21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. Exodus 12:21-30
It is the height of irony that the ordinance of Passover was to be taught to the children of Israel through the ages. The irony, of course, is that many children died as a result of Pharaoh’s stubbornness and refusal to let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh himself suffered the same loss as the people he ruled over. It didn’t have to come to this, but it did.
Moses instructed the Israelites to slaughter the lamb and paint the door posts and door frame its blood.
Just as the Lord said would happen, all the firstborn of Egypt were slaughtered at midnight, and the “destroyer” passed over those with blood on the door frames.
I’m glad the Israelites were finally able to leave Egypt and ultimately preserve the Messianic line, but I’m also saddened that it had to come at the expense of many innocent children. I fully understand theologically what had to happen, but I’m also troubled by it. Was there another way it could have happened? Obviously not.
Exploring the depths of God’s wisdom, grace, and mercy is not without its troubling questions. This is certainly one of them.