Passover Instituted - Exodus 12:1-13

While there are some Christians who celebrate Passover, most of us do not. As we read yesterday, before Christ’s death He brought new meaning to the Passover. To fully understand the new meaning we need to also understand the first meaning of the Passover.

The first Passover occurs right before the Israelites left Egypt with Moses’ leadership. It was a precursor to the last plague; the death of all firstborn sons. All firstborns, from royalty to slave, were potential victims of the plague. The plagues were signs, curses given to Pharaoh, so that he would allow the Israelites to leave. Pharaoh would not listen to God. While all the plagues were devastating to the people, the land, and the economy, it took the death of all firstborns to make Pharaoh accept God’s will.

The Israelites were not automatically exempt from the plague. In order for the firstborns of Israel to survive they had to follow very specific rules. The center piece of Passover is the Passover lamb. The Israelites were to keep a spotless lamb in their homes for four days. Then kill it. This does not necessarily mean the lamb was a pet for those four days; but it is like knowing the name (and face) of the cow that provided that hamburger you had for dinner the other night. For four days they had a lamb living in their home, knowing they were going to kill it and eat it. I would find that quite disturbing. Yet, they also knew, that this lamb provided deliverance for the firstborns.

When the lamb was killed they were to take a hyssop branch and dip it in the blood. (Hyssop is an herb that was used throughout the Old Testament in cleansing ceremonies.) The blood of the lamb was then smeared on the doorposts of the house. Then, they roasted the lamb and ate it all in one night. No doggy bags were allowed. Any part not eaten was to be burned. They ate the lamb quickly, with their bags packed, because they were to leave quickly afterwards.

Verses 14-20 describe more details that surround the Passover that we do not have time to discuss here. Turn your attention to verses 21-32. The blood on the doorposts was a sign that those inside the house were the people who followed God’s covenant. The blood of the lamb provided protection and staved off death.

The Passover feast was established during the Exodus (around 1400 to 1200 BC). From then until the death of Christ, this feast served as a reminder of what God had done (vs. 25-27).

Thoughts to Ponder
Compare the Lord’s Supper to the Passover. In the New Testament Jesus is described as a lamb who is led to the slaughter. While the Passover lamb provided protection and physical salvation for the firstborn, how much more does Christ’s death (and resurrection!) provide salvation? There are many connections between these two.