Part Three: The Passover
With the Exodus we come to the greatest OT event in Israel's history. At the beginning of the Exodus Israel is nothing more than a rag-tag motley group of people all descended from Abraham. They have no discipline. They have nothing more than a slave mentality. Their allegiance to the God of Abraham is shaky at best. From the furnace of Egypt Israel will emerge a powerful force in the Middle East. Although it will take more than 40 years for Israel to attain to this position, the Exodus from Egypt initiates this process.
In addition, from this event and the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai Israel received her identity as the nation of God. Moreover, she gained a new understanding of her God. Whereas before God had revealed Himself as the Creator and as the Almighty God, the deliverance at the Red Sea forever pictured Him as Israel's Savior. Whenever she was attacked in the future, on the basis of God's saving her at the Red Sea Israel was confident God would come through for her again. The only times God would not come through for her in the future was whenever she was in sin and refused to repent genuinely of her sins against God. Other than that, God always came through for Israel.
In the same way God always comes through for you and me. God has already saved us in an ultimate sense by the death of Christ on the cross. Paul reasons this way: "He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely GIVE US ALL THINGS?" God's salvation in the past guarantees His salvation in the future. All we need to do is trust Him and be faithful to Him.
THE GENESIS ACCOUNT
The Tenth Plague (Ex. 11:1-10; 12:28-32)
Nine times God has sent plagues upon Egypt to cause her to repent. Nine times she has rejected God's demands. Now with the tenth plague God is going to strike right at the heart of Egypt. From this last plague she will emerge a broken nation. In this last plague God will strike down the first-born of all Egypt, the first-born of people, the first-born of cattle, etc. According to God why does He strike at Egypt's first-born (Ex. 4:22-23)?
Once more we see that whenever God disciplines or judges a person, He does it in an appropriate manner. Egypt has messed with God's first-born son; now God is going to mess with Egypt's first-born.
According to Hosea 11:1 what kind of relationship did God have with Israel?
This becomes an important term to describe the relationship God had with Israel. God describes His relationship with Jesus in the same way. What you are seeing now is an important link between Jesus and Israel. In a way just like Israel was God's son, so Jesus is God's Son. When you look at God's dealings with Israel in the OT, you will see that many of them are similar to the dealings God had with Jesus in the NT. For example, what happened after Jesus was born which was similar to the Pharaoh's killing of the Hebrew babies in Exodus (Matt. 2:16-18)?
Whereas the children of Israel were tested by God in the wilderness and failed, Jesus God's greater Son triumphed in the wilderness over Satan. Moreover, whereas Israel spent FORTY years in the wilderness, Jesus spent FORTY days in the wilderness. Numerous other similar events occur which link Jesus as God's Greater Son to Israel God's lesser son.
Why does God have Israel go through many of the same experiences that Jesus will go through? To prepare her for the coming of Jesus. God uses these experiences of Israel as a teaching device. Whenever Jesus went through these experiences, Israel should have immediately recognized that Jesus was God's Son in an ultimate sense. (As we saw though with the story of Joseph, that simply was not going to happen.)
Once more God is going to protect His people from this plague. Unlike the other 9 plagues God protected the Israelites from, this time the Israelites must do something for themselves if God is going to protect them. What must they do this time in order for God to protect them (Ex. 12:7, 12-13)?
Notice 2 things about this method of salvation. First, the Israelites were not to go out and do some great thing for the Lord. They were not to go out and perform some righteous act. They were not to give away all their riches and belongings. They were not to head off to church for worship and Bible study. All they were to do was to spread the blood of the lamb over their portals and lintels.
Second, as we shall see, they were to eat the lamb whose blood was spread over and around their doors. By eating the lamb, they were applying the death of the lamb to themselves. For all practical purposes when the lamb died, they were claiming that this lamb died on their behalf.
The Institution of the Passover Meal (Ex. 12:1-20)
God instructs His people to eat a specific meal on the night of the Passover. What elements make up this meal (Ex. 12:3-10, esp. 8-10)?
What kind of bread specifically are the Israelites to eat (12:8, 15, 18, 20)?
They are specifically to eat unleavened bread because it takes a lot less time to prepare unleavened bread than it does leavened bread (you have to give the bread time to rise whenever it is leavened). God wants the Israelites to be ready to leave Egypt at a moment's notice. They won't be able to leave so quickly if they are sitting around waiting for the bread to rise. When God presents to His people the call of salvation, they are to respond IMMEDIATELY. To delay would result in missing out on God's great salvation.
Unfortunately for many of us we are like the Israelites. We are sitting around waiting for bread to rise instead of striking out on the adventure and salvation God has for us. For most of us we are not going to be "done in" by the greater and grosser sins. We are going to be done in by "lesser" sins, the sin of selfishness, materialism, ego, jealousy, greed, etc. We are going to be done in by sins like these which are considered acceptable not only by the world but also by Christians.
[The Israelites are not simply to eat vegetables (herbs); they are to eat bitter herbs. They are to eat bitter herbs to remind them of their bitter experience in Egypt. Too often the Israelites will complain about their trials in the wilderness and long for the flesh pots of Egypt; God though wants to remind them that this a romanticized view of their experience in Egypt. Their true experience in Egypt was bitter.]
The Passover of the Angel of Death (12:29-40; 14:1-29)
As God had prophesied, that evening the angel of death descends upon the nation of Egypt. He strikes down the first born of each Egyptian family and of each Egyptian animal, including Pharaoh's own family. As opposed to the Egyptian households, the Israelite households escape the angel of death because he "passes over" their homes, specifically the home where the blood of the lamb has been swiped on the doorposts and lintels. The outcry is so great that Pharaoh finally relents and lets the Israelites leave.
Rescue at the Red Sea (14:1-31)
Because the Israelites had followed Moses' instructions, they were ready to leave at a moment's notice. Currently there is a debate as to the actual route the Israelites took. The traditional route has been to the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula by way of the Sea of Reeds, a shallow body of water; however, some OT scholars and archeologists believe that Mt. Sinai actually lay on the western shores of the Arabian peninsula near Midian, the place where Moses tended his flocks. If this location is correct, then Moses led the Israelites to the Arabian peninsula by way of the Red Sea, a much deeper body of water. (I don't know which view is correct; however, people have summarily dismissed this story because they claim the Sea of Reeds was too shallow to drown the Egyptian army.) For example, many "scholars" claim that the miracle at the Red Sea could NOT have happened because the body of water is so shallow there is no way it would have drowned the Egyptian army. One person replied that the reverse was true. If that body of water is that shallow, then truly a miracle did occur because however deep or shallow it was, it drowned those soldiers.
(Just a little joke. One little came home from Sunday School one day and told his mom about the Bible story he had learned there. He said that Moses rounded up some of the finest tanks, helicopters, and airplanes in that region and bombed Egypt into smithereens. Then a group of Navy Seals dynomited the Red Sea and stopped it up so that the Israeli army could pass through. As the boy went on and on, the mother horrified cried out: "Is that what they taught you in SS?" The boy said: "No, but you would NOT believe what they DID teach me!"
Briefly describe God's rescue of the Israelites at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:1-29).
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE APOSTLES
As great as the Exodus is in the OT, the Exodus in the NT is even greater. We have already shown some similarities between Jesus and Israel in the Exodus event. Other similarities though abound which help us see that the salvation Jesus brings us is an even greater Exodus greater than the one Israel experienced. In the table below look for some of the similarities between Jesus and the Exodus experience in the OT.
|OT EXODUS EVENT||NT PASSAGE||NT EXODUS SIMILARITY|
|The Passover Lamb||John 1:29||.|
|The Passover Lamb||John 19:36||What is even more amazing about this passage is that it is quoting Exodus 12:46 which is speaking specifically about the Passover Lamb. Just as the first Passover Lamb was to be spotless without any defects, so God's Passover Lamb was totally spotless spiritually and without defect physically.|
|The Passover Lamb||1 Cor. 5:7||.|
|Eating Unleavened Bread||1 Cor. 5:8||.|
|Feeding People Manna in the Wilderness||John 6:1-15; 6:31-35||.|
|God Moves Upon the Water to Save His People||John 6:16-21||.|
|Moses the Prophet Leads God's People||John 6:15 and 7:40; Acts 3:22||.|
Two more major similarities exist between the first Passover of Moses and the second Passover of Jesus. First, the priests started slaying the Passover lambs at twelve noon on Passover Eve; it is at that time that Jesus is put to death. In fact John emphasizes that Jesus is put to death at that time so that we will connect the first Passover with the second one (John 19:14). John cannot be any more emphatic in asserting that Jesus is THE Passover Lamb who once and for all protects us from the angel of death.
One thing needs to be noted about this Passover lamb. The Jews did not go out and just grab a sheep from the flock on the day it was to be sacrificed. Rather they were to select a lamb 2 weeks before the actual sacrifice, take it into their home, and treat it like a pet. For the next 2 weeks this lamb became special to the family. It sort of hurt to sacrifice this lamb. This points to the great affection God had for the Lamb He sacrificed on Calvary. God was not non-chalant in sacrificing Christ; it cost Him dearly. Christ was His precious Lamb, and He expects us to treat Jesus like He is precious.)
Second, the Lord's Supper itself is a re-working of the Passover meal. While Jesus and His disciples are celebrating the Passover meal, Jesus then takes the wine from the Passover meal and claims that it represents His blood and then takes the unleavened bread and breaks it, claiming that it represents His broken body. By using the bread and wine in the Passover meal for the Lord's Supper, Jesus is claiming that the first Passover instituted by Moses previewed the greater Passover Jesus would institute by dying on the cross.
(From this we see that the apostles are not the ones who came up with the view that our salvation should be understood in light of the Passover. This view comes directly from Jesus Himself who interpreted the cross in light of the Passover. Jesus' coming 2000 years ago was like a massive earthquake with the apostles and their teachings being the aftershocks.)
Notice that as the first Israelites ate the lamb whose blood was shed for them, so we too through the Lord's Supper drink the blood of the Lamb who died for us. When we drink the juice in the Lord's Supper, we are claiming that the death of Christ applies to us. Moreover, just like the Israelites did NOT go out and perform some great work to experience God's salvation, so we too don't have to go out and do some great work. We just need to make sure that the blood of Jesus covers us just like the blood of the lamb covered them.
As wonderful as this second Exodus/Passover was 2000 years ago, an even greater one is coming. Last week we saw how the plagues in Egypt were similar to the plagues in the Book of Revelation. Other elements in Revelation are similar to the first Exodus event. For example, the lamb plays a critical role in the first Exodus. It is only by means of the blood of the lamb that the Israelites were "passed over" during the 10th plague. Throughout the book of Revelation Jesus is called "the Lamb": (Rev. 5:6; Rev. 6:1; Rev. 14:1). Moreover, in Rev. Jesus is not simply the Lamb, He is the Lamb that was slain (Rev. 5:6; Rev. 13:8). According to John the blood of Jesus the Lamb is what saves God's people (Rev. 12:11). All this is to say that as great as the first and second Passovers were, the third and final one is going to be even greater. The enemy of God's people is going to be destroyed once and for all. God's people are going to be saved in a final and ultimate sense because Christ is going to come and resurrect them from the dead. The third and final Passover is going to be so wonderful in that at last we are going to see our Father face to face (Rev. 22:4). All this is made possible by Jesus, God's Lamb.