Pharaoh ignores Moses’ warnings, so God strikes Egypt with plagues. Now, a final plague is coming—the death of the firstborn sons.
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them, “Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down. . . .”
So the people of Israel did just as the Lord had commanded through Moses and Aaron. And that night at midnight, the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.
(Exodus 12:21-23, 28-30)
Every firstborn son of the Egyptians died, but the Israelite children were spared because the blood of the lamb had been placed on their doorframes. So begins the story of redemption, the central theme of the Bible.
Redemption means “to buy back” or “to save from captivity by paying a ransom.” One way to buy back a slave was to offer an equivalent or superior slave in exchange. That is the way God chose to buy us back—he offered his Son in exchange for us.
In Old Testament times, God accepted symbolic offerings. God accepted the life of an animal in place of the life of the sinner. When Jesus came, he substituted his perfect life for our sinful lives, taking the penalty for sin that we deserve. Thus he redeemed us from the power of sin and restored us to God. Jesus’ sacrifice made animal sacrifice no longer necessary.
For us to be freed from the deadly consequences of our sins, a tremendous price must be paid. But we don’t have to pay it. Jesus Christ, our substitute, has already redeemed us by his death on the cross. Our part is to trust him and accept his gift of eternal life. Our sins have been paid for, and the way has been cleared for us to begin a relationship with God (Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:13-15, 23-26).
Thank God that when he sees you, he sees the sacrifice Christ made for you. You are forgiven, redeemed. You were bought back so that you could be with God.