Exodus 11:1–12:28. Passover. Israel Goes Free.
Key Notes: A huge power display. Passover and Easter: eleven lessons. God's other objectives. The first-born.
The Passover is essential to Christians because it was celebrated by Jesus and His disciples on the night before His death, and was transformed by Him into the Lord’s Supper. So the rescue of Israel from slavery, Passover and Exodus, are typical to us of our salvation from sin through the offering of Christ, the Lamb of God. Passover becomes Easter and is celebrated at our communion tables. As we shall see in this study, God also had other objectives in addition to the liberation of Israel in His climactic judgment of Egypt.
Exodus is one of six or seven large events in the Old Testament:
Creation, and the beginnings of good and evil.
Abraham and the promise of blessing to the nations.
Exodus, Israel’s liberation.
Giving of the Law.
David, the once and future King.
Exile and Return. Exodus and the Return are linked. (Jer.23:7,8)
11:1–3 God’s first instruction was to get Israel outfitted with clothing for their own needs, with silver and gold for commerce as a new nation, and for worship and temple-building. They were not to leave Egypt as slaves. Surprisingly, the Egyptians were sympathetic and gave the Israelites whatever they asked. We could imagine the opposite, that there would be popular outrage and a great slaughter by the Egyptian army. But God made the Egyptians favorable to the Israelites. (11:3)
11:4–8 The pronouncement of the death of the firstborn of Egypt was apparently made in the presence of Pharaoh, as part of the last contact. It indicates that Pharaoh was fairly warned of the catastrophe about to break, and Moses walked out in utter frustration with Pharaoh, in hot anger.
11:9–10 In summary, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened—with or without the plagues.
12:1–13 God gave Moses and Aaron the details of the Passover, the key to their liberation.
*Set apart a lamb or goat, unblemished, a year-old, on the tenth day of the month Abib (Ex. 13:4), later called Nissan. One male animal was selected for each household.
*On the fourteenth day, the dedicated animal was killed; everyone in Israel was to be making the same sacrifice.
*Blood, caught in a basin (12:22), was splashed on the frame of the doorway (not the threshold) with hyssop, a bush used as a brush, such as marjoram or thyme.
*The meat was to be roasted whole, not boiled or raw. None was left till morning; the residue was burned. They were to eat generously; there was a long journey ahead.
*No bone was to be broken. (12:46). Meat was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, such as dandelion greens, a balancing of meat, starch and vegetable. The bitter herbs were a reminder of their hard life in Egypt.
*They were together in families. Passover was at first a family, rather than a priestly ceremony. They were to eat quickly, standing up, belts tightened, ready to go out the door.
*God would pass through the land at night, slaying all the first born of man and beast. He was executing judgment (12:12) but would “passover” the houses where blood was sprinkled on the door-posts.
12:14–20 The Passover was to become a seven-day festival forever, days of eating unleavened bread. The first and seventh days were Sabbaths, rest days. All leaven was to be removed from the houses, on penalty of being cut off from the congregation.
12:21–28 So Moses instructed the elders of Israel, reminding them that they were to tell their children the meaning of the feast. The people bowed and worshiped, and they obeyed.
Comments: Passover is not simply about the liberation of Israel from Egypt. God had other objectives in carrying out the plagues and instituting the Passover.
*His Name will be demonstrated for the whole world. “…that there is none like Me in all the earth.” (9:14)
“…that My Name may be declared thought all the earth.” (9:16)
*God will get victory over the gods of Egypt. “…on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. “ (12:12). [There are examples of gods identified with plagues in the chart.]
*He let Pharaoh live to demonstrate power over him. “For this purpose have I let you live, to show you my power….” (9:16)
*Moses’ authority was developed. “…that they may know that the LORD has appeared to you.” (4:5) “Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people “ (11:3)
*The first-born of Egypt were hostages for the first-born of Israel. “Israel is my first-born son; if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your first-born son“. (4:23)
The first-born is a position of honor and responsibility, more than simply a birth-order.
All the firstborn of Israel, humans and domestic animals, were dedicated to God. (Ex.13:11–16). Later the Levites were substitutes for the first-born of humans. Num.3:12
In the NT, Jesus carries the title of the first- born indicating His priority and rank.
“…those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” (Rom.8:29)
“He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything He might be pre-eminent.” (Col.1:18)
“…the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in Heaven….” (Heb.12:23)
Israel is God’s first-born, His priority. Jesus is God’s eternally first-born and has made us His first-born, co-inheritors with Him.
Passover, is a type, or blue-print of salvation, and has many points to be listed and matched with NT references. Some of the similes are stunning in their exactness.
1. Egypt was" the house of bondage" and slavery, a symbol of our captivity to sin. Ex.13:14
“…Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” (Jn.8:34)
“…I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.” (Rom.7:23)
2. A lamb was set apart on the tenth day of Nissan. Ex.12:3
Christ came into Jerusalem as king on Palm Sunday, four days before Passover.
3. The lamb was sacrificed on the fourteenth of Nissan (Abib). Ex.12:6. Evidence that Christ was crucified on Thursday is in notes on Jonah.
“…Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (I Cor.5:7)
4. Leaven was purged from the houses. (Ex.12:8,15). Leaven is a symbol of personal sin.
“Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump….” (ICor. 5:7–8)
5. Blood was brushed on the door-posts of the houses. (Ex.12:7). The Lord carried out judgment on all households where the sacrifice was not offered. (12:29). That was Israel’s salvation and Egypt’s judgment.
”…and when I see the blood, I will pass over you and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” (Ex.12:13)
“…sanctified for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood.” (I Pet.1:2)
“…and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Heb.9:22)
6. The meat was roasted, not boiled or raw. (Ex.12:8). The residue was burned. Nothing was left. (Ex.12:10) The process was final in itself.
“It is finished.” (Jn.19:30)
“…He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Heb.9:26)
7. The animal was eaten. Ex.12:10
"As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so He who eats Me will live because of Me." (Jn.6:57)
8. No bone was to be broken. Ex.12:46
“For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘Not a bone of him shall be broken.’” (Jn.19:36–37)
9. They walked through the sea.
”All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea….” (I Cor.10:3)
“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death….” (Rom.6:4)
10. Having been freed from slavery to the World, they were now under the Law of God.
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My own possession among all peoples. “ (Ex.19:4–5)
11. They entered into God’s rest.
“And now the Lord our God has given rest to our brethren as He promised them.” (Josh.22:4)
”So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. “ (Heb.4:8–9)
Three thousand five-hundred years ago our God gave us a clear picture of our salvation by a series of miraculous actions. It was historical, as was the Atonement, fifteen hundred years later. It was done out in the open for all to see. It shows the love and patience of God as well as His justice. It involved millions of people, both saved and lost. Those who were liberated did nothing for their release except to shelter themselves from God’s judgment by the mark of a lamb’s blood.
Today God shelters us from the judgment of our sin by the sacrifice of Christ. Make sure the door of your spiritual house is marked by His blood so that His judgment passes over you and you may head for the Promised Land.
Praise God for His great redemption!