The Lamb of God
February 21, 1999 Exodus 11-13
A personal warning was given by Moses to Pharaoh beginning in 10:29 and continued in 11:4-8. This final judgment was the first threatened (4:22-23) but the last executed. God knew it would come this far, and God intended it would go this far in order that his power be proclaimed on behalf of his people unto his own glory as their God, making a distinction between Egypt and Israel, protecting Israel even so far as to silence the small threat of a barking dog (11:7).
The overriding message of these three chapters is not about the last plague upon Egypt, but upon the provision that God made to come through it safely. It is all about the Lamb of God. The Passover marks the birth of the nation of Israel and its deliverance from bondage. This great event also pictures the birth of the holy nation of the church of Jesus Christ and its deliverance from the bondage of sin through His work on the cross (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7-8; 1 Peter 1:18-20).
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NIVUS)
Illustration # 1.
Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-- as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 NIVUS)
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIVUS)
I. The Lamb Needed (11)
“One plague more!” God’s patience had run out and His final judgment—death to the firstborn male—was about to fall. The designation of firstborn male would touch every extended family. It would devastate the hopes and dreams of every family line – a picture of how sin touches every human fragment. The hopes and dreams carried by and for the firstborn would be crushed. How many of you men here today are firstborn in your family? You would be a victim of this plague, except for the blood.
Note that death was to come to all (11:5-6; 12:12-13), unless they were protected by the blood of the lamb. “All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). God specifies that the “firstborn” will die, and this speaks of God’s rejection of our first birth. All people are “firstborn” who have not been “twice-born.” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh . . . you must be born again” (John 3:6-7). People cannot save themselves from the penalty of death; they need Christ, the Lamb of God.
From a human point of view, there was no difference between the firstborn of Egypt and the firstborn of Israel. The difference was in the application of the blood (12:7). All are sinners, but those who have trusted Christ are “under the blood” and saved. This is the most important difference in the world!
For years, the Jews had slaved for the Egyptians without pay, so now God permits them to ask for (11:2), not borrow, their just wages. The picture of the Jews plundering Egypt is that we seem to slave in this world without just reward. The world will try to keep us from our reward, but God will see that we get it – and for eternity. In reality, it is only so that we have something to give to him. The Jews used their new-found riches to construct the tabernacle (Ex. 35:4-29). The true riches of God to us is the spiritual life we shall reap in the eternal dwelling place of his heavenly temple. Truly our lives in Christ shall be the ornaments of his grace there.
But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. (Genesis 15:14 NIVUS)
"And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. (Exodus 3:21 NIVUS)
The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:35-36 NIVUS)
II. The Lamb Chosen (12:1-5)
A New Accounting Begins (v. 2)
The Jews have a religious and a civil calendar, and Passover marks the beginning of their religious year. The death of the lamb makes a new beginning, just as the death of Christ makes a new beginning for the believing sinner.
Chosen before it is slain (v. 3, 6)
Selected on the tenth day, and slain “between the evenings” of the fourteenth and fifteenth days, the lamb was set aside for death. So Christ was the Lamb foreordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20).
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. (1 Peter 1:20 NIVUS)
Sufficient (v. 4)
Notice that the lamb is sufficient for each family, but if it is more that needed, it is to be shared. Christ is sufficient for all and is to be shared with our neighbors. Whatever they need of him we are to give.
Singular (v. 5, 6)
Even though each family is to take a lamb, these verses speak of only “it”, not “them” as in the NIV (lambs). This looks toward the provision of only one Savior for all eternity, for to God there is but one Lamb—Jesus Christ.
Without Defect (v. 5)
The lamb was to be a male without blemish, a picture of the perfect Lamb of God in whom there was no spot or stain (1 Peter 1:19).
but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:19 NIVUS)
Tested or Examined (v. 5, 6)
From the tenth to the fourteenth days, the people watched the lambs to make sure they were satisfactory; similarly, Christ was tested and watched during His earthly ministry, especially during the last week before He was crucified.
Personal Association (v. 5, 6)
The lamb lived with the family and became part of it. Note the progress in the AV: “a lamb” (v. 3), “the lamb” (v. 4), “your lamb” (v. 5). This parallels “a Savior” (Luke 2:11), “the Savior” (John 4:42), and “my Savior” (Luke 1:47). It is not enough to call Christ “a Savior” (one among many), or “the Savior” (for somebody else). Each of us must be able to say, “He is my Savior!”
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 NIVUS)
They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." (John 4:42 NIVUS)
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, (Luke 1:47 NIVUS)
III. The Lamb Slain (12:6-7)
Personal Death (v. 6)
This lamb that has become a family pet must now die. When sin entered the human soul, something also died. Now another death must be our remedy. A living lamb was a lovely thing, but it could not save! We are not saved by Christ’s example or His life; we are saved by His death. We can look at Heb. 9:22 and Lev. 17:11 to see the importance of the shed blood of Christ. Of course, killing a lamb seemed like foolishness to the wise Egyptians, but it was God’s way of salvation (1 Cor. 1:18-23).
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22 NIVUS)
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. (Leviticus 17:11 NIVUS)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 1:18-23 NIVUS)
Personal Application (v. 7)
The blood of the lamb had to be applied to the doorframe of the house (12:21-28). Our earthly home or body is then protected from the threat of permanent death. It didn’t matter who lived inside or what had happened there, except that the lamb had died for those inside. The visibility of the blood on the doorframe amounts to an open profession of faith in God. The hyssop that sprinkled the blood is a fragrant herb that signifies the fragrance of our faith that applies the blood of Christ. It is as though the sprinkled blood falls as dewdrops upon our souls to cleanse them. The blood was only applied to the lintel over the door and the posts at the sides of the door because we are not ever to trample the blood of Christ under foot (see Heb. 10:29). Christ was slain on the fourteenth day of the month, just at the time when the Passover lambs were being offered. Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb?” (Gen. 22:7), and John the Baptist answered in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” All of heaven says, “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Rev. 5:12). The blood of Christ protects us from the wrath of God, the curse of the Law, and the damnation of hell (Rom. 8:1).
How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29 NIVUS)
Illustration # 3.
Death of Innocence (v. 6, 7)
It is significant that the lamb is symbolic of innocence. The Passover Lamb is the death of something innocent in order to redeem us from death because we are not innocent. God accepts the sacrifice of the innocent – innocent from sin to pay for sin – Jesus Christ. Surely the curse of sin upon us is the death of our innocence (note newspaper article of 2/19/99 about 2nd grader who saw internet porn at school). Innocence can only be regained by reverse process. That which is dead cannot redeem that which is dead. It takes the spiritual power of life which is in innocence. It is to that innocence that we are redeemed and ultimately restored.
IV. The Lamb Eaten (12:8-20, 43-51)
Prepared with Fire (v. 8, 9, 15)
We often neglect an important part of the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leaven (yeast) in the Bible is a picture of sin: it works silently; it corrupts and puffs up; and it can only be removed with fire – the fire of judgment. We see that judgment in the roasting of the lamb and Christ’s painful suffering upon the cross as he endured the wrath of God for sin. The whole lamb was to be roasted because Christ was unbroken in his resistance against sin (v. 46). It was to be eaten with bitter herbs as a remembrance of the bitterness of bondage to the slavery of sin. We are to feed on Christ with a sense of sorrow and brokenness of heart. If sin is bitter to us, we shall find Christ sweet. The Jews had to put all leaven out of their homes at Passover season, and they were not allowed to eat leavened bread for seven days, a complete number. Because Christ died for our sins, we must not let the leaven of our sins back into our lives (Heb. 6:1; 6:4-6; 2Pet. 2:20). Paul applies this to Christians in 1 Cor. 5.
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, (Hebrews 6:1 NIVUS)
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebrews 6:4-6 NIVUS)
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. (2 Peter 2:20 NIVUS)
Eat it all (v. 10, 11)
The blood of the lamb was sufficient to save from death, but the people had to feed on the lamb to get strength for their pilgrim journey. Salvation is just the beginning. We must make Christ our own and feed on him, receiving spiritual strength and nourishment from him, if we are to have the strength to follow Him. All the lamb must be eaten. We must take all of Christ of none of him. No “leftovers” can satisfy the believer. We need a completed work on the cross. Furthermore, leftovers would become corrupt, and this would ruin the type; for Christ did not see corruption (Ps. 16:10). Too many people receive the Lamb as their salvation from death, but they do not feed on the Lamb daily. It was to be a lasting ordinance – as long as we live we must continue to feed on Christ. His yoke, his cross must also be ours. The Passover is an O.T. picture of our communion. The lamb must be eaten in haste at once. Today is the day Christ is offered. Today is the day of salvation (2Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-9). Christians are a pilgrim people (v. 11), always ready for their Lord’s orders to move on. We must be ever ready to leave this world, not loving it more than Christ but willing to forsake it for him.
For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIVUS)
So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. (Hebrews 3:7-9 NIVUS)
because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. (Psalms 16:10 NIVUS)
Available for All (v. 43-51)
Verses 43-51 give further instructions concerning the feast. No stranger could participate, nor could a hired servant or anyone who did not carry the physical mark of being a Jew. But notice that the way was made for the non-Jew to partake if he was willing to become a permanent part of the race. These regulations remind us that salvation is a birth into God’s family—no strangers are there. It is by grace—no one can earn it. And it is through the cross—for circumcision points to our true spiritual circumcision in Christ (Col. 2:11-12). This shows that the blessings of God are due more to consecration than to genealogy. The feast was not to be eaten outside the house (v. 46), for the feast cannot be separated from the shed blood. Modernists who want to “feed on Christ” apart from His shed blood are fooling themselves.
In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12 NIVUS)
V. The Lamb Trusted (12:21-42)
It took faith to be delivered that night! The Egyptians thought all these things were foolishness, but God’s Word had spoken and that was enough for Moses and his people. Please keep in mind that the people were saved by the blood and assured by the Word (v. 12, 13). No doubt many of the Jews were safe under the blood who did not “feel safe,” just as we have saints today who doubt God’s Word and worry about losing their salvation. God did exactly what He said He would do. And the Egyptians urged the Jews to leave the land, just as God said they would (11:1-3). God was not one day late. He kept His Word.
VI. The Lamb Honored (13)
The lamb had died for the firstborn; now the firstborn would belong to God. The Jews were a “purchased people” just as we are God’s purchased people (1 Cor. 6:18-20). The nation would forever honor the Lamb by giving their firstborn—their best—to the Lord. All the hopes and dreams that we carry for ourselves and our family through our firstborn are to be dedicated to God. We must not forget where we have come from. We remember that a yoke heavier than Egypt was broken from us and a land better than Canaan is set before us. Like it says in vs. 9, we must be continually reminded lest we forget the sacrifice of the Lamb and our deliverance through his blood.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NIVUS)
Illustration # 4.
It may have been a long time ago, but we must not forget the Lamb. Back in Gen. 22, God provided the lamb when Abraham was tested about the sacrifice of his own son, Isaac. We see the Passover celebration of deliverance through the blood of the lamb. We see the many sacrifices of atonement for sin made by the Jews since that time. But we see the fulfillment of it all in the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who takes away the sin of the world. It all began long ago in the heart of God.
It may be a long train of thought, but the blood of the Lamb always was, and always will be, the only gauge of perfection for the forgiveness of sin and deliverance from being railroaded by its penalty of death.