There has been a great deal of emphasis recently on Jewish traditions, calendars, and ceremonies in the books and sermons in evangelical circles. Some of it is good, but a lot of it is sketchy. We seem to have forgotten Sola Scriptura, and we’ve lost sight of the covenants in Scripture and their role in Christianity. We are of the New Covenant, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant points to Jesus, who then fulfilled the covenant in His body, as the Lamb of God. Over the next several weeks we will be looking at the Old Testament drawing our understanding of it not from the Midrash, but from the New Testament. Today, I want to start at the Exodus, with a look at the Passover.
Exodus 12 (ESV) | The Passover
1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.13 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 no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”
21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
Exodus 12:40-51 (ESV) | Institution of the Passover
40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.
43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
50 All the people of Israel did just as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
Okay, we’ve gone through a lot of text (we skipped some verses for time sake), let’s review what have thus far before moving on to Exodus 13. In verse 5, we see God demanding that the Passover Lamb had to be without blemish. This evaluation of the lamb from either the goats or the sheep had to be made physically; therefore, it was only a shadow of the true Passover Lamb, who is truly without blemish. This is why it was so significant that John the Baptist made the following declaration as recorded in John 1.
John 1:29-34 (ESV) | Behold, the Lamb of God
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Only the Son of God could be perfect and without blemish, and only He could truly be the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Now, the unleavened bread is very interesting here. Firstly, God is instituting the Passover as a remembrance of His deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. The entire service, really, as evidenced by the explanation given in verse 26 and 27. The point of the Passover is to remind them of what God had done. However, as the Passover and subsequent Exodus comes, there is no time to make extensive preparations for life in the wilderness, particularly in food. Egypt gives up its riches, but we see in Exodus 12:34,39 that they left Egypt in haste and didn’t have time to leaven their bread. This is important because while the unleavened bread points to the Passover, the Passover itself is accomplished by God and the Blood of the Lamb.
The leaven is added to the bread to cause it to raise, inflate, to give a sense of increase though it is a false sense. This understanding can be drawn from Jesus’s warning to His disciples in Matthew 16. We, the children of God adopted by the Blood of the Lamb, we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that all who believe in Him will not perish in Egypt (death of sin), but be freed from Egypt and brought to the Promised Land (Heaven). We dare not add anything to the bread, to falsely inflate it, or to make it more palatable for those who would hear the Gospel. The unleavened bread was to be eaten with bitter herbs, a symbol and a reminder of the harshness of their enslavement, and for us it is of our sinfulness. They didn’t make cake, there was no frosting… and when we preach Law and Gospel, the Law is indicative of the bitter herbs, for the Law convicts us of our sin, and the pure, unleavened Gospel of Jesus Christ reminds us of His Body that was broken for us. Let’s look at how the Apostle Paul referred to the leaven in relation to Communion:
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 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.
In Exodus 12:43 we see prohibitions being added, that this Passover was not for the uncircumcised, not for the lost. Salvation, deliverance out of Egypt, is secured by no other means than Christ’s death on the cross, by the Passover Lamb. Communion is not for the unbeliever, for he who has not believed in Jesus stands condemned already.
John 3:16-21 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
That is not to say that Salvation isn’t available to all; rather, that Salvation (and by extension, Communion) is not available for those who do not believe in Christ. We preach both Law and Gospel, so that the lost might hear the Word of God and receive faith, a gift from God, to believe in Him and be delivered from Egypt, out of their sin and trespasses, so that they might join in the Communion of the Body of Christ.
Let us now look at how this Truth of the Passover is clarified in Hebrews.
Hebrews 10:1-18 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All
10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
All praise, glory, and honor be to the our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We will continue studying the Exodus and how it points to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. I do hope you will join us again. if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share.
Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
May the Grace of God be with you today and always,
In Christ Jesus,