After that first memorial meal eaten in haste, with God’s people ready to roll, the Egyptians lost their first-born. There was not one Egyptian household without someone dead. Before we think, How cruel of God; how could He? let us remember that Pharaoh had nine opportunities to repent and give in to the demands of God delivered by Moses. Finally, the death angel came, and it was too late for Pharaoh to repent.
There is a time for choosing and a time when choice is no longer possible. C.S.Lewis says it like this:
I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side. (1)
In the judgment of the midnight hour, the death messenger comes as an angel of God, and Pharaoh’s options to choose are gone. He has no more time. The author has walked onto the stage, and the play is over. When God invades our world a second time, there will be no more time to deliberate. Lewis continues:
It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. (2)
When the midnight hour comes, the question is whether we have already chosen to bow to Christ, or whether we will bow because we can no longer choose to stand.
For those who might wonder about the historicity of the plagues, let me note that the next ruler of Egypt was not this pharaoh’s firstborn son. We know this because the successor went to great lengths to legitimize his right to the throne, claiming he had had a dream in which the sun god spoke to him and said he would receive the throne. This wouldn’t have been necessary if Pharaoh’s firstborn son had lived to inherit the throne.
Through the events of the first Passover and the elements of the celebration remembering it, we see that God’s will requires sacrifice. We must “paint the door again” in our attitudes and actions, escaping sin’s curse of death by trusting the blood of Jesus Christ the Lamb to cover us.
1. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Harper Collins, 1 980), p. 65.