Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. THE PASSOVER IN ITS CONNECTION WITH THE HISTORY. For details of the ritual, see the verses of the chapter.
1. The design of the Passover was to make plain to Israel the ground on which its salvation was bestowed - the ground, viz., of Atonement. "The more recent plagues had fallen on Egypt alone. The children of Israel were saved from them. But though the salvation was obvious, the way of salvation had not yet been indicated. But now that the last and heaviest plague is about to fall, not only will Israel be saved from it, but the ground on which (the whole) salvation is bestowed will be made plain."
2. The connection of the Passover with the exodus. In this relation it is to be viewed more especially as a purificatory sacrifice. Such a sacrifice was peculiarly appropriate on the night of leaving Egypt, and one would probably have been appointed, even had no such special reason existed for it as the judgment on the first-born.
3. The connection of the Passover with the judgment on the first-born. Israel was God's Son, His firstborn (Exodus 10:22), and is in turn represented by his first-born; and so with Egypt. Because Pharaoh would not let Israel (God's first-born) go, God had declared his purpose of smiting "all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast" (ver. 12); the punishment in this case, as frequently in God's Providence (cf. Isaiah 30:16), taking a form analogous to the sin it is designed to chastise. "The first-born represented the family, so that judgment of the first-born stood for judgment upon all, and redemption of the first-born stood for the redemption of all" (Dr. Gibson). Accordingly, not the firstborn merely, but the entire household, as represented in him, was redeemed by the blood of the Passover, and joined in the subsequent feast upon the lamb (ver. 8). Note, there was a peculiar fitness in the Passover being instituted at this particular crisis.
(1) The death of the firstborn was a judgment pure and simple; not, like the hail, locusts, etc., an admonitory plague.
(2) It gave a heightened and impressive character to the salvation that redemption by blood, redemption by power, and the emergence of the people from slavery into distinct existence as a people of God, were thus seen going hand in hand. The analogy with the Christian redemption is obvious.
4. The teaching of the Passover. It taught the people
(1) that naturally they were as justly exposed to wrath as the people of Egypt. "Whether viewed in their individual or in their collective capacity, they were themselves of Egypt - collectively, a part of the nation, without any separate and independent existence of their own, vassals of the enemy, and inhabitants of the doomed territory - individually, also, partakers of the guilt and corruption of Egypt" (Fairbairn). "If the test had been one of character, it is quite certain that the line would not have been run so as to range all Egypt on the one side, and all Israel on the other. No one can suppose that all the real worth and excellence were on the side of the latter, and all the meanness and wickedness on the side of the former. In fact, the children of Israel had shared only too deeply in the sins of Egypt, and, accordingly, if they are to be saved, it must be on some other ground than their own merits" (Gibson).
(2) That the medium of their salvation - the ground on which it was bestowed - was blood of atonement. It is vain to deny that the Passover victim was truly a propitiatory sacrifice. The use made of its blood is proof sufficient of that. The lamb died in room of the first-born. Sprinkled on the door-posts and lintels, its blood sheltered the inmates of the dwelling from the stroke of the destroyer (vers. 21-24). "A sinless victim, the household might, as it were, hide behind it, and escape the just punishment of their sins" (Kohler in Geikie). The Passover thus emphatically taught the necessity of atonement for the covering of guilt. No thoughtful Israelite but must have deeply realised the truth, "Without shedding of blood is no remission' (Hebrews 9:22).
(3) The solidarity of the nation. The observance of the Passover was to be an act, not of individuals, but of households and groups of households, and in a wider sense, of the nation as a whole. The Israelites were thus taught to feel their unity as before God - their oneness in guilt as in redemption.
(b) In redemption. This was beautifully symbolised in the eating of the lamb. The lamb was to be roasted entire, and placed on the table undivided (ver. 9). "By avoiding the breaking of the bones (ver. 46), the animal was preserved in complete integrity, undisturbed and entire (Psalm 34:20)... There was no other reason for this than that all who took part in this one animal, i.e. all who ate of it, should look upon themselves as one whole, one community, like those who eat the New Testament Passover, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7), of whom the apostle says (1 Corinthians 10:17), 'We being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.'" (Bahr.)
(4) It pointed to an atonement in the future. For, manifestly, there lay in the blood of the lamb no real virtue to take away sin. It declared the necessity of atonement, but could not adequately provide it. The life of a beast was no proper substitute for the life of a first-born son. The Passover, therefore, from its very nature, is to be viewed as a type. It pointed on to Christ, in whom all the types of sacrifices find complete fulfilment.
(5) The various features of the ritual were symbolic. The unleavened bread was indicative of haste (Deuteronomy 16:3); the bitter herbs of the affliction of Egypt, etc. These circumstances, like the blamelessness of the victim, the sprinkling of the blood, etc., had also spiritual significance. See below, Homily on vers. 21-29. It is to be remarked, in general, that "the earthly relations then existing, and the operations of God in connection with them, were framed on purpose to represent and foreshadow corresponding but immensely superior ones, connected with the work and kingdom of Christ." (Fairbairn.)
II. THE PASSOVER AS AN ORDINANCE FOR LATER GENERATIONS (vers. 14, 24 28). In this respect, the Passover is to be viewed -
1. As an historical witness to the reality of the events of the exodus. See below; also Homily on Deuteronomy 16:1-9. The Passover, like the Lord's Supper, was an institution which, in the nature of things, could not have been set up later than the event professedly commemorated.
2. As a perpetuation of the original sacrifice. The blood of the lambs was year by year presented to God. This marked that the true sacrifice had not yet been offered (Hebrews 10:1-3). Now that Christ has died, and has "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:12), there is no room for further sacrifice, and the Lord's Supper is to be regarded as simply a commemorative ordinance and means of grace. The doctrine of the mass has no foundation in true scriptural analogy.
3. As a means of grace. It was a feast, collecting the Israelites in great numbers at the sanctuary, and reviving in their minds the memory of the great deliverance, in which had been laid the foundation of their national existence. The lamb, slain on their behalf, roasted with fire, and set on the table before their eyes, to be handled and eaten by them, in solemn observance of a Divine command, gave them a vivid sense of the reality of the facts they were commemorating. The Lord's Supper, in like manner, is a powerful means of impressing mind and heart, an act of communion on the part of Christian believers, and a true source of nourishment (through spiritual participation in Christ) to the soul.
4. The observance of the Passover was connected with oral instruction (vers. 26, 27). This was a further guarantee for the handing down of a faithful, ungarbled tradition of the meaning of the ceremony; added to the interest of the service; took advantage of a favourable opportunity to impress the minds of the young; and helped to keep alive in all classes of the community a vivid remembrance of God's mighty works.
III. THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD (vers. 14-21). The ordinance for this feast was probably given at Succoth, on the day succeeding the exodus (see ver. 17, and Exodus 13:5-8). It is inserted here on account of its internal connection with the Passover. It is to be viewed -
1. As a memorial of the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt. The Israelites had evidently intended to leaven their dough on the night of the exodus, but were prevented by the haste (ver. 34). "For thou earnest out of the land in haste" (Deuteronomy 16:3). This is the historical groundwork of the institution.
2. As a symbol of spiritual truth.
(1) The feast lasted seven days, a complete circle of time.
(2) It was rounded off at the beginning and end by an holy convocation. This marked it as a sacred period.
(4) The bread eaten was to be unleavened. So strict was the injunction on this point that the Israelite found eating leaven during these seven days was to be "cut off," i.e., excommunicated. The general idea of the feast was, therefore, to represent what redeemed life in its entirety ought to be - a life purged from the leaven of "malice and wickedness," and devoted to God's service in "sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:8). "The exodus formed the groundwork of the feast, because it was by this that Israel had been introduced into a new vital element" (Keil). The "walk in newness of life" follows on redemption. We may apply the precept about "cutting off from Israel" to the exclusion of immoral and impure members from the Church. - J.O.
I. NOTICE HOW JEHOVAH HERE BRINGS THE VOLUNTARY ELEMENT INTO THE DELIVERANCE OF HIS PEOPLE AND THEIR CONNECTION WITH HIM. They are to be delivered, only as they are willing to be delivered. They are to signify their willing regard to conform with the will of God. The matter is made almost a personal one; if not brought before every Israelite, it is brought before every head of a household. Hitherto the immunities of the people during the course of the plagues had been secured in a mere external way. The protection belonged to a certain territory, and the Israelites had to exert no attention, take no trouble, in order to secure the protection. God kept the flies, the hail, and the darkness out of Goshen without requiring any mark upon the habitations and property of His people. But now, as the last visitation from God draws nigh, they have to take a part, and a very decided part, in making their exemption effectual. Jehovah comes, treating all who are in Egypt as belonging fully to Egypt, and it is for the Israelites to show by some significant act the deep difference which separates between them and the Egyptians. There had been, up to this time, certain differences between the Egyptian and the Israelite which did not depend upon the Israelite's choice. The Egyptian was master, and the Israelite slave; assuredly the Israelite had not chosen that. An Egyptian might soon lose all trace of his personal ancestry, but every Israelite could trace his ancestry back to Jacob, to Isaac, to Abraham; and this was a matter he had not chosen. The Egyptian belonged to a nation which had been smitten with nine plagues, but from the later and severer of these the Israelite dwelling in Goshen had been free; yet this freedom had been secured without making it to depend on the Israelite's own action. But now, as the day of redemption draws near, Jehovah reminds every Israelite that underneath all the differences which, in carrying out His purposes, He may make to exist among men, there is a common humanity. Before Him who comes smiting at midnight there is neither Israelite nor Egyptian, bond nor free; everything depends on the sprinkled blood; and the sprinkled blood depends on whether the Israelite has put it on his door of his own accord. If, that night, the Israelite did not of his own accord make a difference between himself and the Egyptian, then no natural distinction or past immunity was of the slightest avail. Even already it is being shown that circumcision availeth nothing, but a new creature. Israel can only be truly Israel as he is Israel inwardly. The mark upon the door without must come from the perfect heart and willing mind within. The only great abiding differences between man and man are such as we, fully considering our position, concur in making of our own free will True it is that we cannot establish and complete these differences in our own strength; but it is very certain that God will not do this - indeed, by the very limitations of the thing to be done, he cannot - except as we willingly and with alacrity give him opportunity.
II. In these instructions for the Passover, GOD BRINGS THE FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENT OF PURE FAITH INTO ACTIVE EXERCISE. In Hebrews 11:28 we are told that by faith Moses kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them. And this faith extended from Moses to every head of a household in Israel. The whole instructions imply a trustful, disciplined spirit, on the part of those receiving them. Up to this time nothing had been required of them except to stand still and wait while God dealt with Pharaoh. They are left on one side, treated as helpless captives, whom it is vain to ask for what they cannot give. But now they are asked for something, and they have not only to render it willingly, but with the obedience of faith (Romans 16:26). They are asked to slay a number of lambs, the number being determined according to a settled proportion. When the lambs are slain, the blood is to be sprinkled on the doors of each Israelite dwelling, and the flesh, prepared in a peculiar and exact way, is to be eaten by the inhabitants. Well, what should all this have to do with the protection of Israel? How should it advance the captives towards deliverance? If God had told them to get ready swords and spears, and discipline themselves for battle there would have been something intelligible in such instructions, something according to the schemes of human wisdom. But God does not deliver as men would deliver. It pleased him, in the fulness of time and by the foolishness of a slain lamb and sprinkled blood to save Israel. And yet it was not the slain lamb and sprinkled blood that saved by themselves. Moses and Aaron might have slain so many lambs and sprinkled their blood, and yet there would have been no efficacy in them. Their efficacy as protectors was not a natural efficacy. The efficacy lay in this: that the lambs were slain and the blood sprinkled in the obedience of faith. The thing done and the spirit in which it is done - truth and faith-go together in resistless power. There must be truth; faith by itself does nothing; for a man may believe a lie and then where is he? There must be faith; truth by itself does nothing; just as food does nothing unless a man takes it into his stomach. Of course it was quite possible for a sceptical Israelite to say, "What can there be in this sprinkled blood?" - and the very fact that such a question was possible shows how God was shutting his people up to pure faith. He asks them to act simply on the word of Moses. That word was now to be a sufficient reason for their conduct. Moses had done enough to show from whom he came. It is interesting to notice how faith stands here, asked for, the first thing, by Moses, even as it was afterwards by Jesus. As the Israelites believed because Moses spoke, so we must believe because Jesus speaks. Jesus speaks truth because it is true; but we must receive it and believe it, not because in our natural reason we can see it as true, but because of the ascertained and well-accredited character of him who speaks it. And we must show our faith by our works, as these Israelites did. It was not required of them to understand how this sprinkled blood operated. They acted as believing that it would operate, and the indisputable fact is that they were saved. It is a great deal more important to have a thing done, than to be able to understand all the ins and outs by which it is done. A man does not refuse to wind up his watch, because he cannot understand its intricate mechanism. His purposes are served, if he understands enough to turn the key. And so our purposes are served, if we have enough practical faith in Jesus to gain actual salvation through him. Exactly how Jesus saves, is a question which we may ask again and again, and vainly ask. Let us not, in asking it, waste time and risk eternity, when by the prompt and full obedience of faith, we may know in our experience, that however obscure the process may be, the result itself is a real and abiding one.
III. Looking back on this passover lamb in the light of the finished work of Jesus, we see HOW AMPLE A TYPE IT IS OF HIM WHO WAS TO COME AFTER AND STAND BETWEEN THE BELIEVING SINNER AND THE AVENGING GOD.
1. The lamb was taken so as to bind families and neighbours together. This reminds us of Him, who gathers round himself, in every place, those who form the true family, the new family; joined together not after the temporary, dissolving order of nature, but after the abiding, ever-consolidating order of grace. Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, there the true Lamb of God is present in all those relations of which the passover lamb gave but a foreshadowing. The true families are made by the coalescence of those who, living in one neighbourhood, have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.
2. The passover lamb was without blemish. Consider what is said in this respect of Jesus (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; Luke 23:4, 14; John 19:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:19; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 2:22).
3. It was a male of the first year. So Jesus was taken in the freshness and strength of his manhood (Luke 3:23).
4. The flesh of the lamb was eaten in the company for which it had been slain. It is only when we bear in mind the first passover in Egypt, that we reach the significance of all that was said and done on the night when Jesus sat down for the last passover feast with his disciples. Jesus took the bread and said: "Take, eat; this is my body." There was to be no more killing of the lamb; the bread, easily made and easily portioned out, took its place. But still the Lord had to say "this is my body." A body had to be thought of as eaten, and not mere bread. Really, when we look into the matter, we find that the sprinkling of the blood was only part of the protection; the eating was protective also. Assuredly the sprinkling by itself would have counted for nothing, if the eating had been omitted. When the blood was sprinkled, it illustrated faith in him who comes between God and the sinner. When the flesh was eaten, it illustrated faith in him whose life becomes our life. Being unblemished, he makes us unblemished, and being acceptable to God, he makes us acceptable also.
IV. We observe that even before the event to be commemorated was accomplished JEHOVAH MADE CAREFUL PROVISION FOR A MEMORIAL OBSERVANCE. Thus another indication is given to us, as to the completeness and order with which his plans were laid. Directions are given for the present need, and along with them are combined directions by which the record of this great liberating event may be transmitted to the remotest generations. Henceforth, the beginning of the year is to date from the month of these dealings with the first-born. Then there was also the appointment of the feast of unleavened bread. So crushing was the blow of Jehovah, and so precipitate the consequent action of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, that the Israelites were hurried out of the land with their dough before it was leavened. Here then in this domestic operation of preparing the daily bread was an opportunity given of setting forth once a year the complete separation which God had effected between the Israelites and the Egyptians. When for seven days no leaven was put in the bread, the great fact to be called up was this: that the Egyptians had hastened the Israelites out of the land. This memorial act called up at once the great change which God had produced, and in a comparatively short time. But a little while before and the Egyptians were spoiling the Israelites, demanding from them bricks without straw; now the Israelites are spoiling the Egyptians, getting gold and silver and raiment from them in profusion, and with the utmost good-will.
V. ALL THE OTHER PREPARATIONS FOR JEHOVAH'S VISIT WERE TO BE CROWNED BY MAKING PULL PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE. Jehovah was coming to open the prison-doors and strike off the fetters; and he would have the captives ready to march on the instant. He is the God who makes all things to work together for good to them who are called according to his purpose. To him who is truly and devoutly obeying God, nothing comes but he is able to meet it. The obedient is never taken at a disadvantage; he is never defrauded of a great opportunity. The children of Israel were to eat the lamb in full readiness for the journey; even though it might plausibly be said that it was a making ready before the time. The lesson is, obey God in everything where as here the terms of his requirement are plain to the understanding and imperative to the conscience. Reasons are not for you, who know only in part, but for him to whom the darkness and the light are both alike. - Y.
Exodus 12:11). After Pharaoh's refusal to see Moses again, Jehovah comes more manifestly into the history, in the last judgment and deliverance of his people. Three great events crowd now into a single night, the Passover, the slaying of the first-born, the march out. Consider now the Passover.
I. ITS NECESSITY.
1. Israel must be separated from Egypt. This idea of separation runs through all Hebrew history from the time of Abraham to this hour. But to a large extent Israel had now become merged into the Egyptian race, catching the plagues of its idolatry and sins. Great separating acts necessary - e.g., as in some of the earlier visitations, in the tenth, in the passover, in the exodus, in the Red Sea.
2. To this end Israel must be atoned afresh with God. The tenth plague was a miracle of pure judgment: for Israel to escape the penalty of its sin, an atonement necessary. That atonement was the passover.
II. ITS DESIGNATIONS. They were these: "A pass-over unto Jehovah: a sacrificial-slaying of pass-over unto Jehovah:" "The sacrifice of the feast of the passover," 12:11, 27; 34:25. Here we have four distinctive ideas.
1. The Objective of the pass-over was God. "Unto Jehovah." Like prayer intended to benefit man, but its objective God. Herein lies the distinction between Scriptural and unscriptural ideas of atonement.
2. The pass-over was a Sacrifice. [For the argument, see Kurtz, vol. 2:297, 298, Eng. ed.]
3. The result was a Passing-over. The stained lintel a bridge over which Jehovah was to pass in dread judicial progress through the land.
4. And a more remote result, the ushering in of a Festal Life for Israel. The festival of the passover foreshadowed the coming life of liberty.
III. THE LAMB. After expository development of the leading incidents, the following truths will emerge in relation to the antitype.
1. The objective of the death of Christ is God. The Socinian formula runs: "The death of Christ was not to reconcile God to man, but man to God." The scriptural doctrine is that the atonement does both: but reconciles man to God, by first atoning God with man.
2. Christ is "without blemish and without spot.
3. The atoning Christ was deliberately selected, and fore-appointed.
4. Kept in view of the world, that His worth, beauty and destiny might suitably affect men; as the lamb went in and out, for four days, the homes of Israel.
6. The death was Sacrificial.
7. The result a Passing-over of judicial wrath.
8. But the sacrifice must be appropriated. The blood on the posts of the door a sign of the appropriating faith of the people. Here may be brought out the idea, that the door was the only possible altar at that moment of history. The idea of sacrifice had come down from patriarchal times; but there was no law of sacrifice, for as yet there was no nation to which to give it, and therefore there was no temple, and so no altar. Every family must be atoned for apart; every house was then a temple, and every door an altar.
9. Then, faith in Christ's atonement begins for us high Festival.
IV. THE MEAL. Show that the meal was much more than a mere supper to prepare for a journey. It had in it spiritual significance, in relation to the Christ.
1. The Atoning Christ is the Food of the Soul (John 6:51). This for the very simple reason, that the truth of the atonement is central, supreme, and comprehensive.
2. An uncorrupted Christ. The lamb was roasted, i.e., was pure flesh acted on by fire; not sodden, diluted with water, or any way corrupted.
3. A perfect Christ, no bone broken. So on the cross a Christ divided is not sufficient for the nourishment of the soul, e.g., Christ as an elect spirit of the race;' or as one in whom the "God-consciousness ' received high development; or as example; Teacher, etc. Christ in his whole nature, character and office.
4. The enjoyment of Christ and of his salvation will depend on the memory of the slavery of sin. "Bitter herbs."
5. The christian life is to be characterised by simplicity and sincerity. Note that unleavened bread is simply pure meal, all water Parched out by the action of fire. For the significance see the Christian Rabbi, Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:6-8.
6. The end of soul nutriment is the Pilgrim-Life. Each with staff in hand that night.
7. To the banquet, to the Exodus, to the Pilgrim-Life, all are welcome, on conditions, 12:43-45. In that case, first circumcision; then coming under the sprinkled blood, were needful. The analogy is clear. Note! at the moment, when the distinction between Israel and Egypt was most marked, then did the catholicity of true Judaism most appear. In Abraham all mankind was to be blessed. - R.
1. It is the commencement of a new life. "Born again" (John 3:3); "passed from death into life' (John 5:24); "a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). "The years we spent before we turned to the Lord are not worth counting; the best that can happen to them is to be buried out of sight" (Dr. J. M. Gibson).
2. It is the day of separation from the world. Some think that up to this time the Israelites had used the Egyptian calendar, which began about the time of the summer solstice. "From this time, however, all connection with Egypt was to be broken off, and the commencement of the sacred year was to commemorate the time when Jehovah led them forth to liberty and independence" (Geikie).
3. It is the day which begins the journey to heaven. Redemption is the beginning of the new life: it is, however, but the beginning. The wilderness journey follows it. Conversion is not a resting-place, but a starting-point. It begins, but does not complete, salvation.
II. TIME, A MEMORIALIST OF GOD'S MIGHTY WORKS. Even on so immaterial a thing as time, God has inscribed a memorial of His three greatest works.
1. Creation. He has built into the structure of the week an imperishable record of the six days' work.
2. The Exodus. The order of the year in Israel was made to testify to the deliverance from Egypt.
3. The Christian redemption. The advent of Christ has founded an era. The bitterest enemy of the Gospel is compelled to do it, at least, the involuntary homage of dating his years from the Lord's advent. By his use of the Christian calendar, the infidel testifies unwittingly to the power of the religion which he seeks to overthrow.
III. THE SPHERES OF THE SACRED AND THE CIVIL ARE DISTINCT. One indication of this, even in the polity of Israel, is seen in the fact that the sacred year began in one month, and the civil in another. - J.O.
I. FOR WHOM THE SACRIFICE AVAILS.
1. The families of Israel, the household of faith. There is no other bulwark against the visitation of the angel of death, and it shields these only.
2. Those who feed upon him. Saving faith must be a real, appropriating faith. Mere assent to a form of words avails nothing, neither can a mere intellectual Conviction of the truth of Christianity or apprehension of the plan of salvation; it must be the soul's food.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE SACRIFICE. A lamb without blemish; gentleness and blamelessness. He who dies for us is accepted, because he is faultless. The sin-bearer must be sinless. This is redemption's great central mystery. But though the eternal reason of it may not be understood, the wisdom of it is shown in our experience. The power which changes us lies in this, that Christ died not for sins of his own, but solely for ours. "He bore our sins, in his own body on the tree."
III. HIS STORY.
1. The lamb kept for four days within the house foretold that God's accepted sacrifice should come forth from the homes of Israel. The four days may symbolise the nearly four years of our Lord's ministry.
2. The day and hour of the Saviour's death (ver. 6).
3. His death was to be Israel's act; "the whole assembly" were to slay it.
(1) Our sins nailed him to the tree. He was stain by our iniquities.
(2) Israel's act in the murder of the holy and just one was the expression of the sin which is in us all. None are free from this awful blood guiltiness, save the repentant and pardoned. - U.
Exodus 11:4. "Who shall live when God doeth this?" He who obeying His word shelters himself beneath His shadow. See: -
I. THE PREPARATION.
1. A carefully selected victim. Ver. 5, deliberately set apart four days beforehand. Pure within; innocence typified by inexperience, "the first year." Pure without, "no blemish."
2. A carefully conducted purification. The partaker of the sacrificial feast must endeavour after a purity resembling that of the victim. Leaven, evil, must be purged out that he may offer and receive worthily.
II. THE PASSOVER. A sarifice to save from death, 5:6, 7. Notice
(1) Obedience ensured safety. The judgment was to go forth against the first-born; but the lamb slain - his blood duly sprinkled - would be accepted as a substitute. Obedience all that was demanded.
(2) The meaning of the command. Few types are arbitrary; almost always some ground of relation between them and the thing typified, even though we may not see it. Here the pure lamb represents the offerer as he ought to be; it says in his name "I would be pure; I would dedicate myself wholly to thy service; accept me, not for what I am but for what Thou canst make me. Take this lamb for me; make me as this lamb!" Obedience saves, but that which is commanded shadows forth the final result to be achieved by obedience.
2. Sustenance to nerve for duty. Lamb not merely to be killed but eaten. The people saved from the destroyer are to be released also from the oppressor; to commence at once the life of liberty. Strength needed for the march. That which saves is that which supports, if the lamb represents the offerer as he ought to be, feeding upon the lamb will represent feeding by faith upon the ideal thus figured. To become righteous we must hunger and thirst after righteousness, Matthew 5:6. Dedication is the starting-point, but the road is persistent obedience, and they only can walk that road who feed upon the ideal first set before them (Philippians 3:12-14).
III. CHRIST OUR PASSOVER. The type leads naturally to the great antitype.
1. Our sacrifice.
(1) Pure, perfect. Slain for us. By faith accepting his work, peace with God; shelter from the avenging angel. This is what we mean by substitution - Christ died for me. Notice however: -
(2) Accepting this sacrifice we must still regard it as representative. Pleading its efficacy, we not merely mean "Forgive me for Christ's sake," but also, "I would be like Christ, I would give myself up wholly to Thy will even as he has done - Accept me in him, make me like him!" The doctrine of substitution is only explained by this underlying doctrine of identity, it could not otherwise be a doctrine of salvation.
2. Our sustenance. We too, saved in Christ, have to march on along the road which leads from slavery to freedom. To do this we must feed upon our ideal, "inwardly digest" it. What we ought to be; what we hope to be; what Christ is. Our great advantage over the Jew is that our ideal is realised in a person. To feed upon it is to feed upon Christ. To attain it is to be like Christ, to be one with him. Application. Christ died for us. True, but Christ dying for us implies that we also die with him. Dedication of a substitute not enough unless self is dedicated in the substitute. Very well wishing to be happy, and the hope of many is little more than this. God, however, means us to be holy, and there is no easy road to holiness. Accept the ideal, accept Christ out and out, we shall find him more than an ideal: he will strengthen and sustain us till we attain it. Forget what the ideal is; forget what dedication means; we may yet find that it is possible for those who are saved from bondage to perish in the wilderness. - G.
I. THE MEANS OF SAFETY vers. 7-13).
1. They took the blood and struck it on the door posts and the lintel. We must appropriate Christ's atonement. We must say by faith, "he died for me."
2. They passed within the blood-stained portals. Christ's blood must stand between us and condemnation, between us and sin. Our safety lies in setting that between oar soul and them. The realising of Christ's death for our sins is, salvation.
II. THE MEANS OF STRENGTH FOR THE ONWARD WAY. Feeding upon Christ. While Egypt was slumbering Israel was feasting. While the world is busy with its dreams we must feast upon the joy of eternity, and, comprehending with all saints the infinite love of Christ, be filled with all the fulness of God. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."
III. HOW CHRIST MUST BE PARTAKEN OF.
1. With unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The old leaven of malice and wickedness must be put away, and the feasting on Christ's love must be accompanied with repentance and self denial. There may be now and again a momentary glimpse of Christ's love where sin is not parted with, but there can be no communion, no enduring vision.
2. Christ must be taken as God has set him before us, in the simplicity of the Gospel, with nothing of man's invention, addition, or diminution. The Gospel remedy avails only when taken in the Gospel way (vers. 9, 10).
3. He must b? partaken of in the union of love. The Passover is a social, a family feast. Those who refuse to seek church-fellowship are despising God's arrangements for their own salvation, and proving themselves devoid of the spirit which, loving him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him.
4. He must be partaken of with the pilgrim spirit and preparedness (ver. 11). They who will be saved by Jesus must take up their cross and follow him. - U.
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S LIFE IS AN UNCEASING FESTIVAL.
1. It is unending, deepening joy. Other joys fade, this brightens.
2. It is a growing appropriation of the Lamb of God. Our union with him grows ever closer, fuller. Is this our experience? A nominal Christianity will never save us. Are we feeding on Jesus? Are we in. him and be in us?
II. IT IS THE KEEPING IN REMEMBRANCE OF A PAST DELIVERANCE, AND THE ANTICIPATION OF A GREATER.
1. There was present safety from the destroyer.
2. On the morrow there was to be the passing out from amidst the broken bonds of Egypt to the promised inheritance. The feast pointed backward, the types onward. We have forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, and the expectation of his coming the second time without sin unto salvation. Faith, and love, and hope the threefold glory of Christ's people.
III. IT Is A LIFE OF HOLINESS. From the beginning to the end of the feast the old leaven was not to be found in the dwellings of Israel. The soul that turns back to sin is cut off (vers. 15, 18-20). What was a mere accompaniment in the type, is a fruit of life in Christ.
IV. IT IS A FELLOWSHIP OF ALL BELIEVERS. It Was not only a family feast. It began and it closed with an assembly of the whole congregation. There are separate churches still, as there were families then. But the union of all believers must be recognised and rejoiced in. - U.
1 Corinthians 5:7).
I. POINTS OF ANALOGY BETWEEN THE TRUE PASSOVER AND ITS TYPE.
1. In both the death of a blameless victim. The lamb, physically blameless (ver. 5); Christ, morally faultless. A sinful world needs a sinless Saviour. It has one in Christ. The sinlessness of Christ, a moral miracle. Proofs of this sinlessness.
(2) In no part of his conduct does he betray the least consciousness of guilt. Yet it is admitted that Jesus possessed the finest moral insight of any man who has ever lived.
(5) The very traitor confessed the innocence of Christ (Matthew 27:4).
(6) The delineation of his character in the gospels bears out the averment of his moral blamelessness.
(7) The captious efforts which have been made, by fixing on a few paltry points in the gospel narratives to impeach Christ's sinlessness, indirectly prove it. "As if sin could ever need to be made out against a real sinner in this small way of special pleading; or as if it were ever the way of sin to err in single particles, or homoeopathic quantities of wrong' (Bushnell).
2. In both, the design is to secure redemption from a dreadful evil. In the one case, from the wrath of God revealed against Egypt in the smiting of its first-born. In the other, from the yet more terrible wrath of God revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18). "Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10). "Saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:9).
3. In both, the principle of the deliverance is that of vicarious sacrifice. The lamb was substituted for the first-born. It protected the house, on whose door-posts the blood was sprinkled, from the stroke of the avenger. The substitutionary character of the death of Christ is, in like manner, affirmed in innumerable Scriptures. Jesus "died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). He "suffered for sins, the just for the unjust" (1 Peter 3:18). He gave "his life a ransom for many ' (Matthew 19:28). His blood is a propitiation (Romans 3:25). There is just ground for the remark of Coleridge (we quote from memory) that a man who would deal with the language of his father's will, as Unitarians on this and other points do with the language of the New Testament, would be liable to an action at law.
4. In both, there was need for an act of personal, appropriating faith. "The people bowed the head, and worshipped. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded "(vers. 27, 28). "Through faith (they) kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood," etc. (Hebrews 11:28). Their faith showed itself in sprinkling the blood on their door-posts and lintels, and in sheltering themselves under it. Nothing short of this would have availed to save them. So it is not knowledge about Christ, but faith in him; personal application to his blood, and trust in it as the means of salvation, which secures our safety. Faith is the bunch of hyssop.
5. In both, the slain lamb becomes the food of the new life. There was, on the part of the Israelites, a sacrificial feast upon the flesh of the lamb. This denoted, indeed, peace and fellowship with God, but it was also an act of nourishment. Similarly, under the Gospel, the new life is nourished by feeding upon Christ. We make him ours by inward appropriation and assimilation, and so are spiritually nourished for all holy service (cf. John 6.). Minor typical features might be insisted upon (male of the first year, roast with fire, not a bone broken, unleavened bread, bitter herbs of contrition, etc.), but the above are the broad and outstanding ones.
II. THE SURPASSING EXCELLENCE OF THE TRUE PASSOVER. It belongs to the nature of a type that it should be surpassed by the antitype. The type is taken from a lower sphere than the thing which it represents. So completely, in the case of the passover, does the reality rise above the type, that when we begin to reflect on it the sense of likeness is all but swallowed up in the sense of disproportion. How great,
1. The contrast in the redemptions. The redemption from Egypt, though spiritual elements were involved in it, was primarily a redemption from the power of Pharaoh, and from a temporal judgment about to fall on Egypt. Underlying it, there was the need for a yet greater redemption - a redemption from the curse of a broken law, and from the tyranny of sin and Satan; from death spiritual, temporal, and eternal. It is this higher redemption which Christ has achieved, altering, through his death, the whole relation of God to man, and of (believing)man to God.
2. The contrast in the victims. That, an irrational lamb; this, the Eternal Son of God in human nature, the Lord's own Christ.
3. The contrast in the efficacy of the blood. The blood of the passover lamb had no inherent virtue to take away sin. Whatever virtue it possessed arose from God's appointment, or from its typical relation to the sacrifice of Christ. Its imperfection as a sacrifice was seen
(1) In the multitude of the victims.
(2) In the repetition of the service (Hebrews 10:1-3).
But what the flowing of the blood of millions of lambs, year by year slain in atonement for sin could not achieve, Christ has achieved once for all by the offering up of his holy body and soul. The dignity of his person, the greatness of his love, his holy will, the spirit of perfect self-sacrifice in which he, himself sinless, offered himself up to bear the curse of sin for the unholy, confers upon his oblation an exhaustless meritoriousness. Its worth and sufficiency are infinite (Hebrews 10:10-15; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 2:2).
4. The contrast in the specific blessings obtained. The difference in these springs from the contrast in the redemptions. Israel obtained
(1) Escape from judgment.
(2) Outward liberty.
(3) Guidance, care, and instruction in the desert.
(4) Ultimately, an earthly inheritance.
We receive, through Christ,
(1) Pardon of all sins.
(2) A complete justifying righteousness, carrying with it the title to eternal life.
(3) Renewal and sanctification by the Spirit.
(4) Every needed temporal and spiritual blessing in life.
(5) Heaven at the close, with triumph over death, the hope of a resurrection, and of final perfecting in glory. - J.O.
I. CHRIST SLAIN BY US. The lamb's blood was not only shed for them, but also by them. The crucifying of Jesus by the Jews, the revelation of what lies in every unrenewed heart. "They shall look upon him whom they have pierced."
II. WHAT IS NEEDFUL FOR SALVATION.
1. Appropriating faith. It was the blood applied with their own hands to the door of the dwelling that saved those within. It is not enough that the blood be shed. Is it upon our gates? Have we set it by faith between us and destruction?
2. It must be applied as God directs us. It was sprinkled on the lintel and doorposts - not within, but without. It is not enough that we believe. We must make open profession of our faith.
3. We must abide within until the day dawn and salvation come. To put that blood (which should be between us and the world) behind us, no longer to hide within it but to forget it, is to renounce salvation. Are we without or within the blood-stained gateway? We are saved if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.
II. GOD'S COVENANT GIVES PERFECT SECURITY (ver. 25). The shed blood stands between us and death. The awe and joy of redeemed Israel, a faint emblem of the awe and joy which we shall feel, who shall see the judgment of sin but only from afar.
IV. THE DUTY OF THE REDEEMED.
1. Perpetual remembrance (ver. 23). We must, in the ordinance of Christ's own appointment, shew his death till he come.
2. The handing down the knowledge of salvation (vers. 26, 27). Christians should glory in the story of the Cross.
I. A QUESTION TO BE PUT BY THE COMMUNICANT TO HIMSELF. Qualification for the Lord's table includes "knowledge to discern the Lord's body," as well as "faith to feed upon him."
II. A QUESTION LIKELY TO BE PUT TO THE COMMUNICANT By HIS CHILDREN.
1. The children are presumed to be spectators of the ordinance. It is well that children should be present during the administration of the sacraments. It awakens their interest. It leads them to inquire.
2. The ordinance is fitted to attract attention. An external interest attaches to it. It appeals to the senses. The symbolic acts and movements prompt to inquiry.
3. It furnishes an excellent opportunity for imparting instruction. Children will attend to an explanation of the sacraments, who will pay little attention to a book or a sermon. The symbolism of the ordinance aids instruction; makes it vivid and impressive.
III. A QUESTION WHICH THE CHRISTIAN PARENT SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER TO HIS CHILDREN. It is a sad matter when a parent is incapable of sitting down, and instructing his children in the meaning of the sacramental symbol. It betrays something worse than ignorance; not improbably, a total want of spiritual religion.
IV. THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION INVOLVES A STATEMENT OF THE GREATEST VERITIES OF OUR FAITH. The Jew had to answer to his child - "It is the sacrifice, of the Lord's passover," etc. (ver. 27). The Christian has to answer, "It is the memorial of our Lord's death, in atonement for our sins." He has to tell -
1. How we were in guilt and danger.
2. How, for the love wherewith he loved us, Christ gave himself up to the death for our redemption.
3. How, for his sake, we are forgiven and accepted.
4. How the ungodly world has still God's wrath resting upon it. It is wonderful to reflect how simply, yet how perfectly, God has provided for the handing down of a testimony to these great truths in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. The pulpit may fail to preach the doctrine of atonement; Rationalistic and Unitarian teachers may deny it; but as often as the Lord's Supper is observed, on the model of the New Testament, the truth is anew proclaimed in unmistakable symbols. To give a child a satisfactory explanation of the Lord's Supper, embodying the words of institution, would be almost of necessity, to preach a sermon on the atonement. - J.O.
I. IT WAS A QUESTION TO BE EXPECTED. The service was one to provoke curiosity. It was not some daily action of the household, of which the children learned the meaning and purpose almost unconsciously. The grinding of the corn, the kneading of the dough, in a very short time explained themselves. But when as the beginning of the year drew round, it brought with it these special observances, the slaying and eating of the lamb and the seven days of unleavened bread, there was everything to make a child ask, "What is this being done for?" God makes one thing to fit into another. He institutes services of such a kind, with such elements of novelty and impressiveness in them, that the children make it easier for them to be instructed in the things that belong to his will. And what was true concerning this passover service, is also true, more or less, concerning all that is revealed in the Scriptures. The great facts of Divine revelation are such as to provoke curiosity, even in a child's mind. If it be true that the Scriptures are given to guide us all the way through life, then what is more reasonable to expect than that God will have placed much in them to stir up attention and inquiry from those who are just at the beginning of life?
II. HENCE THIS WAS A QUESTION TO BE ENCOURAGED. Every advantage was to be taken of childish curiosity. Inquisitive children are often reckoned a nuisance, and told to be quiet; yet such a policy as this, though it may save trouble in the present, may lead to a great deal more trouble in the future. A stupid child who never asks questions, is to be reckoned an object of pity and a source of peril. God has always in mind how to make each generation better instructed than the one going before; more obedient to him, and more serviceable for his purposes. The temptation of the grown people in Israel was to undervalue what was going on in the minds of their children. Remember how Mary and Joseph suffered through their want of forethought on this point. The God who watches human beings all the way from the cradle to the grave knows well how children, even very little children, have their own thoughts about things; and he wanted the people to give them every encouragement and information. One question wisely answered leads to the asking of other questions. Thus, by the continuance of an inquiring mood in the mind, and thus only, is profitable information to be given. Information is not to be poured into the mind as into a bucket; it must be taken as food, with appetite, and digestive and assimilating power. Thus if the question were not asked, if, while the passover preparations were being made, a child stood by in stolid unconcern, or ran away heedlessly to play, such conduct would fill a wise parent with solicitude. He would look upon it as being even more serious than a failure of physical health. He would do all he could by timely suggestions to bring the question forth. Ingenuity and patience may do much to bring curiosity into action, and if the question were not asked it would have to be assumed. The narrative of the passover was a most important one for every Israelite child to hear and remember; and if only the narrative was begun, it might soon excite the requisite and much desired interest.
III. IT WAS A QUESTION WHICH GAVE GREAT SCOPE FOR USEFULNESS TO THE CHILDREN IN THE ANSWERING OF IT. God, indeed, directs how it is to be answered; but of course, it is not meant that there was to be a formal, parrot-like confinement to these words. What, for instance, could be more gratifying to the children, who in after times asked this question, than to begin by pointing out to them, how God himself expected them to ask this question? Then the words he had directed Moses to provide for an answer, might be repeated. But it would have been a poor spiritless answer, unpleasing to God, and profitless to the children, if it had stopped with the bare utterance of the words in ver. 27. There was room for much to be said, that would very peculiarly impress the mind of a thoughtful child. It might be reminded that whereas, now, little children were born in the freedom of Canaan, some among their forefathers had been born in the bondage of Egypt. It might be told of that Pharaoh who had threatened the men* children with destruction. In particular, the story of the infant Moses might be told. So now, in those parts of the world where the idols are abolished, and former idolaters are gathered round the throne of grace for Christian worship, an opportunity is given for explaining to the children, in how much better a state, and with how much better surroundings they are brought up. "What mean ye by this service?' was a question which could be answered in form, and yet with such absence of heart, as utterly to chill and thwart the eager inquirer. Whereas, if it were only answered with evident care, with amplitude of detail, with loving desire to interest and satisfy, then the child thus favoured, would be laid under great obligations to be thankful in feeling, and devoted in service. A question of this sort gave great opportunity. Happy those who could seize the opportunity at once, and use it to the full.
IV. IT WAS A QUESTION WHICH CAME TO CALL EVERY ISRAELITE, AT THE ANNUAL OBSERVANCE OF THE PASSOVER, TO A CAREFUL CONSIDERATION OF HIS OWN FEELINGS WITH RESPECT TO IT. It was a question which helped to guard against formality. A little child may render a great service, without knowing it, even to a grown man. God can send the little ones, to test, to rebuke, to warn, to stir out of lethargy. "What mean ye by this service?" How is the Israelite of the grown generation to answer this question? He may tell the child what the service is intended for, the historical facts out of which it arose, and the Divine appointments concerning it; but after all, this is no real answer to the question. It may be an answer to satisfy the inquiring child, and yet leave the person who has to give it, with a barbed arrow in his memory and conscience. Notice the precise terms of the question. What mean ye by this service? How should the child ask in any other terms? It looks and sees the parents doing something new and strange; and to them it naturally looks for explanation and guidance. The question is not simply, "Why is this thing being done?' but "Why are you doing it, and what do you mean by it?" It became only too possible in the lapse of ages, to go through this service in a cold, mechanical, utterly unprofitable way. Not so, we may be sure, was it observed the first time in Egypt, on the night of deliverance. Then all was excitement, novelty, and overflowing emotion. Be it ours, in considering all outward and visible acts in connection with religion, all symbolic and commemorative institutions, to ask ourselves in great closeness and candour of personal self-application, "What mean we by this service?' Do we mean anything at all, and if so, what is it that we mean? To answer this is not easy: it is not meant to be easy. Perhaps one great reason why there are such marked and unabated differences of opinion with respect to Baptism and the Lord's Supper is, that we have never sufficiently considered the question, "What mean ye by these services?' It is hard work to be quit of mere superstition, mere clinging to outward observances as matters of custom, tradition, and respectability. It is very certain that to this question of the children, put in all its particular emphasis, only too many fathers in Israel would have been forced to reply, "We do this thing because our fathers did it." Remember that forms are, in themselves, nothing to the invisible, spiritual God. Their value is as containing, protecting and expressing what we have to present. That which pleased Jehovah and profited Israel was not the outward passover service, but the intelligence, the perceptions, the gratitude, the aspirations, and the hopes that lay behind it. - Y.
Exodus 11:4-7. Observe here -
I. THIS JUDGMENT IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF REPRESENTATION. Hitherto, the plagues had fallen on the Egyptians indiscriminately. Now, a change is made to the principle of representation. Egypt, Israel also, is represented in its first-born. When a death-penalty was to be inflicted, the lines had to be drawn more sharp and clear. We are reminded that this principle of representation holds a vitally important place in God's moral government. The illustrations which more immediately affect ourselves are, first, the representation of the race in Adam, and second, its representation in Christ (Romans 5:12-21). Hence it is not altogether fanciful to trace a relation to Christ even in this judgment on the first-born.
1. Christ is the great first-born of the race. We catch some glimpse of this by looking at the matter from the side of Israel. Israel, as God's son, his first-born, is admitted to have been a type of Christ (cf. Matthew 2:15). Much more were the first-born in Israel - the special representatives of this peculiar feature in the calling of the nation - types of Christ. They resembled him in that they bore the guilt of the rest of the people. But Christ, as the Son of man, sustained a relation to more than Israel. He is, we may say, the great First-born of the race. Egypt as well as Israel was represented in him.
2. The death of Christ is not only God's great means of saving the world, but it is God's great judgment upon the sin of the world. It is indeed the one, because it is the other. There is thus in the death of Christ, beth the Israel side and the Egypt side. There is some shadow of vicarious endurance of penalty - of the one suffering for, and bearing the guilt of, the many - even in the destruction of Egypt's first-born.
3. The death of Christ, which brings salvation to the believing, is the earnest of final doom to the unbelieving portion of the race. This also is exhibited in principle in the history of the exodus. In strictness, the first-born were viewed as having died, both in Israel and Egypt. The Egyptian first-born died in person; the Israelitish first-born in the substituted Lamb. The death of a first-born in person could typify judgment in the room, or in the name, of others; but the first-born being himself one of the guilty, his death could not (even in type) properly redeem. Hence the substitution of the lamb, which held forth in prophecy the coming of the true and sinless first-born, whose death would redeem. But Christ's death, to the unbelieving part of mankind - the wilfully and obstinately unbelieving - is a prophecy, not of salvation, but of judgment. God's judgment on sin in the person of Christ, the first-born, is the earnest of the doom which will descend on all who refuse him as a Saviour. And this was the meaning of the death of the first-born in Egypt. That death did not redeem, but forewarned Egypt of yet worse doom in store for it if it continued in its sins. The first-born endured, passed under, God's judgment, for the sin of the nation; and so has Christ passed under, endured God's judgment, for the sin even of the unbelieving. Egypt, not less than Israel, was represented in him; but to the one (Egypt as representative of hostility to the kingdom of God) his death means doom; to the other (Israel as representative of the people of God) it means salvation.
II. THIS JUDGMENT COMPELLED PHARAOH TO RELAX HIS HOLD ON ISRAEL. It was the consummating blow. Imagination fails in the attempt to realise it. As we write, accounts come to hand of the terrific storm of Oct. 14 (1881), attended by a lamentable loss of life on the Berwickshire coast of Scotland. The storm was sudden, and preluded by an awful and ominous darkness. Cf. with remarks on ninth plague the following: - "I noticed a black-looking cloud over by the school, which shortly spread over all the sky out by the Head. Sea, sky and ground all seemed to be turning one universal grey-blue tint, and a horrible sort of stillness fell over everything.. The women were all gathering at their doors, feeling that something awful was coming. No fewer than 200 fishermen and others are believed to have perished, the village of Eyemouth alone losing 129. So connected by intermarriage is the population of the villages and hamlets, that there is scarcely a family in any of them which is not called to mourn its dead. The scenes are heart-rending. Business in every shape and form is paralysed." An image this, and yet how faint, of the cry that went up in Egypt that night, when in every house there was found one dead. Yet no stroke less severe would have served the purpose, and this one is to be studied in view of the fact that it did prove effectual for its end. Observe,
1. It was a death-stroke. Death has a singular power in subduing and melting the heart. It is the most powerful solvent God can apply to a rebellious nature. It is sometimes tried when gentler means have failed. God removes your idol. He lays your dear one in the dust. You have resisted milder influences, will you yield to this? Your heart is for the moment bowed and broken, will the repentance prove lasting, or will it be, like Pharaoh's, only for a time?
2. It is a death-grip upon the soul which is needed to make sin relax its hold upon it. "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gut hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul" (Psalm 116:3, 4). God comes in the preaching of his law, and lays his hand, a hand carrying death in it, upon the soul of the trembling transgressor, who then for the first time realises the fatal and unspeakably awful position in which he has placed himself by sin. It is a death-sentence which is written in his conscience.
3. That which completes the liberation of the soul is a view of the meaning of the death of christ. Terror alone will not melt the heart. There is needed to effect this the influence of love. And where is love to be seen in such wonderful manifestation as at the Cross of Christ? What see we there? The first-born of the race expiring in awful agony under the judgment of God for our sins. Is not this a spectacle to melt the heart? It is powerful enough, if earnestly contemplated, to make the Pharaoh that is within us all relinquish his grip upon the captive spirit. What read we of the prospective conversion of Israel? - "They shall look on Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son; and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born (Zechariah 12:10). See again, Acts 2:36, 37, Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts," etc. Cf. also Revelation 2:7. The Cross inspires mourning -
(1) By the spectacle it presents of holy suffering.
(2) By the recollection of who it is that there suffers.
(3) By the thought that it is our own sins which are the cause of this suffering.
(4) By the thought that it is the judgment of God in the infliction of the curse of sin which the Holy one is thus enduring.
(5) By the conviction of sin, and the dread of Divine justice, thus awakened.
(6) Above all, by the infinite love shown in this gift of the Son, and in the Son's willingness to endure this awful agony and shame for our salvation. - J.O.
I. THE JUDGMENT OF EGYPT EMBLEM AND PROMISE OF THE WORLD'S JUDGMENT.
1. The time of visitation; midnight, when all were wrapt in deepest slumber and, notwithstanding the warning which had been given, busy only with dreams. The world will be surprised in the midst of its false security. "As it was in the days of Noel etc.
2. Its universality. There were none so high that God's hand did not reach them, and none so low that they were overlooked.
3. The after anguish. The whole nation, steeped the one moment in deceitful slumber, the next torn with the most heartrending and hopeless grief. Their sin had slain their dearest and best.
4. It is a hopeless sorrow. Their grief cannot bring back their dead. The anguish of the wicked, like Esau's, will find no place for repentance.
II. THE DELIVERANCE OF ISRAEL THE EMBLEM AND PROMISE OF THE FULL ENFRANCHISEMENT OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
1. All that God had ever asked for them is granted. The demand for freedom to the people of God, and the breaking of the yoke laid upon the poor, will yet be obeyed in fear by the persecutor and the oppressor.
2. It is pressed upon them with all the eagerness of deadly fear. Israel never so desired the boon as the Egyptians that they should now accept it. The persecutors will come and worship at the Church's feet.
3. They go forth laden with the treasures of Egypt (Isaiah 60:5-17).
4. They go forth awed by the proof of God's faithfulness. To a day had he kept the promise given to the fathers (ver. 41). The prophecies, now dim and misunderstood, will then be read in the light of God's deeds, and like Israel of old, we shall know that God has kept the appointed time. - U.
Exodus 12:42). Observe the striking words of the text! "The night of Jehovah," a night in which he specially appeared and acted on behalf of Israel. For a description of the scenery of this eventful night see Dr. W. M. Taylor's "Moses," 99-101. In the treatment of this subject considerable exposition will be necessary. For material, see expository section of this commentary. It may, in order to include all important points, be marshalled thus (under each head we give suggestive hints): -
I. THE HAND THAT SMOTE. Most, if not all the nine earlier plagues, had a natural basis, the tenth had none. It was purely supernatural. They blended mercy (first warning and then withdrawal) with judgment. This was pure judgment. In them there was indeed a call to faith, but also room for unbelief. The demonstrations of God are seldom absolute. But the tenth judgment was awfully impressive. There is very little evidence of any secondary instrumentality, angelic, or any other; but see in the Hebrews 12:13, 23. Jehovah this time smote with his own hand.
II. THE VICTIMS. Firstborns. Of all beasts. Of men. But here distinguish between the first-borns of fathers and of mothers. In the tenth plague it was so, that the first-borns of mothers were the destroyed (Exodus 13:2). Now, these were the "sanctified" unto the Lord, first, as "living sacrifices," and as representing the consecration of each family, and then of the entire nation. But failing this consecration, their lives were forfeited. This was the case at that moment with the Israelites and Egyptians alike. In the case of the Egyptians the life of the first-born was taken, in that of the Israelites atoned for. Hence emerges a law of the Kingdom of God, that every soul that will not voluntarily consecrate himself to the Lord, must involuntarily come under the cloud of condemnation.
III. THE OBJECTIVE. The gods of Egypt (Exodus 12:12). This was so with the nine plagues, it was especially so with the tenth. The heir to the throne was regarded as an incarnation of the Deity; by this plague God pronounced him common clay with the rest. But the first-born of animals also fell. This was a blow again st the animal worship of the land.
IV. COMPLETENESS OF THE VICTORY. Here discuss whether Pharaoh's permission was conditioned or unconditioned; and show that with Pharaoh's resistance God's demands increased, and that the king's surrender must have been absolute, in spite of Exodus 14:8, 9. Note the pathos of the prayer of the now broken-hearted, "Bless me also," Exodus 12:32.
V. THE BATTLE ARRAY. See 13:18. Perhaps a good translation, instead of "harnessed," would be "militant," as including the outer armedness, and the inner valorous and jubilant spirit; both which ideas are in the original. Observe; the nine or ten months of preparation, the organisation in which the "elders" and Hebrew "clerks" of the works may have taken part, the arms they surely possessed, as witness the battle at Rephidim - how probably they had become marshalled into detachments - and places of rendezvous been appointed.
VI. THE FESTAL RAIMENT. Israel "asked," Egypt "gave," under Divine influence (Exodus 12:36), gold, silver, and raiment; these might be regarded as the "spoils" of Israel's victory, under God. These spoils were such as women might ask of women (see Exodus 3:22 - "neighbour" is Feminine in the Hebrew), and such as women value. They were to be put not only on themselves, but on sons and daughters. The contributions of the Egyptian women must have been immense in quantity and value. Now then, why this spoiling? That Israel might march, not like a horde of dirty, ragged slaves, but in festal army. Compared with the slavery of Egypt the future might have been one long holiday, one holy day unto the Lord.
VII. PARTAKERS OF THE JOY (Exodus 12:38). Low caste people probably; even as it is at this day in the mission field of India. But the lesson is obvious - the Lord's salvations are for the sinful, the outcast, and the miserable.
VIII. TRUTHS SUGGESTED.
1. The moment of salvation is the beginning of a new time. Israel's history as a nation dates from that night (122). So the history of a soul dates from its conversion to God.
2. The new time is a festal time.
3. The redeemed should assume festal attire (Luke 15:22), a bright eye, a cheerful countenance, etc.
4. Still he must don armour, and the Church must be militant.
6. The salvations of God are full-orbed in their completeness. From the months of preparation till Israel went out in festal array, all was complete.
7. The moment of salvation is to be held in everlasting remembrance (see Exodus 12:42). So of the still greater salvation. - R.
I. PHARAOH IS NOW AS ANXIOUS TO GET RID OF THE ISRAELITES AS FORMERLY HE WAS TO KEEP THEM. It had been predicted at the beginning that this would be the issue of God's dealings with him (Exodus 6:1). Note,
1. Pharaoh's folly in resisting the demand of God so long. He has to concede everything at last. Had he yielded at the beginning, he could have done so with honour, and with the happiest results to his dynasty and kingdom. As it is, he has gained nothing, and has lost much, nearly all. He has ruined Egypt, suffered severely in his own person, lost his first-born, and irretrievably forfeited his prestige in the eyes of his subjects. Foolish king! and yet the same unequal and profitless contest is being repeated in the history of every sinner!
2. The dismissal is unconditional. No more talk of leaving the little ones, or the flocks and herds; or even of returning after the three days' journey. Pharaoh wants no more to do with this fatal people. No one could any longer dream of the Israelites returning, or expect them to do so. They were "thrust out altogether" (Exodus 11:1).
3. He seeks a blessing (ver. 32). He wished Moses to leave a blessing behind him. He would be blessed, and still continue in his sins. Beyond letting Israel go, he had no intention of renouncing his idols, and becoming a worshipper of the God he had so long defied. Many would like to be blessed, while cleaving to their sins.
II. THE EGYPTIANS ARE AS EAGER AS THEIR MONARCH TO SEE THE ISRAELITES SAFELY OUT OF EGYPT.
1. They were affrighted. "They said, we be all dead men' (ver. 33). They were perfectly right. Had Israel been detained longer, their nation would have been destroyed. It would be well if every sinner had as clear a perception of the effects of persistence in his evil.
2. They were urgent to send the people away. Not simply because this was what Jehovah had commanded, but because they were terrified to have them in their midst any longer. The Israelites were a people of ill-omen to them. They wished to get rid of the nation at once and for ever. This is not without significance. We remember how the Gadarenes besought Jesus that he would depart out of their coasts (Matthew 8:34). Worldly people have no liking for the company of the converted. Society bustles them out of its midst. Their old companions betray a singular uncomfortableness in their presence. They would rather have done with them. "Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways" (Job 21:14). Alas! the world that desires to be rid of the society of God's people will one day get its wish. The separation they would fain hasten will take place, and for ever (Matthew 25:46).
3. They were willing to buy the departure of Israel (ver. 35, 36). The Israelites asked, and the Egyptians freely gave, of jewels of gold, of jewels of silver, and of raiment. Thus, singularly did Providence provide for the enriching of the people in the hour of their exodus. They went forth, not in squalor and disorder, but as a triumphant host, laden with the spoils of the enemy. The spoils of the world will yet turn to the enrichment of the Church.
III. THE ISRAELITES MAKE NO DELAY IN AVAILING THEMSELVES OF THE OPPORTUNITY OF FREEDOM (ver. 34). Pharaoh did not need to tell them twice to leave the land. Their dough was unleavened, but, binding up their kneading-troughs in their clothes upon their shoulders, they prepared at once for departure. There are supreme moments in every man's history, the improvement or non-improvement of which will decide his salvation. Many other things at such a moment may need to be left undone; but the man is insane who does not postpone everything to the making sure of his deliverance. Such times are not indolently to be waited for. The Lord is to be sought at once. But God's ways of saving are varied. The seeking, as in Augnstine's case, may go on a long time before God is found. - J.O.
I. THE WICKED MAN IS OFTEN MADE PAINFULLY AWARE OF THE MISERABLENESS OF HIS OWN PORTION, AS COMPARED WITH THAT OF THE GODLY. He may be, often is, even when he refuses to acknowledge it, secretly conscious of the superior happiness of the good man. There come times, however, when severe affliction, the sense of a gnawing inward dissatisfaction, or special contact of some kind with a man of genuine piety, extorts the confession from him. He owns that the good man has a standing in the Divine favour; enjoys an invisible Divine protection; and is the possessor of a peace, happiness, and inward support, to which his own wretched life is utterly a stranger.
II. THE WICKED MAN HAS SOMETIMES DESIRES AFTER A SNARE IN THE GOOD OF GOD'S PEOPLE. He envies them. He feels in his heart that he is wretched and miserable beside them, and that it would be happiness to be like them. He says with Balaam, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and: let my last end be like his" (Numbers 23:10).
III. THE WICKED MAN, IN HIS TIME OF TROUBLE, WILL OFTEN HUMBLE HIMSELF TO BEG THE PRAYERS OF THE GODLY. And this, though but a little before, he has been persecuting them. He feels that the good man has power with God.
IV. THESE FEELINGS OF THE WICKED MAN ARE USUALLY TRANSIENT. - J.O.
this history; while if the narrative of the exodus, as here recorded, is admitted to be true, we are in immediate contact with supernatural facts of the most stupendous order. We do not mean to discuss the question in detail, but the following points may be indicated as suitable for popular treatment.
I. OBJECTIONS. We touch only on that which relates to the number of the people (ver. 37). The difficulty here is two-fold.
1. To account for the growth of the nation of Israel from seventy persons to over 2,000,000 in the space of time allowed for that increase. On this see the exposition. The difficulty is not serious
(1) if we take the plain wording of the history, and admit that the sojourn in Egypt lasted 430 years (ver. 40);
(2) if we do the narrative the justice of allowing it to remain consistent with itself, the increase, on its own showing, being exceptional and marvellous (Exodus 1:7, 14, 20).
(3) If we admit that the descendants of the households which doubtless accompanied Jacob into Egypt, are included in the numbers. But this supposition, however probable in itself, is really not necessary to vindicate the numbers. The truth is, that granting a highly exceptional rate of increase, with 430 years to increase in, the numbers, as will be seen on calculation, appear small, rather than too great. They certainly could not have been much less than the history makes them. The problem is quite soluble even on the hypothesis of the shorter reckoning, in favour of which there is not a little to be said (see Birk's "Exodus of Israel").
2. To account for the possibility of so vast a multitude, including women and children, with flocks and herds, effecting an exodus in a single night (and day). The feat in question is certainly unparalleled in history. Even granting what the narrative (as against Colenso) makes perfectly clear, that the Israelites were in a state of tolerably complete organisation, had ample warning to prepare for starting on that particular night, and had for months been on the tip-toe of expectation, as plague after plague descended on Egypt, it is still an event so stupendous as to be difficult of realisation. The narrative itself, however, does not fail to represent it as very extraordinary. And in pronouncing on its possibility, there are several circumstances not always, perhaps, sufficiently taken into account. Justice is not always done
(1) to the perfectly superhuman efforts a nation can sometimes make in a great crisis of its history. Even an individual, at a time when feeling is highly strained, is capable of efforts and achievements, which, to read of them in cold blood, we might judge to be impossible.
(2) To the order and discipline of which masses of people become capable when called to face an emergency on which they feel that existence itself depends. The picture sometimes drawn of a disorderly rabble pouring out of Egypt has no foundation in the history, and is false to psychology and experience. The narratives of shipwrecks (the Kent, the London, etc.), show us what crowds are capable of in the way of order and discipline, even with certain death staring them in the face. When a people, under the influence of one great overmastering idea, are called upon to execute difficult movements, or to unite their efforts towards one great end, it is incredible what they can accomplish. The feeling of solidarity takes possession of them. They are of one heart and soul. The mass moves and works as if one mind possessed it, as if it were a machine. Orders are obeyed with promptitude; movements are executed with rapidity and regularity; men are lifted for the time out of their littlenesses, and display a spirit of willingness, of helpfulness, and of self-sacrifice truly wonderful. All these conditions were present on the night of the exodus: the result was what might have been anticipated - the people were brought out with wonderful rapidity, and in regular order; "they went up harnessed" - "five in a rank" (Exodus 13:18).-
(3) We must add to these considerations, the singularly exalted state of the religious consciousness in the companies of the Israelites. Everything in their position combined to awe and solemnize them; to fill them with an overmastering consciousness of the Divine presence; to inspire them with boundless and grateful joy, yet a joy tempered with the awful sense of death, as forced upon them by the destruction of the first-born, and the lamentations of the bereaved Egyptians. This also would exercise a powerful and steadying influence upon their thoughts and behaviour, and would aid them in taking their measures with decision and speed.
II. PROOFS. Those who pile up the difficulties of the Bible seldom do justice to the difficulties on the other side. We have to ask -
1. Is it not absurd to say that so extraordinary an event as, in any case, this exodus of Israel from Egypt must be admitted to have been, happened in the full light of the most powerful civilisation of ancient times, while yet the people who came out did not know, or could not remember, or could ever possibly forget how it happened? (Cf. ver. 42.) The Israelites themselves did not believe that they did not know. They had but one story to give of it - the story that rings down in their psalms to latest generations - the same story which, with minute circumstantial detail, is embodied in these chapters.
2. If this is not how the children of Israel got out of Egypt, will the critic show us how they did get out? It is admitted on all hands that they were once in; that they were in bondage; that Egypt was at that time ruled by one or other of its most powerful monarchs; that they came out; yet did not come out by war, but peaceably. How then did they make their way out? If the whole history was different from that of which we have a record, how came it that no echo of it was preserved in Israel, and that this sober and matter-of-fact relation has come to take its place?
3. There is the institution of the Passover - a contemporary memorial. We have already expressed our belief that this ordinance was of a kind which could not have been set up at a time later than the events professedly commemorated by it. Glance at the alternative hypothesis. The basis of the institution, we are asked to believe, was an ancient spring festival, on which were grafted by degrees, as the tradition formed, the rites and ideas of a later age. This hypothesis, however, is not only unproved, but violates every law of historical probability. It must in any case be admitted
(1) that the exodus took place at the time of the alleged agricultural festival.
(2) That the festival thereafter assumed a new character, and was observed, in addition to its agricultural reference, as a memorial of the escape from Egypt.
(3) That the use of unleavened bread in connection with it had reference to the haste of the flight.
(4) Further, that an essential part of this festival was the offering of a sacrifice.
(5) That, being at bottom a spring festival, it must have been observed, with but few interruptions, all down the later history of Israel. But if so much is admitted, we seem driven to admit more. For it is undeniable that the festival, as observed among the Jews, was connected most especially of all with the fact of a great judgment, which was believed to have fallen on Egypt on the night of the exodus, and from which the Israelites had been mercifully delivered by the sprinkling of the lamb's blood upon the door-posts; a memorial of which was preserved in the name (Pass-over). "The relation to the natural year expressed in the Passover, was less marked than that in Pentecost or Tabernacles, while its historical import is deeper and more pointed. That part of its ceremonies which has a direct agricultural reference - the offering of the omer - holds a very subordinate place." (Dict. of the Bible.) It is for the sceptic, therefore, to explain how that which enters into the inmost meaning and heart of the observance, could possibly have been engrafted on it as an accident at a later period - yet a period not later than accords with the ritual prescribed in these very ancient written laws: how, moreover, the people could not only be persuaded to accept this new reading of an old familiar ordinance, but to believe that they had never known any other: that this had been the meaning and ritual of the ordinance from the beginning.
4. We have not as yet alluded to the Pentateuch, but of course the fact is not to be overlooked that the work before us claims to be historical; that it was probably written wholly or in large part by Moses himself; and that in style, circumstantially, vividness of narration, and minute accuracy of reference, it bears all the marks of a true and contemporary history. - J.O.
Exodus 1:10). The enthusiasm of a great body of people is contagious. When the Israelites left Egypt, numbers would be moved to leave with them. Recent events, too, had doubtless produced a powerful impression on these mixed populations; and knowing that God was with Israel, they naturally expected great benefits from joining the departing nation. They had not calculated on the trials of the desert, and afterwards "fell a-lusting" (Numbers 11:4), provoking Israel to sin, and bringing wrath upon the camp.
I. MULTITUDES JOIN THE RANKS OF THE CHURCH WHO HAVE LITTLE IN COMMON WITH HER SPIRIT AND AIMS. They are like the mixed crowd of hangers-on, which left Egypt with Israel. Their ideas, traditions, customs, maxims of life, habits of thought and feeling generally, are foreign to those of the true Israel of God. Yet they are moved to join the Church -
1. From motives of self-interest.
2. Under transient convictions.
3. Caught by a wave of religious enthusiasm.
4. Under partial apprehensions of the importance of religion.
5. Because others are doing it.
They hang of necessity on the outskirts of the Church, taking little interest in her work, and acting as a drag upon her progress.
II. THERE ARE MANY BY WHOM THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE BENEFITED, WHOSE ADHERENCE SHE IS YET NOT ENTITLED TO REFUSE. The "mixed multitude" were not forbidden to go with Israel. Because, perhaps, they could not altogether be prevented. It is kindlier, however, to believe that Israel allowed the mixed crowd to accompany it, in the hope of ultimately incorporating them with the people of Jehovah. The Church is certainly not at liberty to encourage nominal adherence. She must do her very utmost to dissuade men from mere empty profession. Neither to swell her numbers, nor to add to her wealth, nor to increase her respectability in the eyes of the world, nor under a mistaken idea of "comprehension," must she open her doors to those who are known to be ungodly, or who give no evidence of serious religious intentions. Yet neither must she draw her lines too stringently. She must not presume to judge the heart, or to deal with men otherwise than on the ground of their professed motives and beliefs. She must teach, exhort, warn, and rigorously exclude all whose lives are openly inconsistent with the Gospel; but she must at the same time exercise great charity, and rather include ten who may possibly prove unworthy, than mistakenly exclude one whom Christ would be willing to receive. The responsibility in the matter of religious profession must, in great measure, be allowed to rest with the individual who professes. The Church is to consider, not only what is best for her, but the duty she owes to the world, in laying hold of those who are yet very imperfect, and training them for Christ.
III. NOMINAL ADHERENTS, HOWEVER, ARE NO SOURCE OF STRENGTH, BUT A GREAT WEAKNESS TO THE CHURCH. It may be the Church's duty to bear with them, but she can never derive benefit from them. She may benefit them, and in that hope should treat them tenderly, but they will never benefit her. They will be a drag upon her activity. In proportion to their numbers they will exert a chilling and detrimental influence. They will stand in the way of good schemes. They will "fall a-lusting," and provoke discontent. The morale of a Church can scarcely avoid being lowered by them. What then? Put them out? Not so. We shall work in vain to separate tares and wheat, and we are forbidden to act on this principle (Matthew 13:24-31). But,
1. Let us do what we can to keep down their number. Many churches and church office-bearers are greatly to blame for the indiscriminate way in which they receive persons to communion. We are bound to abide by the principles above laid down; but consistently-with these principles it should be our care to keep down nominal adherence as far as that is possible. Many of the character of the "mixed multitude" will find their way into the Church without our seeking for them, or giving them any encouragement.
2. Let us do what we can to change their nominal adherence into real adherence. Seek their good. Be not overcome by their evil, but try to overcome it by superior goodness.
3. Beware of their influence, and seek to keep it in check. - J.O.
I. AS AN EMANCIPATION OF SLAVES. God is the sworn foe of the slave-holder. Only in a very modified sense was slavery tolerated in Israel; and the laws were such as gradually to undermine the system. Historically, God's religion has proved itself the great slave-liberator.
1. In Egypt. Here were two millions of a slave population set free in a single night.
2. In Israel. Consider the effect on the abolition of the slave system of the single precept in ver. 44 of this chapter. The slave sat down with his master on equal terms at the board of the passover. The same thing happened in the Christian Church. When the Lord's Supper was dispensed, the Christian slave remained; the master, if he was only a catechumen or a penitent, retired.
3. In Christian countries. Christianity, it is true, did not preach a crusade against slavery - a course which would only have led to a slave-revolt - but it inculcated truths and principles which undermined the system. Slavery was the corner-stone of the ancient civilisations. Philosophers defended it. The pagan religions did nothing to overthrow it. But the Christian Church took up from the very first the cause of the slave. The master who ill-treated his slave was excommunicated. He was compelled to marry the female slave whom he had seduced. He sat with his slave at the Lord's table. The slave might hold office in the church, and thus become, in a spiritual point of view, the superior of his master. The influence of the Church was used to secure the liberation of the slave. Under Domitian, a prefect of Rome, named Chromatius, freed one thousand four hundred slaves who had become Christians, saying, "Those who have become the children of God ought to be no longer slaves of men." Says J. S. Mill, "In an age when the weak were prostrate at the feet of the strong, who was there but the Church to plead to the strong for the weak?" (Dissert. 2:155). The emancipation of four millions of American slaves - so long a blot on a so-called Christian civilisation - has been accomplished in our sight, a second exodus. "We can say to-day that, with some trifling exceptions, the soil of Christian nations is free from the disgrace of slavery. Under what influences have the efforts been produced which have brought about such a result? We have only to look at recent facts, and we see the whole clearly. What men, in the middle of last century, were the first to advocate and emancipate slaves? The Quakers of America, who held that bondage was contrary to the Gospel. What men have pleaded in the English Parliament with the most power and perseverance? Decided Christians - Wilberforce and Buxton. What spirit animated the book called Uncle Tom, which acted so powerfully upon opinion in favour of the slaves? A spirit steadfastly Christian. To what sentiment did the Czar of Russia appeal, when he gave liberty to twenty millions of men? Read his proclamation of Feb. 19th, 1864." (Ernest Naville.) Revealed religion - the religion of the Bible, is thus the great liberator of the slave.
II. As, TEMPORAL DELIVERANCE OF THE CHURCH. Many such deliverances has the Church, both in Old and in New Testament times, experienced since. Deliverances under the Judges; destruction of Sennacherib; edict of Cyrus, and return from captivity; Maccabaean Era. Read Christian Church history. See the Church emerging triumphant, laden with the spoils of the foe, from the days of persecution under the Roman Emperors. Later instances in the Albigenses, in the Lollards of England, in the Huguenots of France, in the Covenanters of Scotland, etc.
III. As A TYPE OF A GREATER DELIVERANCE THAN ITSELF. Redemption from sin and wrath through Christ. See previous Homilies. - J.O.
I. EXCLUSIVE. (Vers. 43, 45, 48.) A stranger, an uncircumcised person, and a hired servant, were not to be permitted to oat of it. Their relation to Israel was wholly external. In like manner, the Lord's Supper is exclusive. It excludes the stranger to the death of Christ, the uncircumcised in heart, and those who sustain a merely legal and hireling relation to the Church. These have "neither part nor lot" in the matter.
II. YET CATHOLIC. (Vers. 48, 49.) The sojourning stranger who wished to keep the passover had only to be circumcised - he and his males - to be admitted to the ordinance. He was then to be as one born in the land. This catholicity of spirit, and kindliness to foreigners, blending with a stern exclusiveness in religion, is characteristic of the whole Mosaic code. Cf. Vinet on the tolerance and intolerance of the Christian religion ("Vital Christianity"). The Lord's Supper is the most catholic of ordinances. It overleaps all barriers of race, nationality, clime, and religion. At the Lord's table there is neither Greek, nor Jew, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free.
III. EQUALISING. (Ver. 44.) The master and slave sat down at the same board. See last homily. Christianity is the great social equaliser.
IV. UNIFYING. (Vers. 46, 47.)It taught the congregation to feel its unity.
1. The lamb was to be eaten in one house.
2. Not a bone of it was to be broken. "Through the unity and integrity of the lamb given them to eat, the participants were to be joined into an undivided unity and fellowship with the Lord, who had provided them with the meal" (Keil).
3. All the congregation were to eat it. The Lord's Supper, in like manner, is a social meal, in which the Church, eating "one bread," and drinking "one cup," declares itself to be "one body" (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17). "The preservation of Christ, so that not a bone was broken, had the same signification; and God ordained this that he might appear as the true Paschal Lamb, that was slain for the sins of the world." - J.O.
I. WHAT GOD REQUIRES IN ITS OBSERVANCE.
1. God demands purity of communion. No stranger is to cat of it.
(1) Our holy things are not to be profaned. The life of Christ is lowered and endangered by indiscriminate admission to the Lord's table.
(2) They are not to be degraded into superstitious rites. When they are given as if salvation resided in them, we are substituting idols for the unseen Saviour. The only safeguard for purity of worship is purity of communion.
2. It is not to be carried out from the midst of the household of faith. The peace and fellowship of the Gospel are only for the circumcised in heart.
3. Communion with Christ to be characterised by reverence and holy awe: not a bone of him is to be broken.
4. Every wall of partition is removed. All who believe have a right to join in the feast (vers. 41-49); but they must come with the mark of God's people, - a circumcised heart.
II. THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH IS BLESSED NOT ONLY WITH SAFETY BUT ALSO WITH DELIVERANCE. "Thus did all the children of Israel... and on the self-same day" they passed out of Egypt (50, 51). Fellowship with Christ is deliverance from the bondage of evil. - U.