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ŇWhat mean ye by this service?Ó
ŇSeven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORDŐS passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.Ó (Exodus 12:15-28)
In this passage Moses conveyed to the children of Israel the instructions God had given him with regard to the passover, telling them both of GodŐs promised deliverance of his chosen out of Egyptian bondage and of the way in which they were to observe the ordinance of the Passover throughout their generations. This whole affair was, by GodŐs design, a type and picture of Christ our Passover, who was sacrificed for us, and of our redemption and deliverance by his blood (1 Corinthians 5:7).
This chapter is bursting with meaning. It is one of those passages where you do not have to look for Christ. — You have to look away to miss him! Here are a few delightful highlights, which are obvious to anyone who reads these verses with spiritual understanding.
1. As this was the beginning of months to the Jews, the changing of their calendar, so the experience of redemption and grace in Christ is the beginning of an altogether new life for the believer. Faith in Christ is a new beginning (Exodus 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
2. Every man in Israel had to have a lamb of sacrifice (vv. 2-6, 21).
The father of each household had to seize a lamb and kill it for his family with his own hands. Even so, we must have a lamb of sacrifice, even Christ the Lamb of God. The lamb was selected, provided, and slaughtered by the father of the house. So our heavenly Father selected, provided, and slaughtered his own dear Son as the Lamb of sacrifice for us. The lamb had to be a male of the first year, in the prime and full vigor of life. The lamb had to be without spot or blemish of any kind. And the lamb had to be slain. It had to be slaughtered. It had to die a violent death. It had to be slaughtered by the fatherŐs hand. In all these things our blessed Savior is portrayed.
3. The blood of the paschal lamb had to be applied to every house in Israel.
This is where most people misinterpret this passage, and miss the beauty and glory of it. They talk about the application of the blood as something we do for ourselves. But that is not the case. The blood was applied by the one who chose and killed the lamb. And it was applied to the house for which it was provided and slaughtered. As it was with the type, so it is with the antitype. — The blood of Christ is applied to chosen sinners by God himself, by the power and grace of his Spirit, through the bunch of hyssop he has chosen, by the preaching of the gospel. The blood was applied to all the children of Israel, and none but the children of Israel, and effectually secured the deliverance of all for whom it was spilled.
4. We saw, in verses 7-11, that the paschal lamb had to be eaten.
That portrays faith in Christ. Yet, even this faith, by which we personally receive and feed upon our Lord Jesus, is not our work, but GodŐs work in us. Faith is the gift and operation of God the Holy Spirit in us (Ephesians 2:8; Colossians 2:12). Faith in Christ is eating the true Passover (John 6:53-58).
Christ our Passover must be eaten roasted with fire, being convinced of sin punished, righteousness established, and judgment finished by the doing and dying of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (John 16:8-11). Christ our Passover must be eaten with unleavened bread, with sincerity and honesty before God. He must be eaten with the bitter herbs of repentance. He must not and cannot be eaten raw, or sodden with water. Christ cannot be eaten carnally, with a carnal heart and mind, or by carnal reason. He must be eaten spiritually, by faith.
The whole Sacrifice must be eaten by faith. Faith trusts Christ as he is revealed in the gospel, in the totality of his being, offices, and works. He is all our Wisdom, all our Righteousness, all our Sanctification, all our Holiness, all our Redemption, and all our Salvation.
And we eat our true Passover in expectation, with our loins girded, our shoes on our feet, and our staff in our hand in the good hope and expectation of eternal life. And, as it was on that night in Egypt, Christ must be trusted now. The Passover must be eaten in haste! ŇToday, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts!Ó ŇBehold, today is the day of salvation!Ó Judgment is coming (v. 12).
5. The most important aspect of this whole affair was the blood, the precious life blood of the paschal lamb (vv. 13, 22-23). — ŇThe blood shall be to you for a token,Ó a token of righteousness established, justice satisfied, sins forgiven, a covenant fulfilled, infinite, eternal, unchanging mercy, love, and grace! GodŐs eye is always on the blood; and the God of all grace says, ŇWhen I see the blood, I will pass over you!Ó
6. This was an ordinance to be kept forever by the children of Israel perpetually, throughout their generations, in remembrance and celebration of their redemption and deliverance out of the land of Egypt (vv. 14-17).
It was a memorial feast in celebration of redemption, a hopeful feast in anticipation of the true Passover, and a covenant feast celebrating redemption accomplished at GodŐs appointed time (vv. 40-42). The passover was ordained and ordered by God to be A Sabbath Feast. No work could be done during the feast (v. 16). That, too, portrays faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is true sabbath keeping, a complete cessation of work (Hebrews 4:9-10). To trust Christ is to rest in him. And this was a family feast. No stranger was allowed to eat the feast (v. 43); and all the congregation of Israel was required to keep it (v. 47). Only the circumcised, and all the circumcised kept the passover. Even so, only those who are born of God, and all who are born of God, all the true circumcision, feast upon Christ our Passover (Philippians 3:3).
The LordŐs Supper
In verse 26 we read, ŇAnd it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?Ó In gospel churches GodŐs saints regularly gather around the LordŐs Table to eat the bread and drink the wine of the LordŐs Supper, as our Savior commands. This is, like the Old Testament passover, a celebration of redemption, true redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ. As we eat the bread and drink the wine of the LordŐs Supper, we celebrate the deliverance of our souls by the blood and grace of our all glorious Christ, the true Passover, remembering him.
What a blessing it would be if our children would show enough interest in the worship of our God to ask, ŇWhat mean ye by this service?Ó In spiritual worship everything must be understood. Those who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth. And we cannot worship him in truth unless we understand what we are doing in our acts of worship. The mere religious ritualist is content with the form and ceremony, with mere acts of outward worship, the form of godliness. The believer worships with understanding. Our understanding is neither perfect nor complete; but we worship God our Savior with spiritual understanding, discerning the body of Christ, knowing our need of him and knowing what he has done for us as the Lamb of God.
The Jews, with the many outward symbols of carnal ordinances, had a terrible tendency toward empty, meaningless, religious ritualism. Therefore, the Lord carefully taught them the meaning and significance of their ordinances. We have the same problem. We all naturally gravitate toward ritualism, ceremonialism, and idolatry. But this tendency must not be tolerated. The observance of any ordinance merely as a religious ritual without recognizing and understanding the meaning of the ordinance is nothing less than idolatry, and will never be accepted by God (Isaiah 1:10-14). We must know the meaning of what we do; otherwise our worship and observance of the ordinances of God are no more than the blessing of an idol! That is exactly the meaning of Isaiah 66:3.
We do not observe the Jewish passover. But in the church of God we observe the LordŐs Supper regularly. If we would truly worship our God in the observance of this gospel ordinance, we must know why we observe it. We must understand its spiritual significance. What has God the Holy Spirit recorded in the Sacred Volume about the meaning of this ordinance of public worship?
The LordŐs Supper is not a sacrament. Sacraments are part of the popeŐs tapestry. We do not keep sacraments. There are no sacraments mentioned anywhere in the Bible. The only place you find sacraments is in the church of Rome and in the creeds and confessions of those who are her children.
The word ŇsacramentÓ means Ňa visible sign of inward grace, Ňa means of grace,Ó or Ňthat by which grace is conferred.Ó Protestant, Reformed, and Reformed Baptist churches all refer to the ordinances of Christ as sacraments, because they really do believe that keeping the ŇsacramentsÓ is a means by which grace is conveyed to the soul. Any sensible person must see that such rubbish is contrary to the gospel of the grace of God. But that is typical Catholic, Protestant, and Reformed doctrine.
Baptism is not a sacrament by which grace is conferred, but an ordinance by which redemption is confessed (Romans 6:4-6). The LordŐs Supper is not a sacrament by which grace is given, but an ordinance by which the sacrifice of Christ is remembered (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). These gospel ordinances do not speak of inward grace, but of accomplished redemption, redemption without which grace could never come to, be conferred upon, or bestowed sinners.
Act of Obedience
The eating and drinking of the bread and wine at the LordŐs Table is an act of obedience to our Master (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). It is to be observed by all believers. And it is to be observed regularly.
Our worthiness to observe this ordinance is Christ. Those who are unworthy to eat the bread and drink the wine of the LordŐs Supper are those who do not trust Christ as their Savior. They do not trust him because they do not discern the LordŐs body. They do not know who Christ is and what he accomplished for sinners by his obedience unto death. They do not discern their need of a sin-atoning substitute. All believers are not only permitted, but commanded to observe this blessed ordinance of worship. Our worthiness to do so is Christ our Savior.
The LordŐs Supper is a memorial feast (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).
In memory of the SaviorŐs love,
We keep the sacred feast,
Where every humble, contrite heart
Is made a welcome guest.
The LordŐs Supper is an exhibition of our SaviorŐs death as our Redeemer and Substitute. — ŇFor as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the LordŐs death till he comeÓ (1 Corinthians 11:26). The unleavened bread symbolizes our SaviorŐs holy humanity, his body. The bread broken portrays the crushing of his body under the horrid fury of GodŐs holy wrath, when he was made sin for us. The wine represents his blood, his precious, sin-atoning blood. The bread and the wine separated, his body and his blood separated speak of certain death.
The LordŐs Table is a table of communion (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). When we come together, as redeemed sinners saved by grace, at the LordŐs Table there is an interchange and sharing of intimate, family thoughts and emotions.
ŇThe cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.Ó (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
The LordŐs Supper is a token of his covenant (Matthew 26:27-28). Redemption, grace, and salvation by Christ come to sinners through Ňthe blood of the everlasting covenantÓ (Hebrews 13:20).
ŇAnd he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.Ó (Matthew 26:27-28)
The LordŐs Supper is also a feast of thanksgiving (Luke 22:15-20). As we remember our blessed Savior, taking the bread into our mouths and lifting the cup to our lips, we give thanks to our God for his unspeakable gift.
ŇAnd he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.Ó (Luke 22:15-20)
Picture of Faith
The LordŐs Supper is a picture of faith in Christ (John 6:53-58). As each believer takes the bread and wine of the LordŐs Table for himself, and eats and drinks for himself, so too, in the experience of grace, each individual born of God takes Christ for himself by the hand of faith. Eating his flesh and drinking his blood, all that he is becomes ours.
ŇThen 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. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.Ó (John 6:53-58)
Symbol of Hope
The LordŐs Supper is a symbol of hope (1 Corinthians 11:26; Exodus 12:11). We are to eat the bread and drink the wine upon the tip-toe of faith, looking for Christ, expecting him to appear in his glory for our consummate deliverance by him in resurrection glory.
ŇAnd 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 LORDŐS passover.Ó (Exodus 12:11)
ŇFor as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the LordŐs death till he come.Ó (1 Corinthians 11:26)
ŇAnd ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORDŐS passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.Ó (Exodus 12:24-28)