Exodus: The History of the Redeemed: “The Lord’s Passover”
As leader of Egypt, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened toward the command of God and Moses to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt and so God promised the tenth and most dreadful plague, the killing of every firstborn in the land in Exodus 11. Then in Exodus 12:1, we read: “Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
God is establishing the Jewish religious calendar here: The religious year would begin with the celebration of God’s redemptive act of bringing Israel out of Egypt in the Passover. To follow the One Lord God, who is the Great I AM, begins with redemption, God’s act of saving a desperate People.
Look at verse 3: “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb.”
The Israelites gathered in community, in assembly. In the New Testament, the Greek word for “church” is “ekklesia” which means gathering or assembly- “ekklesia” became “an assembly of Christians gathered for worship”. You see some of the attributes of the Church in verse 4, where if a household was too small or had no lamb, the neighbor was to share and provide for those who had nothing.
Verse 5 continues: “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight (sunset). 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire--its head with its legs and its entrails (internal organs). 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover.
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
The Lord’s Passover Lamb
There were many particulars which were to be included in the Lord’s Passover and all of the intricacies pointed to the Lamb of God who would be crucified. The Lamb chosen to be sacrificed had to be a year old and without blemish. There could be no fault found in this lamb. This lamb would not be an infant but a male who was in his prime and he must be a perfect sacrifice for sin which was acceptable to a Hoy and Righteous God. So too, Jesus was the Lamb without blemish; In Him was sinlessness which alone could atone for sin. In Him was righteousness which satisfied the law.
The lamb was also to be “set apart” for four days. This was significant in considering the purpose of this lamb and the promise which God made concerning the sacrifice to be made. It was no accident 1500 years later that the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem four days before He would be the sacrificial lamb slain for sin.
The lamb must be 'slain by the whole assembly of the congregation'. Jesus also would be slain by the hand of the Jews. Not one voice was silent when the cry went out, “Crucify Him!” All of the sin of those who would believe in Him was laid upon Him as He was beaten and crucified. Why was this done? So that whoever would believe in Him would become partakers, participants in His death, saving those who would put their faith in Him. And so and each inhabitant of the house marked with the blood of the lamb must feed upon the lamb. No one who believed could be excluded.
The blood from the slain lamb had to be sprinkled on the lintel and on the doorposts of each dwelling. If you connect the blood markings from the side doorposts together in a straight line and you drew a line from the center of the lintel to the ground you would have the image of a cross. It was not enough that the blood of the lamb was shed, it was “sprinkled” around the opening of each home to show that the blood had been applied. God’s special mark of blood was a sign of His saving act of grace, forgiveness, and preservation which would be seen on the entrance of each dwelling place. Every home which had the mark of the atonement of the lamb was saved from the judgment of God. Each person in each home had their hope and faith set on the promise of God, and that He would “PASS OVER” them by looking to the shed blood of the lamb for deliverance and protection.
The flesh of the Passover Lamb had to be roasted with fire, thoroughly devoured by flame. The fire of God’s wrath and judgment would be inflicted upon Christ. He took upon himself the punishment that was to death. The vengeance of God descended in all its fury on Him as the curse of the law was exacted in its utmost upon Him so that we might be spared.
No bone of the Passover Lamb was to be broken. The bones are the strength of the body. In and of itself, if a bone was broken the meat would not be spoiled for the Passover supper, but that was not the point in this instruction. When Jesus was crucified, it was all too common for the bones of the victim to be broken through all of the beatings and punishment. But it was not to be so in the case of Jesus, the Passover Lamb of God. This command was kept and fulfilled, not only in the case of the first Passover, but especially in the death of the Lord Jesus. Not one bone was broken. His strength remained even to eternal life.
At the Passover supper, the lamb had to be eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. The bitter herbs were a reminder to the Israelites of the bitter suffering under the hand of the Egyptians. It is only under the suffering of sin that God’s people are drawn to the cross of Christ’s suffering. Faith has no root in any soul except that one first has been crushed by the burden and bondage of sin and ones’ own unworthiness. Only those “come in sorrow's sackcloth who receive Christ's justifying robe.” (Henry Law, 1855, “The Passover”)
The unleavened bread symbolizes the Christian life, being freed from the leaven of sin and delighting in Christ’s sacrifice. As long as we live, we feast on the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice. Even as the Lamb was eaten with these things in mind, so also the Christian must continue to be reminded of the sin for which Jesus suffered and the life of holiness which is to be lived for His honor and glory.
The lamb must be eaten in the attitude of haste and with the equipment for departure. (This was also one of the practical reasons for not using leaven: The Israelites did not have time for the bread to rise with yeast.) Believers must be willing and ready to leave at an instant, forsaking the world and leaving everything else behind to follow Jesus. As Believers, nothing of the past deters us from following God and moving on to God’s land of promise. In the same way that the Israelites longed to be free from the Egyptian’s evil hold, so Christians also long for permanent release from sin and its effects
Exodus 12:11 says: “It is the Lord's Passover.” Only God can save. He commanded that the Passover be celebrated by the Jews as a remembrance of His grace to save them from their captivity. Later in Exodus 33:19 God says to Moses: "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." God alone shows mercy and grace to those whom He will save. We can have full assurance that He will do what He promises. Let’s finish reading verses 14-30.
Every Firstborn dies in Egypt
“So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat--that only may be prepared by you.
17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.' "
21 “Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.”
24 And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. 25 It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. 26 And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' 27 that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.' So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
29 And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck 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 livestock. 30 So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead.”
It is hard to imagine the grief in Egypt on that day. The life of every first born male in the country who was not an Israelite was taken. This is shocking even today to read about, but it happened because of the hardness and sinfulness of Egypt. The Egyptians received God’s justice and judgment. On the other hand, the shed blood of the Passover Lamb applied to the entrance to the homes of the Israelites as God had commanded spared those who trusted and obeyed God. They graciously received His compassion and mercy.
At the cross, Jesus received the judgment of a Righteous God against sin. He received no mercy from God but suffered as the Righteous One who knew no sin, yet became sin for us. (As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”) God’s mercy and God’s wrath, judgment and justice met at the cross. Both were served. In the first Passover and Plague and at the Cross, both God’s Justice and Mercy are vividly revealed as well.
Both events also stand as dividing lines between the deadly consequences of unbelief and the glory of saving faith. The Egyptians failed to heed the voice of God’s spokesman, Moses, and paid the consequences: the angel of death visited every Egyptian household. In believing God’s promise to save, the Israelites were spared because they responded in faith to God’s instructions. There is a very pointed promise by God in Exodus 11:7: “But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference (or a distinction) between the Egyptians and Israel.'”
No harm at all would come against man or beast in Israel because the blood of God’s promise protected them. The blood spoke loudly that a sacrifice had been offered as a substitute. A life had been given. And so Israel escaped the judgment which fell on Egypt, but only through the mediation of a sacrifice. (Heb. 9:22: “without shedding of blood there is no remission.”) God made a sharp distinction between those people who belonged to Him and those who did not. He chose to reveal His grace and mercy to Israel but not to Egypt.
Likewise, the cross stands as a dividing line between belief and unbelief. It is there that the Lamb of God makes a sharp distinction because Jesus IS the Passover Lamb. If you believe in Jesus as the sacrifice for sin, God’s judgment will pass over you because Jesus is the substitute payment for you, but if you do not look to the Cross and Jesus’ sacrifice alone, God’s judgment for sin is upon you. Jesus said in John 8:23-24: “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM He, you will die in your sins.”
What a blessing to know that Jesus came from Heaven and gave Himself as THE Passover Lamb, once and for all, so that God forgives us of all of our sins. 1 John 1:7 gives this beautiful promise: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Praise His Holy Name.
I. The Passover Lamb pointed in all ways to the Crucified Lamb of God
1. The Lamb must be a year old and without blemish.
2. The lamb must be “set apart for four days.”
3. The lamb must be slain by the whole assembly of the congregation' and each inhabitant of the house must feed upon the lamb.
4. The blood had to be sprinkled on the lintel and on the doorposts of each dwelling.
5. The flesh had to be roasted with fire.
6. No bone of the lamb was to be broken.
7. The lamb had to be eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.
8. The lamb must be eaten 'in the attitude of haste, and with equipment for departure; Believers would be ready to leave at an instant and willing to leave everything else behind.
9. “It is the Lord's Passover.” (Ex. 12:11) Only God can save. (Ex. 33:19)
II. The First Passover and the Cross of Christ
1. Both events stand as examples of God’s Justice and Mercy.
2. Both events stand as dividing lines between unbelief and saving faith. (Ex 11:7)
3. In both, Christ is the Lord’s Passover Lamb!