of blood. It is no coincidence that Messiah was slain on the fourteenth day of the month, at the time when the Passover lambs were being offered.
The lamb had died for the firstborn; now the firstborn would belong to God. The Jewish nation, God’s firstborn nation among the other nations of the world, was now a purchased people, just as we are now God’s purchased people.
The nation would forever honor Adonai by dedicating their firstborn by offering a sacrifice and a contribution instead. That was what Mary and Joseph did at the Temple – they brought the redemption price: redeeming the One who would be the Redeemer of all!
In conclusion, this parasha shows God making a distinction between Israel and Egypt. It is a picture of obedience leading to redemption versus rebellion leading to death. We see God’s wrath, punishment and judgments poured out on the wicked of Egypt, but grace and mercy extended to Israel. There are still two distinct kinds of people today, the obedient – those who have applied the blood of Messiah to their lives, and the rebellious, Which one are you?