“And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” — Exodus 12:29-30
Sin has terrible consequences. The sin of Egypt resulted in the death of every firstborn of the Egyptians. There were no exceptions; from the criminal in jail to Pharaoh on his throne, the firstborn died. Even the firstborn of the animals died. Surely one can sympathize with the tremendous grief there was that night. What a horror it must have been to find in the night that your firstborn was dead. And then to have no one to turn to for comfort, for all were in the same grief. What a wretched thing sin is.
It would be nice if we could end this story with Egypt — but the truth is, all of mankind is in the same state that Egypt was. Romans 3:10-12 tells us: “…There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” There is not a single righteous person on the face of this earth; there is not one person who seeks after God in their natural state; there is not a single person who does good — no, not one! This is a terrible state to be in, and there is no one to turn to for comfort, for everyone else is in this same terrible condition. Further, Scripture tells us that in our natural (or carnal) state, we cannot do good or seek after God — and if we could, we wouldn’t, for we count God our enemy. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8).
Fortunately there is something very wonderful even in the great sadness of this story of Egypt. These were not the only firstborn to die; there was another firstborn who died. God the Father gave His firstborn (and only begotten) to pay for the sins of His children. Jesus was forsaken by the Father as He hung on the cross because He bore their sin. Sin is wretched, but love is greater. And there is no greater love than “that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
If you have great grief and sorrow for sin and affronting our Holy God; if you have found yourself crying out “Abba,” which is to say “Father”’; if you desire to obey our God and walk closely with the Savior; if the Holy Spirit has testified to your spirit that you are a child of God (Romans 8:16); then He gave Himself for you, He loved you, and He counted you His friend. What a Savior!
•Philip Green is pastor of Greenwood Primitive Baptist Church.