It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.
After enduring nine plagues from God, it took the 10th plague, the death of the firstborn, for Pharaoh to finally realize that Egypt and its gods were no match for the true God.
After the firstborn died at midnight on the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar, Pharaoh called Moses early in the morning, while it was still dark. He told Moses to take the children of Israel and leave Egypt (Exodus 12:30-33).
So Israel plundered the Egyptians—receiving payment for the many years they had been in bondage (verses 35-36)—and gathered to leave that night at the beginning of the 15th.
We are told about 600,000 Israelite men left Egypt. Adding women, children and the mixed multitude, most likely between 2 and 4 million people left Egypt (verses 37-38). As they journeyed, God told them to remember and annually observe that night.
When Israel departed Egypt, they left exactly 430 years after God made His covenant with Abraham (compare Exodus 12:41 and Galatians 3:16-17). When Israel left Egypt, God was being faithful to His promises made four centuries earlier.
But God wasn’t finished with fulfilling the promises made to Abraham. Israel’s departure was the beginning of the next step. That night was special indeed!
Members of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, continue to observe this night each year, reflecting on Israel’s deliverance from Egypt—and our deliverance from sin through the death of Jesus Christ.
To learn more about the plagues God sent on Egypt, read “A Deeper Look at the 10 Plagues.”