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“The Lord’s Passover”
“These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover.” (Leviticus 23:4-5)
The first feast, or “holy convocation,” God required Israel to keep, that with which they began every new year, was “the Lord’s passover.” The first passover coincided with the last of the Egyptian plagues. The Lord God determined to kill the firstborn son in every family in Egypt. The Israelites would be spared the judgment of God. But we must never imagine that they were spared simply because of their bloodline. They were spared because of the blood.
God gave explicit instructions in Exodus 12 for the slaughtering of year-old male sheep or goats and the sprinkling of the blood of the lamb slain upon the doorposts and lintel of each house. Then, the destroying angel passed over any house covered by that blood, for the Lord God declared, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
The firstborn sons of the believing Israelites were saved because of the blood. Clearly, this is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ and the efficacy of his blood atonement as the Lamb of God, that blood by which we are redeemed, justified, cleansed from all sin, made righteous, accepted with God, and saved. It was by divine arrangement that our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Passover, was sacrificed at the time of the Jews’ passover feast (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
The passover was the annual commemoration of God’s deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. It was a time of remembrance, reflection, and celebration. The Lord God found Israel Egypt in bondage and set them free that they might worship and serve him.
The Lamb Slain
The Lamb is always at the forefront in the Book of God. “The lamb slain” was the first object held up to the view of Israel when they were about to be delivered. The same is true today. — “Behold the Lamb of God” is still the cry that first reaches a sinner’s ear, the very first message a sinner hears. Christ, the Lamb of God, our sin-atoning Savior, is the very first thing the chosen, redeemed sinner sees in his experience of grace.
The very first feast with which God would have his people to worship him, the very first feast which the God of all grace required fallen, sinful men to keep, the very first day of every year was a display of God’s infinite mercy, love, and grace to sinners in Christ. It was a feast of redemption. It was the feast of the lamb.
How gracious our God is! — “He delighteth in mercy!” What grace meets the sinner! God meets us with the Lamb; and that Lamb is his own beloved Son! — “Behold, the Lamb of God!” In the Lamb, God shows us life out of death, life for sinners rising out of the death of his own darling Son!
The very first death recorded on the pages of history was the death of a sacrificial lamb (Genesis 3). The first altar erected upon the earth was an altar covered with the blood of a lamb slain (Genesis 4). The first act of God for Israel is the slaying of the lamb. The first deed of the new dispensation was presenting the true Lamb to the view of all, and then the offering up of that Lamb to God. The first opening of the door in heaven above presents us with the Lamb that was slain seated upon his throne in heaven (Revelation 4 and 5).
See him yonder, seated in glory, seated upon his throne! See him there in his lofty majesty, with the book of God in his hand! — Loved! — Adored! — Ruling! — Reigning! — All heaven gazes upon him with admiration. All the redeemed sing his praise with unutterable delight and astonished gratitude.
The People Delivered
Be sure you see the connection between the Lamb slain and the people delivered. We rejoice to see Christ as the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, slain in the types and shadows of the law, slain for the satisfaction of justice.
But the slaying of the Lamb, the pouring out of his life’s blood would be utterly without comfort to our souls if any for whom his blood was shed were yet left to perish under the wrath of God. That can never be! The Lamb of God did not die in vain! Christ did not shed his blood for nothing! Israel came out of Egypt, all Israel was saved, not so much as a hoof of one cow was left in the land of God’s curse. Israel went out of Egypt with a high hand, carrying the spoils of Egypt with them.
Because the picture of the passover feast could never be complete without all God’s elect saved, without every blood bought sinner saved, without every ransomed soul with Christ in heaven, our Lord Jesus told us plainly that it would be fulfilled only then (Luke 22:16).
Only when Christ comes again and gathers all his people up to glory, when “all Israel shall be saved,” when every blood bought sinner takes possession of heavenly glory, will the passover feast be fulfilled. Then, when our salvation is complete, we will keep the Lord’s passover forever (Revelation 4:10-11; 5:1-14).
The Place of Feasting
Without question, the children of Israel kept the passover feast in the land of Canaan, just as we shall keep the feast forever in heaven. But the feast had to be kept in Egypt before it could be kept in Canaan. The children of Israel were required to keep the feast while they were still in Egypt (Exodus 12:11).
Everything that took place on that memorable night when God brought Israel out of Egypt with a high hand and stretched out arm, and everything involved in the Jews’ annual feast of the passover in the Old Testament was designed and intended by God to be a typical representation and picture of our Lord Jesus Christ and the redemption of our souls by him.
As Israel was preserved from death and delivered out of Egypt by the blood of the paschal lamb and the mighty arm of God, so God’s true Israel, all the host of his elect, has been delivered from death and hell by the sacrifice of Christ our Passover, and shall be delivered from all bondage by the arm of God’s omnipotent and irresistible grace.
The first passover feast was a feast of faith. Israel had not yet been delivered. There were no signs or indications of any kind that they would be delivered. All they had to go on was the Word of God, the naked Word of God.
There were four things essential to the Lord’s passover. These four things are still essential things. It is my prayer that the Lord God will now cause you to keep this blessed feast. If you now, for the first time, begin keeping “the Lord’s passover,” this day shall be to you the very beginning of life!
First, the passover feast required the slaughter of a Lamb.
“Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” (Exodus 12:3-6)
Israel could not come out of Egypt, except a sacrifice be made on their behalf. They deserved the wrath of God just as fully as the Egyptians did. Moses’ sons deserved to die just as much as Pharaoh’s. They could not escape the judgment of God, except blood be shed, except the life of an innocent victim be given.
The teaching of the type is obvious. — No sinner could ever be saved by the grace of God, except by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ as the sinner’s Substitute (1 Peter 3:18).
Second, the blood of the lamb had to be sprinkled.
“And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” (Exodus 12:7)
Before any sinner can eat the feast, before any sinner can trust the Lord Jesus Christ, the blood must be sprinkled upon his heart, effectually applied to his conscience, by God the Holy Ghost (Hebrews 9:11-12; 9:14; 10:22). The blood of the sacrifice must be applied as well as spilt. An unapplied ransom is no ransom. An unapplied Savior is no Savior (Hebrews 9:19-20).
Only God the Holy Spirit can do this for us. When he sprinkles the guilty conscience with the blood of Christ, guilt is removed, because he makes us to see and know the Savior’s blood is enough, that by his blood alone justice is satisfied and iniquity is purged. The blood sprinkled speaks peace to our souls!
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:11-12)
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Let me tell you about the sin-atoning blood of Christ.
1. It is distinguishing blood. The blood was sprinkled on the doorpost and lintel; and by it Israel was separated from Egypt. The only difference between Israel and Egypt was the blood. So it is now. The only difference between God’s elect and the reprobate of the earth is the blood.
The world has always hated this fact. Beginning with Cain, the unbelieving of the world have always despised the blood of Christ, despised it as the sinner’s only door of access to and acceptance with God. The people of God, like Abel, acknowledge this distinction, rejoice in it, and give thanks to God for it! Israel is distinguished from Egypt by blood!
2. It is protecting blood. — The Lord God said, “When I see it, I will pass over you.” The blood was Israel’s shield. The sword of justice can never pierce that shield. The blood is ever before God. We do not see it. It is outside, beyond our vision, shed 2000 years ago. But God sees it. That is our security. We trust the blood which God sees and know ourselves secure (Isaiah 31:5).
3. It is delivering blood. — The blood did not merely protect Israel in Egypt. It delivered Israel out of Egypt. It was the blood that saved. The Lord God declares to his redeemed, “I gave Egypt for thy ransom” (Isaiah 43:3). There is death for Egypt, but life for Israel. Pardoned and set free, Israel turns its back on the land of bondage. The blood was the opening of the prison doors. It is still the blood that sets sinners free. Freedom by the blood is what we preach. Freedom by the blood is the only freedom there is.
Third, the lamb had to be eaten.
“And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.” (Exodus 12:8-11)
There is no deliverance for our souls until Christ is believed, until the sacrifice is eaten by faith (John 6:53-56). The sacrifice had to be eaten with bitter herbs, portraying repentance toward God. It had to be eaten without mixture, not “sodden with water,” and eaten entirely, all at once. So it is that the heaven-born soul eats and drinks Christ Jesus, trusting his obedience and blood for all our salvation.
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56)
All Went Out
Fourth, “All the hosts of the Lord went out of the land of Egypt”.
“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.” (Exodus 12:40-42)
Every Israelite, everyone for whom blood was shed, all upon whom blood was sprinkled, all who ate the sacrifice, all went out upon the same ground and for the same reason. And they they took the riches of Egypt with them.
Every person in the house was required to eat the roasted lamb for himself (Exodus 12:8). Only those who ate the lamb were delivered from death. All who ate the lamb were delivered. And all for whom blood was shed ate the lamb and walked out of Egypt, and walked out with Moses (the law) leading the way!
Truth and justice cry as loud
As God’s love with Jesus’ blood,
“Every sinner bought with blood
Must escape the wrath of God.”
Justice, mercy, truth and love,
Shining bright in Jesus’ blood,
Make secure our place above,
One with Christ! Approved of God!
Let His praise forever swell —
Jesus has done all things well!
By His sin-atoning blood
He both saves and honors God!
God commands us to eat the Lamb. That means it is alright for us to do so. God commands us to believe on Christ (1 John 3:23). That means it is alright for you to believe. If you eat the Lamb, his blood was shed for you. But this is something only you can do. You must eat the Lamb for yourself.
“The Lord’s passover” is the celebration of redemption accomplished by Christ, redemption experienced by grace, and redemption sure for all of God’s Israel, redemption sure for all of God’s elect (Romans 11:26-27; Revelation 14:1-5; 15:3).