CHRIST IN THE PASSOVER #2
PASSOVER, GOD'S OBJECT LESSON
The Lord's redemption of Israel needed to be stamped
indelibly on the minds and hearts of future generations. He
intended that the ancient experience should have a lasting effect
on His people; its importance must be reinforced with regularity
for all time.
Yet how can a people best remember its history? Books and
scrolls capture only the interest of the scholarly; in time,
words lose their meaning. God, the master Teacher, devised the
perfect method. He commanded the annual reenactment of that first
Passover night, a ceremony that would appeal through the senses
to each person of every generation. Even as we teach little
children today through object lessons, Jehovah took everyday acts
of seeing, bearing, smelling, tasting, and touching and made them
His allies in teaching holy truths to His people.
God began His object lesson to Israel with the Passover
lamb. First, the people had to single out from their flocks the
handsomest, healthiest looking yearling. An animal of this age,
just approaching the prime of its life, was frisky and winsome.
Then the family had to watch it carefully for four days before
the Passover to make sure it was healthy and perfect in every
way. During this period of close observation, they fed and cared
for the lamb and grew accustomed to having it around the house.
By the end of the fourth day, it must have won the affection of
the entire household, especially the children. Now they all must
avoid its big, innocent eyes as the head of the house prepared to
plunge in the knife to draw its life's blood. They did not have
meat very often in ancient times, but how could they enjoy eating
the lamb's flesh? The lesson was painfully sad: God's holiness
demands that He judge sin, and the price is costly indeed. But He
is also merciful and provides a way of escape (redemption).
The innocent Passover lamb foreshadowed the One who would come
centuries later to be God's final means of atonement and
redemption. The parallels are striking.
THE PASSOVER LAMB WAS MARKED
OUT FOR DEATH
In Isaiah 53:7 is the prophecy that the Messiah will be led
as a lamb to the slaughter; 1 Peter 1:19-20 says Jesus was
foreordained to die before the foundation of the world.
THEY WATCHED THE PASSOVER LAMB
TO SEE THAT IT WAS PERFECT
According to Deuteronomy 15:21, only that which is perfect can
make atonement. Jesus the Messiah presented Himself to Israel in
public ministry for three years and showed Himself perfect in
heart and deed toward the Father. Even Pilate found no fault in
Him. Hebrews 4:15 says that He was tempted (tested) in all
points, yet was without sin; 1 Peter 1:19 describes Him as a Lamb
without blemish or spot.
THEY ROASTED THE PASSOVER
LAMB WITH FIRE
Fire in Scripture speaks of God's judgment. Isaiah the
prophet foretold that the Messiah would bear the sins of many, be
wounded for sins not His own, be stricken with God's judgment,
and be numbered with transgressors. As Jesus the Messiah suffered
the fire of God's wrath and judgment, He cried out from the
cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew
27:46). Second Corinthians 5:21 says: "He [God] hath made him
[Christ] to be sin for us ... that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him."
NOT A BONE OF THE PASSOVER
LAMB WAS BROKEN
The Roman soldiers did not break the legs of Jesus the
Messiah as they did the legs of the other two men crucified
Redemption through the death of the Passover lamb was
personal as well as national. Even so, salvation must be a
personal event. In Exodus 12:3, the commandment is to take a
lamb, a nebulous, unknown entity, nothing special; in Exodus
12:4, God says "the" lamb. Now he is known, unique, set apart.
Finally, in Exodus 12:5, God specifies, "your" lamb; each
redeemed soul must appropriate the lamb for himself. Arthur Pink
quotes Galatians 2:20 to apply this truth to faith in the
Messiah: "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the
faith of the Son of God [the Messiah], who loved me, and gave
himself for me." 1
The New Testament refers to Jesus the Messiah more than
thirty times as the Lamb of God. Faith and trust in the sacrifice
of God's Lamb make a person or a nation belong to God. Exodus
12:41 calls the people of Israel the "hosts of the LORD," not the
hosts of Israel. Redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb, they
truly belonged then to God.
1 Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in Exodus, pp. 89-90.
THE BITTER HERBS
With bitter herbs they shall eat it (Exodus 12:8).
Jehovah commanded the Israelites to eat the Passover Lamb with
bitter herbs. The first symbolism that comes to mind is the
obvious one - the hardships which the Israelites endured under
the whips of Pharaoh's taskmasters. But there is a deeper lesson
as well. Bitterness in Scripture often speaks of death. The
bitter herbs are a reminder that the firstborn children of the
people of Israel lived because the Passover lambs died. God
created man to gain life through death, to receive physical
sustenance from the death of something that once was alive, be it
plant or animal. Even so, the believer in the Messiah Jesus
receives new life through His death as the Lamb of God.
Bitterness in Scripture also speaks of mourning. Zechariah 12:10
prophesies that one day Israel as a nation will weep and be in
bitterness of deepest mourning for her Messiah, as when one
mourns for an only child who has died. God says in Zechariah 13:9
that He w ill bring Israel through the judgment of fire and
refine her even as silver and gold are refined. Then Israel will
proclaim, "The Lord is my God," and in that day "the Lord shall
be king over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9).
THE UNLEAVENDED BREAD
"And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and
unleavened bread "in Exodus 12:8
The next symbol in God's object is the unleavened bread. The
children of Israel ate the Passover lamb with bitter herbs and
unleavened bread: then they were to eat no leaven for a full
seven days afterward. The lesson went deeper than the obvious
haste of the departure from Egypt.
Leaven in the Bible is almost always a symbol of sin. 1 The
putting away of all leaven is a picture of the sanctification of
the child of God. Cleansed, redeemed by God's lamb, the true
believer must put away the sinful leaven of the old life before
In teaching His people this truth, God did not leave them to
grapple with abstractions. The Bible speaks in terms of human
experience. Leaven was something that every housewife, every
cook, used in everyday life. The feel, the smell, the effects of
leaven had obvious meaning.
The Hebrew word for leaven is "chometz," meaning "bitter" or
"sour." It is the nature of sin to make people bitter or sour.
Leaven causes dough to become puffed up so that the end product
is more in volume, but not more in weight. The sin of pride
causes people to be puffed up, to think of themselves as far more
than they really are.
The ancient Hebrews used the sourdough method of leavening
their bread. Before the housewife formed the dough into loaves
ready for baking, she pulled off a chunk of the raw dough and set
it aside in a cool, moist place. When it was time to bake another
batch of bread, she brought out the reserved lump of dough. She
then mixed the old lump into the fresh batch of flour and water
to leaven the next loaves, again setting aside a small lump of
the newly mixed dough. Each "new generation" of bread was
organically linked by the common yeast spores to the previous
loaves of bread. The human race bears this same kind of link to
the sin nature of our first father, Adam.
Often people excuse themselves for bad behavior or wrong
attitudes by saying, "I'm only human." But being
1 Once, in Matthew 13:33, it is used as a symbol of growth and
"only human" is the sin nature within all mankind. Jesus spoke of
leaven as false doctine and hypocrisy (Matthew 16:11-12; Mark
8:15; Luke 12:1, 13:21).
The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 spoke of leaven as
pride, malice, and wickedness. He said, "Purge out therefore the
old leaven, that you may be a new lump [a new person] as ye are
unleavened [cleansed]. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed
On the other hand, Paul described the unleavened bread as
sincerity and truth. The Hebrew word 'matzo" (unleavened) means
"sweet, without sourness." The unleavened bread typified the
sweetness and wholesomeness of life without sin. It foreshadowed
the sinless, perfect life of the Messiah, who would come to
fulfill all righteousness and to lay down His life as God's
ultimate Passover Lamb. In Passover observances after the
cessation of the Temple sacrifices, the matzo (unleavened bread)
took on added significance when the rabbis decreed it to be a
memorial of the Passover lamb.
Thus, for the Hebrews, the putting away of all leaven
symbolized breaking the old cycle of sin and starting out afresh
from Egypt to walk as a new nation before the Lord. They did not
put away leaven in order to be redeemed; rather, they put away
leaven because they were redeemed. This same principle applies to
the redeemed of the Lord of all the ages. Salvation is of grace,
"not of works, lest any man should boast" (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
THE BLOOD ON THE DOOR
"And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood
that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side
posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall
go out at the door of his house until the morning" (Exodus
Several times Scripture mentions a special mark that will
secure immunity from destruction for those who fear the Lord. One
such text is Ezekiel 9:4-6; two others are found in Revelation
7:2-3 and 9:4.
When Egypt's judgment was imminent, God commanded the sons
of Israel to mark the doors of their dwellings with the blood of
the Passover lamb. Those marks painted on the doors set apart the
houses of those who believed and obeyed God from the houses of
those who did not.
The "bason" mentioned in Exodus 12:22 was not a container in
the sense in which we use the word basin today. The word is the
Egyptian 'sap,' meaning the threshold or ditch which was dug just
in front of the doorways of the houses to avoid flooding. The
people placed a container in the ditch to prevent seepage. The
Israelites killed their Passover lambs right by the doors, where
they were about to sprinkle the blood, and the blood from the
slaughter automatically ran into the depression (the bason) at
the threshold. When they painted the blood on with the hyssop
"brush," they first touched the lintel (the top horizontal part
of the doorframe), then each side post (the vertical sides.)...
Thus, the door was "sealed" on all four sides with the blood of
the lamb, because the blood was already on the bottom. Author
Pink sees this as a picture of the suffering Messiah Himself:
"Blood above where the thorns pierced His brow, blood at the
sides, from His nail pierced hands; blood below, from His nail
pierced feet." 1
We see further symbolism in the words of Jesus, when he
said: "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be
saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9).
The Israelites went in through the blood-sealed door on that
first Passover night and found safety....
We who are redeemed by the true Passover Lamb find safety in
Him from God's judgment, and, because of Him, we look forward to
a future, eternal haven in the very presence of the Almighty, in
the city whose "builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10).
1 Pink, p.93.
To be continued