And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. — Exodus 12:13-14
While in high school, I cleaned house for a Jewish family, and through my acquaintance with them, I learned about their religious customs. Preparing for the Passover, an event celebrated in remembrance of their nation’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, is an important part of their tradition. During Passover week, I was interested to find them thoroughly cleaning their cupboards to make sure there was no food that contained leaven in the house. The highlight of Passover is the seder (which means “order”). The seder service is held at the dining table in most homes, and at this time the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told. A special seder plate is placed on the table which contains several symbolic food items. A lamb bone symbolizes the sacrificial lamb that was used to protect the Jewish homes from the last plague. Bitter herbs (usually horseradish) are a reminder of the bitter life encountered by the slaves. A bowl of salt water, in which the greens are dipped, symbolizes tears shed by the slaves.
In the final plague upon Egypt, described in today’s text, a lamb without blemish had to be killed and its blood applied to the door posts and lintels of the houses. The killing of the lamb required the shedding of innocent blood, and that blood spared the life of the firstborn of each household.
It is no coincidence that Jesus was sacrificed during the Passover season. Most non-Jewish Christians do not commemorate the Exodus. However, we recognize that the Passover was a foreshadowing of a much greater redemption to come — the sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb for the redemption of mankind from sin. In the New Testament, John the Baptist proclaimed that the Lamb of God was Jesus Christ, who came to take away the sin of the world. Today, we can have Christ’s Blood applied to our hearts, which is our spiritual house.
Ponder the beauty of the word deliverance. Because of the Blood of Jesus, we are delivered from the bondage of sin. Because of the Blood of Jesus, we will be spared from God’s judgment, just as all the Israelites who had the blood applied on their houses were spared from physical death on that memorable night so long ago.
How thankful we should be for deliverance from sin that makes us new creatures in Christ!
Today’s text records God’s instructions for the Hebrews regarding the Passover and tells of the final plague on the Egyptians — the death of the firstborn. After 430 years in Egypt, God was ready to lead the Children of Israel to the Promised Land. He had sent nine plagues that had devastated Egypt, and this tenth and last plague would cause the Egyptians to beg the Children of Israel to leave.
God did not want the Children of Israel to forget His deliverance, so He established a religious ceremony commemorating the event which the people were to perform every year. This observance, called Passover, is still part of Jewish custom.
Moses gave the Israelites instructions regarding how this memorial feast was to be celebrated. On the first day, they were to remove any leaven from their homes, and for seven days they were to eat only unleavened bread. This reflected the fact that the Children of Israel left Egypt in such haste that the women did not have time to let their bread rise, and instead, made unleavened bread (Exodus 12:34,39). Today the Jewish people still eat unleavened bread called matzah during Passover.
Prior to this time, most ancient cultures had agricultural calendars. Israel’s agricultural calendar began at the beginning of their rainy season. However, after their deliverance, the Passover feast was to mark the start of their religious calendar year (Exodus 12:2).
There is a progression in the Scriptural revelation of the sacrificing of a lamb. In Genesis, the lamb was slain for the individual (Genesis 4:4). In today’s Exodus text, the blood of a lamb availed for a family or household. In Leviticus, the lamb was slain for the nation (Leviticus 16). In the New Testament, the Perfect Lamb was slain for the sin of the whole world (John 1:29).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The redemption of Israel from Egypt
A. The Passover (12:1-36)
1. The directions for the Passover (12:1-20)
a. The lamb (12:1-14)
(1) The selection (12:1-6)
(2) The use (12:7-11)
(3) The sign (12:12-14)
b. The unleavened bread (12:15-20)
2. The instruction of the people (12:21-28)
3. The death of the first born (12:29-30)
4. The plunder of the Egyptians (12:31-36)
Just as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the Children of Israel from God’s judgment, we can escape divine judgment by having the Blood of Jesus applied to our hearts.