By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.
The tenth plague was the death of every firstborn male in Egypt. To prevent the plague from striking Jewish firstborns, God told the Jews to do a most unusual thing. Each family was to kill a lamb and then smear its blood around the front door of their home. What a messy, bloody activity. Why did God want such a bloody act?
God was teaching His people about sin, sacrifice, and substitution. First, He taught His people that sin is serious to a holy God, and that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22).
Second, God taught His people about sacrifice. The penalty for sin was death. If sin was to be forgiven or atoned for, then a sacrifice must be paid. There had to be bloodshed, or death.
Finally, God taught His people the spiritual truth of substitution. We deserve to die because of our sin. God, in his mercy, allows a substitute, a lamb, to die in our place. But the sacrifice of a mere animal could never really atone for human sin, so the sacrifice of countless animals in the Old Testament was just to foreshadow a Substitute who would come one day and really pay for sin. This Substitute was God Himself, God in the flesh. Every lamb sacrificed in Egypt, along with every animal sacrificed in the Old Testament, alluded to the substitute.
Therefore, when Jesus began his ministry, his anointed prophet John called out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus, our Substitute, died in our place so that we won’t have to die for our sin. All of this truth about sin, sacrifice, and substitution, was apparent in the bloody doorframes back in Egypt. That blood on the doorframes was the only hope for those Jewish families. The blood of Jesus, the blood on the cross, is the only hope for you and me. Precious blood indeed.