“At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 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 someone was not dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, ‘Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!’
“The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, ‘We shall all be dead.’ So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. They had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
“At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.” Exodus 12:29-36,41-42
At the stroke of midnight (does anything good happen after midnight?) the angel of death struck the Egyptians, just as the Lord had announced through His servant Moses. Finally, with this tenth plague, Pharaoh was convinced to release the Israelites. And what a night it was.
Buzzing parents, groggy children and animals, fearful yet in wonder at the supernatural death for Egypt and protection for Israel because of the blood…. the blood, the smell of lambs’ blood over their doors permeated the warm night air with the wailing, the spoor of death lingered as they plundered, pushed, packed together, made haste to leave everything they’d ever known, memorializing in their minds the provision through the slaughter of the innocent.
We face such nights, not so much necessarily fleeing our homes, but death vigils over loved ones, extended longing for spiritual awakening, sleepless seasons of physical pain.
And our Lord watches. He is present, keeping guard over His own, active to deliver, to provide, to direct next steps into the unknown, to open His way out and onward.
When I’ve been forsaken, betrayed, afflicted with suffering, do I trust the loving watch of Jesus? In the misery of conviction, will I yield to God’s merciful, chastening hand? When anxious storms engulf and choke, will I look to the One who watches in peace, and rules? (Job 30:16-17; Psalm 32:4; Matthew 8:23-27; John 6:16-21)
When God calls “it’s time,” and leads me on, will I set aside fear, take up His provision, and make haste to obey and follow?
Father, every night of the soul is one of Your watching. You alone are worthy of absolute trust.