Christ Our Passover
In the New Testament, there is an ordinance we celebrate known as Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, in which we look back and remember what Jesus did for us on Calvary.
We remember his broken body and shed blood, and thank God for what He did for us and for all that means.
In the Old Testament, there was an ordinance known as Passover in which the Jews celebrated their deliverance from Egypt. Whether they realized it or not, they were also symbolically portraying what Jesus would accomplish on Calvary.
Communion looks back and remembers.
Passover looked forward to and anticipated.
Exodus 12 background: Israel had been slaves—captive for 430 years. Moses had come with a message from God to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” Pharaoh refused to yield to God, even though many signs, wonders, and judgments were displayed, and now great judgment hung over the land of Egypt.
But God had a plan to deliver his people.
Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 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. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 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. 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. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire — its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 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. ‘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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. 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. 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. 3hen he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.” And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
What do we learn from this?
1. God was giving them a new beginning.
Verse 2 reads: “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
2. This new beginning centered around a lamb
It was to be a lamb without blemish
Note the progression of thought:
- 12:3 refers to a lamb.
- 12:4 refers to the lamb.
- 12:5 refers to your lamb.
Perhaps you can relate to the time when you met that special someone. At first, she was a girl. As she caught your attention and your heart, she became the girl. Your hope was that she would become your girl.
This lamb represented the Lamb which would one day come, not to provide temporal deliverance from Pharaoh and Egypt, but eternal deliverance from Satan and sin.
Isaiah 53 spoke of one who would come and be as a lamb led to the slaughter- one who would:
- bear our griefs
- carry our sorrows
- wounded for our transgressions
- bruised for our iniquities
- the chastisement of our peace was upon him
- whose stripes meant our healing
- on whom the Lord laid the iniquity of us all
- be put to grief by the Lord, whose soul would be made an offering for sin
When John the Baptist saw Jesus (John 1:29), he said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Peter said that we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19).
In his heavenly vision, John saw “a Lamb as though it had been slain,” who took the book from the hand of God and opened the seals. It was before this Lamb that the elders, the angels, and all the inhabitants of heaven fall down and worship (Revelation 5).
The Lamb of Exodus foreshadowed the Lamb who would come.
3. God gave very specific instructions about how the lamb was to be sacrificed, especially in regard to the blood and to the flesh.
It wasn’t just the death of the Lamb, and it wasn’t just the shedding of blood, but it was applying of the blood that saved them.
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. 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.
The KJV of verse 23 reads: “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you…”
Hyssop was a small bushy plant, a common herb that grew up around the houses.
What did God mean when he said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you?”
If all he meant was that when he brought judgment on others he would “skip” you, you would probably be glad to be skipped. If a tornado is heading your way, you’d be glad if it skipped your house. But in reading after the comments of some different scholars and linguists, they say that what is brought out of here is much richer and better then that….
Verse 23 indicates there was an entity here separate from the Lord who is called the destroyer.
Some might say, “But I thought God said he was going to do it.”
There is no doubt that this was a judgment of God, but according to some scholars, from a linguistic standpoint, what is done by God’s command, he is said to do himself.
We would all concur that if there’s a destroyer coming, we don’t want God to “skip” us. Rather, we want Him to stay with us to protect us.
Some scholars have pointed out that the Hebrew word for Passover closely resembles an Egyptian word which means: “to spread the wings over, to protect.”
This passover gives the picture of a bird fluttering or hovering over its nest protecting and guarding its young.
…So the LORD of hosts will come down To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill. Like birds flying about, So will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; Passing over, He will preserve it.
Passover now takes on a deeper and richer meaning.
It is true that judgment skipped them. But it was because God—when he saw the blood,—hovered over them, protected them, and stood guard.
It may have been this understanding that inspired the following words:
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings…
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.
Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge…
But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings…
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Thank God for the blood. When he sees it applied, he will pass over us, or hover over us in protection!
We looked at the blood, but what about the flesh of the lamb?
Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 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.
There were specific instructions concerning “how” they were to eat the lamb:
1. Roasted in Fire
Fire speaks of judgment. Jesus bore our judgment. He bore the punishment and penalty for our sin. The thought of being roasted is a terrible thought, but the consequences of our sins were terrible.
2. With Unleavened Bread
In Scripture, leaven (or yeast) can symbolize sin and corruption.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
…Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven , that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven , nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
3. With Bitter Herbs
Bitter herbs speak of the bitterness of their bondage, also of the bitter cup which Christ would eventually drink on our behalf.
4. Eat with Great Expectancy
They were told to eat (12:11):
- with a belt on their waste
- with sandals on their feet
- with a staff in their hand
- eat it in haste
They were dressed for travel, they were ready for a change, and they were expecting to go somewhere. The first Passover launched the nation of Israel on a journey to a new land. Christ our Passover initiates our journey of faith in the New Covenant. He is the Lamb whose blood, applied to our hearts, cleanses us, delivers us from judgment, and brings us under God’s protection and presence. Feeding on these elements—being reminded of Christ—is a feast, a festival, not a funeral…
1. Feasting on the Feasts, by Roy W. Gustafson
2. Christ in the Passover, by Ceil and Moishe Rosen
3. Gleanings in Exodus, by Arthur W. Pink