God appointed that on the night wherein the Hebrews were to go out of Egypt, each family (or two or three smaller families in unison) should kill a lamb. This lamb was to be eaten in the manner that the Lord here directed; and its blood was to be sprinkled upon the doorposts of the Hebrews’ houses, in order to mark their homes from those of the Egyptians. The Angel of the Lord, when destroying the firstborn of the Egyptians that night, would “pass over” the houses marked by the blood of the lamb – hence the origin of the name of this holy feast or ordinance. The Passover was to be kept every year by the Hebrews as a remembrance of their preservation and deliverance out of Egypt, and as a remarkable picture of Christ, the Lamb of God. The Hebrews’ safety and deliverance were not a reward of their own righteousness; they were the gift of mercy. By the celebration of this ordinance, they were reminded that all blessings came to them through the shedding and sprinkling of blood.
The Passover lamb was a picture of our Lord Jesus; indeed, the Apostle Paul says that He is our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), and John the Baptizer referred to Him as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). The lamb that was to be sacrificed on the Passover-night was to be without blemish, just as Christ is a Lamb without spot; even the judge who condemned Him to death declared Him to be innocent. The lamb was to be slain and roasted with fire, signifying the painful sufferings of the Lord Jesus – even unto death on the cross. The wrath of God is like fire, and Christ was made a curse for us. Not a bone of the lamb was to be broken, which was fulfilled in Jesus (John 19:33). The sprinkling of the blood of the lamb represented the applying of the merits of our Savior’s death to our souls. Faith is like the bunch of hyssop, by which the promises and the benefits of His blood are applied to us. The blood was to be sprinkled upon the Hebrews’ doorposts, picturing the open profession that we are to make of our faith in Christ, even in the sight of all the world. The blood, thus sprinkled, was the means of preserving the Hebrews from the death-Angel, Who “passed over” all the homes with the blood on the doorways. Similarly, the blood of Christ is the believer’s protection from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the condemnation of hell (Rom. 8:1, 3).
On that Passover-night, less than six weeks after the first plague turned the waters of Egypt into blood, the tenth plague struck the Egyptians’ firstborn – the joy and hope of their families. They had slain the Hebrews’ children, and now God slew theirs. This plague affected every Egyptian, from the throne to the dungeon; for both princes and peasants stand upon the same level before God’s judgments. The death-Angel, as the messenger of woe, entered every dwelling that was unmarked with blood. He left not a single Egyptian house in which there was not one who was dead. Imagine the long, loud shriek of agony that burst through the land of Egypt! But at the same time, God’s sons and daughters were now released from their slavery! Pharaoh’s pride was broken now, and he yielded to the demands of the Lord which he ought to have submitted to long before this. God’s Word will stand; we will not come out as winners by disputing with it, or delaying to submit to it.
In their terror, the Egyptians wished to purchase the favor and the speedy departure of their Hebrew slaves; they were willing to give them anything just so that they could get them out of their land. Thus the Lord ensured that the Hebrews’ hard-earned wages would be paid. This great Exodus occurred 430 years (to the day!) after the Lord’s promise that was made to Abraham (see Gen. 15:13; Gal. 3:17). For a very long time, the promise of a settlement for Abraham’s descendants had remained unfulfilled. But although God’s promises are not performed quickly, they will surely be performed in due time.
In the years to come, the Hebrews were to carefully teach their sons and daughters the meaning of this yearly Passover celebration. It is good for children to ask about the things of God, for those who inquire for the good way will find it. The keeping of this celebration every year was so that they could look backward, and not forget the great things that the Lord had done for them and their forefathers; for old mercies must be remembered, so that our faith may be encouraged. The Hebrews were also to look forward to the great sacrifice of the Lamb of God in the fullness of time, which would one day put an end to this yearly celebration of symbols and shadows. Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us; His death was our life, and our redemption by Him is to be celebrated to all generations. He broke a yoke that was heavier than that of Egyptian slavery, and He has promised us a land that is far better than that of Canaan. His blood is the only ransom for our souls; without the shedding of it, there can be no remission of sins, and no salvation. Have we placed our faith in Him alone? Are our souls sheltered from righteous judgment under the protection of His atoning blood?
Lord, as we behold the Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt, we praise You for a far greater deliverance, of which this was only a picture – namely, the recovery of our poor fallen nature from sin’s bondage, by the glorious redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ! Let the blood of the everlasting Covenant be sprinkled upon our hearts, so that we may be secure from the condemning sentence of the Law, and from all the dreadful evils of destruction and judgment. Amen.
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