When you hear the word “Passover,” what comes to mind? Does that word make you think about the last plague which God sent on the nation of Egypt? It is with that tenth plague that “Passover” is connected.
When Jehovah came to Egypt to strike dead the firstborn of each family, the Israelites’ firstborn children were spared. Why? Because they obeyed God’s instruction to kill a lamb and sprinkle its blood around the doorpost of their house. When God saw that blood, He “passed over” to the next house (Exodus 12:13). Thus, the term “Passover.”
Concerning the Passover, there was the Passover feast (Exodus 12:14), the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:21), and the Passover meal (Luke 22:11,15). God’s message to Israel was, “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5). God Himself established this feast, and He calls it “the LORD’s Passover.” What words should we associate with that special occasion?
Deliverance – In later years, when the kids of the Israelites asked about the significance of the Passover, their parents were supposed to tell them, “It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households” (Exodus 12:27). God had a promise to fulfil: give the land of Canaan to the Israelites. In order to do that, He first had to deliver them from Egypt.
Just as Lot and his family were spared from the destruction of Sodom due to Jehovah’s mercy and favor, so it was with the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt: they owed their rescue to the Almighty. Under the new covenant, through the Christ we are delivered from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:12,13) and from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Blood – It was blood-deliverance for Israel. The lamb’s blood marked their houses (Exodus 12:21- 23). Though the Israelites were not perfect people (at least some of them served idols in Egypt, Joshua 24:14), in God’s hand, so to speak, the blood of a lamb “got the job done.” In the same way, under the new covenant, the blood of God’s Lamb can take away/provide a covering for the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Demonstration – The Lord said, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt . . . and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD” (Exodus 12:12). The God of heaven showed that He was superior to the false gods of the Egyptians. He made it clear that none of their “gods” could “handle” Him. Not one of their “gods” was capable of protecting the people of Egypt from the Almighty!
In some of the earlier plagues, the Bible explicitly says that the plagues did not affect the Israelites. Why not? God’s answer was, “. . . that you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel” (Exodus 11:7). God’s plans could not be defeated, nor His promises nullified!
Compliance – After the Israelites received the Lord’s instructions about the Passover, how did they respond? “Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did” (Exodus 12:28).
Submitting to what God says to do is always the right course of action . . . in every circumstance! How did the Israelites show their faith in this case? By keeping the Lord’s Passover in the manner that He instructed them (Hebrews 11:28). Their sprinkling of lamb’s blood was not based on the latest scientific or medical research of the day. Nor was there any type of historical precedent for such action. Using blood to protect the life of a child sounds illogical; it makes no sense. Well, it made perfect sense to the Lord, and when Israel complied with His will, they were blessed for doing so. The same is true today: the Master said, “. . . blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28).
Memorial – The Lord Himself used that word, saying to Israel, “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord . . .” (Exodus 12:14). As we noted already, the Israelites were to share this explanation with their children: we do this because the Lord passed over our houses in Egypt, struck the Egyptians, and delivered us. We do this to remember that! (Exodus 12:26,27).
Of course, Christians have a wonderful memorial, too: the Lord’s Supper. And what is the purpose of the communion? Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). It was not enough for the Israelites to have an annual Passover feast: they needed to do it for the right reason, which was to remember what the Lord had done for them. In like manner, we break bread for a specific purpose: it is a memorial of what God’s Son did for us.
Type/prophecy – Each Passover lamb during the Old Testament era pointed to Calvary. For the Passover, God required an unblemished lamb (Exodus 12:5). That is how the Christ is described: a Lamb without spot and blemish (1 Peter 1:18,19). Again, the Israelites were not supposed to break any bones of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:46). And what do we see in John 19:32-36? Not one of Jesus’ bones was broken as He was hanging on the cross. We are blessed to have the Christ as “our Passover” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
— Roger D. Campbell