“On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the Lord! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.” — Exodus 12:13, 14 NLT
Signs are a part and parcel in our everyday living.
In driving a vehicle, it is important to pay attention to the road signs. Not paying attention to what they communicate could result in undesirable consequences, such as an accident damaging our vehicles and possible loss of life.
The practice of the sign of the cross, most prominent in the Roman Catholic Church, is a small gesture that embodies biblical-theological meaning. Using the right hand signifies that Jesus sits at the right hand of the father. Holding three fingers together symbolizes the triune God, while stating “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
God created the heavenly bodies not only as sources of light but also “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” to enable humanity to mark time and to make other measurements (Genesis 1:14, 15).
Exodus chapter 12 provides a theological meaning of the sign of the blood.
At this juncture, the Israelites are at the point of making their exodus after some 400-plus years from their ancestors sojourning and the Israelites in Egyptian bondage. They are about to embark upon a new journey to the Promise Land.
Under the leadership of Moses in their contest against the pharaoh in expectation of God making good on his promise to deliver them, Israel has witnessed and survived nine plagues that God inflicted on Egypt (Exodus 7:14-11:10). Now in preparation in departing, surviving the 10th and final plague to be unleashed, God instructs Israel and institutes “The Passover,” which becomes significant for Israel.
On the same night the Israelites were to eat this passover meal, God was going to “pass through” Egypt to execute judgment on pharaoh and the Egyptians. God says to Moses, “But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
A sign is an indicator or a signal. The blood is God’s sign bearing special significance. The blood signified a life had been given and sacrificed (Leviticus 17:11). It is by blood that God’s covenant is ratified, making it officially valid (Hebrews 9:11-23).
From verse 13, the blood on the door posts was a sign of three things for the Israelites.
One: the blood was a proof of distinction. It made a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites, marking and identifying the Israelites as the separated people of God (Exodus 11:6, 7).
Second: the blood was a pledge of mercy. It was a sign that the Israelites’ firstborn would be spared. The blood was a mark on the house for the destroyer to pass over, not touching anything in that house.
Third: the blood was protection from judgment. God is not only a promise keeper. In many of his promises we find him also to be a protector. A protector is a guardian, someone who takes charge of the affairs of another. A protector also acts as a shield or defender.
What the blood of the Passover lamb was to the Israelites, so is the blood of Jesus Christ for us today (1 Corinthians 5:7). The blood is proof of our distinction being separated from the world, thus belonging to God. Being a God of mercy and promise, the blood is God’s pledge of mercy to spare us. The blood is our protection, shielding us from judgment.
Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @jbeaven.