Hebrews – Chapter Eleven XLVI

by Ed Urzi

“By faith [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them” (Hebrews 11:27-28).

Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, was viewed as a god among the people of his kingdom. As such, he was the single most powerful figure within Egyptian society during the period of Israel’s captivity. In theory, Pharaoh could have executed Moses without repercussion if he desired. Yet Moses was not alarmed by that possibility, for his faith in the One who is unseen enabled him to overcome any potential fear of the king’s wrath.

Moses expressed that same faith in keeping the Passover as well. The Feast of Passover was (and is) a commemorative event that memorializes Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (see Exodus chapter twelve). This annual observance commemorates the time when God “passed over” every home that carried an identifying mark of lamb’s blood on its exterior door frame. The firstborn in every other home was put to death…

“I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both people and animals. I am the Lord; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12-13 CSB).

Although the Passover is widely celebrated among the members of the Jewish community today, the events that led up to that first Passover may be less familiar. A look at the Biblical record reveals that the Passover referenced here in Hebrews 11:28 was the culmination of a series of events involving Pharaoh and others under his leadership. Those events are known today as the Ten Plagues of Egypt.

However, we can trace the Passover’s origin even further back to Moses’ first interaction with God. At the time of their initial meeting, the Lord issued the following directive to Moses: “…you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God'” (Exodus 3:18 NIV).

God then followed with a piece of divine foresight: “I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless he is forced to do so. But I will use my power and will punish Egypt by doing terrifying things there. After that he will let you go” (Exodus 3:19-20 GNT). Thus, it was Pharaoh who initiated the chain of events that ultimately led to the establishment of the Passover.