By Rev Malcolm Hedding, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ)
“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.” — Exodus 12:13
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” — John 1:29
There are many important parallels between the Passover of the Exodus story and that fateful Passover when Jesus suffered and died for our sins. There also are many lessons to be learned from the first Pessach concerning the incredible spiritual victories achieved by Christ at the second.
1) The judgement of false gods
Exodus 12:12 says: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement; I am the Lord.”
The first Passover reminds us that there is only one God and we are to love and fear Him. We must be careful not to make idols of things that supplant the place which Jesus should hold in our lives (Deuteronomy 11:16). We must always tell the story of how God came down in Christ to save us from the slavery of sin. The Passover has a liturgy (the Haggadah) which actually means “the telling”. We must tell this story time and time again to our households and children.
2) The judgement of the individual
Both Jews and Egyptians were subject to death on that first Passover night. In fact, a vast multitude of other peoples were delivered that night, including Egyptians.
This reminds us that:
(a) All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
(b) The holy love of God, meaning His wrath and anger, is set against us if we do not repent and turn away from our sins. The same God who declares that He loves us will send us away one day into eternal darkness and wrath if we do not humbly turn to Him! (John 3:36).
(c) The atoning love of God in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is the only way for us to experience the abounding and marvelous presence of God for all eternity. It is the death of Christ alone that frees us from the wrath of God, our sinful natures, death, and the devil – the pharaoh of Egypt.
The sin and death that besets our lives is like leaven which rises to permeate and penetrate everything. Thus, at Passover all leaven has to be meticulously removed from one’s home (Exodus 12:19). Paul used this as an illustration of how we are to follow Christ in that, “Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed” and therefore we must purge the leaven of sin from our lives (1 Corinthians 5:7). This is precisely why Communion, a part of the Passover celebration, must be taken very seriously (1 Corinthians 11:23-28).
Also, deliverance at Passover was effected by the blood of a lamb being placed in the form of a cross on the door posts and lintels of their homes (Exodus 12:7). Thereafter, the sacrificed lamb had to be fully eaten. That is, salvation is by the death of Jesus on the cross, which saves us from the consequences of our sins, while the fullness of the life of Christ in us saves us from the power of sin. We have to feed on Him every day! (Romans 5:10)
(d) The lamb of God sacrificed at Passover was a substitutionary atonement. That is, it took the place of the Israelites and died for them. Jesus did exactly the same thing for us: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” — 1 Peter 3:18
In fact, the Scriptures tell us that He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). This means that we are wholly sinful and the saying that “God loves the sinner but just hates the sin” is false. Sin is not just an accident in our lives or some unfortunate growth on our bodies. No! We are sin itself and so Jesus became sin for us, in our stead. Do not ever trivialize sin as it cost the Son of God everything, just like the Passover lamb.
At Passover, the lamb of God had to be personally appropriated. That is, the record of Scripture teaches that it was first “a lamb”, then “the lamb” and finally “your lamb” (Exodus 12:3-5). We have to see Jesus, understand that He is unique and sinless, and finally we must make Him our own. We must surrender ourselves to His deliverance just as the Israelites did in Egypt.
3. The judgement of the Lamb
According to Exodus 12:3-6, the lamb of the Passover had to be perfect, without blemish. Likewise, Jesus was perfect, even in being born of a virgin.
The Passover lamb had to dwell in your home and be examined for three days, just as Jesus was inspected closely by all who heard him during his three years of ministry.
Finally, the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed at twilight, just as Jesus died on the cross for each one of us just before the Passover began.
We have a glorious Saviour who, by His death, has enabled God – His Father – to pass over our lives and deliver us from wrath, our sins, death and the devil. We must appropriate Him by a personal decision and then go out in haste from the “Egypt” that is this world to follow Him and live our lives for Him (2 Corinthians 5:15).