The Price Of Freedom

by George F Spall

A most significant sentence occurring in the early chapters of the Book of Exodus is "Let my people go that they may serve me." We find it in Exodus 7:16; 8:1,20; 9:1,13; and 10:3, also in 5:1 where Moses and Aaron "went in and told Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness."'"

It is clear from these reiterations of the same demand that the people were to be delivered from work to worship. They were also to understand that God had promised He would bless them in five ways: "I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians; I will rescue you from their bondage; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements; I will take you as my people; I will be your God" (Exodus 6:6,7).

But firstly God's words must be obeyed before God's works would follow, and even the Egyptians would have been saved from the Angel of Death had they sheltered under the blood on their doorposts and lintels as commanded by God.

Hard Servitude

The Hebrews' lives had become governed by bricks and bastinados. The bastinado was famous in Egypt as an instrument of punishment, and if inflicted enough it killed. Pictures of it can be seen in museums – beatings on bare feet with flexible whiplike sticks which tore the flesh. And having to find their own straw to keep up their daily quota of bricks was slave driving with a vengeance.

However because the people believed that their plight was worsening in spite of Moses' endeavours on their behalf they "would not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage" when he encouraged them to believe all that the Lord their God had promised them. "Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, 'The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me . . . ?'" How indeed!

Retribution on Pharaoh

What follows is the contest with the gods of Egypt -- God's works surely following His words. And of the ten judgements meted out upon Pharaoh and his people at that time, six are to be repeated in the days of the great tribulation as recorded in Revelation chapter 16. In this message from Moses we must realize that redemption is by power, God's mighty power displayed before all the Egyptians as well as for His people Israel.

Moses firstly established his credentials by the episode of turning his rod into a serpent before Pharaoh and his servants, and then he went straight for the jugular so to speak. He turned the River Nile into blood! This was their sacred river, worshipped as a god, and now turned to blood so that "the fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river."

Over the period of the ten judgements the Lord systematically humiliated the many gods the Egyptians worshipped: the frog goddess; the earth god when the dust became lice; the beetle god Scarab; the god of the air from which came a grievous murrain on the Egyptian cattle; water, earth, air and fire gods which were used to "become small dust . . . breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast throughout all the land of Egypt . . . upon all the Egyptians."

Next God exposed the impotence of the storm god, the god of the atmosphere; He overrode the god they worshipped to protect them from such things as locusts; He produced darkness and thus humiliated the sun god Ra whose son Pharaoh claimed to be; and lastly God kept His word by killing all the firstborn in Egypt. "Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto you, 'Let my son go; and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, even your firstborn.'" Pharaoh could never say he hadn't been warned!


God's people were instructed to prepare for their exodus from Egypt by following His instructions carefully as to the lamb and its blood. "On the tenth day of this month (the month Abib, now called Nisan) every man shall take for himself a lamb . . . your lamb shall be without blemish . . . you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight" (Exodus 12).

The people were to examine the lamb for defects for four days, and were to kill it on the fourteenth day of the month "between the evenings" , about 3 p.m., and sprinkle its blood on the two side posts and lintel of the doorway, "and when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt " (12:13).

The colour of blood would be hard to see at night, but God could see it, and the Israelites had to be sheltering under the blood of the lamb, which if the Egyptians had done they would have escaped the judgement too. The Israelites needed the blood of the slain lamb; they were not being saved because of any virtue they had; it was the blood that saved. Their firstborn sons would have died but for the substitute whose blood had been applied in faith and obedience.

The repeat of the Passover every year in memorial of that great event shows its extreme importance. "So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance" (12:14).

It was also a time of a new beginning. "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you" (12:1). What had been the seventh month now became the first, and Israel could not get out of Egypt and make a new start till the lamb was slain and the price paid for their freedom.

We remember that Yeshua was scrutinized for four days by the lawyers, the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders, the Herodians, the captains of the Temple -- a thorough examination that revealed no defect in Him, and "after that they dared not question him any more" (Luke 20:40).

The sprinkling of the blood on the side posts and lintel, and the basin on the threshold completing the picture, point to the mode of crucifixion. As well the Messiah died at 3 p.m. on the 14th day of the month Nisan.

He was indeed "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" as a great prophet of Israel testified when he saw the Messiah approaching him early in his ministry. He offered Himself at Passover time as the Lamb of God, and shed His blood to provide the atonement needed not only for Israel but also for all mankind, that "whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of his second letter to the people at Corinth: "Therefore if anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." This relates directly to the fact that when God delivered His people and redeemed them out of Egypt they were to experience a new calendar in their future walk with Him: "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you."