Thus says the Lord: “About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals.” (Exodus 11:4-5)
This is one of the most ominous verses of Scripture I know of. First, because it signaled that the redemption of God’s people was no longer to be something they looked forward to but was, in fact, at hand. However, redemption would come as a result of death. The firstborn of Egypt, from the most powerful to the poorest would die and it would apply to both man and beast. As a result an unprecedented cry was heard in the land of Egypt. It is later recorded that there was not one house in Egypt where there was no corpse. All these many years later, at every Passover seder, we remember that for us to be delivered required the death of someone else.
While the physical death of Egypt’s firstborn brought about Israel’s redemption it was the death of the Messiah that redeemed us from the grip of the Adversary and sin. Thus it is clear that for lives to be redeemed, someone must be willing to lay down their life in exchange for the other. And while that may be hard for us to grasp as to why it has to be that way, Messiah nevertheless said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain (John 12:24).
Death is not the end; for those of us in Messiah, it is simply the beginning of something greater — eternal life in the Presence of the Almighty. While in this life, however, it is necessary that we live a life of self-denial which is to say, that we learn to die to our will. In fact, it could be said that the reason we have been born again is to learn how to die. And so, death is not exclusively a consequence for man’s sinful nature but is the first necessary step in the process of redemption. The LORD died that we might be redeemed; in turn, we are die to our will to demonstrate that we are the Redeemed of the LORD. As Paul said, “to live is Messiah, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).
Blessings and Shalom,