This time I want to focus upon Exodus 12 in the context of Exodus 12. I’ve written much before on the Passover. You can find all of that here:
Behold the Lamb
What is the point of Passover?
Passover and the Gods of Egypt
The Matzah and the Veil of Christ’s Body
Christ in the Jewish Passover
A Passover Egg
In this blog, I want my focus to instead be upon more of a commentary regarding Exodus 12, and not necessarily an expounding of Passover. Of course, you can’t address Exodus 12 without also addressing Passover.
The Hebrew verb stem Sh-M-R is used seven times, breaking the passage into a sevenfold repetition. For those of you who don’t know, Sh-M-R is the verb “to guard” or “preserve”. It is used in relation to Genesis 2, that Adam was told to tend and KEEP the Garden. That word “keep”, which is also used in Exodus later (and Deuteronomy’s parallel) for the Ten Commandments, is better understood as a preserving. To ‘keep’ the Law is to guard it, and to protect it from being disobeyed, or misunderstood even. Therefore, I find it greatly interesting that this word would occur seven times in this passage.
What is interesting to me is that the chapter begins with the statement that they are still in the Land of Egypt. Why? Because the Law is considered as something given at Sinai, but here we find Passover – which is arguably the most important part of the Law – enacted and commanded in Egypt. This doesn’t take place while the Israelites are free, but while they are still here in the land of bondage. What this signifies to you and I is incredible. Think of it this way: God tells you while you’re in bondage (we’ll call it sin and unbelief) that He is going to rescue you, and bring you out of bondage, and make you a part of His people. Most people would scoff at such a thing, but for this time (why not so many times before?) it brings you to repentance and hope – a first hope in the God you’ve never acknowledged or cared about. Now is the struggle, where you know that you are to do these things, and not those things, and that you don’t want to be associated with your past anymore, and you’ve been made a new creation, bought and purchased with a price. Yet, why is it that you’re still in bondage? Wasn’t God supposed to bring you out? But there are these things happening in you life where you can’t deny God’s working. God is obviously bringing you forth with much growth.
Now we’ve reached a climax. This is the ultimate dark night of the soul. The moment in time has come. For some, this is in regard to that one last sin that doesn’t seem to be broken. For others, it is about a shift in thinking, that we are no longer in the kingdom of the world, and therefore the mindset and wisdom of the world, but are now in the Kingdom of God, and now are thinking as God things, and perceiving as God perceives. This is our “Passover”. While we’re still yet in the place of bondage, having not yet left to cross over our Red Seas and find the absolute victory, whether in deed, word, mindset, or otherwise, it is exactly there that God demands of us to take a Lamb into our homes, the most personal place where it will wreck everything. It is exactly there that God gives drastic commands, of cleaning the whole house so that there is no leaven, nothing that would be insincere, nothing that is perfunctory or desultory (the actual phrase that came to mind wasn’t ‘proper’ for Christian blogs lol).
Why in such a place as in the house of bondage? Doesn’t it make more sense to give the victory before giving these commands?
Such commands are necessary in the house of bondage. If we aren’t willing to take these drastic measures while we’re in bondage, then why would we be willing when we’re not in bondage? Are we expecting that out of the blue, because now we’re free, that we’re suddenly going to become something we’ve never before been? That isn’t reality.
For those of you who are stuck in bondage, whatever that might be, it is precisely there that we are called to give ourselves entirely to the purposes of God. Whether it feels like it or not, and whether we are benefited or not, we are to make the drastic decision of accepting whatever it is that Jesus says. If Jesus says it, then I perform whatever action necessary in response. In this, we take the Lamb in and determine whether it has any spot or blemish. It is about putting the words to the test in an ultimate way. It is about having the faith to believe, even when the words are too fantastic to believe. We take in that Lamb, trusting that the words He has spoken are ultimate reality, and therefore do all we can to live accordingly – spending all and being expended.
It is also for this reason that the calendar was changed. In verse 2, we read that this shall be the first month of the year. Rather than debating whether we’re supposed to follow the Hebrew calendar as Christians, I think the bigger point of this is that we find from this moment on, from that first choice to make a drastic decision in following Christ, we call that the beginning. It is no longer about my life before that moment. Now I’m in this new life, this new ‘calendar’.
The tenth of Nissan was an important date to the Israelites. It wasn’t only in Exodus 12 and subsequent Passovers that this date had significance, but even in the book of Joshua we find that they crossed the Jordan on the tenth of Nissan. Jesus entered Jerusalem that final time on the tenth of Nissan. In regards to tenths, Yom Kippur also falls on the tenth of the seventh month, and the Jubilee year was to be ushered in after that Yom Kippur.
It is in the act of sacrificing the lamb, taking it in for four days as Jesus was also examined by the religious leaders and people in Jerusalem, that Israel is in direct defiance of Egypt. There are Egyptian gods associated with the lamb, that if the Israelites will sacrifice these animals, it shall surely bring an uproar. This was why Moses said it shall not be that they sacrifice in Egypt back in Exodus 8:8. Yet, God not only requests the sacrifice of the lamb, but even tells the Israelites to put the blood on their doorposts. This is a blatant sign of disassociation from Egypt, and both Israel and the Egyptians know it. While God has up to this point been asking Pharaoh and the Egyptians if they believe yet, it is at this point that we find the first mention of God turning that question toward His own people.
The people were commanded to eat of the sacrifice, and leave none until morning. Jesus also told His disciples that they must eat of His flesh, or else they have no part in Him. Now, what makes this so difficult is that John also records in that same passage that Jesus tells His disciples to drink of His blood. You don’t drink blood as a Jew. God in fact commands against it. Yet, the offense is found in that Jesus would claim we must eat of His flesh – something altogether disgusting when thinking physically – and drink His blood. We know this is ultimately a reflection of the communion, that Christ took the bread and said, “This is my body broken for you”, and the cup saying, “This is my blood poured out for you”.
Here in Passover, it is the blood that is put upon the doorposts, and the flesh of the lamb to be eaten by every single person. Not one portion of that lamb was to be left in the morning. Anything that was left was to be burned. In Malachi 1:7, we read of the altar being called “the table of the LORD”. Here it is before us. Christ Jesus is the Lamb slain, of whose flesh we are to eat, leaving none until morning. In this, we take of the table of the LORD rather than the table of demons. We accept the consequences of taking that blood and putting it upon the doorposts of our lives for all to see. We accept the consequences of what the Egyptians might do, seeing us perform sacrilege in their midst. It is in this that we ‘take up our crosses and follow Him’.
We’re told in verse 6 to ‘keep’ the lamb for four days. This doesn’t mean that we’re to hold possession of it, but to protect it. Preserve the lamb from blemish. Keep that lamb spotless, because the powers of darkness are doing all they can to make it impure before God. We can use this in context of our own lives and testimony. In what you speak, how you act, how you react, the lifestyle practices you’ve adopted – in all things, whether in eating or drinking, do unto the glory of God.
The blood was a demarkation between Israel and the profane world outside. We put it upon the doorposts of our own lives, taking full assurance and faith in that blood. By making those clear demarkation in our own lives, not willing to be one of the boys, acting a certain way, going certain places, endorsing certain things, or even spending money on certain things, we apply the blood upon the doorposts. Nothing impure enters this house, which is your body, which is His temple. Not by food, not by your own foul speech, nor by devoting yourself to lucre. It is not as though you must isolate yourself from any form of hearing language or coarse jesting, for such things would require leaving the earth itself. Rather, we make sure that which is profane remains outside.
Later in verse 17 we find the ‘guarding of matzah’. Within the context, God has been expressing how for future generations the people of God are to celebrate a feast of unleavened bread, which we find further explained in Leviticus 23. It is imperative to note, though, that this is not some sort of special command independent of the first. We shouldn’t read this passage as altogether distinct from the slaughtering of the lamb and putting the blood upon the doorpost. This is all mentioned together, and for millennia later it was tradition that there would be these three feasts lumped together with the ‘preparation’ for Passover. You have the disposal of all leaven, the preserving of the lamb, and the forward outlook to the feast of first fruits. Just as it was that you have the lamb slain, and the seven days of not having leaven available to the Israelites, the first fruits were revealed in that Israel crossed the Red Sea and made the inheritance and ‘first fruits’ of all nations as God’s people.
Verses 21-28 are another reiteration, where we find the guarding of this pattern and narrative in remembrance in verse 25.
It is in verse 22 that the words of David run through my mind. When the psalmist is repenting before God, he asks to be cleansed with hyssop to be made pure (Psalm 51:7). It is interesting to me that this kind of cleansing is, physically typified in the smearing of blood on the doorposts of the house, is actually a seal. Just like the Israelites are told that they shall not be visited by the destroying angel when the angel sees the blood, so too are we told of a sealing in the end times, both in Ezekiel 9 and Revelation 7. There is a seal to ensure that the people of God are not taken away in the plagues.
I hope that with this, though there be much here for expansion and cogitation, that you might find this last verse to be especially applicable to you. “And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.” I pray that you, too, might now go, and do as the Lord has commanded.