“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. (Exodus 12:7-13)
I’m going to begin the sermon with a technical point in order to explain the structure of this text so that we can see the main point. And I think this explanation will help you as you study and read your bibles on your own. Some of you are already very familiar with what I am about to explain, others may not be. So here goes.
In verses 7-13 we have a chiasm. A chiasm is a literary device or structure that is used quite a bit throughout scripture. It can be as small as a sentence, or as large as a whole book. And actually, the whole of the biblical story is chiasm – the whole bible is essentially one big chiasm. Basically, a chiasm starts with a point, and then works its way to a central point, and then from there, works its way back from the central point with corresponding, but progressing points. So, if you look at verse 7, verse 7 is instruction for Israel to put the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts. Then if you look at verse 13, God says that when He sees the blood on the doorposts He passes over that house. So the first and last points correspond, with verse 13 being a progression from verse 7. After verse 7, you get into instructions with how the Israelites were to prepare and eat the animal that was slain. Then, corresponding to that, working backward from verse 13, it talks about how God will slay both man and beast without the blood on the door – a corresponding yet progressing point.
What I am seeing as the central point here then, is the last sentence of verse 11, which says, “It is the LORD’s Passover.” Everything before that phrase is working up to that phrase, and then the immediately following sentence begins the explanation or the reasoning for that statement, verse 12 beginning with “For” or “Because.” Thus, the rest of these verses explain the main point. So, it works up to the main point, and then explains the main point.
So I want to start our consideration of this text off with this central point, that this is the LORD’s Passover. This is THE Passover event in which the Lord comes in judgment upon Egypt, upon the gods of Egypt, and upon all of the land. This is His 10th and final plague of death ending these cycles of judgment in which God humbles Pharaoh and displays His glory, sovereignty, and power above all others and puts the exclamation point on the fact that He is the LORD and besides Him there is no other. And in this same breath of God’s great and awful judgments, this is also the LORD’s Passover where He displays the strength of His saving arm and so glorifies Himself by delivering His slave people out of the land of Egypt and begins a new era, a new nation with this great work of mercy and redemption. The Passover belongs to God and it is all about Him and about His wondrous works of judgment and salvation. Verse 14 says that the memorial remembrance of Passover that Israel will keep every year after this is a memorial for them, that it is remembered throughout the generations. But this Passover is the LORD’s.
It is the LORD’s Passover also because as verse 12 tells us, God says, “I will pass through the land of Egypt… I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…I will execute judgments on the gods of Egypt.” At first the plagues were delivered through Aaron, then through Moses, and then God. The finality of this judgment is seen as coming through God Himself striking the land, benign in the midst of the land. God is the one who delivers this judgment of death because He is the just judge of all the earth. He judges righteously. He gives and He takes away. Life and judgment are in His hands. This fact greatly irritates the humanistic desires of the flesh. Sinful man does not want to be subject to a sovereign God who executes just judgment. Sinful man does not want a just sovereign above him, for that takes man off of his throne and subjects Him to a higher law and higher authority to whom they are accountable. But this is the great lesson Pharaoh refused to learn and it is the judgment God executes on all the land and all their false gods. Thus, they refuse salvation, which comes only from The All-Sovereign, All Powerful God.
The humanists today make the same futile resistance against the just judgments of a sovereign God. They make up their own morality and laws and taunt the God of all creation as if they will not face His justice. But without repentance they will face the same end.
Thus we see the importance that Israel be faithful in following every detail of the instructions that God gives them in how they are to have this Passover. Every detail matters and is significant to God, and since it is His and it is instruction that comes from Him, this Passover is not theirs to alter or to waver on following every detail of instruction. To do so would be to their own peril.
One of the predominant themes in these instructions for Israel is the fact of haste. Or even a better way to see it is to say that they are to prepare and eat the Passover meal in a posture of readiness, or in a posture of departure and separation from Egypt. It is a posture of immediate obedience in leaving behind the ways of Egypt. A big theme of the exodus is the fact that God is making a separation and a distinction between Egypt and Israel, between His people and the world. Everything about how they prepare and eat this meal displays readiness to immediately depart and separate in obedience to God. Not only that, but it displays a readiness for God’s quickly coming Salvation. Which is we do not have this same posture or emphasis in the Lord’s Supper – salvation has already come. But they were to eat the flesh that night, roasted on fire, with unleavened bread which was much quicker to make. None of the animal was to remain until morning, and any remains were to be burned, making a full separation and immediate departure. In verse 11 they were to eat it with their belt fastened, or some translations say having girded their loins, which is a posture of readiness for action, a readiness for plundering and departure, a readiness for God’s deliverance. They are to eat with their sandals on their feet, staff in hand, and with haste.
While this emphasis is not here in the New Covenant meal, I think you could draw certain implications to the Christian life. As Christians while we rest in Christ and the salvation we presently have, we also, in our life on earth, are not yet to our final point of salvation in the glorified state. Thus we live lives of spiritual warfare on earth, and so we are to stand firm against the spiritual forces of evil, taking up the whole armor of God which includes being fastened with the belt of truth, as Ephesians 6 says, and, “as for shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” And also taking the sword of the Spirit in our hands, which is the Word of God. As Christians we are to always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within us, we are to be sober minded and alert, ready for action.
Now, there are a number of details in these instructions concerning the Passover Lamb, and we must understand them with the hermeneutical framework that Christ is our Passover Lamb as 1 Corinthians 5:7 tells us.
Roasted, not boiled or raw
First, why was this Passover Lamb to be roasted? Why specifically are they told it must be cooked this way and not boiled or raw? There may be things you could point to in this method that have to do with haste, but biblically, there are greater reasons here. It comes down to what this Passover Lamb is. Among other places, Exodus 12:27 refers to the Passover as a sacrifice. So this Passover meal was not just a means to get blood on the doorposts, eat quickly, and then leave with haste. It was a sacrifice to God. So it is to be roasted, and not raw or boiled because it is a sacrifice, and in the Old Covenant sacrificial system, sacrifices were burned on the altar with fire. And from fire, the smoke and the sacrifice rises up to God, being presented before Him. It was a sacrifice!
So Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb that was slain, was slain as our sacrifice, the sacrifice for our sins. His death covered our sins, and went up to God as a sacrifice. So the Lamb was not to be raw, it was to be a sacrifice, and so Christ had to die for our sins because He was a sacrifice. Death and blood atonement had to be made. Christ could not have been ascended to heaven without first dying as a Sacrifice, or else we have no atonement for our sins.
Furthermore, it was not to be boiled in a pot as you would do if you were going to mix in other ingredients, adding to it, as if you were making a stew. There is no mixture or additives to be made to the Passover Lamb. In other words, there are no works of man’s hands to be added to sacrifice for sin. How wonderfully we are reminded that there is nothing to be added or mixed with the death of Christ to atone for our sins! His death is sufficient to cover our sins, and trying to add the works of your hands is a fatal sin. The sacrifice of Christ needs nothing added from our hands to be pleasing and satisfying to God.
How often we are tempted to think or live as if free grace were just not enough. But this is a failure to trust that Christ is enough, and it is slander to His sufficiency and atoning sacrifice. It is a greatly over-inflated sense of our own self-righteousness to think that we can actually add something to the sacrifice of Christ. God is not pleased or satisfied by the works of sinful hands. That is the very reason why we need a pure and unblemished Lamb to be our sacrifice for sin. And not only is it an overestimation of our own righteousness to think that we must add something to earn God’s favor or gain forgiveness, but it is a terribly low estimation of the purity and sufficiency of Christ. To think that we have to add something to the sacrifice of Christ is to think that Christ is not enough. Jesus Christ is God’s Son with whom the Father is well-pleased. The Israelites had to trust these instructions from God to save them from death, so also, we must trust that Christ is enough by Himself to save our souls. God is teaching His people, and reminding us, that salvation from death does not come from the works of our own hands, but it comes from the death of a perfect sacrifice on our behalf. In other words, salvation does not come from within ourselves, but it comes from outside of ourselves, it comes from another. That is what the entire exodus is proclaiming, that salvation is of the Lord!
All parts roasted together
Furthermore we see that the Passover Lamb was to be roasted as a whole, its head, legs, and inner parts together. In other words, the animal was not to be cut up into pieces. The whole of the Lamb for the whole of us. It is the whole Christ that is for the whole man. Christ gives us all of Himself and holds nothing back. He comes and takes away all of our sins. This is necessary because our whole man is corrupted, the totality of our being is depraved in sin – our whole self needs redemption. Christ gives His whole self for all of a sinner. He takes all of our sin on Himself. He renews the whole man and we are to take all of Christ. All of our sin on Him, and His righteousness is ours. Christ is not divided and cut up into pieces, but all of His people, get all of Him.
With Bitter Herbs
They were also to eat the Passover Lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. We will talk more about the unleavened bread next week with the feast of unleavened bread which comes next in the text, so today we will just consider the bitter herbs.
The bitter herbs were to remind them of the bitterness of Egypt, which they would constantly be tempted to go back to. Their desires and memories were not to be trusted, and the bitter herbs should remind them of the harsh slavery, and the bitterness of that slavery in Egypt.
As we consider Christ our Passover Lamb, the bitter herbs are a picture of the bitterness of sin. As Christians we are sometimes tempted to remember wrongly our past lives of sin. We are tempted to think that those sins we once walked in were sweet and that we might like to go back and have some more of them. We must fight those thoughts as the lies that they are, fighting them with the truth of God, remembering that back in Egypt is only death, it has been laid waste. There is nothing to go back to for the Christian. Thomas Watson once said, “Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.” So we fight our sin also with the sweetness of Christ, taking and eating of Him as our food and life. And once you have tasted the sweetness of Christ, how bitter your sin becomes.
But furthermore, the sacrifice takes the bitterness. In His death that was the final sacrifice for our sins, Christ takes the bitterness of sin upon Himself. On the cross, the bitter wine was touched to His lips. Christ takes it and absorbs the bitterness of our sin, and He takes down the bitter cup of God’s wrath, and He tasted the bitterness of death for us that we might not be punished forever under the wrath of God and be given over to the bitterness of death. Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” The sacrifice takes the bitterness and we taste of His death when we partake of Him by faith.
So do not fall for the lies of the sweetness of sin. In temptation, we are tempted to think how nice it would be to partake of a certain sin, but we must fight the good fight of faith and trust and know that it only turns to bitterness on the tongue and leads to death. So go and fill yourself on Christ, taste of His sweetness, that your sin may be all the more bitter to you. Sin always lies about how good it is, but it only leads to destruction, heartache, and bondage. Christ has freed us from sin, so let us be free.
Man and Beast
In verse 12 God says that when He passes through the land He will strike the firstborn of both man and beast. Why also is it the animals? I have mentioned before how the livestock was also part of the household property and this was a total judgment on the entire household of Egypt. But in light of the Passover Lamb being a sacrifice we can see that animals also represent human sons. We see this in the fact that each household would either have an animal or son put to death. And if you obeyed God and killed the Passover Lamb, that animal then, represented, or took the place of your firstborn son and he was spared. So when the angel of death passes through and sees the blood on the doorposts, He knows to pass by because a “son” has already been slain, so to speak. This comes to fruition in the fact of Jesus Christ being the Lamb of God, the Passover Lamb, and He is the Son of God. He is the Passover Lamb that was slain on behalf, and in the place of us, we who are made to be, and who are called sons of God. The Lamb who is the Son takes the place of all the other sons.
Judgment on the gods
In verse 12 when God passes through the land it is not only the firstborn of all man and beast that He strikes, but He also says, “…on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” God was displaying His great power and judgment not just over Pharaoh as a man, but also over all their false gods and idols which they constructed and worshiped as rivals to the one true God. Certainly this was also a great display of power to the Hebrew people, many of whom at times turned to worship these gods. They too were shown that God is the LORD and there is no other, so they have no reason to turn to defeated idols. I also take it to be real spiritual forces of evil, demons, and fallen angels whom the Egyptians were in league with and worshiped whom God visited and executed judgment upon, stripping them of their power and hold they had on that people and place in time. God’s judgments are total against man, beast, and rebellious angels. There are none higher than He and spiritual forces of darkness are no match for His glorious light of judgment. Those false gods are not only rendered utterly unable to save the Egyptians or the Hebrews who worshiped them, but they themselves are deposed and struck down. As Isaiah 43:11 says, “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.”
How this marvelously points forward to their final defeat by the work and power of Jesus Christ who conquers and triumphs over all men, creatures, rebellious angels, principalities, and powers. There is none other besides Him to be worshiped, followed, and obeyed.
Finally let us consider the blood that they were to put on their doorposts and lintels, as a display of blood sacrifice. Verse 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.” So here it was that the blood of the Passover Lamb was to be taken and spread over their doorposts, a sign to pass over that home. First we notice the necessity of blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, Hebrews says. First, the Egyptians shed the blood of the Hebrew boys throwing them into the Nile, then the Nile was turned to blood as a sign of judgment and a reminder of the blood that was shed that polluted the land. Now, blood will be shed in all the land as judgment, and only the blood of an unblemished Lamb can save and redeem from death and judgment.
Here we see the necessity and the fact of blood. You could follow all the other instructions and do everything else just right, but without the blood over your door, you would face death. Thus we see it is not the works of our hands that save from death and sin, but only the blood of the unblemished lamb. Here we see the necessity and the exclusivity of the blood of Christ to save sinners. You can attempt to live a good and moral life filled with good deeds, but if you are not covered by the blood of Jesus it matters not. Your righteous deeds are as filthy rags before God without the blood of Christ. Man is woefully sinful before God and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that can be done to atone for those sins, save for the blood of Jesus given for you. As C. H. Spurgeon once said, “Morality may keep you out of jail, but only the blood of Jesus can keep you out of hell.”
Note also the efficacy of the blood. If the blood was displayed upon their doorpost, then God says He WILL pass over. It is not as if the blood was displayed as a hope and prayer that they might be passed over, or might not. It was a guarantee. There was not one home that was covered by the blood that still lost their firstborn. The blood of the Lamb is satisfactory to God. This is the confidence that we can have in the blood of Jesus. In times of temptation and trial we can wonder and doubt if the blood is really enough to save us, but there is not one for whom Christ’s blood was shed that will still be condemned by God. This would betray the justice of God. Christ’s sacrifice was acceptable and satisfying to the justice and wrath of God toward the sins of His people, and all under His blood are safe. We are great sinners, but there are no sins too great, or too many that Christ cannot cover with His blood. Some Hebrews may have spent years serving the gods of Egypt and may have rejected Moses, and not believed God’s promise of salvation, but if now they believed God and placed the blood on the doorpost, they would be saved, just as another Hebrew, who patiently waited many years in slavery crying out to God, waiting for deliverance, and believed at the first words of Moses. Both were saved by the blood, and not by how much they did or didn’t sin.
Furthermore, what exactly were they saved from? Well as we read in verse 12, it is God Himself who would pass through the land and strike down the firstborn. They were saved from the judgment and wrath of God who saved them. What a clear picture this is of the gospel. So many men today you talk to about their need of salvation, and they say, “What do I need saved for? Saved from what?” They don’t understand that God is righteously angry toward sinners. As sinners we have rebelled, disregarded His law, and spat in face, and we don’t think that God could possibly be angry with us! R. C. Sproul once said, “We are very bad and God is very mad.” Our sin is very great, we do not understand it! And our sin cannot stand in the presence of the most Holy and righteous God! His wrath is righteously poured out against the wicked. How can we be saved from it? By the blood of the Lamb. Romans 5:9, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” God put forward Christ as the propitiation for our sins by His blood. On the cross He drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath toward us, that we would be saved from the wrath of God. Then through the blood of Jesus, God is no longer angry with you. Justice has been satisfied. Through Christ we no longer have to be afraid of God in that way. His wrath is satisfied. While we were yet sinners, God sent His Son, Christ, to die for sinners, that we might be justified by His blood, and saved from His wrath. God will not punish us for our sins that Christ was punished for. He is our Passover Lamb whose blood is displayed over us, that God sees and passes over. God’s wrath is no longer kindled against us. He loves us. And it was because HE loved us that He sent His Son to take His wrath toward our sin, instead of pouring it out on us. God is both the just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
So the question is, are you covered by the blood? When God looks at you, what does He see? When you stand before Him, what does He see? When He comes in judgment, what does He see? Are you busy doing all kinds of work in your flesh to show Him and hope He will pass over? That won’t work. If you have faith in Christ, God looks at you, and He sees not all your sins and not all your works so stained with sin, but He sees the blood of the Lamb, the blood of His own dear Son, with whom He is well pleased, and so is well-pleased with you.