The Passover
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Exodus. Many of the books in the Bible have what we call a pivotal chapter, a chapter which all the preceding chapters approach, and from which all the other chapters recede. As we come to chapter 12 of the book of Exodus, we come to the pivotal chapter of the entire book. It is this chapter from which the book gets its name, because this chapter describes the Exodus.

However, we will be primarily concerned with the thing which made the exodus possible–namely, the Passover. If there had been no provision for a Passover, there would have been no exodus.

You will remember that Moses stood before Pharaoh and was the instrument in the hands of God for visiting nine plagues upon Pharaoh and his country with the idea of forcing Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go. After the ninth plague, Moses stood in the palace of Pharaoh in anger because Pharaoh had continually broken his promises, and by the Word of God said to Pharaoh, “One plague more will be visited upon Egypt.” That one plague more was to be the death of the firstborn in all the land of Egypt. Notice in chapter 11, by way of introduction to chapter 12, verse 1:

Exodus 11

1And the LORD said unto Moses, yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt: afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.

Then notice verse 4:

Exodus 11

4And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:
5And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.
6And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.

Let us notice particularly what is said in verse 5: “All the firstborn in the land of Egypt.” Notice that phrase; Egypt included the Israelites as well as the Egyptians. “All the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die.” The only way that that could be kept from happening was for God to make a difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians. That difference is suggested in verse 7:

Exodus 11

7But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.

God was going to make a difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians when the plague of death came into the land. What was the difference? Someone says that it was that the Egyptians were Egyptians and the Israelites were Israelites. That was not the difference. Someone says, “The Israelites were so much better than the Egyptians.” That was not the difference, and that statement is questionable. Someone says, “Well, the Egyptians persecuted the Israelites beyond measure.” That was not the difference. I want to emphasize that.

Difference Between Egyptians and Israelites

If you do not learn the difference that God put between the Israelites and the Egyptians, you will never learn the difference that God puts between the saved and the unsaved; you will never learn the difference that God puts between men who are going to Heaven and men who are going to Hell.

If I were to ask the average person the difference between men who are going to Heaven and men who are going to Hell, the answers would be many and varied, and nearly all of them would be related to the individuals concerned. I am going to Heaven not because I am better than the man who is going to Hell, and he is going to Hell not because he is worse than I am, if that be so. But there is a difference.

God Set the Difference

What is the difference? That difference is described in chapter 12. Let us read chapter 12, skipping about in it a bit so that you will get all of the subject matter that we will discuss, and then we will go back and think about the lesson that I believe God would have us learn:

Exodus 12

1And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
7And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the entrails thereof.
10And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
11And 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 LORD's passover.
12For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn [notice–not ”of the land of Egypt”, but ”in the land of Egypt”] , both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
13And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be unto you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

This one verse tells the difference which God put between the Egyptians and the Israelites. It was the blood. That was the difference. We will be looking at this in detail as we go along. Mark that verse in your thinking, because the blood was the difference which God put between the Israelites and the Egyptians.

Exodus 12

14And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations: ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Let us skip verses 15-20, a passage which describes what is commonly referred to as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. All we want to think about now is the Feast of the Passover.

Exodus 12

21Then 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.

From verse 21 through verse 28 Moses relates to the children of Israel the message that God gave to him in the first twenty verses. God gave Moses a message, and Moses gave it to the people.

Pharaoh Meets Gods Demands

Then, in verse 29:

Exodus 12

29And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
30And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and 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.
31And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.

Notice that last statement: “as ye have said.” You will remember that for every command which Moses relayed, Pharaoh had offered a compromise; but now he was ready to meet God's command. He said:

Exodus 12

32Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone: [and as strange as it may seem, he said] and bless me also [before you go].

That was a tremendous change. God had said He would make Moses a god unto Pharaoh, and now Pharaoh says, “Bless me before you go.”

Exodus 12

33And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
34And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
35And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses, and they borrowed [we have found that this word ”borrowed” really means ”asked in payment for services rendered”] of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment:
36And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

That is, they won a victory over them just as if they had been in battle. The next paragraph describes the number of people that left the land of Egypt and how they left.

The Ordinance of the Passover

In verse 43 we have some additional information related to the Passover feast that we want to call to your attention:

Exodus 12

43And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: there shall no stranger eat thereof:
44But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou has circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.
45A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.
46In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.
47All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
48And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it, and he shall be as one that is born in the land; for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
49One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
50Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
51And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

We have now read the historical account of the Passover and the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. You might say, “That is good to know; that is information that I did not know, or that I did not know in detail; but of what particular value is it to me?” It is of no particular spiritual value unless you relate it to the Word of God.

Lesson of the Leaven

The best explanation of any passage of Scripture is the explanation or comment that is found somewhere else in the Word of God. Of what spiritual value is the story of the Passover? Turn with me, please, to Paul's first Corinthian letter, chapter 5. The Corinthian church was tolerating within their midst people who were living in immorality. They were not concerned about it; they were not praying for the people involved; they were not remonstrating with them; they were just tolerating it. The Apostle wrote to them and in verse 6 said, concerning this:

I Corinthians 5

6Your glorying is not good [your attitude toward this matter is not good] . Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

If he were speaking in the everyday language of the present hour he would say, “Don't you know that a little bit of yeast causes all the dough to rise? A little bit of sin can soon permeate everyone that is related to it. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”

I Corinthians 5

7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. [Notice this statement particularly] For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Notice the last statement in verse 7: “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” The Apostle Paul is saying to us, then, that what the Passover lamb meant to the Israelites in the land of Egypt, Christ should mean to us.

A New Beginning

As we notice some of the things that are said about the Passover and about the Passover lamb, we should have a better explanation of the Lord Jesus Christ and the finished work of Christ upon the Cross in our behalf. Go back, then, to Exodus, chapter 12, verse 2:

Exodus 12

2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

Actually when God gave this message, He was speaking in the month of Nisan, but He said, “From this time forth it will be the month of Abib; it will be the first month of the year.” What He was saying was that from the time of this Passover onward, things were going to be different. The calendar was going to be changed. That is significant, because when the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world and John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29); behold the Passover lamb”–and died on the Cross and rose again, the world calendar was changed. The date had always been A.M. (in the year of the world) but now it is A.D. (in the year of our Lord).

The calendar changed. Things began again when Christ came. But more important than the change in the calendar is the change in lives, because the Bible very plainly teaches that when we have applied the blood, when we have taken refuge under the blood of Christ, we become new creatures in Christ Jesus; old things are passed away, and all things are become new (II Corinthians 5:17); new life begins. Christians ought not only to date their lives from when they came into the world; they ought to date their lives from the date when they entered the kingdom of God, because that is the only life that will last; it is the only life that will continue. That is the first lesson we learn from the Passover. It is a new beginning. It was for these Israelites.

Lamb Selected for Sacrifice

Now look at verse 3 and notice the second thing:

Exodus 12

3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house.

The first thing to notice about this verse is that on the tenth day of the month they were to go into the barnyard and get that little lamb. In verse 6 they were told, “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month.” Get the lamb and keep it up from the tenth day until the fourteenth day. Set aside the lamb that is to be used for the sacrifice long before you need it. That was the message. Turn with me to the first epistle of Peter, chapter 1, and notice how the Holy Spirit draws to our attention this truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ:

I Peter 1

18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19[Notice carefully] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb…

That is what we are talking about, isn't it? Christ as a lamb, without blemish and without spot.

I Peter 1

20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

The Israelites were told to select their lamb four days before it was needed. God selected His Lamb before He ever created the world–before you were ever created, before I was ever created. I have to admit to you that that is almost more than my little two by four mind can comprehend. But that is what God's Word says, that God selected His Lamb before the foundation of the world. This Passover Lamb was to be a perfect picture of the Lamb of God and was selected four days before it was needed.

Provision for Every Individual

The third thing I would like for you to notice is found in Exodus, chapter 12, verse 3:

Exodus 12

3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house.

Notice, every man a lamb for his house. This is getting to be a very personal thing. It was not enough for just some folks to have a lamb; every household had to have a lamb.

Exodus 12

4And if the household be too little for a lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

That means that if there were not enough people in one house to consume all the lamb, because we will see in just a few moments that it had to be consumed, then several houses could go together, because this provision was not effective unless everyone partook of the lamb.

Exodus 12

6…and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

We want to place emphasis upon the whole congregation; every single individual had to participate. Notice in verse 43 the ordinance for the Passover:

Exodus 12

43And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof.

Then in verse 45:

Exodus 12

45A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.

It was just for those who were in the house. If there were any foreigners, if there were any strangers in the house, they had to become members of the family through the rite of circumcision. The rite of circumcision was the covenant sign that they belonged to the Israelites.

You can see from these verses of Scripture that everyone had to be provided for by the Passover lamb. It was not enough for people to say, “My neighbor down the street has a lamb, but I don't have one.” Everyone had to have a share in the Passover lamb. We would remind you that it is not enough for us to talk about those who know the Lord while we may not. It is necessary for every one of us to share in the Lamb.

We find here a definite progression of thought. It is very interesting that in verse 3 a lamb was mentioned, but in verse 4 the lamb was mentioned, and in verse 5 your lamb is mentioned; everyone has to come to a decision about the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. It is one thing to talk about God; it is another thing to talk about Christ. It is one thing to talk about God and Christ together; it is another thing to identify yourself with them personally and to speak not of God and Jesus, but of my Father and my Savior.

Without Spot or Blemish

Will you notice the fourth thing in verse 5:

Exodus 12

5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

If, during the four days this lamb was shut up, there had been found one tiny little blemish on it, it would not have been acceptable as the sacrificial lamb.

Turn with me to the first epistle of Peter again, chapter 1, and notice these verses again with a new emphasis:

I Peter 1

18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19[Notice now] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

The Passover lamb of the Israelites was but a miniature of our Passover Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. He had to be without blemish and without spot. That is why it does make a difference whether you believe in the virgin birth or not. Someone may say, “Why, it doesn't make any difference whether or not you believe in the virgin birth.” We hear that all the time. Well, it does make a difference. If the Lord Jesus Christ were not virgin-born, then the Lord Jesus Christ was not a lamb without blemish and without spot.

When I was born into this world, I was not born of a virgin. I was born with many a blemish and many a spot, and I passed those blemishes and those spots on to my children. If the Lord Jesus Christ tarries, they will pass them on to their children. If the Lord Jesus Christ had not been virgin-born, He would have been born with all the blemishes and spots of the sinful nature, and He could not have saved us. He could not have been the Lamb that would meet the need of righteousness that God demanded.

Turn back with me now to the book of Exodus, chapter 12, and notice verse 6 for the fifth thing:

Exodus 12

6And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it, [notice the last phrase] in the evening.

Literally, if you were reading this in Hebrew, you would read “between the evenings.” Does that make a great difference? Read carefully to refresh your minds the story in the Gospels of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and notice how much emphasis is placed upon when He died, when He gave His life–between the evenings. This helps us to see how inspired is the Word of God and how closely all of it is related.

The Blood Provides Protection

Notice verse 7 as we point out the sixth thing by way of comparison:

Exodus 12

7And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

Then glance at verse 22, where a little additional detail is given:

Exodus 12

22And 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.
23For 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 house to smite you.

Notice in verse 22 the word “basin.” That would lead you to believe that they killed the lamb somewhere and caught the blood in a basin, brought the basin up to the house, dipped the hyssop in the blood, and sprinkled it on the doorposts. That is not the way it happened. This word “basin” everywhere else in the Old Testament is translated “threshold” or “doorstep.” Why it is translated “basin” here I do not know. Actually what happened was that every man killed his lamb on the doorstep of his house, then took the hyssop and dipped it in the blood on his doorstep and put it on the lintel–the crosspiece across the door–and on the two sideposts of the door. That blood placed on the doorposts in obedience to God's command provided protection.

Notice verse 13 again:

Exodus 12

13And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: (and God said) and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

This verse makes it sound as if it was God who was flying over the land of Egypt, and when He saw the blood on this house, He passed over and did not cause the sentence of death to fall. But notice verse 23:

Exodus 12

23For 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.

It was not the Lord who was doing the striking; it was the destroyer. I point that out to you because the word “Passover” comes from a Hebrew word that speaks of spreading one's wings over something. The picture is that the Lord saw the blood on the doorposts, He spread His wings over that house, and when the death angel came by, he could not do a thing because the wings were over the house.

Our Protection By the Blood of Christ

This is the same thing the Lord Jesus Christ meant when He was sitting on a hillside outside the city of Jerusalem and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).

The Lord Jesus said, “Just as God overshadowed those houses in Egypt with His wings and protected them from death, I want to do it for you, but you won't let Me.” That is the lesson in this: Just as the Israelites were protected by the wings of God because of the blood upon the doorposts, you and I may be protected by that same blood, the blood of the sacrificial Lamb, the blood of Christ.

What is my claim to Heaven? “Oh,” someone might say, “you preach. I guess preachers will go to Heaven.” That is not my claim to Heaven. “Well, you're in church nearly all the time.” That is not my claim to Heaven. “Well, you were baptized, weren't you?” That is not my claim to Heaven. “Well, you try to do what's right, don't you?” That is not my claim to Heaven. What is my claim to Heaven? The blood of the sacrificial Lamb, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I say this reverently: I am under the blood, and that is my hope of eternal life.

Are you under the blood? That is your only hope. Did you notice what those Israelites did? They used a little branch of hyssop. Did you ever notice why it was hyssop–why it was not cedar or myrtle or something else? Because hyssop is the lowliest of all the shrubs growing in the land of Palestine. With a lowly branch of hyssop the blood was taken and sprinkled upon the doorstep.

Appropriation By Faith

Did you notice that they themselves had to do it. That is appropriation. You can hear about the blood of Christ, but if you do not apply the blood of Christ by faith to your own heart and appropriate His sacrifice in your place, you will have no hope of Heaven.

Will you turn, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, for a moment on this very thing. Did you ever stop to think–Moses needed the blood as badly as anyone else did. We think about his telling everyone else what to do, but he needed it, too. He had to get into a house where there was blood:

Hebrews 11

28Through faith [Moses] kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

You see, Moses was God's messenger and he declared what God said, but he had to take that hyssop branch by faith and sprinkle the blood on the doorposts of his own house. It was not enough just to preach about it; he had to appropriate it.

Faith In the Word of God

I said that by faith he did this. Faith in what? Let us go back to Exodus, chapter 12.

Exodus 12

13And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

Faith in what? Faith in the Word of God. God said it, and they had faith enough to believe it. It would have been fatal for them to say, “Oh, I know God said something like that, but I don't believe it.” They would have died.

It is reasonable, because human nature has not changed a great deal, to assume that some of them put the blood on the doorposts of their houses and spent the entire night in an agony of fear that the death angel might take their firstborn. You see, they were safe because they had obeyed God's Word, and God's Word is true; they had obeyed God's Word and their fear was needless. They were just as safe as if they had never feared for a moment. That is the way it is today. There are some people who ignore the Word of God and God's commands and demands, and they will wind up in Hell, because God's Word is true. There are others who obey the Word of God because they believe the Word, but even though they have complied with God's requests, they have no peace, no certain sense of security. Why? Because they do not rest upon His Word. That is what it boils down to.

If you believe His Word–“When I see the blood, I will pass over you”–you will have a sense of security.


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