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Introduction to the Passover: Exodus 12.1-30

Hugh Scott

There are seven feasts of Jehovah in Leviticus 23. The first four find their answer in the church age, the other three in a day yet to be. Two of the feasts speak of the cross: the Passover and the great Day of Atonement. The Passover points to the blessings of redemption now. The great Day of Atonement points to blessings for Israel in the future.

In Exodus chs.12 and 14 there are two aspects of the death of Christ. In Exodus ch.12 the blood shielded from judgment and in ch.14 the Red Sea separated from Egypt. The lamb was needed as God was bringing judgment on the land (12.3). This would also fall on the Israelites if there was no provision. The lamb tells us of the person and work of Christ, and it is interesting, also, to see what the lamb was for Israel.

There are five things said of the lamb. First, "Your lamb shall be without blemish" (v.5), and 1 Peter tells us that we have been redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1.18-19). We should ever hold to the holy manhood of the Lord Jesus. On three occasions Luke speaks of Him as being holy: at His birth, "the holy thing" (1.35); in His life, "holy to the Lord" (2.23); and at His death, "thy holy servant Jesus" (Acts 4.27, JND).

Second, "a male of the first year" (Ex 12.5). This possibly refers to the fact that it was the firstborn of the mother. It would be the choicest and the best. We read of the virgin: "And she brought forth her firstborn son…and laid him in a manger" (Lk 2.7).

Third, "Ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month" (Ex 12.6). Among other things this would ensure that it was without blemish. It has been likened to the Lord Jesus in different ways. As the lamb foreordained, but now manifested, the life of the Lord Jesus came under the scrutiny of man and God, and it was five days before the cross that He rode into Jerusalem and presented Himself to the nation.

Fourth, "And shall kill it between the two evenings" (Ex 12.6, JND). The day began and ended with an evening. He was slain at this time. He died at the very time of the Passover. The Lord stated that He would be crucified in two days' time (Mt 26.2), but the religious leaders said, "Not on the feast day" (Mt 26.5). However it was on that very day that He was crucified, between the two evenings.

Fifth, "Neither shall ye break a bone thereof" (Ex 12.46). When the soldiers came to Jesus they saw that He was dead already, and did not break His legs. All His bones were out of joint; "I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me" (Ps 22.17), but not one of them was broken.

The Lord Jesus brought the Supper and the Passover together on the night of His betrayal. The Passover was prospective to Calvary, the Supper is commemorative. Both focus attention on the cross.

The lamb also tells us of the work of Christ on the cross. The Passover lamb speaks of divine righteousness. Israelites were due for judgment as much as the Egyptians. If God was going to judge on a righteous basis He must also save on a righteous basis. And so it was. The sword which should have slain the firstborn was sheathed in the lamb. And when the Lord saw the blood sprinkled He passed over that house. The divinely appointed victim was slain instead; the Lord had said, "…when I see the blood, I will pass over you" (Ex 12.13).

What aspect of the death of Christ does Exodus chapter 12 speak? In the lamb slain we see propitiation. In the blood sprinkled we see redemption. Suppose a family slew the lamb but did not apply the blood. The provision had thus been made but they did not avail themselves of it. The death of the lamb alone could not save them: the sprinkled blood alone could. It speaks to us of propitiation. Propitiation is the satisfaction of divine justice. It is an Old Testament and a New Testament truth.

In Genesis we see the cherubim with the flaming sword standing between God in His holiness and man in his sin (3.24). They are pictured as the guardians of divine justice. In Exodus we see the cherubim looking on the gold of the mercy seat (25.18-20). This was the throne of God. God had said of the mercy seat, "And there I will meet with thee" (Ex 15.22). And so we could expect the cherubim to have the flaming sword, but they did not. Where is that sword? It is sheathed in the sacrifice at the altar and instead the cherubim look at the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat. Divine justice has now been satisfied. But only the blood made it a mercy seat: only on the basis of blood could God meet with man.

In 1 John 2.2 "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world". Propitiation was for the whole world and not just for the elect. In Matthew 13.44 the man sold all that he had to buy the field, for the treasure that was hid in it. Calvary is not an arithmetical problem. He did not suffer so much for so many sins and He did not die just for the elect. His death must be thought of in terms of quality, not quantity.

Some speak of wasted suffering. They say that if provision was made for all, but not all are saved, then He need not have suffered so much. But this is not so. Propitiation tells me that even if nobody was ever saved all the suffering was still not wasted as God was satisfied and glorified. Thus the value of the work was infinite. There was not only provision made for this world but for as many as you would like to introduce. And so, just as the Passover lamb made provision for all but was effective only to those who applied the blood, so also God has made provision for all which becomes effective only to those who believe. The sprinkled blood speaks to us of redemption. The whole world was purchased but only the blood-sprinkled are redeemed. He redeemed them by blood and by power but the power worked on the basis of the sprinkled blood.

We have blood in Exodus 12, Christ died for our sins; we have power in Exodus 14, that He might deliver us from this present evil world; in Galatians 1.4, we have been redeemed by blood and we will be redeemed by power in a day that is yet to dawn.

What was the lamb to Israel? The day of the Passover marked a new beginning for Israel. Their history effectively began with the day that they were shielded from judgment beneath the blood. From now on everything would be seen in the light of that day. It is good to remember that God does not look on us in the light of what we were by nature, but when we were saved things began anew.

Further, if you looked into the homes of the Israelites on that night you would see the people feeding on that lamb. Many shelter beneath the blood but fail to eat of the lamb. They also fed on him in the wilderness. Do we feed on the Lamb of God?

Observe how they were to partake of it - with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Leaven always speaks of evil, so unleavened bread speaks to us of separation from evil. There are four things in 1 Corinthians: the Lord's Passover; the Lord's Feast; the Lord's Table; and the Lord's Supper. One of these is not the other; all are distinct. 1 Corinthians 5.7-8 says, "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast". We too are to keep this feast. In Israel, a failure to keep the feast would cut a soul off from the congregation, and so it does today in the same manner.

Now, the unleavened bread did not save them but it was essential to their enjoyment of salvation. And so believers should "eat unleavened bread". But notice how it was to be eaten. With loins girt, ready for service; with feet shod, ready for departure; and with staff in hand, showing that they were to lean on another. So, they were in Egypt, but not of it, and they were about to leave. And so are we, waiting for the redemption of the body, the purchased possession.

Concluded.

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