Summary: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
A PERPETUAL MEMORIAL
The first time that we are told that the LORD spoke to Moses specifically ‘in Egypt’ was when He commissioned him to confront Pharaoh (Exodus 6:28). The second was here in Exodus 12:1, when Moses and Aaron were given the LORD’s instructions for the perpetual commemoration of Israel’s one-off Passover event. # It took faith for them to believe that Israel would be commemorating an event which had not happened yet (cf. Hebrews 11:28)!
What was about to happen was a time-defining moment in the history of the people of God. They were to count their life as a nation as having begun at this point (Exodus 12:2). # In like manner, we who have been saved may reckon the day of our conversion to Christianity, whether we remember the exact date or not, as the beginning of our new life in Jesus.
The timing was to be exact, because this was a serious business. On the tenth day of the month, each household had to choose out a lamb for a sacrifice (Exodus 12:3). If the household was too small to consume a whole lamb in one meal, then they were to get together with their neighbours, and to calculate according to the number of ‘souls’ in the household, each according to their ability to eat (Exodus 12:4). The lamb (or kid) was to be without blemish, a male of the first year (Exodus 12:5).
They were to keep it by them until the fourteenth day of the month, to check that it really was suitable. Any small blemish would render the animal inappropriate. The whole congregation of the children of Israel were to slaughter their lamb, literally, ‘between the two evenings’ - that is, between sunset and complete darkness - also known as ‘twilight’ (Exodus 12:6). Then, they were to take some of the blood and apply it to the doorposts, and the lintel, of the houses in which were going to eat it (Exodus 12:7). In other words, they appropriated the blood (i.e. they devoted the blood to a specific purpose). # We are ‘redeemed’ by ‘the precious blood of Jesus’ (1 Peter 1:18-19). The sacrifice of Jesus was ‘as of a lamb without blemish’ (1 Peter 1:19).
They were to consume the whole lamb that very night. They were to eat it roasted, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. If anything was left, it was to be burned (Exodus 12:8-10). They were to eat it with their loins girded, sandals on their feet, staff in hand, ready for the journey that lay ahead. They were to eat in haste. It is called the Passover of the LORD (Exodus 12:11). # ‘Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
On that first Passover, the LORD would pass through all the land of Egypt, executing judgment against all the firstborn of Egypt, and upon the false gods of Egypt (Exodus 12:12). For four centuries Egypt had oppressed His ‘firstborn’, Israel (cf. Exodus 4:22). Pharaoh, too, had compounded the sin by ordering the murder of Israel’s sons by throwing them into the Nile (cf. Exodus 1:22). # Mercifully for us, “God did not spare His Own Son, but gave Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32).
The blood was for “a token” of the Israelites’ obedience of this command, and consequent adherence to the LORD (Exodus 12:13a). The word rendered “pass over” (Exodus 12:13b) is found elsewhere, with reference to the LORD’s protection of Jerusalem: ‘As (female) birds flying… and passing over He will preserve it’ (Isaiah 31:5). Mother birds flutter over their nests, it has been suggested, so the LORD “passing over” the blood-sprinkled houses of the Israelites entailed His ‘hovering’ over them, to keep the (God-appointed) Destroyer away. # Didn’t Jesus say something similar (cf. Matthew 23:37)?
The remembrance of this event was to single out the children of Israel throughout all generations (Exodus 12:14). # It was upon one such Passover commemoration that the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, to be kept in perpetuity ‘until He comes’ (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Whilst the whole nation was delivered (Exodus 12:51), the first-born of Israel had their lives spared. Those who were thus redeemed were dedicated to the LORD, and sanctified for the journey (Exodus 13:2).
# ‘You are not your own. You are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s' (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).